The Watson, Little Publishing Masterclass
with Laetitia Rutherford
Indie Novella is delighted to be working with literary agency, Watson, Little to bring industry knowledge direct from the literary agent to authors and promote diversity in publishing. Literary agent, Laetitia Rutherford, speaks to Indie Novella editor, Hannah Walker, on the role of a literary agent, what an agent does, the submissions process, and her advice for new writers.
Watson, Little celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2021 and Laetitia has been a literary agent at the agency for approaching ten years. In this Masterclass, Laetitia offers students at Indie Novella inside industry knowledge on the role of the agent and the nature of the relationship between the author and the agent. We ask Laetitia what a typical day would be like for a literary agent - something pivotal for a writer to understand when seeking representation - and the various roles an agent has to play on daily basis from working through submissions, to representing their authors throughout the publishing process. Laetitia also sheds light on the Submission Process, offering invaluable advice on what certain agents are looking for and what to look out for in your own submission package.
The nature of the relationship between the author and the agent
An agent is a person who finds writing talent, shapes and develops it and helps them work it into a commercial proposition to take to publishers. Once we do that, we get the deal, and then we are into the phase of the writer's career where you are looking after them in a triangular relationship with a publisher, hopefully going on to do many books together so the role will change a lot over time as the author’s career develops. It’s a combination of the creative work with the writer and the negotiation with the publisher. You are a troubleshooter - if any problems or questions arise as to the cover, the marketing, how the book is stocked etc. you can bring your perspective, market awareness and knowledge to help the writer understand those processes. Should any conflicts arise, you can troubleshoot, resolve and protect the writer from from having to have those sorts of conversations, and allow them to develop as a writer.
The relationship between author and agent is an organic, creative relationship. It goes beyond simply the agency letter and is more fluid. There is a lot of creative back-and-forth and you’re there to help to draw out the best book that the author can possibly produce and increase their awareness of how that can work most effectively in the commercial landscape.