Literary Agent/ Director
I have been an agent since 2002 and The Viney Agency is now one of the UK’s most successful independent literary agencies, representing a very diverse range of clients writing across a wide range of subjects.
I first started in the book trade as a bookseller and then enjoyed a twenty five year career in general trade publishing, mostly working in international sales and marketing, later becoming a board director at the major British publishing house of Little, Brown. I am the author of five published books - none of which won prizes - but writing was invaluable experience for my later career as an agent, allowing me a closer understanding of the pressures that authors can be under.
Successful agenting is ultimately about selling and my agency prides itself on being a very sales lead business. Our response times are quick, our editorial work on manuscripts detailed, our submissions to book publishers and other media focused and clear. The Viney Agency enjoys an unusually high success rate obtaining contracts for its clients and we typically rank in the top forty American or British literary agencies according to Publisher’s Marketplace (the recognised publishing industry analysis of global English language deals).
Though we are always looking for outstanding writing, we deliberately do not feature in directories for literary agencies, preferring to work pro-actively in the market with new and existing clients, often originating ideas for books. The Viney Agency is London based and operates directly in the UK, the US and Australia.
My ambition was always to run a literary agency representing clients writing across a broad range of genres. Being a literary agent is my dream job, combining my love of books and business while enabling me to work very closely with our wonderful authors and manage their careers across all media.
I have been a literary agent since 2001 and my client list comprises a diverse mix of literary and commercial novelists, writers of children's, teen and young adult books and non-fiction authors, including Holly Smale whose Geek Girl series is the UK's bestselling teen girl's series; Ian Cobain, multi-award winning Guardian journalist and author of Cruel Britannia and The History Thieves; Fleur Hitchcock, whose children's books have been The Times and The Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week; Isabel Ashdown whose psychological thriller Little Sister is a Trapeze launch title; costume historian and YA novelist Lucy Adlington, author of The Red Ribbon; 'Not the Booker' shortlisted novelist of Shame, Melanie Finn; bestselling author of the Dirty Bertie series Alan Macdonald; novelists Joanna Courtney and Susan Elliot-Wright and many more.
I am always looking for brilliant new voices in fiction - particularly upmarket commercial fiction, literary and crime fiction - and in children’s, teen and young adult writing I am captivated by strong voices and characters, intelligence, heart and humour.
I love non-fiction which gives us insight into another time or place, current affairs, lifestyle and pretty much any subject where the writing and the ideas are exceptional.
My first job was assistant to a literary agent and after that I moved into publishing, ultimately as publicity director at Penguin. During that time I ran publicity campaigns for authors such as Jonathan Coe, Jim Crace, Alex Garland, William Gibson, Patrick McGrath, Matt Ridley, Barbara Trapido and Claire Tomalin. I then joined Aitken Alexander Associates, where I found Mark Haddon on the slush pile and represented Julia Gregson, before joining The Viney Agency in December 2009.
I work very closely editorially with my clients, helping them to shape proposals and manuscripts before submitting them to publishers. I also support and speak at festivals, creative writing courses and writers’ groups like The Golden Egg Academy and The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrations.
For more information follow Kate Shaw on Twitter @KateJShaw, read her interview 'Getting Published' via blog or on Agent Hunter.