We are delighted that Philippa is joining us later this month and we were lucky to catch her for a few quick fire questions this afternoon:
What is on your wish list?
I would love to find fiction with a really compelling, entertaining voice at its centre or a hook that yanks you in from page one, or a shock twist that blows your mind. I am open to an array of genres, however am not best-suited to sci-fi or fantasy. In non-fiction, I’m looking for beautifully-told stories of unusual lives, but also on the commercial side, big picture explorations of important topics from a fresh perspective.
What do you look for in a submission (and what is a big ‘no-no’)?
I look for concise cover letters that distil the essence of what a book is about, and in which you can feel the author’s enthusiasm for what they’ve written. That they’re aware of my own list makes a huge difference – I will spend time on a submission if it’s clear they’ve spent time looking into what I work on, seeing as the end goal is a long, working relationship.
Red flags take the form of a submission that isn’t specifically addressed to me, and I’ve been blind copied into a general submission, or those that don’t follow guidelines, or include letters that are pages long, detailing many projects.
What are the top five tips you’d give to debut authors?
1 – Find a writing group who you can share your work with, and who will give you honest feedback. The right sounding board can give you a huge amount of perspective, flexibility and drive as a debut author and doesn’t put any pressure on your family and friends!
2 – Find books in a similar vein to your own and work backwards to see who publishes them and who represents them, they could be the perfect agent to approach.
3 – Agents and publishers will be reading your work from both a creative point of view, and a business point of view, so do the same. See how your book could fit into the current market.
4 – Don’t chase a submission up too soon. Agents will have lots to read through at any given time.
5 – Don’t forget an agent is extremely familiar with rejection, as they send out books to editors in the same way you might to agents. When they turn a book down, it’s never personal, and we’d much rather not, but it’s a huge part of the job.
Having completed a Classical Civilisation BA at Leeds University and a Publishing MA at Kingston University, Philippa Sitters has been working in literary agencies for nearly a decade. She has been building up a list of authors at David Godwin Associates since 2018 and represents both commercial and literary fiction, as well as an array of non-fiction titles. Having grown up among a family of scientists in the heart of Devon, she is constantly fighting the urge to run away to the country.