We were lucky enough to catch up with Charles Brotherstone of AM Heath to ask him some quick fire questions ahead of the event at LWC Live on 23rd July.
I did a few stints of work experience at a literary agency whilst completing a degree in English literature in Bristol. I hesitate to say I became part of the furniture but I did paint the office and loved the working environment. I realised in a roundabout way, after completing an MSc in China, that agenting was the career for me. I’ve been at A.M. Heath since 2008, and have hugely enjoyed building a list of first time writers and working on iconic literary estates.
2 What are you working on at the moment?
I have just sold two non-fiction books, one by the woman behind the natural wine movement, and the other a very popular cycling blogger who’s doing something slightly insane. I’ve also recently taken on two novelists: one is writing a fantasy historical novel set in Renaissance Italy and revolving around the dark arts of alchemy; the other an epic love story starring the famous ballet dancer Nijinsky. I’m really excited about both.
3 What are you looking for?
I am specifically looking to build my fiction list and am particularly on the lookout for psychological thrillers and suspense, especially those with an interesting premise that gets people talking. Good examples of the kind of novels I’m looking for would be M.L. Steadman’s recently published The Light Between Oceans, and a book called The Miniaturist which will be published next year and created quite a stir at the London Book Fair. Both are debut novels with a high concept hook. I also recently blogged about what I represent and what I’m looking for: http://amheath.com/blog/killer-books/.
4 What three tips would you give writers to help them with their submission package?
I would urge authors to consider how important it is to not make any spelling or grammatical errors in a cover letter, given that they are submitting a book.
Try and make the synopsis concise and intriguing. Look at the blurbs of other books you have read and loved as a template for how to write yours. You’ll get a good sense of how publishers try to pitch their books to readers, and therefore how the market works, which will both impress an agent and give them a strong pitch to a publisher.
Include relevant personal information. If you’re writing a spy thriller and used to work at MI6 it’s useful to know. Personally, I don’t need to hear about people’s pets, and can’t think of a context where it’s relevant.
5 What book/writer would you have loved to have represented?
That’s a bit like Desert Island Discs with one album! There’s a great scene in Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage where the author keeps packing and unpacking the books in his holiday suitcase. I’d be the same, worried about missing one by taking another, and have tended to be influenced by different books at different times. I have enjoyed being at A.M. Heath to witness the phenomenal and thoroughly deserved success of Hilary Mantel. It’s wonderful when a uniquely gifted writer achieves such widespread recognition. Her agent is my M.D. so I can say this without stirring any pots!