Meet the Agents: An Interview with Louise BurnsHarry Bingham
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.
I love Kate Atkinson for character, William Boyd for storytelling, Nick Hornby for revealing the laughter hidden beneath sadness, and George Saunders for his captivating worlds, John Boyne for his captivating stories that are imaginative and dramatic in structure.
Q. How about sci-fi/horror/fantasy/paranormal/YA dystopian/erotic? What would you be interested in, and what’s a big no?
No YA dystopian please. I love fantasy that is set in a world not unlike ours and horror is thrilling when it’s genuinely eerie, but no blood and gore for me.
Q. On the non-fiction side, are there particular areas that interest you? Does your non-fiction list have a particular slant to it?
I like narrative non-fiction with a focus on popular culture and theatre & the Arts.
Q. And are there any areas of zero interest to you in non-fiction? What would you NOT want to see?
No cookery (I’m simply not a ‘foodie), no self-help or heath or spiritual books (I don’t read them, and I’ve no idea what makes a good one).
Q. Is there anything in particular you’d love to see at the moment?
I’m building a small, focused list. In children’s fiction, I particularly welcome submissions for commercial picture books, adventure middle grade series & genre, as well as Young Adult. I’d love a romance, or stories about facing big challenges in life, with hope. I’m not looking for ‘edgy’ or dark, or dystopian YA, but I’d love to find a psychological thriller or crime for Young Adult.
Q. What single piece of advice would you most want to give writers?
Read everything within your genre or age group, or both that is being published now. Know the market and find your voice.
Q. How many submissions do you see annually? And how many of those submissions will end up on your list?
I’ve had a quick look at my submissions email folder: in the past 12 months I’ve replied to more than 1,100 enquiries– and I signed 2 new clients.
Q. Do you look for social media and online presence? Do you care?
Yes – social media is important. No more to be said really. ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’.
Q. When people are pitching the concept for a book to you, what do you find is the most common failing?
I’m not interested in reading a pitch or a concept – that’s the common failing. I want a story that hits me in the heart, the gut and makes me feel as though the writer is telling my story.