Meet the Agents: An interview with Michael AlcockHarry Bingham
Michael Alcock began his publishing career at Oxford University Press, and was publishing director at Macmillan, Aurum Press and Boxtree before founding his own literary agency in 1997. Michael Alcock Management merged with John Johnson Authors’ Agents in 2003 to form Johnson & Alcock. The Johnson and Alcock agency home page is here, Michael’s Agent Hunter page is here and his agency bio can be found here.
What books/authors do you love in literary/historical/book group fiction? Examples and reasons, please!
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
HHHH by Laurence Binet
Dominion by C J Sansom
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
Q. How about sci-fi/horror/fantasy/paranormal/YA dystopian/erotic? What would you be interested in, and what’s a big no?
A few favourites are:
High Rise by J G Ballard
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Q. On the non-fiction side, are there particular areas that interest you? Does your non-fiction list have a particular slant to it?
Bigger history, all periods and especially 20th C for the general reader
Documentary and current affairs
Rural and wild natural history
Memoir and biography
Health and popular psychology
Q. What (very roughly) is the balance of your list between literary fiction / commercial fiction / non-fiction?
90% non-fiction, 10% fiction
Q. What’s your biggest turn-off in a covering letter? What would you really hope to see?
The word “peruse”.
I look for a brief and spirited (but unhyperbolic) encapsulation of the context and arc of the work, and its probable kind of reader.
Q. Would you take on an author who had self-published? What kind of self-pub sales would make you sit up?
Large followings, reviews and sales that are still building.
Q. What single piece of advice would you most want to give writers?
Pare away the unnecessary and let the narrative flow!
Q. How many submissions do you see annually? And how many of those submissions will end up on your list?
Very few of the many.
Q. Do you look for social media and online presence? Do you care?
Yes, if they are used intelligently to build interest in the author’s work or mission