Meet the Agents: An Interview with Eve WhiteHarry Bingham
This is an interview with Eve White. Eve set up her eponymous agency in 2003 after working as an actress for 20 years. Her Agency website is here, Her Twitter Feed is here and last but not least her Agent Hunter page.
Q. What books/authors do you love in commercial fiction? (Crime, women’s) Give us some examples and say why you liked these books/authors.
Fergus McNeill’s crime/thrillers are very well written commercial fiction. Gripping, with scary, well-drawn, believable characters and great pace.
Q. What books/authors do you love in literary/historical/book group fiction? Examples and reasons, please!
I love reading group fiction; strongly written novels with lots of layers. Jane Shemilt’s Sunday Times Bestseller, Daughter, is a great example and was in the top ten of the book charts for nine weeks.
Literary fiction is also one of our favourite areas. Paul Cooper’s River of Ink will be published by Bloomsbury UK, USA and India in 2016. This is a rich historical story of love, fear and violence – gripping and beautifully written.
Yvvette Edwards’ A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld) was long listed for The Booker Prize. This is a one-sitting read – a novel you want to shove into friends’ hands and say ‘read it!’
All of these were debuts.
Q. How about sci-fi/horror/fantasy/paranormal/YA dystopian/erotic? What would you be interested in, and what’s a big no?
We love YA – romance, dystopian, fantasy, anything as long as the writing is strong. We have helped Ruth Warburton to publish five YA novels.
Q. On the non-fiction side, are there particular areas that interest you? Does your non-fiction list have a particular slant to it?
There’s a lot of narrative non-fiction on our list and we very much enjoy working with that. However, we are on the look-out for any interesting real-life stories and can sell a book to publishers on a two- or three-page proposal. We represent a talented ghost writer who takes over the writing where the author needs help. A recent case is that of At the Coal Face (working title) which will be published next year and is a nostalgic memoir of a 1970s miners’ nurse who went underground to treat injured miners. Joan Hart is the nurse/author and Veronica Clark the ghost-writer
Q. And are there any areas of zero interest to you in non-fiction? What would you NOT want to see?
Academic non-fiction doesn’t work for us.
Q. Is there anything in particular you’d love to see at the moment?
We would love to see some more reading group fiction like Saskia Sarginson, Jane Shemilt or Mark Haysom.
Brilliant children’s fiction for eight-to-twelve year-olds – pacey adventures or mysteries with strong sympathetic protagonists.
Q. What’s your biggest turn-off in a covering letter? What would you really hope to see?
Spelling mistakes. Mass-submissions. People who clearly haven’t been to look at the guidelines on our website.
Q. What are your biggest peeves in an opening page or opening chapter? And what do you love to see?
It’s obvious that sometimes authors polish the first three chapters at the expense of the rest of the novel – it must be riveting from the first page to the last.
An opening must grab by communicating the premise immediately, introducing the style and forcing the reader, no matter how, to keep turning the pages.
Q. Would you take on an author who had self-published? What kind of self-pub sales would make you sit up?
Yes, we would. We don’t mind how many it has sold if the book’s amazing.
Q. What single piece of advice would you most want to give writers?
WRITE FROM THE HEART
Q. How many submissions do you see annually? And how many of those submissions will end up on your list?
10,000 submissions come into our submissions accounts each year and we probably end up representing two or three of these.
Q. Do you look for social media and online presence? Do you care?
It always helps with marketing a book but it’s not what we look for in an author initially; it’s all in the writing. A good literary agent and publisher should help an author with this side of things.
Q. When people are pitching the concept for a book to you, what do you find is the most common failing?
To a large extent, we aren’t interested in an author’s pitch. Just send the work as per our guidelines. It’s an agent’s job to figure out how to come up with a pitch.