A month ago, something amazing happened. I sent a query to Julie Crisp, former editorial director at Pan Macmillan – where she published authors including bestsellers: Ann Cleeves, China Mieville and Peter F. Hamilton – turned literary agent. A day later, she replied, asking to see the full manuscript. Three days after that (the speed was just as well, since I was holding my breath the entire time…) Julie asked to speak to me and later that week, I was holding a signed agreement in my hand.
Here’s how it happened.
I was just starting out with the querying process and found Julie’s name via the Writer’s Workshop – she was speaking at the York Festival of Writing in September. I was also trialling the Agent Hunter website for the Writer’s Workshop at the time, so was able to find out more about Julie’s ethos, interests and the sort of writing she was looking for.
Julie has worked as an editor in publishing houses all over the globe for over fifteen years, and headed up the Tor imprint in the UK before setting up her agency two years ago. She was actively looking to build her list and – having secured publishing deals for clients in a variety of genres – was on the lookout for upmarket women’s fiction in particular.
I was really nervous about the call, but Julie put me at my ease straightaway, with her overwhelming enthusiasm for the book and compliments about my writing – those are words I’ll never forget. In fact, I was pretty sure I was dreaming at one point… We talked about my background, then the logistics of preparing the novel for pitching to publishers and Julie helped me understand what to expect at each stage.
We discussed editing and it was amazing to hear her feedback on each of the three main characters in Unsteady Souls. Julie had a knack for seizing on the weak points in the story – places where I’d been scratching my head, but not able to see a way forward. I knew at that point that if Julie wanted to represent me, it was going to be an incredible journey.
The possibility of others reading and enjoying your story is what sustains many a writer through the solitary and difficult business of writing and editing a novel. It’s such an exciting prospect to be working with someone so passionate about the book to make the story the strongest it can be, and send it out into the world.
“I loved the voice, the characters, the emotion and felt a genuine resonance with the novel which is very hard to achieve. I couldn’t believe it was a debut, so accomplished was the writing. I was totally thrilled when Victoria Bird agreed to join the list.”