Agent: Sarah Ballard
I studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University and Publishing at Oxford Brookes University before starting my publishing career in editorial at Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton. I was In House Editor at PFD from 2000, working across the agency's client list to develop and support every sort of writing, and particularly with the legendary agent Pat Kavanagh. I began working solely as a literary agent in my own right in 2008 with the creation of United Agents, which I helped to establish and where I am now a Partner. I have held the position of Treasurer to the Association of Authors' Agents and in 2020 I have been shortlisted for the British Book Awards Agent of the Year.
I have a busy list and am being extremely selective about what I take on: I would hope to take on around 3 new authors in the coming year. I have extremely broad taste in fiction and non-fiction, but the underlying quality of the work that I’m interested in is a sense of urgency, and an attempt to make a change in the world, whether that is fiction with a compelling plot or structure overlaying a set of big ideas; memoir-ish non fiction flavoured with obsession and unfolding a hidden agenda; or meticulously researched history which changes our world view. I have a particular interest in feminism and feminist approaches - but exploring ideas or angles which are completely new to me is one of the great joys of my job. I prefer to work with writers who are more-or-less based in the UK, and are aiming to deliver a book every one or two years, and for whom I can add something to every area of their creative lives.
I’d prefer to consider your work only when a draft is complete rather than reading work-in-progress (since rereading with clarity is complicated). Ideally I’d like to see the first three chapters, and a page-long synopsis giving me the full arc of the book in the first instance. Please tell me why you think we would be a good match for each other, too.
I don't represent YA or children’s books, and I’m probably not the right person for submissions of Sci Fi or Sagas (though I’m prepared to be surprised).
I worked at Curtis Brown before joining United Agents in 2016. Before books, I was a research scientist designing and synthesising novel drugs (white coat and everything), and science books remain a particular passion of mine. I am particularly interested in smart and engaging popular science, as well as literary and commercial fiction. I do not represent authors for children's and YA literature. My list includes Marieke Bigg, Ioan Marc Jones, Sarah Burton, Jem Poster and Johanna Lukate.
To submit to either Sarah Ballard or Eli Keren, please follow our submission guidelines, which can be found here.