Elizabeth Burton-Phillips: How it felt to read Mum, Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid? for Audible, and revisit the pain, truth and legacy of my son’s death
Many of our long-standing client relationships started with one thing – a cover letter. Whether they were looking for representation for book proposals, broadcast opportunities, corporate speaking or brand partnerships, there are some key points we’re always looking for to find out more about you and why we might be a brilliant match as your agent.
Finding the right agency to work with is a little like dating. You might find yourself wondering if they’re a good match for you, whether you have the same interests or values and if you can envision this as a long term relationship.
It makes a difference if you approach us with some knowledge about who we are and what projects we’ve worked on in the past. If you’re looking for representation in a specific area, it would give a good impression to address your cover letter to the fitting agent (more on our fantastic team here). You might even find that you have a shared interest or a reason why you think you’d work well together – let us know!
All of the guidelines on our submissions process can be found clearly on our website here. If you approach us for a project which is obviously outside of our scope you might look a little silly, as it’s pretty obvious you haven’t looked at our website.
If you’re approaching us with a book proposal, let us know more about you as an author – have you won any writing awards? How long have you been writing? Do you have a background as a journalist or blogger or is writing something you fit in around your day job? Something relatively short to let us know more about you and your background is helpful to build a picture for our agents.
If you’re looking for representation for brand partnerships, broadcast work or corporate speaking (or possibly a combination of these), then this information will be even more helpful. Links to social media profiles, websites, show reels or credits are helpful for us to build up a picture of you and your background. We’ll be asking questions like “why now?”, “why us?”, so let us know what it is you’re looking to get out of this relationship and why this is the right time for you to look for an agent.
Advice for book submissions
For authors looking for representation across fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, a cover letter will be the first peek that the agent will have before seeing any of your written work. It’s therefore really important to capture the essence of your book, as well as who you are, in a relatively short and succinct way. Very basic information on your work would include the title, genre and approximate word count. You might want to follow this up with an ‘elevator pitch’ letting us know the key hook for your work – again thinking “why this?”, “why now?”. You don’t have to be a salesperson, but it goes a long way for our time-poor agents if you put across a clear, concise overview of your book.
Some final do’s and don’ts:
Lorna Colwill is Northbank’s Operations Assistant. She is responsible for the smooth running of the office and for overseeing the busy schedules of our clients and team.