Meet the Agents: An interview with Clare HultonHarry Bingham
This is an interview with literary agent Clare Hulton. Clare attended Durham University, and after some time spent working at various publishers including Macmillan, Penguin and Ebury she established her own literary agency in July 2009. Her Agent Hunter page is here, and her agency page is here.
Q. On the non-fiction side, are there particular areas that interest you? Does your non-fiction list have a particular slant to it?
Yes, experts in health, diet, fitness pregnancy and parenting. Also popular culture, celebrity, commercial non-fiction, history, popular psychology and lifestyle. I am one of the leading literary agents in UK for cook books.
Q. Is there anything in particular you’d love to see at the moment?
Commercial non-fiction proposal with a clear platform. Strong cookery proposals
Q. What’s your biggest turn-off in a covering letter? What would you really hope to see?
I can’t bear waffle. I like a focussed pitch from an author who has looked at my website and worked out whether or not s/he is a good fit or not.
Q. What are your biggest peeves in an opening page or opening chapter? And what do you love to see?
I receive a lot of proposals from writers who clearly have not researched my agency. I like to receive a clear well-thought out proposal which is beautifully written and shows an appreciation of the market as well as a synergy with what I do. I love working with authors who are passionate about their story/book idea and have a strong sense of their brand.
Q. Would you take on an author who had self-published? What kind of self-pub sales would make you sit up?
Yes I have found a number of self published authors conventional publishing deals. Minimum sales level for me to consider the project are 6k copies in twelve months.
Q. What single piece of advice would you most want to give writers?
Polish you proposal and ensure you approach an agent with the right experience/list to suit your book.
Q. How many submissions do you see annually? And how many of those submissions will end up on your list?
1000s. I have only taken on four or five of the unsolicited submissions I have seen. Most of my authors are either recommended to me or I find them
Q. Do you look for social media and online presence? Do you care?
Yes I do. I’m very interested in this.
Q. When people are pitching the concept for a book to you, what do you find is the most common failing?
Inability to polish and idea and lack of market awareness.