Fiction & Drama

Sophie Burdge: How to submit your novel to Northbank


It’s a new year, and Northbank are on the hunt for new material. Our fiction agent Hannah is particularly keen to receive submissions from new authors, so if your new year’s resolution is to polish up the manuscript you’ve been working on, then we want to hear from you! We have details on how to go about submitting to us here, but we know that the submissions process can be a little overwhelming at times, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you through it.

Firstly, it may seem obvious, but do your research. Have a browse of our website and our social media, and figure out what kind of authors we represent – and any we don’t! For example, we do not represent poetry or short story collections, so I’m afraid if that’s what you’re working on, then we may not be the right agent for you. What we are on the lookout for are contemporary novels with something to say about modern life, historical novels told from previously unheard perspectives, fresh thrillers, and more. You can find our full ‘wishlist’ here.

It’s important to hone your cover letter, as this will be the first peek our agents get at your submission. You can find a full guide on writing the perfect cover letter here, but our key tips would be to think about it as an ‘elevator pitch’ – you don’t have long so make it count. It’s helpful to include comparison titles for your book, and make sure you have your key hook whittled down to a couple of snappy sentences.

In addition to a cover letter, we ask that you send a synopsis of your book. It’s important not to confuse a synopsis with a blurb – please include spoilers! We need a thorough outline of the themes and plot, as we only receive the first three chapters in the initial submission. But having said that, try and keep your synopsis concise and to the point – one page is plenty.

We’re not just thinking about publishing potential when we look at new material. We’re also considering adaptation possibilities, whether that’s for film, TV, or audio drama. Is your novel the new Fleabag, or I May Destroy You in book form? Then let us know! In this video Hannah and our broadcast agent James explain why TV trends are so important in the publishing world, how the adaptation process works, and some of the book to screen adaptations that we currently have in the works here at Northbank. It’s a must watch if you can see your novel making it to the big screen one day.

Hopefully this has helped to demystify the submissions process. We are always keen to hear from new and upcoming voices so please don’t be discouraged if you have never submitted to a literary agent before – we’re friendly, I promise! Don’t forget to check the contact page on our website before you submit, to make sure that you haven’t missed anything. Good luck with your submissions, we’re very much looking forward to reading them.


Sophie Burdge is Northbank’s Marketing & Communications Assistant. She is responsible for our digital content, organising events and finding new ways to promote our clients and our agency.

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