Interview with Literary Agent, Isabel Atherton


Today I’m chatting to Isabel Atherton, literary agent and director of Creative Authors Ltd. (and my agent!).

Kate Ormand: Hi Isabel! Thanks so much for stopping by. Do you remember when THE WANDERERS first landed in your inbox? First impressions?
Isabel Atherton: Hello Kate, thanks for having me on your blog. Yes, I do! It was way back in early 2013. It was a couple of months before I moved to Manhattan. I recall reading it in my bed in Whitstable and being totally blown away by it. I thought, Kate has come up with something really special here.

KO: What makes a good impression for you with a new submission, which could then potentially lead to an offer of representation (or a new project that excites you with an existing client)? Some examples of past experiences?
IA: Well, funny enough I remember being gripped by your email submission for DARK DAYS. I was sitting at a bar near the Flatiron building, sipping water and waiting for a publisher to join me for a lunch meeting. I didn’t have data roaming on my phone and was only able to download part of your email, but was instantly gripped. I liked the way you presented yourself (I still do!) and just had a really good feeling we could work together well.

As to possible new clients and their work – I like people to do their research first. I loathe ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ on email submissions. It just smacks of people not bothering to look at the Creative Authors website to see who we represent and what areas we are interested in. Like with any industry being professional is key, as well as having talent of course!

It is a personal preference for me when I take something on. It could be a book on knitted aliens to a picture book, but I have to get a good feeling from the author and really love the book. It can take a long time to place a manuscript, so I need to feel I am still going to feel passionate say in a year’s time if we are still trying to place it. I am very excited about Ged Adamson’s latest picture book. We’ve been refining it for months and it’s now out on submission. It features Ged’s wonderful sense of humour and wonderful characters, so I have my fingers and toes crossed for that one.

KO: We’ve talked first impressions, but what about when you’ve read something – what stuck with you after reading THE WANDERERS for the first time?
IA: If it’s a new client, then it has to stay with me – I need to be meditating on it well after I have finished reading it. With THE WANDERERS I was just so gripped. I loved the setting of the circus and Flo is just such a great character. I actually stayed up all night reading it, which when you’re running a busy international agency is something, as I normally flop by 7pm.

KO: What do you look for/make note of when reading any new submission for the first time? Some examples?
IA: Well, my list is so eclectic – so it really varies from project to project. As an example, I am currently working on a gardening book, seven picture books, a cookery book, and two memoirs! I look for a good voice, compelling plot (if fiction), good author platform, will I gel with the client and vice versa. The latter is very important to me. It saves a lot of hassle down the road if you can tell you’ll be compatible with a client in a business relationship and creative partnership.

Photo credit: Hillary Heflin
Rosie the pug!
Photo credit: Hillary Heflin

KO: Flo’s a horse shifter. What animal would you transform into if you could choose?
IA: My pug, Rosie! She is such a diva. I call her the Princess of the West Village. My husband and I joke we’d like to come back as her in our next lives and have awesome owners like us. She is spoiled rotten.

KO: Hehe! I totally knew what your answer would be! And to finish, can you share one of your favourite quotes or scenes from THE WANDERERS?
IA: The color of the sky matches my mood. Gray and miserable. I wish it’d stop raining all the time. The campfire burned out in the early hours, now a heap of black logs in the dull morning light. The air smells of damp earth and wet leaves.

KO: Thanks so much!
IA: Thank you. Here’s to the book being a knock out bestseller!

Established in February 2008 by Isabel Atherton, Creative Authors Limited represents titles with strong commercial potential in literary fiction, general fiction, arts and crafts, biography, autobiography, health, business, cookery and children’s fiction. Other areas of interest include history, natural history, humour, popular culture, women’s fiction and crime. We are also looking for talented, enthusiastic and adaptable illustrators. A British literary agency based on Manhattan.

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Follow Creative Authors Ltd on Twitter: @creativeauthors

THE WANDERERS is out September 1, 2015 with Sky Pony Press. Here are the links to pre-order and add on Goodreads: The Book DepositoryAmazon UKAmazon USBarnes and NobleIndieBoundGoodreads.