Notes from an evening with agents, Richard Pike and Emma Herdman of Curtis Brown Literary Agency

History – started in 1899 by Albert Curtis Brown, originally to bridge the gap between US and UK publishing. It has a long literary heritage. Over 100 employed, one of the largest agencies in Europe.

They have big names but are also on the look out for debut writers – fiction and non fiction.


What are you looking for?

Emma: keen to take on debut writers – quirky books, books that change the way the reader sees the world, historical fiction and contemporary fiction (possibly set in London). And cookery books.

Richard: in non fiction, really likes sport. Also, looking for debut fiction – quirky eg Bone Clocks and Station 11. Thrillers such as Sophie Hannah and Girl on the Train.


Why choose Curtis Brown?


1/Open to submissions! Hungry for new talent – at senior and junior levels.

2/CB like to develop work with authors.

3/CB invest in a long career of authors.

4/Size of translation department – selling to Europe and US. 14 in team. Boosts income for authors.

5/Film and TV dept – selling film/tv rights for books.

6/Creative Writing School

7/CB Book Club – especially for debut writers – reading group receives book, reviews it and then has an online session with the author.

8/Pitch Party on Twitter – 4th Friday of every month. If an agent favourites your tweet, then you are invited to send your submission into that agent.

9/Online submissions portal (choose agents etc).

10/CB’s support network – rights teams, contract dept. etc, frees up agents to work more closely with authors.


What makes a good cover letter?

1/Keep it brief

2/All details must be relevant

3/Synopsis – back of book blurb (entice the reader)

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