We were delighted to catch up with our December speaker, agent and publisher, Yasmin Standen, of the Standen Literary Agency. Agents – like authors – have to evolve and adapt in this ever changing world – and Yasmin has set up a boutique publisher, called Three Hares Publishing. Here are some Q and A’s in advance of the event.
1/Please give us a brief biog.
I graduated from University having read Law (LLB Hons). After practising law, I spent some time working in publishing. In 2004, I set up my agency, having a legal background was a great help and to date I have discovered a number of fantastic new writer’s. In May, 2014, I set up Three Hares Publishing and it is going from strength to strength. As an agent and publisher, I fall into a new and emerging hybrid category of agent / publisher. Someone needs to invent a clever name for it!
2/What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished editing a fantastic novel by Lauren Libbert, who recently joined my agency. I’m really looking forward to getting her manuscript out to editors. Three Hares is turning into a runaway success, the lovely Scottish Book Trust have just asked if they can feature Minty by Christina Banach as their book of the month for December – I saw the email this morning and it has made my day! I am now editing a fabulous new Scottish author, again discovered in the all important and magical realm of submissions.
3/Who was the last writer you offered representation to and why? And how did you find them?
Oops, I answered the question above without reading this one! Lauren Libbert is the last writer I offered to represent, I read her novel and was so profoundly moved by the characters, they stayed with me after I had finished reading and I kept wandering about them, how were they getting on, what they were doing?
I love the dilemma Lauren poses in the novel, it has a touch of One Day about it but is much more serious in tone and plotting. I would love to talk about it more, however, at this stage prior to pitching it to editorial, I’m sure you can understand why I am reluctant to discuss it in more detail!
4/Why did you decide to set up your agency?
I had always wanted to work in publishing, but felt law was a more vocational choice. This taught me to follow my instincts…With a legal background the only jobs open to me were in Rights departments at publishing houses. I wanted to be more hands on and creatively involved. I wanted to be there for the long term career of an author. I applied for so many jobs at agencies, alas to no avail and the only option was to set up my own agency – a scary prospect, but I did it and I have never looked back. I absolutely love being an agent.
5/What are you looking for?
Great story telling, character driven fiction with a seamless plot, which you never question. Stories with distinctive voices and most importantly, stories which move you in some way, be it they make the reader laugh, cry, despair, panic, scared, whatever the emotion, it has to be convincing to work. I’m a big fan of YA and literary fiction.
I would love to get my hands on some gorgeous, heavy weight literary fiction… I wish I could find the next David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas is a very special book.
6/What top tip could you give an unpublished author in a submission package?
Please, please, please check your submission really carefully before you send it in. This sounds simple, but do check you have the correct name, I am not too enamoured when I receive a submission bearing the name of another agent or I’m being called Mr or Jasmin, ok the latter is not that big a deal! Do follow submission guidelines carefully, most agents provide clear guidelines, it helps us to give your submission a fair and considerate review.
7/What three authors would you invite round for tea and cake?
Oh dear, this is a tough one… Anne Tyler, she looks so kind and she would have wonderful stories to tell. John Green, now here is a man who writes wholly convincing and moving books. Italo Calvino for his wonderful intellect, but if poets are allowed – Rupert Brooke, I’ve been a fan forever…I even had one of his poems read at my wedding!