Getting to know Mary Darby – Rights Assistant

First of all, what is your role at the agency?

My official title is Rights Assistant which means I liaise with editors from all over the world about our wonderful titles. I’m responsible for a handful of my own territories, from Iceland to Israel and lots of lovely countries in between. So I talk to masses of very interesting people on a daily basis.

Which book changed your life?

This is a hard one, and I admit I haven’t found this book yet! Out of the many I’ve read, there are a few that really stand out, such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. Each of these books has such amazing, strong characters, which I’ve realised is what I look for in a really good story. I love that they are real, honest human beings, and these books make me think about the way people interact with one another. I especially love the boys in Cannery Row, who are so flawed, but so brilliant!

What book are you waiting for?

Working in foreign rights means I go to the London and Frankfurt book fairs to meet with editors who are on the hunt for the next bestseller. I, and the publishers I meet with, usually have between 15 and 20 appointments a day throughout the fairs, so any book (no matter what genre, or age group) that I can pitch in one exciting, sparkly line that has an interesting or unusual hook, should be a winner.

If you’re an author thinking about submitting to our agency, bearing in mind we get over 300 manuscripts a week, try the elevator pitch before you send in your work; you have 30 seconds to pitch your entire novel.  You could use this pitch in your covering letter. This is a good exercise for any aspiring author (and rights agent!).

You are stranded on a desert island. You can choose one luxury item to take with you, one celebrity guest to join you and you will be granted one wish (which you cannot use to wish yourself off the island). What and who do you pick?

I would have a solar-powered iPod (is there such a thing!?) full of music and the odd audio book. Growing up with Monty Python, then later, his various travel programmes, Michael Palin would be the perfect fellow-strandee. Oh, and he shares my love of maps.

When it comes to the wish it would be a toss-up between unlimited supplies of beer, or sun cream… it would have to be beer – I will just drink in the shade…

Share your favourite quotation:

‘Without deviation from the norm, ‘progress’ is not possible.’  Frank Zappa

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4 Responses to Getting to know Mary Darby – Rights Assistant

  1. mikereverb says:

    I have to say, I love your answer to the one item you’d bring if you were stranded question.

    I would have expected a book, but some kind of music that you could listen to over again makes a heck of a lot of sense, and I just might choose that myself if it came down to it. Talk about the myriad of emotions you could experience just laying back on a beach with your comedian friend.

    If not an iPod, then a solar-powered Kindle. 😛

    It was a pleasure getting to know you, and thanks for sharing!

  2. Mary says:

    Hi Mike, thanks for getting in touch! Yes, it was a tricky question, and I probably should have said my Kindle, but mine usually only has unpublished manuscripts on it and who wants to work when stranded on a desert island?! Especially with Michael Palin for company!

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