HELPING PEOPLE FIND LITERARY AGENTS
I consider myself very lucky in my work, I get to help aspiring authors get their novels up to a publishable standard and, hopefully get an agent. My company is the biggest literary editorial agency in the UK, it’s called The Writers’ Workshop.
On a typical day, I’ll get in around 10am and open the office up. We have an open-plan office filled with enthusiastic and literary-minded staff. I launched the company 10 years ago and we’ve never looked back since. Although I own the workshop, I work primarily as a crime novelist; my novels are published by Orion. We spend the morning dealing with our email inbox. We get enquiries from all over the world, sometimes just questions about the world of publishing, which we’re always happy to answer. We will offer free critiques on covering letters and synopses and we run an online community called The Word Cloud where authors from around the planet meet to compare advice and constructive criticism.
A lot of our work is editing manuscripts. We have a big pool of published authors and experienced editors. As the manuscripts come in, I read them and talk with the author to decide who will be most appropriate the most appropriate editor for them. The office is always lively with lots of good natured discussion and larking about but everyone is also very serious about their work. As I type this, all I can hear is the clackety-clack of keyboards and I can see some very studious faces.
We all eat lunch together and often talk about the direction the company is going in or funny emails we’ve had to deal with. Sometimes we have guests for lunch – some of our editors or some literary agents.
A lot of my work is maintaining contact with literary agents. I created a website called Agent Hunter which is a resource for unrepresented writers to find the right potential agents for their work. This means a constant level of liasing with agents to keep up to speed with the kind of work they’re looking for.
Afternoons are usually spent organising events. We run two annual conferences – the Festival of Writing in York and Getting Published in London and both demand a lot of planning. Booking keynote speakers, planning workshops, marketing the days and processing orders. It’s a lot of work but always worthwhile when the events are a success.
The rest of the day is taken up with phone calls, meetings and, of course, writing my own novels. By 5pm, when the phone stops ringing and the email inbox is empty, it’s time to go home but always with a sense of satisfaction that another handful of talented authors have taken a positive step towa0rds publication. And that’s enough for me.
By HARRY BINGHAM, Writers’ Workshop & Agenthunter – http://www.agenthunter.co.uk
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