I would make my submission consist of an introductory email including a paragraph outline of the book (one page for the whole), separate slightly longer synopsis of the book (one page) and then complete text of the book.
Lizzy - I don’t have anything fixed in mind but I always hope to find a spark of personality and originality in what I read, as well as being able to immediately recognise something true and real, whether it is an emotion or a way of seeing the world.
Teresa - Professionalism. I like authors to have done their research about how and to whom to present their material. They should have worked hard on their novel and made sure it is of a publishable standard .
Broo - I think the agent/author relationship is critical; editors move jobs yet agents should be a constant in an author's life. An agent should be someone you can talk to regularly, they should be someone you feel is working for your best interests and is talking you up throughout the trade.
Carole - Authors need agents these days even more than before. Authors write the mss, but then they are required to do so much more - interviews, Face book, twitter, guest blogs for reviewers, bookselling chains, supermarkets. It's the agent who monitors the publishers' marketing promises, makes sure they are carried out. The agent who sells the subsidiary rights, the translations rights. The agent who asks why this bookshop or that chain don't seem to have re-ordered once they've run out.
Caroline - Some of the things an agent should do:
Sell your work,
Advise you on how best to present your writing – title, synopsis and in some cases suggestions of content or genre,
Negotiate financial provisions and contract – and of course contracts are becoming ever more complex,
Help you manage your writing career to achieve the biggest success possible.
If your career flags, find ways to help you back up the greasy pole.
Lizzy - A good agent can make all the difference to an author’s submission before it’s even made, through tweaking the author’s approach to best suit the market and their own aspirations for their work. A good agent can make all the difference between a bad deal and a good one; between being offered one contract and building a career. A good agent will stop opportunities from slipping through an author’s grasp and will be a close friend and collaborator throughout the whole, sometimes lonely and confusing, process.
Teresa - Publishers certainly pay more attention to submissions from agents whom they respect. The publishing world is so complex today, an author needs an agent to exploit all their rights rather than just hand them over to a publisher. An agent also handles the writing career of an author and is there when things go wrong.
Broo - It is a relationship based on mutual trust and respect - and without that it cannot work. I also think it relies on regular communication and a belief that you are working together towards a common good, namely promoting the author's books and endeavouring to get them as much exposure as possible and consequently increasing their sales.
Carole - So many things, but they are all based on trust, and a good understanding from the beginning that they are aiming for the same goals. Good communication between the 2 is vital.
Caroline - That you like each other; that you have the same belief in and ambitions for the writing; that you can laugh at the end of a long Friday afternoon.
Lizzy - Finding someone you can communicate honestly and effectively with from the start is the key. You should instinctively trust your agent’s judgement, but never be afraid to query it. They should love your work and be available to you.
Teresa - Trust and respect. I only take on an author if I’m passionate about their work and feel comfortable with them.
|Teresa's dog - Truffle|
In your opinion, how is the market from romantic fiction at the moment?
Broo -Like all markets, romantic fiction is tough at the moment, but I firmly believe that good stories, well told will succeed.
Carole - 'Romantic fiction' is a label that covers such a huge area of fiction, that it is never out of fashion. There has been a lot of ill-informed journalism recently about falling sales numbers for women's fiction, but it is always a vast part of book sales in this country. There is always going to be a hungry market for well written romantic fiction. Romance - relationships - are at the heart of so much of our lives, so much of what people want to read about.