Agenting in Isolation

Apr 15, 2020

For their article ‘Agenting in Isolation’, BookBrunch asked a number of agents how their working life has changed, including our own Head of Books, Tim Bates. See what he had to say:

Are you and your agency as receptive to new clients as usual?

Tim: Absolutely. Now as much as ever. I’ve taken on four new clients over the last couple of weeks for various non-fiction projects, and as an agency we’re very active in pursuit of new clients and ideas. It’s a great time to work on manuscripts and proposals with authors, while we’ve all got additional time and space. And it’s hugely important that, when we all emerge from this, we’re in good shape for the remainder of this year, and next.

How are the submissions (to publishers) and acquisitions processes working?

Tim: The acquisitions process has inevitably been a bit slower than usual, but it appears that publishers are getting used to the new reality and things are going more smoothly now. I don’t envy their having to conduct editorial and acquisitions meetings via Zoom, let alone a cover meeting. It remains to be seen how things will evolve and whether we’ll see deliberate belt-tightening from publishers, but we’ve done a very good number of deals since lockdown, including the conclusion of a multi-publisher auction for a significant amount of money, so in the main things look in pretty good shape.

How are your communications with authors who have books out now or in the coming months?

Tim: The communications are fine. Publishers are being brilliantly creative at improvising publicity campaigns online and via social media, and certainly authors at the more commercial end of the market (where supermarkets and ebooks make up a good proportion of sales) have been less affected than those who rely on traditional booksellers. Some authors have been terribly impacted by Amazon stock issues, but it appears that these are mostly being resolved. We need to be vigilant.

Are any good things emerging from this?

Tim: People are being more communicative and sharing problems and ideas – I’ve had some really interesting and creative chats with editors and authors. People have more time to focus on what truly matters, with fewer meetings and distractions, and good and original ideas will certainly emerge from this period. We’re seeing confirmation, if it was needed, that stories nurture and console us.

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