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Literary Agents - The Power Behind the Passion

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LONDON Few professions combine the tetra of talent that forms a successful literary agent. Sharp negotiation skills, a working knowledge of intellectual property, the juggling of New York/LA time zones - all wrapped up in a singular creative passion. And for around a 15% return on 100% commitment to their authors.

Here, we make visible three members of the invisible estate...  


Camilla Bolton

Senior Agent 

Darley Anderson Agency

Your career trajectory and current specialism?

I have been here for 11 years and started as an office assistant and reader before Darley gave me the incredible opportunity to become an agent after three months at the agency. I specialise in fiction focusing mainly on crime, thrillers and suspense, although I do also take on a few women’s fiction and non-fiction projects if I fall in love with them.

Approach to nurturing talent - debut and established authors...

The key for our agency is that we sign authors with the belief that we will represent them for their whole careers. As an agent you have to obsessively love a manuscript, but it is also hugely important that we believe we can work with an author over hopefully many years and be the very best advocate for their work.

A big part of my job is working very closely with authors editorially and nurturing them from the outset so they are equipped and ready to work with editors. Once we have deals in place – we purposefully keep hold of the world rights so we can submit directly worldwide - we then support authors, manage and strategise their careers, maintain positive relationships with publishers and negotiate the very best terms and advances for contracts. Overall, day to day, our approach is definitely one of supporting and protecting our authors now, whilst being very aware of the market and strategising how their future careers will flourish.

Challenges currently facing the agency market and your company - and your outlook for 2019

The book market is continuously changing and this year has been harder for paperbacks to secure shelf space, but then hardbacks are definitely holding their worth. The ebook market fascinates me as readers tend to be far more genre loyal as opposed to the author loyalty you find with printed books. So we need to work with authors and publishers to find new ways to ensure an author’s presence is sustained.

Every year there are challenges but the key for us is ensuring our represented authors have all the support they need, whilst as an agency we are also very focused on discovering new talent and future bestsellers. When you have an amazing manuscript with characters and plot that blow you away then it shouldn’t matter if it’s being called a challenging year; as an agent you need to have unwavering belief and determination that there is always a way to ensure the manuscript will become a novel that readers will love. So our outlook is extremely positive and we’ve got some amazing books being published in 2019.

What were your highlights for 2018?

We’ve had a phenomenal year with Lee Child dominating the world and at the agency we’ve had five books at No 1 in the UK and four at No 1 in the US. Overall in just the UK and US, fourteen of our authors have been chart bestsellers, including ten books on the Sunday Times bestseller list and eight on the New York Times bestseller list. Two of my authors reached the remarkable milestone of having sold over a million copies so this has also been incredibly exciting. Another huge work highlight for me personally was having both B A Paris’ Bring Me Back and Catherine Steadman’s Something In The Water on the New York Times bestseller list at the same time. I’ve also sold four debuts with a fifth looking like it’s about to go under offer, so it’s been a thriving year for new talent.

And your tips on the stocking-filler titles for Christmas?

There is an amazing independent bookshop in central London called Goldsboro Books that specialises in beautiful collectible hardbacks so I always tell people to visit here for stocking-filler gifts. For particular titles, Past Tense by Lee Child is phenomenal (and competing to be my favourite Reacher book so far) and You Were Gone by Tim Weaver is a genius mix of an amazing hook, incredible protagonist and beautiful storytelling. If you’re looking for really fresh voice driven titles then the debut You Don’t Know Me by criminal lawyer Imran Mahmood has received huge acclaim, and G X Todd’s Defender and her Voices series has been compared to King’s The Stand so she is definitely an author to watch.

Angharad Kowal Stannus

Founder 

Kowal Stannus Agency 

Your career trajectory and current specialism?

I spent the first 10 years of my career on the publishing side in NY at Simon & Schuster as director of rights, specialising in the international markets. In 2008 I switched to the agenting side and moved to London where I opened the UK office of literary agency Writers House. In 2017 I had the pleasure of going out on my own and opened the Kowal Stannus Agency.

Big picture publishing has always held a fascination for me, whether it’s through business with publishers in countries all over the world, or being able to offer my clients the knowledge that comes with having been on both sides of publishing and agenting spectrum. A background in rights –
selling translation, film and television, merchandise, or what have you – also trained me to think about books as a gateway to many different things. During my career I’ve been privileged to represent an incredibly diverse list of authors and illustrators such as: Stephen Hawking, Nora Roberts, Neil Gaiman, Michael Lewis, Rachel Renee Russell, Karen Rose, Christopher Paolini, and Natalia and Lauren O’Hara, to name just a few. So much so that I’ve purposely chosen not to specialize in any one genre; KSA represents fiction and nonfiction for adults and children.

Having a wide view of all publishing markets makes me more valuable in this world of intellectual property, and certainly makes my job more fun.

Approach to nurturing talent - debut and established authors...

In this world of ever-tightening budgets, editors have less and less time to edit, and therefore won’t acquire something that needs more than a fair amount of editorial work. As an ex-publisher, I know just how busy they are. A manuscript has to be loved not just by the editor, but by the many other gatekeepers working with that editor. That’s where your agent comes in. I provide editorial comments and support, and usually my advice is less about the creative and more about the commercial, or helping clients to think about the bigger picture. It’s also about supporting my clients across publicity, marketing, branding, the development of their website, etc. But the most important thing is a good relationship and respect.

Challenges currently facing the agency market and your company - and your outlook for 2019?

It’s no surprise that the entertainment market is incredibly competitive. The most important thing is to get the client’s work in the right hands, and provide the tools to know where in the market to place it. My outlook for 2019 is incredibly positive – I can’t wait to see some client’s new or debut
titles published, and to continue to add new voices and artists to my list. I’d love to add some more commercial fiction, and I’m still looking for the perfect love story.

What were your highlights for 2018?

Growing my client’s individual careers is always the highlight of the year. I’m also thrilled to have signed some fantastic new voices and stunning Illustrators, which you’ll be hearing about next year.
And I’m particularly pleased that Lauren O’Hara was chosen to illustrate Sophie Dahl’s first book for children, Madame Badobedah,due to publish next autumn, so look for it then.

And your tips on the stocking-filler titles for Christmas?

For a great gift for your daughter, as a family activity, or for someone who needs a little lift, I recommend Write A Letter by kindred spirit Jodi Ann Bickley. For pure escapism and to shake off end of year malaise, book 1 in Angus Watson’s new series, You Die When You Die. Or for the youngest ones, the gorgeous picture book, The Bandit Queen, by sisters Natalia and Lauren O’Hara.

Donald Winchester

Literary Agent 

Watson, Little 

Your career trajectory and current specialism?

I’ve been a literary agent at Watson, Little for five years, after a half-decade at AP Watt, and before that in editorial at Penguin. At Watson, Little (which incidentally is nearing its 50th anniversary), I look after a broad range of fiction and non-fiction. In fiction I tend to look for high quality writing in many areas – I am most readily seduced by a story that combines smart and compassionate writing with a playful approach to structure. Some of my favourite contemporary novelists include Sarah Hall, Edward St Aubyn, and Zadie Smith.

Approach to nurturing talent - debut and established authors...

Every author is different, and has different needs. My view is that an agent is there to serve their authors, to give them what support, feedback, and encouragement they need – while also negotiating the best deal for them on all fronts. This means a curated approach for each writer. I do a lot of editorial work with my authors – ensuring their work is in the best possible shape before an editor sees it.

Challenges currently facing the agency market and your company - and your outlook for 2019?

The general constraints of the market, where readers have an increasing array of entertainment options to choose from, remains an issue to those (like me) who love books above all! On the industry side, publishers’ eagerness to acquire non-traditional rights (often to the detriment of authors) will continue to be a challenge.

What were your highlights for 2018?

Cyprian Ekwensi’s brilliant Jagua Nana, the story of a bold and resourceful woman in revolutionary Nigeria, was published by Penguin Modern Classics this year. It is a real gem, by an unjustly neglected and prolific writer, but is also personally pleasing as its been brought back into print after several years.

And your tips on the stocking-filler titles for Christmas?

The familiar (Sally Rooney, Ladybird remakes, Michelle Obama’s autobiography) will be there but I’m also hoping people will make time for Pat Barker’sThe Silence of the Girls, Timothy Morton’s Being Ecological, and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Bumbu Rum Airs With Lil Wayne

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NEW YORK Bumbu Rum Co. is set to air a new interview series, "The Bumbu Room," in which celebs and their fans engage in a candidly Q&A. Rapper Lil Wayne takes the mic first in the series which premiered today on Billboard.  Lucy Reid   lucy@redcarpetmagazine.co.uk

Bumbu Rum is owned by Sovereign Brands, a family-run, global wine & spirits company headquartered in New York and led by CEO Brett Berish. Bumbu is a craft rum brand from Barbados,  ranking high in the world order of critically acclaimed rums.

Following Lil Wayne’s debut, future pisodes of "The Bumbu Room" will star DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Dave East, and others. Prior to filming, each artist will announce their “Bumbu Room” participation on social media so that fans have the opportunity to submit their best questions.

In Episode 1, Lil Wayne weighs in on keeping multiple girlfriends, plastic surgery, Rihanna vs. Nicki Minaj, and Jordan vs. Kobe.

Click HERE to watch...

United Productions At Andrea Bocelli Tour

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The performances of legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli went up an octave thanks to United Production’s choreography on his UK Tour.  Lucy Reid  lucy@redcarpetmagazine

The company has been providing entertainment, creative direction and staging across the entertainment industry for the past 15 years. United Production dancers, Ediz Ibrahim and Hannah Jennings roused an audience of 20,000 at London’s O2 Arena.

United's Lyndon Lloyd choreographed a spectacular, classic piece while the company supplied full casting, dancers, styling and creative direction for the show.

New SVP At Nickelodeon

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NEW YORK Nickelodeon has announced Ron Hines as senior vice president, for creative development, global experience design. Lucy Reid       lucy@redcarpetmagazine.co.uk

 

Hines’s promotion will see him report to Anne Mullen, executive vice president, preschool brand creative and marketing. He will lead a team of designers and art directors who work with partners to develop, produce and implement Nickelodeon licensed theme parks, waterparks, resorts, cruises, live entertainment productions, exhibits and corporate events. 

With decades of design experience, Hines has helped bring to life Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America, as well as theme parks and waterparks in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Based in Orlando, FL, Hines will continue leading on two new Nickelodeon Universe projects currently under development at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey scheduled to open in 2019 and Mall of China in Chongqing scheduled to open in 2020. 

Hines comes from a global brand backgroud that includes Universal, Hard Rock and AT&T.

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