Q & A with literary agent, Madeleine Buston

Our October speaker is the literary agent, Madeleine Buston. Madeleine was named recently by the Bookseller as one of six Rising Stars agents in the publishing industry so this is an event that is a must for any writer. If you live outside London or can’t make the date, do join the club and we’ll send you the recording of the event. We were lucky enough to interview Madeleine at the start of the week and the following is a set of quickfire questions and answers:

1/Please give us a brief biog.

Madeleine Buston is a Literary Agent at the Darley Anderson Literary, TV & Film Agency where she specialises in all types of popular and accessible literary fiction.

Her growing list of adult fiction writers includes international bestsellers Carolyn Jess-Cooke, now translated into 20 languages, the US bestseller J.J. Salem, and new writers destined for future bestsellerdom: Carrie Duffy, Victoria Fox, Emma Garcia, Ella Kingsley, Martel Maxwell, Cally Taylor and Anna-Lou Weatherley.

Madeleine is also the Deputy MD of the Children’s Book Agency and represents a growing list of children’s and YA authors including Phil Earle, Anne Cameron, C.J Daugherty, S.B Hayes, Lucy Jones, Dave Lowe, Adam Perrott, Caireann Shannon and Rob Stevens.

Since graduating from St Andrews University with a degree in English Literature and language, Madeleine has worked for the independent publishing company Trojan Books in Berlin, and A P Watt Literary, TV & Film Agency in London.

2/What do you look for in a writer?

Somebody who thinks ‘long-term’ and who is as ambitious as I am for their books to be bestsellers.  This is a long-term business and it can take four or five years, that means four or five books, to build a brand.  I know there are the ‘lottery winner’ books, but the big bestselling authors that sell hundreds of thousands of copies year after year wrote a lot of books before dominating the charts.

3/What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on a manuscript that can be categorised as ‘reading club’ material – something that would sit nicely on Richard & Judy’s bookshelves.  It’s about a woman who experiences recurrent miscarriages and it’s her story, but every other chapter is narrated by her unborn son waiting to be born.

4/What makes you want to read on beyond the covering letter of a
Submission package?

A really strong title and a pitch that makes me desperate to read the chapters.  Unlike most agents, I’m not as interested in recent publications or past works by a writer.  It’s all about what I see in front of me.  I want to be instantly drawn in by the very first chapter.

5/What book would you have loved to have represented?

ONE DAY by David Nicholls

6/What author would you like to have round for tea and cake?

Maggie O’Farrell

7/What three top tips would you give to an aspiring author?

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.  Also, think of a really interesting concept – we can fix the writing but we can’t come up with the idea!

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