Finding an agent is a huge step on every writer’s journey and deciding who to send your manuscript to is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. At The Novelry, we’re here to help. On our blog today, agents from The Blair Partnership tell us exactly what they’re hoping to see in their submission inboxes. Knowledge is power!
Sending your novel to agents who both represent the genre you’re writing in, and who are actively looking for the type of story you’re telling, is crucial. You want a literary agent with expertise in selling books like yours to publishers, who knows precisely what the editors at each publishing house are looking for, and who can give you detailed feedback and support your writing career.
In the current publishing climate, your agent can help identify more opportunities to shape your author livelihood, and boost your earnings and royalties from your books around the world. That’s why you need a good one.
At The Novelry, we work with a brilliant roster of trusted literary agents in New York and London who represent authors globally. It’s a great way for you to find a literary agent you want to work with. When your manuscript is ready, we’ll make a tailored plan to submit your work directly to the best agents for you, and typically they reply within two weeks as part of our understanding. Our publishing editors talk with literary agents on a weekly basis and they’re able to tip off agents about exciting debut authors – like you!
One of our trusted literary agencies, The Blair Partnership is a full-service agency based in London working with global clients across fiction, children’s & YA. Managing director Neil Blair founded The Blair Partnership in 2011 with J.K. Rowling as his first client. Best known for building J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, for the past ten years The Blair Partnership has represented J.K. Rowling’s literary work and helped to shape and grow the Wizarding World brand.
What The Blair Partnership is looking for
Timing is everything when you’re sending your novel to agents for representation. Our literary agency friends give regular live sessions for members of The Novelry enabling our writers to know what’s hot, what’s not, and how to nail the all-important pitch.
After a brilliant live Q&A with our writers this week, we asked four agents at The Blair Partnership what they’re looking for right now. We also asked for their top tip when querying agents with your book!
Literary Agent Hattie Grünewald’s manuscript wishlist
‘I’m looking for commercial and book club fiction, including contemporary and historical, crime, thriller and romance. Currently I’m really keen to find new crime series in a unique setting or with an untraditional sleuth; high-concept female-led thrillers; dark, gritty women’s fiction with strong plotting and an issue-led hook; and epic, tear-jerking love stories.’
Hattie does not represent children’s fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, action thrillers, sport books, poetry, short stories, or books with talking animals.
Hattie Grünewald’s top tip for pitching your novel
Don’t spend longer crafting your pitch than you have on your opening chapters. Getting the voice and set-up right is 95% of the battle – you want to introduce us to your world, your central character, and establish the plot arc. It’s a lot to balance but if you can get it right, you’re on to a winner.
Literary Agent Jordan Lees’ manuscript wishlist
‘I’m keen for all kinds of crime and thrillers, from super commercial to upmarket/literary. I like grounded horror and I’m open to speculative fiction. I love detective fiction, whether that’s historical or contemporary, has a classic locked-room feel or subverts or plays with the genre. In children’s, I’m eager to find more upper MG fantasy with creative and ambitious world-building, any MG with a horror or sci-fi twist and also some MG detective fiction.’
Jordan is not currently looking for spy novels, sci-fi and fantasy (outside the children’s space) or women’s fiction.
Jordan Lees’ top tip for pitching your novel
Convey an understanding of the market and how your book fits in – showing the agent there’s a big potential audience for your book provides a great platform for your pitch.
Digital Literary Agent Bea Fitzgerald’s manuscript wishlist
‘I’m in a real fantasy mood at the moment so would love to see character-driven stories set in immersive and well-built worlds. I’d particularly love to see diverse voices in romantasy and cosy fantasy. More generally, I love stories about messy, complicated characters doing terrible things and would love anything with a spikey voice. I’m also always here for a high society drama or a heist.’
Bea Fitzgerald’s top tip for pitching your novel
Research the agent you’re pitching to and make sure your pitch is tailored to what they’re looking for.
Children’s Agent Rachel Petty’s manuscript wishlist
‘I’m looking for ambitious storytelling, a bold approach to structure and voice and a fresh take on genre, and I’m particularly interested in submissions from author/illustrators and people from underrepresented and marginalised communities. I am looking for romance as the primary focus in anything YA – and I would really like high concept, diverse contemporary YA romance of the sort that will launch a thousand ships. I like horror and thrillers (or a combination of both, especially with a twist), hooky YA fantasy/speculative (but only with excellent world-building with a simple, clever pitch), hilarious middle grade, bold graphic picture books, and anything that has the potential to jump off the page and on to the screen.’
Thank you to the agents at The Blair Partnership!
If you’d like us to submit to agents on your behalf, join us for The Finished Novel Course. With personal coaching from published authors, and feedback from publishing editors, there's never been a better time to join The Novelry. Your story starts here...