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Researching and submitting to UK agents


Researching and submitting to UK Literary Agents

As I write this, UK literary agents are still some way behind US agents in their embracing of new technology.

Most major agencies now have their own website, but a significant minority of the small partnerships/single agents do not.

Also, many of the websites are frustratingly non-specific about the genres the agents are interested in. You won’t find many agent blogs discussing the industry and offering advice like so many US agents do, more’s the pity, though SF/F uber-agent John Jarrold does answer question occasionally here http://www.sffchroni...hn-jarrold.html and there is a good archive of his wisdom.

Websites for finding UK Agents

There is no single website with a complete listing of UK agents, let alone a searchable one like AQ.

The closest approximations are:

Author Advance http://www.authoradvance.com and Querytracker http://www.querytracker.net, which cover some UK agents and are searchable by genre.

Other sites which have useful listings are:

Literary Portal http://sites.google....cy-directory-uk

The Writers Copyright Association directory of literary agents
http://www.wcauk.com....php?page_id=42

Writers Services Literary Agent Listings http://www.writersse.../uk09/index.htm

One major difference between UK and US agents is that most UK agents do not object to you phoning them to ask about their guidelines and genre preferences. You often get straight through to the agents, and they may ask you about your work during the call.


Queries and Partials to UK Agents

The standard query package to a UK agent is what a US writer would think of as a partial; the first 3 chapters (30-50 pages), synopsis and covering letter.

Note: the covering letter is not the dreaded query letter you send to a US agent, it is merely a few words about the novel, i.e. genre and word count plus a few words about yourself and your writing background.

Postage and SASEs

A majority of agencies still want hardcopy submission, and suggest you include a SASE for the response.

In researching this article, I asked seven leading agencies how they would reply to submissions from outside the UK.

They all said that they would reply by e-mail even though they do not mention this in the submission guidelines on their websites.

If you need access to British stamps you can buy online and print international postage onto labels or envelopes from the Royal Mail site: http://www.royalmail...&mediaId=600025

Currently (Dec 2010) the return postage on a standard airmail letter is 97p.

International Reply Coupons are still recognised and used in the UK. They offer a viable alternative to stamps, though I understand many USPS employees are unfamiliar with them.

An increasing number of UK agents will take e-mail subs (generally as attachments), and a few are e-mail only. Do check the agency guidelines as there are some that specify that they do not want to deal with overseas clients.

Is Your Work Right for the UK Market?

Before you put yourself through the hassle, do try and ascertain if your work is suitable for the UK market. Some things translate well (secondary world fantasy and hard SF, for example), but in other cases the markets is significantly different (there is pretty much no market for Christian fiction, for example).



About the Author of this Article:

Waylander is a UK-based fantasy author who is represented by Shiel Land Associates of London


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