On Monday night, I attended my first event for writers. Literary agent Madeline Buston from the Darley Anderson Agency gave advice on how to secure an agent at a talk set up by the London Writers’ Cafe. It was exciting to be in a room with writers and to meet an agent for the first time. Not only was Madeline human (yes, sometimes we wonder when we get all those rejections!) but she seemed friendly, down-to-earth and genuinely excited about discovering new talent. She was already on my dream agent list and the talk cemented that!
Madeline and her agency focus on commercial fiction and they find exclusive submissions very powerful. UK and US agents do things very differently so check submission guidelines very carefully! UK agents prefer to focus on your writing sample – the first three chapters whereas US agents like the query letter. Madeline read out a few examples of cover letters – they were short and to the point and she said she liked conversational tone. However, other agents like things more formal so this underlines again that one size does not fit all agents.
Madeline like most agents places great importance on the first chapter. This needs to be really strong and make an agent want to read on. She and her agency have dealt with a lot of bestselling authors (Martina Cole and Lee Child among them) so she said they have really thought about what makes a bestseller and they believe it’s all about character. So make yours leap off the page!
At the end of the talk, I plucked up the courage to speak to Madeline personally. I asked if she remembered my submission as her rejection email had mentioned how much she loved the title. She did remember it and again enthused about the title. She said she thought that it had potential and when I explained I was currently revising it quite extensively, she encouraged me to re-submit it to her. Regardless of whether she was just being kind or is really interested, it has spurred me on to polish up my novel and go for it again. I’d love to work with Madeleine and I will definitely send it to her.
Overall, it was definitely worth attending. I got a great insight into the life of an agent and the publishing process and what this particular agent it really looking for. I think it’s also helped my confidence – I sat in a room of writers, and I was one of them! And I talked to a real life agent. Next step – getting one to represent me 🙂
Have you ever attended a literary event?