Meet the agents: Sam Copeland

Sam Copeland is an agent Rogers, Coleridge & White Sam’s first job in publishing was at Curtis Brown, where he started in 2001.

He left in 2006 to help create the Robinson Literary Agency, and joined Rogers, Coleridge & White in 2009 when the two companies merged. He is building an extremely diverse list, representing writers of both literary and commercial fiction, science fiction, children’s (11+), serious and not-so-serious non-fiction.

When did you come into agenting? What did you do before? And why agenting?

My first job in agenting was ten years ago, when I started at Curtis Brown. After five years, I moved to Rogers, Coleridge & White. Before that I was a bookseller, cleaner, market trader, door to door salesman, bar man, etc., etc. And why agenting? Because on its day, it’s the best job in the world.

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Real agents, real writers, real decisions

Have you ever opened a new manuscript, read a single page, and thought ‘I’m going to end up making an offer on this’? What was it about that page which excited you?

Yes. Recently actually. It was original, brilliantly written and completely startling.

What’s your pet peeve on covering letters?

Pet peeve on covering letters? All the usual. To be honest, there’s a lot of focus placed on covering letters by writers (and agents) But really, it’s not rocket science. Couple of lines on who you are, a few lines about the book. Don’t fret about it too much, don’t try too much (the more you try, the more you’re likely to mess up). And pick the right agent. It’s all in the writing of the book at the end of the day.

Do you need good personal chemistry with your authors?

You don’t need good chemistry, but it certainly helps. Many of my authors have become close friends.

If you weren’t an agent, what else would you be?

I am utterly unqualified to do anything apart from being a literary agent. Oh – actually – maybe an astronaut.