Creative, Literature

Meet the Literary Agents: NCWIC Panel Discussion Demystifies and Humanizes the Agent Author Relationship

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The National Creative Writing Industry Conference offered an in depth perspective on the agent/author relationship during its third panel discussion ‘Meet the Literary Agents’, hosted by Comma Press and the Manchester Writing School.

Chaired by Sarah Butler, an author and lecturer at the Manchester Writing School, the panel featured three working professionals who offered their advice and shared their unique experiences of working with authors, publishers, and editors.

Abi Fellows from The Good Literary Agency, Clare Coombes from The Liverpool Literary Agency, and Silé Edwards from Mushens Entertainment, spoke at length about underrepresentation in literature, the process of submission to publication, and top mistakes they see in submissions.

“I love putting the picture together for the writer”

– Clare Coombes, The Liverpool Literary Agency

When asked why they became literary agents, Coombes from The Liverpool Literary Agency spoke at length about the underrepresentation of writers from the north of England. Coombes said, “I love seeing the creativity that’s coming out of the North.”

Fellows and Edwards spoke about the importance of advocacy for the author, and the joy they experience from being there “to support people through the whole process”.

“Being able to be that voice of hope and excitement is really great!”

– Silé Edwards, Mushens Entertainment

The panel offered an incredibly humanizing perspective of literary agents, the relationships they develop with the author, and the process of seeing a piece of work through to the end. Their passion for literature and building strong connections with authors was clear in their responses, and the suggestions and advice shared with audience members.

“‘Everything is a lot more relaxed than people realise.”

– Clare Coombes, The Liverpool Literary Agency

For aspiring authors looking to submit to agents in the future, this personal perspective of the agenting world is valuable. The panel recognised that the process can be intimidating, frustrating, and overwhelming, but as Fellows noted, ‘It’s a long term journey,’ and starting off on the right foot is important. They explained that it’s important to develop a good relationship with your agent because they can help you meet your goals, introduce you to the right people, and champion your work. They want to see you succeed.

“Your agent should be your advocate.”

– Silé Edwards, Mushens Entertainment

The National Creative Writing Industry Conference ‘Meet the Literary Agents’ panel is available to stream online in full over on the Comma Press YouTube channel.

About the author / 

Ryann Overbay

Ryann has recently moved to Manchester from Japan, where she lived for five years teaching English literature and working as a travel writer for Voyapon Magazine. She is currently studying her MA in creative writing and is excited to work with aAh! Magazine as a creative editor.

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