Bryony is my fairy godmother – one with an awesome business brain! She made my dream of becoming a published writer come true and continues to be an amazing champion of all my stories. She says she was always destined to work with books and the balance of creative and business skills needed for work in a literary agency instantly appealed to her. She started working in bookshops and libraries and then studied for an MA in Publishing at UCL before landing her first publishing job at the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency. A few years later she set up DKW Literary Agency with a fellow agent, Ella Kahn. I’ll never forget the email she sent me at 00:17 on the 12th of October 2012 saying that she’d like to be my agent. I celebrate it like a birthday!
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Imaginative. Gutsy. Persistent.
What do you love most about being an agent?
Everything! But most of all, I love that I get to work so closely with talented people who continue to inspire me every day.
What do you find hardest about your being an agent?
If I absolutely HAD to find a negative, it would be that there is always so much to do. I have to be very strict about time management, and don’t get to read purely for pleasure as often as I would like.
What kind of child were you?
Constantly lost in my own daydreams.
Where do you most love reading new manuscripts?
I usually read in the office – I have a sofa piled high with cushions next to my desk, and a cosy fireplace, so it’s the ideal place. If I’m out of the office I like to find a quiet coffee shop and settle in there with a manuscript and a large cup of tea.
Do you have any quirky habits?
I’m not sure that I do! (Sorry, is that too boring an answer?)
I’m sure she does…watch this spot…(VM)
What book or author do you wish you represented? Perhaps one that got away…
Do you have a favourite drink or snack you turn to when you’re working?
Tea. Always tea. And perhaps a large bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.
Are there any writing tics that makes your toes curl?
Awkward or unnatural-sounding dialogue, and overuse of exclamation marks. These are both things that I encounter all too often in submissions.
Following on from that, what are the three ‘no nos’ aspiring writers should avoid when submitting to an agent?
It sounds obvious, but check that you’re submitting the right agent for your work – for example, don’t send a children’s book to an agent who specialises in crime fiction.
Always be sure to proof-read, and especially to spell names correctly (I’ve received countless emails addressed to somebody called ‘Byrony’).
And you’d be surprised how many people send covering letters that don’t actually tell me anything about the book – you have to remember to sell yourself and your work!
What’s been the highlight of your career as an agent so far?
Seeing a book by one of my clients on sale in my local bookshop for the first time, and knowing how special it was for the author as well as for me.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be?
JK Rowling. She was my hero when I was growing up, and I don’t think I’d be the person I am today without her wonderful books.
What are you reading for pleasure at the moment?
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
How do you know when you want to represent a writer?
Each case is different, so I can’t really say!
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
Follow your dreams, be determined, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough (Sorry, I know that’s three things …)
Do you have a literary agent who has inspired you?
Caroline Sheldon (my former boss). She is both a fantastic literary agent, and one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met.
What book would you like to be buried with?
I couldn’t choose just one. (Although maybe, possibly, if I absolutely had to: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis).
Tell us about an exciting book you are working on today?
I have several books that I’m currently working on, but I’m afraid I can’t say anything about them just yet… Sorry to be secretive, but once I’m free to talk about them I probably won’t shut up!
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love going for long hikes in the countryside, and browsing second-hand bookshops.
What three tips would you give aspiring writer?
- Read everything you can get your hands on
- Find your own unique voice
- Don’t give up.