Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ask the Industry Expert: Literary Agent, Madeleine Milburn

Literary agent Madeleine Milburn is our agent in the spotlight this month and has kindly dropped in to chat to Helena Fairfax. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Madeleine!

Please tell us a little about the Madeleine Milburn Agency, how long it’s been established, and how you came to set it up.
Madeleine Milburn. Photo credit: Libi Pedder

I started MMLA at the beginning of 2012 because I wanted to run my own ship. 

What do enjoy most about your job? And least?
I love finding new talent, looking after authors and negotiating deals. My least favourite part is rejecting someone’s work.  

What is it you are looking for when a manuscript lands on your desk? Are there any specific plots or themes you’d like to see?
I like emotional stories.  I’m really looking for the strongest love story of all time... I loved One Day, by David Nicholls, because it was basically a love story but told in a different way. 

Do you ever find authors outside the slush pile? If so, how?
99% of my authors come from the slush pile! But I do go to writing events to let writers know what I’m looking for. 

What advice would you give someone submitting to you?
 Do your research, find out what I like reading and make it clear that you have personally submitted to MMLA because you want to be represented by us!  

Do you think these days aspiring romance writers have a better chance of being published if they are planning a series? Are stand-alone novels more likely to be rejected by publishers and agents?
It depends what platform you are writing for. I think series work really well as ebooks because they tend to be published with short gaps between publications.  I love stand-alone novels but when I fall in love with a character it’s wonderful to know that they might make it into the next book.  

Aspiring writers are often advised to build a social media platform. How important do you think this is? As an agent, do you check out a writer’s online presence when you receive an interesting submission?
For fiction, I think this is far more important in the run up to publication when you have a publisher.  At the outset, all I’m concerned with is your voice.  We can teach everything else!  

What’s your favourite romance novel of all time?
One Day, by David Nicholls

Apart from your own authors, which book have you enjoyed the most in the past twelve months, and why?
I really liked The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett because it felt like a modern Sliding Doors, and I liked the overall message.  I really devoured some of the popular suspense titles like The Couple Next Door and The Ice Twins.  

What do you like to do in your spare time?
My only hobby is reading!  

If you could describe your working-day in just three words, what would they be?
Deals, deals, deals

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us today, Madeleine. Reading is the best hobby!
If you've enjoyed Madeleine's interview, or have any questions at all, please let us know. We'd love to hear from you!
* * *

Helena Fairfax's engaging contemporary romances have been shortlisted for The Exeter Novel Prize,the Global Ebook Awards and the I Heart Indie Awards. Her latest release is a romantic suspense called A Year of Light and Shadows, available on Amazon in ebook and print, and from other e-book retailers.

* * *
Thank you, Helena and Madeleine for a most interesting interview. If you would like to write for the blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

6 comments:

Karen said...


Great interview, Thanks for sharing with us, Madeleine. :)

Ellie Holmes said...

Interesting interview - thank you Madeleine and Helena.

Rae Cowie said...

Interesting and useful to learn of Madeleine's favourite reads and also that 'voice' rules above anything else. Thanks for sharing, Helena.

Priyatamil said...

Excellent incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make running a blog look easy. The overall glance of your website is magnificent, let alone the content!
GMAT Training in Chennai

Julie Vince said...

Really enjoyed reading this, love that the writer's voice is the most important thing to Madeleine. Thank you for sharing this interview - brilliant! Julie x

Hywela Lyn said...

A really interesting inerview- I too found it liked that Madeleine thinks 'voice' is so important, thanks so much Helena and Madeleine.