Hi everyone, today on the blog I’m delighted to welcome literary agent Sile Edwards.
Sile is a literary agent at Mushens Entertainment, and joins me today as I ask her all about her road to her current role, what she looks for in a submission package and what she has been up to during lockdown.
Guidelines on how to submit to her and what she is looking for, are below the Q&A.
Over to you, Sile…
1) How did you first become involved in the publishing industry? Did you always plan to be a literary agent when you left school? Did you have any other career plans?
At first I wanted to work in Marketing & Publicity! My first foray into publishing was through a short work placement that I got through the amazing team at Arts Emergency, but I got my first “proper” internship through a chat with a literary agent actually. Jo Unwin very kindly gave up some of her time to chat to me and answer my many many questions. After interning at RCW, I knew that I wanted to be a Literary Agent but was content with working in any area of publishing I could get in to!
2) You studied Creative Writing at university. What was your experience like of the course and how has it helped you in your current role?
Studying Creative Writing was a lot of fun, but it also helped me realise that I enjoy the process a lot more when I am assisting the writer. I was the only Black person in quite a few of my classes and I found that sharing was quite exhausting at times but the experience definitely made me a better advocate.
3) How did you become involved with the mentoring charity, the Arts Emergency? What is your role within the charity?
I was on Question Time and the question I asked went viral, Neil from Arts Emergency got in touch and from there, I enrolled in the programme, was connected with a mentor and the wider network! Towards the end of my final year at university, I worked with the service team and then when I left, I became a trustee. I am still a trustee, I sit on the board of trustees now and my role there is to jointly supervise the charities activities. They do such wonderful things at Arts Emergency, and make a real difference to the lives of young people.
4) Where do you start with the submission package? The cover letter, the synopsis or sample writing? What would make you want to request the full manuscript?
I always start with the cover letter as it tends to be in the body of the email, and gives me a real sense of who the writer is. I love it when I get a sense of the personality as well as the project. If I’ve read all of the sample writing, the synopsis and still want to know more about the story or project I will request the full manuscript.
5) Can you describe the first initial phone call with a client? How do you feel when you offer representation?
That first phone call with someone who I want to sign is usually full of hope, and sometimes a little bit awkward at first! For me to offer representation the call has probably gone well, and there has been a lot of enthusiasm from both sides about the project they’re working on and any future projects.
When I offer representation, I always feel excited and a little nervous. Saying you want to work with someone and you believe in them is exciting, but also slightly nerve wracking because they may say decline the offer! When I offer representation and the person accepts, the next phone call is always really lovely.
6) Across the genres of both fiction and non fiction, what would you like to see more of that hasn’t been submitted before to you?
For Fiction: I would love to see more well plotted commercial fiction, with a Black protagonist. It’s a genre I love reading in so I would love to see more of it in my submissions inbox.
For Non-Fiction: I’d like to see more Pop Science, I love learning, and I love understanding why things are the way they are so I’d like to get some more projects that cover popular science topics in a accessible, interesting way.
7) When you leave your desk, on a Friday afternoon, what’s the first thing you do?
Usually it is give my baby or cat a huge huge cuddle – whoever is closer at the time. Then I will usually do some reading, especially if it is raining outside!
8) During lockdown, what have you been watching on television?
A lot of game shows, and children’s TV. We are basically alternating between Hey Duggee, Baby Club, Richard Osman’s House of Games and Taskmaster.
9) During lockdown, what have you been reading? Have you found that your habits have changed?
My reading habits haven’t changed much during Lockdown, and that’s mainly down to the fact that I’m working.
I read a lot of thrillers (quietly to myself) and children’s books (out loud to my daughter) when I am not reading submissions or client manuscripts.
10) What is your music taste like? If you had to choose between Rod Stewart, Queen or AC/DC, who would you choose and why?
My music tastes are really broad, my Repeat Rewind on Spotify looks like someone who doesn’t quite know what kind of party they want to go to on a Friday night. If I had to chose between Rod Stewart, Queen or AC/DC….I’d probably choose AC/DC for the t-shirts.
Thank you for your time today, Sile. It has been a pleasure to interview you and have you on the blog.
Bio: Silé began her career in publishing with several internships across the industry whilst studying for a degree in English with Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University. After graduating she worked at the Publishers Association supporting their campaigns and other communications functions. She then moved to Curtis Brown as an assistant in the Book Department, where she supported deals for a large and eclectic list of clients including Adam Kay, Deliciously Ella, Alys Fowler, Viv Groskop, Katy Brand and Lucy Foley. She is a trustee for award-winning mentoring charity and network Arts Emergency.
Contact: You can find her on twitter as @sileloquies and email her at email@example.com. Her submissions email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can view her guidelines here.