Faber Session 26 – Agent & Editor Q&A

I had such a mare of a journey getting to class yesterday, you would not believe it even if I could be bothered to go into the ins and outs. But let’s just say, everything that could go wrong….did! So I ended up being trapped in St Pancras station for a while. Still, it wasn’t all bad…I managed to have my cake fix in Peynton & Byrne πŸ˜‰

An orange and plum cake that was very nice! Just a shame it didn’t come with a dollop of Mascapone on the side, but anyway, back to class.

I finally made it, having to walk about 2 miles and with drenched feet *sighs* but it was worth the struggle. Today’s guests were Mary Morris, Fiction Editor at Faber & Faber and Claire Conville from Literary Agency Conville & Walsh.

Now, you know me, I took 10 pages of notes, so I’ll just try to give you the gist of it:

Agents have become more proactive in recent years especially with editing.

At Conville & Walsh they have 1 guy who manages the slush pile and goes through all the submissions.

If a MS has a strong voice, everything else about the novel can be fixed.

It’s not unknown for Claire to work with an author for up to 10 drafts of an MS to get it right before submitting to a publisher.

The Agent will come up with the “one sell line” for the publisher. A Tagline for the book that helps with Marketing.

Claire will read 3 chapters only. If she likes it she’ll continue, if she doesn’t, she won’t read on.

When searching for an agent, look in the acknowledgements section of books you think may be a similar genre to your own.

If a writer hasn’t got it by the 4th edit, they probably never will. Agent edit suggestions are meant to inspire and trigger ideas to make the book better.

What works? How do I bag that agent? …..A wonderful MS! A strong title helps.

Have your work professionally edited, and mention that in the cover letter….it shows you’re serious about your novel.

And finally, something that I’d never heard of…..
Mary mentioned “Literary Scouts” so I couldn’t wait to get home and Google it and i found THIS! Literary Scouts let publishers know the gossip on interesting MS’s that are doing the rounds.

Do they have Literary Scouts everywhere, or is it just a London thing?

A very interesting session πŸ™‚

26 thoughts on “Faber Session 26 – Agent & Editor Q&A

    • No, neither had I Mel….interesting to know though πŸ™‚ Let me know if you find out if they have them there. I wonder if they’re also the people who check out the indie authors.

      Thanks honey, the wet feet part wasn’t pleasant lol



  1. Your note about strong voice really stands out; it’s definitely reassuring. I’ve never heard of literary scouts before either. Thanks for sharing your fantastic notes!


  2. Interestingly when I spoke to Kate Atkinson’s publisher at the Literature Festival this weekend in response to what had convinced her that Kate’s first book was publishable material she immediately answered: her ‘voice’. She said exactly the same thing as you noted down – if a manuscript has a clear, strong voice then it’s more than likely to be considered for publication.

    I suppose you can’t edit in a strong voice for a piece – the voice is solely on the shoulders of the author to create: everything else can be influenced by a re-write.

    Thanks for always typing up your Faber notes: they’re really useful! (Also, I sooooo want that cake: looks delicious!)

    Take Care – hope your toes are warm now!
    Cat x


    • I’m so jealous you got to see Kate Cat πŸ˜‰

      Voice does seem to be the general consensus doesn’t it.

      Oh definitely, no one can alter the voice, apart from the author.

      You’re welcome honey πŸ™‚



    • Oh exactly Kate!

      I know a lot of writers don’t agree that we should put our work on our blog, ie giving it away for free, but, like you say, you just don’t know who might be reading it πŸ˜‰



  3. Thanks for sharing so generously, Vikki! The cake looks good – you couldn’t have the same one twice even if you wanted to now that we’re all waiting with the drool spilling onto our keyboards every week to find out what you had!
    Had heard of talent scouts, but not literary scouts. Very interesting! Is that how Fifty Shades got noticed I wonder?


    • You’re welcome Bel πŸ™‚

      When the course finishes i’ll be starting a new project that involves cake, so stay tuned lol πŸ˜‰

      Yeah, i’d heard of talent scouts but not literary ones and yeah, im thinking the same. I bet they scour the internet for writers πŸ˜‰



  4. Vikki, I don’t know if I love this feature because of the wealth of information or because of the cakes πŸ™‚ This was one of the best and very helpful for those still wandering around in the dark tunnels of “what do I do next.” It’s murder out there and any help we can find is wonderful … thanks !!


  5. This is awesome and so interesting! Esp. re the edits – shows when we should let it lie doesn’t it.?! And v. interesting that the voice is the most important part!


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