For our second agent Q&A of the series, we’re speaking to agent-author extraordinaire, Sam Copeland.
Sam’s first job in publishing was at Curtis Brown Literary Agency, where he started in 2001. He joined Rogers, Coleridge and White in 2006 and was made a director in 2016. He has an extremely diverse list of award-winning and bestselling authors, representing writers of both literary and commercial fiction and all genres (including book group, upmarket fiction, crime and thrillers, SF and speculative fiction, and historical fiction), children’s and YA, and a smattering of quality non-fiction, and is always open to submissions of the highest standard – he is excited by debuts!
1) Can you describe a typical day at work?
A typical day is usually a heady mixture of destroying writers’ dreams and drinking martinis. KIDDING! Impossible to say what a typical day at work is really – one of the joys of the job is every day is different. Editing, meetings, deals, contracts, therapizing authors, fire-fighting (metaphorical, not literal. Although I am the RCW fire marshall).
2) How do you approach submissions/how do they fit in with the rest of your schedule?
Submissions are the part of the job I find hardest. I work so hard for my authors, and that’s a full time job in itself. So looking at submissions is a struggle – but it’s the lifeblood of the agent and the agency. And it’s exciting. The thrill of finding something new… But often good submissions sit in my inbox for far longer than they should and I hate that about myself.
3) Can you tell us about a time you were rejected by a prospective client?
No. Any writer that rejects me is immediately dead to me and expunged from my memory.
4) What three things make a submission stand out to you?
Quality of writing. A great clear pitch. Plot. Voice. Confidence and control of the subject matter, whatever the subject is. That’s five – you got a bonus two there.
5) What is one thing that will make you reject a submission?
There are SO many reasons to reject a submission!
6) Can you tell us a bit about the process of signing a new client at your agency?
It’s a relatively simple procedure. I like to meet first if possible – just to make sure we get on. And then they sign a client agreement letter, which is a pretty standard document.
7) What’s on your agent wish list at the moment? What submissions would you love to see in your inbox?
Anything! I do everything from picture books to YA to serious non-fiction to thrillers to literary fiction, so just something of the highest quality.
For details on how to submit your manuscript to Sam, click here.
Aisha was born in the Middle East and has lived in Kuwait, England and Canada. The first novel she ever worked on was a piece of Harry Potter fan fiction titled ‘Harry Potter and the final Horcrux’. She now writes children’s books, sometimes with a little bit of magic in them. Aisha’s debut middle grade novel, A Pocketful of Stars, is out with Egmont in the summer of 2019.