I have written a book. Do you accept novels by new writers?
We're one of the few agencies who are happy to take a look at work by new writers. It’s worth remembering that we are looking for not only good writing, but also people who present themselves as credible, professional authors and have a good sense of the kinds of books and writing that actually sell in the marketplace. We all love books, but publishing is a business, and you’ve got to be a great business proposition as well as a great writer if you are going to succeed.
Can I send my novel directly to a Curtis Brown agent?
Our book submissions can be found online at our Curtis Brown Creative website, which is also the home for our creative writing courses and our writing blog, offering industry information, writing tips and industry comment. On our website you can read about what our agents are looking for, direct your work to the right person, and send us your work easily and cost-effectively. All work will be read and responded to.
What should I put in my cover letter?
In your covering letter it is worth explaining briefly why you feel your manuscript will appeal to that agent in particular and how it might fit in with their list. Researching individual agents at every agency you get in touch with will give your manuscript the best chance of reaching someone who will connect with it.
If I send you my novel, can you provide any editorial advice or a reader’s critique?
We can’t undertake to provide editorial advice or reader’s critiques due to the very large volume of submissions we receive. However, our creative writing school offers courses for talented new writers, featuring writing workshops and individual tutorials to provide focused feedback on work-in-progress; plus guidance from published authors, our agents, and publishers. To find out about our courses, click here.
How can I make my submission stand out from all the hundreds of other you receive?
If you are writing within a particular genre e.g. crime, women‚ commercial fiction, travel narrative, to name a few (think of the kinds of categories you find in bookstores, a publisher is always going to ask themselves, where will this go in a shop?), you should be aware of what is already being published in that field and the kind of books that are selling and that people are talking about. However much we may personally like your work, what is crucial is that we will be able to convince a publisher that your work is a good commercial risk, that you are a writer with potential for future growth, and that you can also hit the ground running.
You’ll also need to be able to be presented as someone who is very promotable, who can write and talk engagingly and credibly about your work. You'll need to show that you are comfortable about undertaking your own social media publicity work to seed and support a publisher’s efforts, and that you're prepared to work with a publisher to maximise every relevant opportunity to support your book’s publication. So, in your cover letter, don’t forget to tell us who you are, and what you already do to make others aware of your work.
Your career as a writer will also benefit enormously if your work is likely to be of interest around the world and that, even if your writing has a very local setting, it features terrific storytelling that transcends international barriers and other media.
While you are thinking about the big picture, don’t forget the crucial nuts and bolts: we’re looking for excellent writing; for an introduction to what you have written in a succinct letter and a clear synopsis, but also for strong chapters that speak sufficiently for themselves that they make sense without you needing to give us a lot of padding.
However much you will need to be willing to undergo the surgery of an editor’s pen should you get a book deal, remember you’re unlikely to win any admiring glances unless your grammar, punctuation, spelling and style are already flawless.
How long does an agent take to decide whether or not to take me on?
All submissions will be read and responded to within 10-12 weeks, and we are working to improve on that response time. If we say no to representing you, it may not mean that we didn’t like your work, but each of us owes it to our existing clients not to become over-committed and through professional experience we also have an informed eye as to what is selling at the moment – to publishers, and to readers.
If you have got as far as being ready to submit something to an agent, you’re likely to be serious enough about your writing to keep at it, to workshop your writing in forums with other writers, and to keep honing your craft until your work is ready for representation.
Do you accept novels written in foreign languages or from writers living overseas?
We’re always pleased to be introduced to new voices and are happy to receive writing from people living anywhere in the world. However, they do have to be written in English.
I’d like to be a TV presenter. How can I apply to your agency?
We are inundated with applications from people wanting to become presenters so the most important things you can do is to get as much experience in production and in front of the camera as possible, and decide on a niche area that you want to represent. While generally we only take on established presenters we do accept submissions in the form of a CV, headshot and showreel posted or emailed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been approached to be on TV as an expert or adviser on a series. Do I need an agent?
If you have been approached, you’re welcome to contact us about representation. You do not necessarily need an agent but do make sure that you have a legal or media expert look at the contract you are being offered. These things are negotiable so it is important to check that you are getting a fair deal.
What can I do to get my screenplay read by agencies and production companies?
We don’t encourage people to send in unsolicited film scripts, because we tend to work off recommendations and contacts. However, we do accept play scripts for stage. You can send it to us as a Word or RTF document with a short cover note, synopsis of three or four lines and your CV to email@example.com.
An agent is most useful once you have made some headway on your own. This may well involve linking up with a producer or a director (it’s important to start the process of collaboration as soon as possible), entering a competition or being picked up by an organisation such as Industrial Scripts, who we collaborate with.
There are also some very good set ups for first time writers, such as the BBC's Writers Room who champion fresh new talent and accept unsolicited scripts written for film, television, radio or stage. In short, do anything you can to get the process going and make the all important links with potential collaborators.
I have written a play and I'd like to get it produced in a Theatre. Do I need an agent to help me do this?
You don't always need an agent to get your play produced. Indeed, getting your play on is often a good step to getting yourself an agent, not to mention a key part of your development as a writer.
One way is to approach the theatre direct. You can check their policy on unsolicited scripts on their website. Do some research into the different theatres and the sort of thing they accept. If you live outside London don't forget your local theatre. Start a relationship with the theatre and try and get on their young writers programme if they have one: the Royal Court Theatre and the Everyman Playhouse in Liverpool are two of them. It's a great way to learn and a good entry to finding out about that venue.
Another way is to find a director and producer who you want to work with. Check out who is producing and directing fringe work that you like and respect and get in touch with them. Approach small companies that you have noticed who do work you like. Approach young directors on MA programmes and see if they are up for getting involved. Money might be tight but that doesn't mean you can't make things happen. Hey, there are a lot of empty office buildings, why not turn one into a theatre?
Getting to work with practitioners you respect and who have fairly good production values will be the most important thing you do as a new writer. Don't obsess about the building or the theatre, just obsess about getting your play on.