Ever wondered what makes the perfect synopsis, or whether Agents actually read slush piles? Look no further. We asked on Twitter for your burning questions and we’re here with your answers.
If you have more questions or want to find out more about the submission process, the role of Agents or what makes a great commercial read, we encourage you to have a look through our previous blog posts through the search at the bottom of the page.
You can also follow our latest news via our Twitter @DA_Agency and on instagram @darleyanderson_agency.
We asked Head of Rights, Mary Darby…
‘When we, in rights, read our manuscripts, we are reading with a goal in mind: the pitch. To put together the perfect pitch, we are noting i) the setting ii) the style of writing iii) the genre iv) the target audience v) what is unique about this book in particular (is the voice original, is the character unique, is the setting appealing, is the hook new and exciting?).
With those ingredients we come up with a one or two line pitch. While these are all important, the key is to include the one thing which makes this book stand out; the one thing about this book that will be remembered, and then talked about.’
Tanera Simons, Women’s Fiction Agent says…
‘It depends at what point in the process this is: if I like their submission and am talking to them with a view to signing them, I always ask about what other ideas they have.
Not only does this show me that the author hasn’t just struck lucky with the first book – that they do have other ideas! – it also paints a picture for me as to how they envision their career as an author progressing and where they feel they sit in the market.
I want to know that, if their first book is a rom-com, they don’t then want to write a historical crime novel before moving into YA, for instance: I want to see focus and commitment to the genre, so that we can build a brand for them.’
We believe that the key to striking the correct balance between dialogue and description/narrative summary is to keep an eye on how this is moving the plot forward.
Be that building pace, or introducing readers to a new development, narrative and dialogue should work together to progress the story. The best commercial fiction incorporates these tools to give pace to the story, and to keep the reader’s constant attention.
The other balancing act to bear in mind are dynamics between character and plot. Dialogue and narrative summary are vital to character development, and should balance appropriately with the pace of the plot.
We asked our Rights Agents Georgia Fuller and Kristina Egan…
‘As the London Book Fair is primarily a trade fair, it technically won’t affect that part of the process i.e. agents signing new authors. Most agents who are open to submissions find all their new talent through the usual submission process which goes on throughout the year.
So in terms of prospective authors finding agents, the cancellation of LBF won’t prevent agents from checking their emails. It may, however, take a little longer than usual to respond.
The focus for us at LBF is Rights. To anyone who doesn’t know what this means, it mostly refers to the pitching and licencing of translation rights to publishers from around the world.
The majority of our contact with international publishers is made over email. So we are still very busy pitching, setting up virtual meetings, sending news etc. It feels very much like business as usual, in terms of the day to day.
As we all recognise, book fairs being cancelled is only part of a global disruption of many industries. We will continue to keep close contact with publishers and work as best we can to adapt to the situation.’
We asked Children’s Agents Lydia Silver and Clare Wallace…
There’s space for everything in the market, from beautifully-told classics with a stunning voice, all the way to comic books with very few words! That being said, we’re a very commercial agency, so while we love great writing, we want to see it being used in a fast-moving, engaging story.
Lydia Silver and Clare Wallace said…
‘One of the most important parts of being an agent is trying to predict what will appeal to readers and what will become popular. We’re constantly looking at emerging trends, stalking bookshops, speaking to editors and looking on social media. We’re also influenced by other mediums – if there’s a hit TV series, we might wonder if people will start wanting similar books, for example.’
As a highly commercial Agency, Darley Anderson tends to focus on the popular market areas that readers continue to come back to time and again. Crime and thriller and women’s fiction continue to dominate the commercial market and we don’t see this changing anytime soon.
That said, as society pushes the boundaries of public perception and popular culture, there is a growing demand to see these trends in writing. With the success of books like Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other and Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie, we are seeing a wonderfully increased demand for unique and underrepresented voices.
The increased presence of books like these is so important in ensuring fair and equal representation for all. The phenomenal success of authors like Evaristo and Carty-Williams is a powerful message to all that this isn’t merely a trend, but part of an evolutionary transition in the publishing world.
As an Agency…
Regardless of what’s happening with the world right now we will continue to read every submission that comes to us. We are still actively looking for new talent that we can bring to the commercial market in the future.
We are receiving an exceptionally high volume of submissions but continue to do our best to answer all enquires within 8-12 weeks.
If you would like to make a submission all the information can be found at our website. We also encourage you to look at our blog archives for plenty of posts on what makes a good submission, from the covering letter to synopsis.