Monday, December 11, 2017

Ask the Industry Expert: Literary Agent Kate Nash

Literary agent Kate Nash needs no introduction to many members of the RNA. Kate has attended several RNA events, including the RNA conference 2017, where she accepted pitches from members.
It's a great pleasure to welcome Kate to the blog today. Thanks for accepting our invitation, Kate!

Please tell us a little about the Kate Nash Agency, how long it’s been established, and how you came to set it up.
I set up the Agency in 2009. As a publisher I worked with a wide variety of literary agents and
Kate Nash literary agency, helena fairfax
came to the conclusion that it was the best job in the business. This is because agents have the amazingly privileged position of being able to work closely with an author and drive the direction and success of the author’s overall career. Publishers are of course critical to an author’s success but there remains a potential tension between their interests as a business and the interests of the author. A literary agent’s interests are the author’s interests so we can be there champion as well as having those difficult conversations.
I set up my own business as I felt I was a little too old and opinionated to garner a job making the tea at an established literary agency and wanted to start building my client list right away.

What genres do you represent?
I represent commercial fiction across most genres, namely romantic fiction, women’s fiction, family sagas, historical fiction, crime and thrillers. I also represent some narrative non-fiction.

What services do you provide for your authors?
The Kate Nash Literary Agency is a full service literary agency, by which I mean that we offer representation to book authors across all territories and formats. As primary agent I would handle an author’s work across the World in English language for all book formats. For translation and television / film we work in partnership with specialist agencies: RightsPeople on translation and Collective Talent for dramatisation.

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’m looking for a gripping, unputdownable read from the opening sentence onwards. When I request to see a full manuscript, it’s usually the best thing I’ve started reading all week, possibly all month, occasionally all year. We get a lot of submissions and I read a lot so I always say to writers that if any agent requests to see more material this is a brilliant sign, even if things don’t move forward with that particular agent.

Do you ever find authors outside the slush pile? If so, how?
I have found a number of my authors from literary events and competitions. I actively try to attend a variety of writing conferences and literary festivals every year, including the Romantic Novelists Association annual conference. I feel that by the time that aspiring writers have the confidence to start attending conferences they are some way down the road in taking their craft seriously. It is affirming for me to engage face to face on all sorts of levels, to be encouraging and be available as an industry professional.

What advice would you give someone submitting to you?
My client list is fairly full meaning that I can only take on a couple of new clients a year but it is really important not to be put off by statistics like that. Finding the right agent is in some ways similar to finding “the one”: you only need one good one and the rest are irrelevant! Few things are as satisfying or as thrilling as a debut book deal for a writer and therefore I will always continue to work with new writers and encourage submissions. This year I’ve had debut success from two RNA members: Lucie Wheeler (The First Time Mums’ Club, HarperImpulse) and Maggie Sullivan (Christmas on Coronation Street, HarperFiction).
It is tough out there for new writers trying to find an agent. There are possibly not enough agents to meet the demand. Don’t take it personally if an agent isn’t interested or fails to get back to you. Agents have clear guidelines and because of the volume of submissions it is really important that writers stick to these to make sure that their submissions are read and lost somewhere in a parallel universe. My guidelines are on the website:

What’s your favourite romance novel of all time?
Pride and Prejudice because of its many other layers of social commentary, character analysis and humour.

Apart from your own authors, which book have you enjoyed the most in the past twelve months, and why?
Clare Mackintosh’s I See You was terrifying and I literally stayed up late into night to finish it.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
My favourite going-out treat is the theatre and now my children are a bit older I’m trying to go to more than just children’s theatre (great though that is).  A good few weekends are taken up with literary events so when I am at home I love to organise family days out but also relax in my kitchen on a Saturday morning, cooking and listening to Frank Skinner on Absolute Radio. I also donate a day or two a month as a trustee  to a publishing charity, the Catholic Truth Society, who publish resources for Catholics in the UK.

If you could describe your working day in just three words, what would they be?
Coffee. Work. Repeat.

Thanks so much for dropping in today, Kate, and for your thoughtful and encouraging answers. Wishing you much continued success with your authors, and we look forward to seeing you at the next conference!

If you've enjoyed Kate's interview, or have any questions or comments at all, please let us know. We'd love to hear from you!

Helena Fairfax is a freelance editor who writes feel good contemporary romances and romantic suspense. Her novel A Year of Light and Shadows tells the story of how plain Lizzie Smith is plunged into a year of mystery involving a missing princess, a false diamond, a doppelgรคnger and a hot bodyguard.
You can find out more about Helena's books and her editing services on her website


Sheryl Browne said...

I think a lot of writers seem to spend their time in a parallel universe nowadays, Kate. Love your comment about people being some way down the road to taking their craft seriously in attending conferences and events. It is a daunting step for some who may be lacking in confidence. It's always fab that agents and publishers are so welcoming and encouraging therefore. Great post!

Linda Corbett said...

I met you at the Wantage Literary Festival Pitch to an Agent in 2016. I had never met or spoken to an agent before but you were so approachable and your feedback was wonderfully encouraging. Every time I felt like giving up with my manuscript I read your feedback and it gave me the kick start I needed to keep going.

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