Indie Novella Publishing Masterclasses
with Irene Baldoni from Georgina Capel
In our series of masterclasses, Irene Baldoni, from leading literary agency Georgina Capel Associates is kindly provided Indie Novella students her thoughts and experience on the publishing process. In a discussion hosted by independent bookshop West End Lane Books of West Hampstead, Irene discusses what she particular looks for during the submission process and highlights the different aspects of the publishing process that an agent helps their authors navigate.
The Role of an Agent and a Literary Agency
How would you describe the role of the literary agent?
It's a difficult question because I think that agents are a bit like chameleons and they are whatever you need them to be and so they are the people who help you become the writer you want to be. And if you don't know what kind of writer you want to be they can advise you or they can help you understand what kind of writer you want to be.
We work with you throughout the journey so your relationship with literary agency and with a literary agent is ideally a long term one. Agents are sometimes described as gatekeepers or go-betweens, or nasty people, but actually I don't see the role of an agent so much as that of a gatekeeper but it's more the opposite. I think it's more of an enabler. Someone who works to help writers fulfil their ambitions. Obviously agents cannot help all writers or all the people who want to become writers, but I always like to stress that they do help rather than keep people out. And they try to champion the work of their clients and they foster good relationships and collaborative relationships with publishers with everyone in the industry.
Obviously there is an element of negative feelings when you reject someone – one might think they're keeping me out but you're never rejecting a person. You're rejecting a work if you don't think that you're the right agent for that work or if your agency doesn't do that kind of work or if you think that at this specific moment that work does not have the commercial potential to sell, but that doesn't mean the same author cannot write something else or a revised version of their work and then actually you're very happy to take them on. So even when someone receives a it should never be taken as I'm never going to get a publisher or I'm never going to become a published author – it's just a journey and sometimes it can be long one, but perseverance always pays off.
When it comes to the relationship between agent and author, how does that work?
The relationship is one of the most personal professional relationships you can find. Obviously it varies because people and writers have different personalities but if you work with someone for years then you get to know them very well. You're reading their most intimate thoughts in a way, even if they're writing in fiction. You get to know them personally through the writing and then obviously during endless brainstorming sessions and very often you get to know their families, their friend,s and you become part of their network. You become really good friends with them at times so it's a complex relationship – it's very rich. And when, for some reason, the relationship between an author and an agent ends it really feels like a love story that is ending. Like a proper split up and usually the agent is the one who gets hurt the most.
The Submission Package