This is the perfect opportunity to get guidance on how to improve your work from industry experts, or even get ‘discovered’ by a literary agent.
Every Full Weekend ticket holder at the Festival of Writing will get two, ten-minute one-to-one sessions with an expert included during the weekend. As well as meeting literary agents, you could chat through your cover letter, synopsis and first 3,000 words with a book doctor, publisher or editor.
Below is a full list of experts available for one-to-ones over the Festival. You’ll get the chance to secure your favourite when you book your ticket. But be warned – some experts will book up fast!
The deadline for submitting your work to agents is Friday 24th August at 12.00 noon (BST).
Debi Alper is an experienced tutor and editor.Debi provides critiques, mentoring, Book Doctor sessions and creative writing workshops. She edits in all genres and many authors that she has worked with have been signed up with agents and gone on to see their books published. Tutor of the famous Jericho Writers’ Self-Editing course, Debi’s novels have been published by Orion to critical acclaim. She has since set up her own imprint.
Literary agent – ANDLYN
Formerly a film/tv agent, Davinia Andrew-Lynch founded ANDLYN to represent writers and illustrators whose material can evolve beyond the page. With a focus on (but not limited to) children’s and YA content, ANDLYN is a boutique agency where storytellers can nurture their talent, and ultimately, their careers.
Literary Agent – Marjacq Scripts
Diana joined Marjacq in 2017. She started agenting with Rupert Heath Literary Agency in 2011 before moving to UTA. Before that she was senior commissioning editor at Transworld. Diana was chosen as one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars of 2012. She’s looking for upmarket women’s commercial fiction with depth and heart, accessible literary fiction, high-concept crime fiction and thrillers. On the non-fiction side Diana enjoys memoir, smart, funny feminists, lifestyle, cookery and is open to anything with a strong, original voice. She also wants to encourage submissions from writers who have been traditionally under-represented.
Piers Blofeld Literary Agent (Sheil Land Associates Ltd)
Piers Blofeld was senior commissioning editor at Headline before he joined the Sheil Land literary agency in 2009. Now, Piers is looking for quality, commercial and literary fiction and non-fiction including: crime & thrillers, reading group fiction, popular science and psychology, politics, gardening, cookery, biography/memoir, travel, humour, all types of contemporary and literary women’s fiction, self-improvement, mind-body-spirit, lifestyle, children’s and young adult.
I joined Curtis Brown in 2017 and work across Jonny Geller’s brilliant list of fiction and non-fiction. Previously, I worked at Pan Macmillan’s Bello imprint – which is dedicated to bringing out-of-print gems back into circulation – and am now on the look-out for gripping and intelligent new writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, that can stand the test of time.
Julia Churchill Literary Agent (A.M.Heath)
I joined A.M.Heath in 2013 to run the children’s department, after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where I started the children’s book side of the list.
I’m lucky to represent some fabulous writers, but I’m always on the lookout for new writing talent. I’m looking for debut and established authors with storytelling magic, from picture book texts right up to YA fiction.
Jamie Cowen Literary Agent (The Ampersand Agency)
Jamie has worked in publishing for 15 years. After some time as a contracts manager for HarperCollins and Hodder Headline, Jamie became a commissioning editor for HarperFiction, a job he did for two years. Following this, Jamie moved on to become an agent with Ampersand, and hasn’t looked back. Jamie’s taste is broad, and includes science fiction, fantasy, horror, YA, crime, thrillers, quirky non-fiction and sport
Emma Darwin Book Doctor
Emma’s debut The Mathematics of Love is possibly the only novel ever nominated for both the Commonwealth Writers Best First Book and RNA Romantic Novel of the Year; A Secret Alchemy was a Sunday Times bestseller. Her blog This Itch of Writing gave rise to Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction, and her memoir, This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin, is forthcoming in 2019. She mentors and tutors writers, and has a PhD in Creative Writing.
Hal Duncan Editor
Hal writes mainly fiction and poetry but also a considerable amount of literary criticism and commentary. He’s also made forays beyond print, with a queer rock musical, collaboration with a Scottish band and an Edinburgh Fringe show.
His first novel, Vellum shared awards shortlists with everyone from Neil Gaiman (BFS Award) to Brett Easton Ellis and Haruki Murakami (World Fantasy Award).
Emma Finn Literary Agent (C&W Agency)
I’ve been at C&W for nearly 5 years and am building my list of accessible literary and book club fiction, and narrative non-fiction ranging from popular science, psychology and anthropology to memoir. I’m also looking for unusual crime novels and true crime stories. I’m drawn to strong, original voices and love books that fuse ambitious, insightful writing with an emotionally compelling story.
Hattie Grunewald Literary Agent (Blake Friedmann)
Hattie Grunewald is an agent at Blake Friedmann Agency, where she represents commercial fiction including women’s fiction, crime and thriller, book club and 8+ children’s fiction, and a range of non-fiction including self-help, health, politics and smart thinking.
Penny Holroyde Literary Agent (Holroyde Cartey)
I founded Holroyde Cartey with Claire Cartey in 2015 and we represent an award-winning and bestselling roster of clients. I have also worked for Walker Books in the UK, Candlewick Press in the US and for a decade as an agent with Caroline Sheldon
Rebecca Horsfall Editor and Book Doctor
Rebecca is a bestselling novelist, script doctor and creative writing tutor and lecturer. She has been an editor and coach for more than a decade, working with over 150 different novelists in genres including character-driven fiction, romance, literary fiction, historical, political, detective and fantasy.
Sam Jordison Publisher (Galley Beggar Press), Editor and Book Doctor
Sam Jordison is an author, journalist and tutor. As a publisher he is the co-director of the award-winning Galley Beggar Press. He writes regularly about books and publishing for The Guardian. He has taught courses on publishing, journalism and creative writing at UEA, Kingston and Greenwich Universities. He is the author of several non-fiction books including the best-selling Crap Towns series, a book on literature and London called (aptly enough) Literary London, and the I-Spy books for adults.
Brian Keaney Children’s Editor and Book Doctor
Brian Keaney is an award-winning children’s author. He has written 20 novels for young people, which have been translated into 19 languages. His book Jacob’s Ladder (Orchard Books, 2005) won the Havering best of the best award. Other titles have been shortlisted for the North-east book award, the South Lanarkshire children’s book award, the Calderdale book of the year award, the Warwickshire children’s book award and the National Association for Special Educational Needs children’s book award. He has also written a number of plays for theatre-in-education companies and more than 40 textbooks for school students.
James Law Book Doctor
James (J. S.) Law started in the navy as an apprentice engineer and worked his way up through the ranks. He has worked on helicopters, ships and towards the end of his naval career, submarines. He is a passionate advocate for education and now works providing nuclear training and education to the defense and civil sectors. James lives in Hampshire with his partner and his two children. Tenacity is his debut novel and the first in the Lieutenant Danielle Lewis series.
Sarah Manning Literary Agent (The Bent Agency)
I grew up in Essex and read History at Durham University, graduating with a first class honours degree. I then began my publishing career at the Orion Publishing Group in London, where I worked in nonfiction and fiction before going on to gain experience in script development for TV and film. I decided that as much as I loved the creative involvement of script development, I wanted to work specifically with books, and so I became assistant to prominent agent Juliet Mushens at the Agency Group, where I was then promoted to agent. I now live in London and am focusing on building the adult list at the Bent Agency in the UK.
My taste is varied and I’m looking for commercial and accessible literary adult fiction, YA and nonfiction. I am looking for uplifting women’s fiction in the reading group space as well as looking for love stories that also make me cry. I represent high-concept thrillers and crime books full of twists and turns with interesting settings and speculative fiction – but nothing that feels too unrecognisable from our own world. In terms of nonfiction, I’m looking for really strong concepts that can spark new trends, whether in popular science, cookery or lifestyle.
Literary agent – Marjacq
Catherine joined Marjacq in 2015 bringing with her a small stable of talented Children’s and YA authors from Catherine Pellegrino and Associates, an agency she set up in 2011 when she left Rogers, Coleridge and White Ltd to move to France.
Catherine represents an eclectic list of Children’s and YA authors and whether literary, commercial or genre, YA or Middle Grade, is looking for great storytelling, distinctive new voices and characters who take up residence in your head and your heart. She does not represent illustrators or picture book texts.
Together with Penguin Random House Children’s, Catherine is also a judge and sponsor of the Commonword Children’s Diversity Prize which is now in its fourth year.
Imogen Pelham Literary Agent (Marjacq)
Imogen joined Marjacq as a literary agent in 2015, after five years at Aitken Alexander where she started building her list, which includes Wellcome Prize shortlisted Emily Mayhew, Gordon Burn Prize shortlisted David Keenan and Costa Short Story Award winner and Edge Hill Prize shortlisted Angela Readman.
Imogen represents literary fiction, non-fiction which looks at serious subjects in innovative ways, and some standout commercial fiction. Her non-fiction list includes cookery, design, history, memoir, medicine and psychology. She is particularly interested in identity, the arts and investigative journalism.
(Literary agent – C+W)
I joined C+W as Literary Agent in 2017, following ten years in the publishing industry. I’m proud to represent a list of diverse and incredibly talented authors, including Sunday Times bestsellers and award winners.
I’m currently looking to represent compelling narrative non-fiction, particularly writing about science, food, history, medicine, technology, and modern society. I’m also keen to represent polemic and memoir, investigative journalism, upmarket true crime, expert self-development or business writing, as well as lifestyle and humour writing. For my fiction list I’d like to find smart crime and thriller novels, grounded speculative fiction (not genre science fiction or fantasy, which should be sent to Alexander Cochran), a heartwarming, uplifting novel such as A Boy Made of Blocks or The Rosie Project, and character driven commercial fiction with heart.
I’m a regular speaker, with past events at Cheltenham Literature Festival, The London Book Fair, The University of Southampton, Chichester University, London Writer’s Club, Foyles, UWE, and Bath Literature Festival. I was delighted to be the shortlist judge for the 2017 Caledonia Novel Award. I was recently honoured to be chosen as one of the Bookseller’s Rising Stars for 2017.
Before joining Felicity Bryan Associates as an agent in 2016, Carrie worked for five years at C+W Literary Agency. She represents award-winning authors of both non-fiction and fiction, and is particularly looking for debut authors and writers from underrepresented backgrounds.
Amanda Saint Book Doctor and Editor
Amanda Saint is a novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, was selected as a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month, longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker Prize, and chosen as a Top 20 Book of 2016 by the Book Magnet Blog. Her short stories have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines and been longlisted and shortlisted for, or won, various prizes. When she’s not writing fiction, Amanda works as a freelance journalist writing features for international magazines about environmental sustainability.
Sandra Sawicka Literary Agent (Marjacq)
Sandra Sawicka joined the agency in 2014. Her main interests are genre fiction (SFF, speculative, crime, horror) and YA. She also handles translation rights for all authors represented by Marjacq.
She would love to see: action-packed space operas, accessible SF, crime with a speculative edge, Southern Gothic, campus novels, road novels, spooky mysteries, ghost stories, high concept, YA adventure, anti-heroes, popular science non fiction (especially linguistics, cybernetics, and astronomy).
Not for her: anything spiritual, comedies, military SF, steampunk, hard SF, techno-thrillers, slasher horrors, II World War stories, beautiful writing with no plot, conspiracy theories, tear-jerkers, animal cruelty, travel non-fiction, memoirs, chick-lit, middle-grade, picture books
Eve Seymour Book Doctor and Editor
E.V. Seymour is the author of ten novels and has had a number of short stories broadcast on BBC Radio Devon. After a short and successful career in PR in London and Birmingham, she married and disappeared to Devon. Five children later, she returned and began to write seriously and has bent the ears of numerous police officers, firearms officers, scenes of crime, the odd lawyer and United Nations personnel. She also works by day as a freelance editorial consultant, specialising in crime fiction and thrillers.
Hannah Sheppard Literary Agent (DHH Agency)
Hannah Sheppard studied English Literature at the University of Liverpool where she set up a small poetry press in her spare time. She has since spent over a decade working in trade publishing: first at Macmillan Children’s Books and more recently running Headline Publishing Group’s YA and crossover list where she published Tanya Byrne’s critically acclaimed Heart-Shaped Bruise.
Hannah represents authors across children’s fiction (from 9+ including teen and YA) and a small number of adult fiction authors (her main interests are thrillers and romance). Hannah does not represent picture books.
She likes stories that push the boundaries, have a strong voice and, often, a dark edge – although she’d love to find a great contemporary romance too.
Allie Spencer Book Doctor
Allie Spencer is an author with many strings to her bow. She gained a B.A. in English and Related Literature and an M.A. in Medieval Studies before reading for the Bar. She completed pupillage in London with a leading set of family law barristers and then joined a firm of solicitors as a matrimonial specialist.
She is the author of two novels: Tug of Love, which won the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme prize for the best debut of 2009 and was shortlisted for the 2010 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance, and The Not-So-Secret Diary of a City Girl.
CM Taylor Book Doctor
Writing as C M Taylor, Craig is the author of the cult Kev King novels described as ‘Brilliant’ by The Sun, and ‘Horribly entertaining’ by The Mirror, which have been optioned for TV.
He’s been nominated for the British Science Fiction book of the year, and edits fiction for a well-known publisher. Craig co-wrote the thriller, Writers Retreat, which was filmed in 2014 and premiered at the Sitges International Film Festival.
Craig is an Associate Lecturer at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies, and has taught widely, often on the underlying structures of narrative, and on Born Digital Literature, a particular enthusiasm that has seen him crowdfund a literary app, as well as instigate an experiment in digital literature with the British Library.
Hannah Todd Publisher (Canelo)
Hannah Todd is an assistant editor with a background in digital publishing. Besides previously working at Bookouture, she is also the founder and editor for a young adult mental health charity. Hannah is Canelo’s Assistant Editor.
Louise Walters Book Doctor and Editor
I’m a reader, writer, editor and publisher.
I’m the author of three novels. My themes tend to be family, relationships, friendships, memories, regret and redemption. While I love to read and write about these things, I’m casting my net wide when it comes to the books I hope to publish under my imprint. I’m keen to see a wide range of work, so do please consider submitting to me. I have a fondness for novellas, so I would particularly like to see some of those in my inbox!
Tom Witcomb Literary Agent (Blake Friedmann)
I have a strong list of commercial and upmarket genre authors and am particularly interested in crime and thrillers of all shapes and sizes. I love big high concept stuff, psychological/domestic suspense that truly breaks the mould, police procedural, action/espionage etc. Character & setting is as important as plot.
I’m looking to take on some really good SFF, both core genre, and more speculative/literary crossover. I like my fantasy quite epic and despite a childhood obsession with Tolkien, would probably steer clear of elves, dragons & dwarfs. I do not like Urban Fantasy, or Steampunk. You won’t convince me otherwise. Don’t send me those things.
I’d like to find some ‘upmarket’ fiction — a tall order, but think McCarthy, Atwood, Robinson. Complex ideas, simple sentences.
In terms of non-fiction, I love popular science. I’m an ardent cyclist & enjoy most sport (except cricket and F1), though am far more about the passion, pain and fury than reading about another 18 year old from the Home Counties finding themselves halfway up a mountain somewhere. Definitely not diet books, unless it’s science based & interesting, and has a new angle. I’d also happily read your self-help book if it was saying something new and interesting.
Am a big music person, so if you’re Mick Jagger, send me your book.
Eleanor Dryden Publisher (Bonnier Zaffre)
Eleanor was publishing director of Avon, HarperCollins’ commercial fiction arm, and is now publishing director of Bonnier’s adult fiction imprint ‘Zaffre’, having overall responsibility for women’s fiction.
Her experience in publishing is broad-ranging: it includes four years in the Foreign Rights department at Ed Victor Ltd, a prominent literary agency representing among others Nigella Lawson, Frederick Forsyth, John Banville and Edna O’Brien, and three years in the contracts department at the Orion Publishing Group. More recently she spent two and half years at Rogers, Coleridge & White Literary Agency, where she worked alongside David Miller and Peter Robinson with authors such as Victoria Hislop, Kate Summerscale, Ian Rankin, David Starkey and Joanne Harris, while at the same time building her own list. In July 2016 she set up Martin Leonardis Literary Management.
Hayley is an Associate Agent, working closely with Madeleine’s clients as well as actively seeking new talent for the agency. She also coordinates the digital rights and Film & TV rights, focusing on book to screen adaptation and scripts written by existing clients.
After graduating from Loughborough University with a First Class Honours in English she spent a year interning at five of the top UK literary agencies before working at an esteemed PR agency, where she was shortlisted for a PPC Award for her work promoting bestselling authors. She is also a long-suffering West Ham fan and season ticket holder, spending most of her time watching sport, reading, or at the cinema.
Actively looking for: commercial fiction across all genres including smart women’s fiction; contemporary women’s fiction; uplifting love stories; high concept novels; grounded sci-fi; speculative fiction; feminist reads; magical realism; tense crime and thrillers; cross-genre books; 14+ YA; non-fiction focused on sport.
Literary agent – Greene & Heaton
Laura Williams is an agent at Greene & Heaton. She worked at Peters Fraser and Dunlop for seven years previously, after completing a degree in Classics at Oxford. She is actively building a fiction list and a small non-fiction list. She is currently looking for literary fiction, edgy commercial fiction, psychological thrillers and high-concept contemporary young adult, as well as narrative non-fiction of all types. Her taste is quite dark, and she loves gothic, ghost stories, horror and anything sinister. She also loves books that make her cry, like a big love story or intense family drama.
Publisher – HarperFiction
Kimberley Young is Publisher of commercial women’s fiction at HarperFiction and in 2017 was promoted to join the executive board. Kimberley joined HarperCollins in 2012 from Harlequin UK, where she was Editorial Director, responsible for the Mills & Boon imprint, the general fiction MIRA list and established a teen and digital first imprint.
At HarperFiction, she publishes household names including Sunday Times bestsellers Josephine Cox, Dilly Court, Kimberley Chambers, Barbara Erskine and Fern Britton as well as amazing new talents Dawn O’Porter, Lucy Clarke and Lucy Foley. Kimberley is also a huge advocate of digital publishing and launched the award-winning digital first imprint HarperImpulse, which is home to #1 Kindle bestsellers and is at the forefront of breaking new talent in digital. In 2014 she was awarded a Bookseller Rising Star, and she was shortlisted for Editor of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards in 2015 and at the Romantic Novelists Association in 2016.