Hi everyone, and today I’m delighted to welcome literary agent Laura Longrigg to the blog. Laura has been an agent since 1994, and represents both fiction and non-fiction. Read on for what she looks for in that all important submission.
Over to you, Laura…
1) Did you see yourself becoming a literary agent after you left school? Did you have any other career plans?
Both of my parents were writers so spending my working life with writers seemed an obvious career path. But I worked for a theatre company before deciding my skills (at that point a history degree and fairly rudimentary shorthand typing) were better suited to a publishing editorial department.
2) In your view, how has the publishing industry changed since you became a literary agent?
Enormously. When I first became a literary agent we were still typing on word processors and sending faxes. There were many fewer literary agents and many more small, independent publishers.
3) What are the differences between representing a range of fiction genres? Are there any similarities?
I would say there are more similarities than differences: it’s a question of how connected you are to the people working in that genre. For instance I would not know where to start with a science fiction novel, but would feel confident about committing to a saga writer.
4) What immediately draws you to a submission? Or, what would make you reject one?
See my answer to 3) – a genre in which I am not comfortable. I am drawn to a submission – even from the initial email/letter of enquiry – if the author has a clear idea of what they are writing (including some realistic author comparisons), who their readership might be and most importantly a synopsis/blurb which makes me want to read the book.
5) What are your views on the crime and thriller market currently? In your view, is there a sub genre you think is in need of more representation?
Cosy crime seems to be less popular with editors/readers at the moment, but these things seem to be cyclical. Domestic psychological thrillers all look so alike, and seem to include the same algorithm-catching phrases, that they have become hard to tell apart. True crime, non fiction memoirs involving doctors, prisoners, soldiers – many of these have ‘thriller elements’ and are obviously very popular at the moment.I have always enjoyed historical adventure (Patrick O’Brian, Bernard Cornwell) and feel this is an area underrepresented by women writers, and perhaps in the hashtag MeToo era that could change.
6) Do you have a genre that you read for pleasure?
What I think one would call book group fiction – thought-provoking, character-led, really well-written fiction.
7) Is there any genre of book that you wouldn’t read?
I don’t have any reason to read children’s picture books at the moment, sadly.
8) What was the last book you read, that wasn’t one of your clients, and if so, did you enjoy it?
I am reading OLIVE AGAIN by Elizabeth Strout (see my answer to 6) – I think she is terrific (both the character and the author).
9) When you leave your desk on a Friday, what’s the first thing you do? On a Friday evening/on the weekend, what do you do to relax?
Walk the dog, listen to music, have supper (and a large glass of wine) with the family.
10) If you had to choose between Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury, who would you choose and why?
Freddie Mercury (although my first date with my husband was to a Rod Stewart concert). At the moment I am learning to play Bohemian Rhapsody. It is very difficult and completely wonderful.
Thank you so much for visiting my blog Laura. It has been a pleasure to interview you.
Laura worked as an editor, mainly in the genre of popular fiction, for HarperCollins, Heinemann and Penguin. She became an agent in 1994, working with Jennifer Kavanagh and then joining MBA just before the millennium. Her clients’ work covers the whole fiction spectrum, from genre, including romantic comedy and saga, through crime and thrillers, to ‘reading group’ and literary writing. She also agents some non fiction, but would not be the right agent for science fiction, children’s, poetry or illustrated books. She founded and administered the Harry Bowling prize for unpublished fiction. Her clients have won literary prizes including MIND Book of the Year, Romantic Novel of the Year Award, James Tait Black Memorial and Encore Prizes; appeared on the Booker, Portico and Wingate shortlists, Baileys longlist and the Sunday Times bestseller lists and been adapted for TV, film and radio.