Madeleine Milburn founded the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency in March 2012, and is looking to represent authors of all types of popular and literary fiction including genres such as women’s, psychological suspense, crime and thrillers, comedy, general fiction, narrative non-fiction, children’s books, teen, young adult and cross-over.
What does a literary agent do? Book fairs and trips
I attend all the major international book fairs each year, including the Bologna Book Fair which is specifically for Children’s books, the London Book Fair and the Frankfurt book fair. I also make regular trips to the US to liaise with publishers. At the book fairs I will pitch my authors’ work to hundreds of different editors from publishing companies all over the world. I sit at a table each day and have 30 minutes with each one, starting from 9am through to 6pm with no breaks. The adrenalin keeps you going! A lot of work is done in between the book fairs too. Sometimes, I like to have sold the UK & Commonwealth rights and then get everyone else interested at the fair, other times I introduce books at the fair or I will have done a US deal beforehand. There are lots of tactics involved in creating excitement, and this is how the big advances come into play.
At every single book fair I will keep pitching every title by each author of mine if I haven’t already sold the rights. I have had eight years of experience in going to the international book fairs and getting to know foreign publishers. Now I know each editor’s individual taste and which books they will want to review. There are always surprises though, so I make sure they know about every title on my list. There are also trends that are constantly changing. For instance, last year I wouldn’t be able to sell erotica to a foreign publisher but with the success of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, masses of editors were asking for something like it. Some foreign editors only like to offer once they have seen the author’s career take off in the UK or US, or they wait until they can see proofs or finished copies. There is always potential for selling rights as an author’s career develops. Every deal is important to me, every translation deal, because they can make my authors international bestsellers.