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How to Hook an Agent (Non-Fiction)

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22nd April 2017 - 9:30am to 2:30pm



Join us for an intimate lunch in the beautiful Georgian surroundings of Bloomsbury, London.

Are you writing a book for publication but unsure of how to find an agent? This intimate half-day event with four literary agents will give you insider knowledge on how to submit your manuscript to an agent, what they’re looking for and how to grab their attention. This event will focus specifically on popular non-fiction - making it ideal for anyone writing memoir, social history, feminist and political commentary, cookery, pop culture, popular history, narrative non-fiction and self-help. With a networking lunch and a chance for a one-to-one with the agent of your choice, you’ll receive direct  feedback on how best to hook your agent. 

Held in the historic literary surroundings of Bloomsbury at Bloomsbury Publishing, home to authors including Margaret Atwood and J.K. Rowling, this is your chance to get noticed.


9.30-10.00 Morning refreshments and a chance to meet fellow members of the group you will be attending the morning sessions with.

10.00-10.40 A how-to session on knowing when your manuscript is ready, finding the right agent and what to include in a submission package.

10.45-11.25 Advice on how to pitch your manuscript (a short exercise where you can talk about your own work is included in this section).

11.30-12.30 Agents discuss what appeals to them in a submission, with real examples and case studies from both successful and unsuccessful submissions.

12.30-1.00 Both groups will come together for an open networking session with drinks and lunch

1.00-2.30 You will have a 10-minute one-to-one session (the last session will begin at 2.30) with one of the agents and an opportunity to try out the pitch for your book, ask questions and receive feedback.

Agent profiles

Federica Leonardis is the founder of the Martin Leonardis Literary Management. Her publishing career includes four years in Foreign Rights at Ed Victor Literary Agency, three years in the Contracts department at the Orion Publishing Group and over two years at Rogers, Coleridge & White Literary Agency where she worked alongside two senior agents while building her list until July 2016.

Federica is interested in non-fiction books in the following areas:food writing and cookery but also business, psychology, smart thinking and positive thinking, self-help and life-style; in short, books that can potentially trigger positive change in any aspect of the reader’s life.

If you're a chef, a food blogger or Instagrammer and you think you have a book in you, Federica would love to hear from you. She's looking for new and fresh recipe books with the potential to become classics but also books about food that readers can curl up in bed with. Good examples are anything by Nigella Lawson and Diana Henry, The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, Salad Love by David Bez and, of course, Food for All Seasons by Oliver Rowe. 

Regarding smart thinking, lifestyle and self-help Federica is looking for books that can improve people's life in a practical way, so anything on social psychology, organisational psychology, business and productivity. Favourite books are Grit by Angela Duckworth, Presence by Amy Cuddy, The Willpower Instinct by Dr Kelly McGonigal and anything by Adam Grant. But they don't have to be serious. They can also be funny and helpful like The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight or the classic It's Called a Break-up Because It's Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amira Ruotola-Behrendt.

Fully bilingual, she considers submissions in both English and Italian.

Juliet Pickering worked for Waterstones as a bookseller and fiction buyer before starting at A P Watt in 2003, where she became an Associate Agent in 2007. Juliet joined Blake Friedmann in 2013, becoming Vice Head of the Book Department in 2017, and her authors have been shortlisted for Booker, Costa, and Guardian First Book Awards, won the Whitbread and Green Carnation Prizes and, in 2015, the prestigious French literary award Prix Femina Etranger. Juliet represents many non-fiction writers across the board, including memoir, pop culture, social history, feminist and political commentary, cookery and food writing, humour, and all sorts in-between.

Sam Copeland’s first job in publishing was at Curtis Brown, where he started in 2001. He joined Rogers, Coleridge and White in 2006 and became Director in 2016. He is building an extremely diverse list, representing writers of both literary and commercial fiction, all genre fiction, children’s, and non-fiction. 

Regarding non-fiction, he is happy to look at anything in the genre but self-help and mind, body and spirit books.

In fact, he is happy to look at anything but self-help and mind, body and spirit books. His writers have won or been shortlisted for over 20 major prizes including the Costa, National Book Awards, Carnegie, Waterstones Book of the Year, Irish Book Awards, and many more. He also teaches on the Faber Academy course, and was recently a judge for the Telegraph Harvill Crime Competition.

Follow Sam Copeland on Twitter: @stubbleagent

Before joining Felicity Bryan as an Agent in 2016, Carrie Plitt worked for five years at Conville & Walsh Literary Agency as an Assistant and then Junior Agent. Her first job was in the Rights department at Penguin. At Felicity Bryan she is actively building a list of non-fiction and fiction clients, with a focus on debut authors. She also hosts a monthly radio show and podcast about books, Literary Friction. 

She loves well-written non-fiction by authors who are passionate – perhaps even bordering on obsessive – about a topic. Her clients include experts and enthusiasts writing on a range of subjects including lighthouses, mountain climbing, the science of swearing, Alzheimer’s, why smart people make stupid mistakes, epic poetry, noise and sleep. 

She enjoys working with authors to help develop their proposals, and she has a particular interest in books about science, nature, smart thinking, history, travel, sport, health, women, art and music.

Booking and payment

How to Hook an Agent

The price for this event is £175, including lunch and the opportunity to purchase a copy of the latest edition of Writers' & Artists' Yearbook or the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook at a discounted price.

Bookings can be made by either clicking on the 'Book' buttons at the top and bottom of this page, or by calling 0207 631 5985.

If this event is Sold Out, please look out for other How to Hook an Agent events here.

Standard VAT rates apply 

Event details

The event will be held at Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP. Doors will open at 9.30am, with workshops starting at 10am prompt.


The half day session was excellent . I went into it thinking I am 75% of the way to my goal of getting something published. After the session I realised that I am really maybe only 50% of the way to that, but that is okay as all of the speakers were pragmatic, yet friendly and enthusiastic about the writing process. I came out thinking that it was money well spent as it will allow me to avoid a few of the pitfalls of the process. I would certainly recommend the course, venue and organisation - even with the time and effort to get from Scotland. Christine Thom, How to Hook an Agent - Children & YA, June 2014

Julia and Sallyanne were both really open and shattered the illusion that agents are hard, business types who make brutal decisions on a whim. They were empathetic, encouraging, funny and warm. The 10-minute session I had with Sallyanne was really helpful too. Jules Bryant, How to Hook an Agent - Children & YA, June 2014

'I thought the entire day was extremely well organised, and to have the opportunity to sit down and discuss my book with an agent was a great end to the session. I felt like I learnt so much about the process of submission, and am now approaching my work with a fresh eye. Once again, thank you.' A writer from our February 2014 conference

'Thank you so much for the day. It has provided me with an invaluable experience. I have gained much more knowledge of how to write a better submission letter and have gained a clearer understanding of the the role of the literary agent and this will help me enormously when I am finally ready to submit my manuscript. I thoroughly enjoyed the day.' A writer from our February 2014 conference

'One-to-one chats with agents were a delight - productive and inspiring. The talks were also extremely useful and covered new ground.' Magda Knight

'The conference served its purpose very well. I left with the information I hoped to obtain. Also, I can't recall receiving more helpful advice on writing the introductory letter. This was enormously helpful.' Vee Fallon

'What was genuinely invaluable was hearing about the submission process directly from agents, being able to put questions, and discovering how the "nitty gritty! of an agent's business life works. That latter was an important insight. Over the years I've research and attended several workshops/seminars. I don't think I am alone when I say that for the first time I understand exactly what needs to go in the submission letter and the synopsis. And just why the two-sentence summary and the first paragraph are so important.' Geoffrey Arnold

'Professional and well-organized, I was impressed by the "tone" of the sessions, particularly the respect shown to aspiring authors.' R. Watt

'I thoroughly enjoyed the day and felt that I took a lot away in terms of understanding how I need to change my submission structure.' Helen Joy

'I found the agents extremely helpful and the time spent discussing the process of submission with them was invaluable. Actually getting to meet and pitch to them was priceless (and my primary reason for attending).' Writer from Saturday 13th April 2013 conference

'The day brought out, as no other way could have, the degree of subjectivity amongst agents and publishers. A lesson to be learned - and straight from the "horses' mouths".' Alan Hamilton

'Event was excellent & well worth the money. The one-to-one with the agent was fantastic and almost made the whole thing worthwhile in itself.' Anne-Marie Swift

'A really useful event - it was nice to put a human face to the agents and hear what they had to say. It was wonderful to have an opportunity to practice pitching my story to a real agent who specializes in my chosen area and obtain feedback on my idea. Incredibly useful - it's given me lots of food for thought and will hopefully help me improve.' Sarah Leavesley

'The approachability of the agents - they offered advice in a friendly, un-intimidating manner. The organization was also impeccable.' Luna Chatterjee

'Very helpful. Great advice and lovely meeting other writers on their different journeys. The professionals were great, warm and encouraging.' Mandie Hooson

'Very good. Interesting, encouraging, inspiring and a nice, friendly atmosphere.' Sarah Steele

'It was all I hoped and more. It was heartening to meet real live agents and to see how welcoming and interested they are. It was useful to practice a pitch and have instant feedback.' Mary J Howell

'Excellent. Really gave honest and practical advice. I think I was very lucky to have two such good and complimentary agents (Jo Unwin and Alex Christofi). Their passion and professionalism were palpable.' Tessa McGregor