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Upskilling Tips: The Role of a Literary Agent

By Amy Joan Sayner and Georgia Appleyard


Are you publishing hopeful interested in learning more about literary agenting? Are you a writer looking for advice on how to pitch your work? An author who is unsure of the benefits of working with a literary agent?


Curtis Brown Creative has launched a new four-week online course with Jonny Geller, CEO of the Curtis Brown literary agency, to help demystify the role of a literary agent. The Literary Agent - with Jonny Geller will delve into what a literary agent does and will provide resources on rights and publishing deals. It is a perfect opportunity for writers and publishing hopefuls alike to gain a deeper insight into this side of the publishing industry.


During his thirty-year career as an agent, Geller has represented novelists, memoirists, journalists, screenwriters, actors, and musicians such as Bono, Anthony Hopkins, Lisa Jewell, Nigella Lawson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Fallon, David Mitchell, and Ruth Jones. One of GQ's "100 Most Connected Men in Britain," Geller will share his experience and masterful knowledge of the literary agenting world to help you write a perfect pitch and prepare the opening pages that will grab an agent’s attention.


Each week, students will receive one writing task to learn about researching agencies and honing their submission pages, as well as one pre-recorded video lecture that will cover topics such as working with a literary agent, mastering your pitch, what agents are really looking for, and how to polish your novel.


Also, you'll have the opportunity to find your writing community in the private student forum. Upload your completed writing tasks, give and receive peer-to-peer feedback, and discuss the week’s topics with your group (maximum of 30 students) and the CBC team.


On top of this, a Curtis Brown Creative editor with extensive agency or publishing house experience will give written feedback on one written task. There will also be an opportunity to purchase additional feedback on the first 2,000 words of your novel at the end of the course.


Though the course is fully flexible, a recommended four to six hours of study will enable you to get the most out of the material.


Course schedule:


Week One The role of the agent: how they work with authors, and what makes a really good literary agent.


Week Two Everything starts with a book: what agents look for in a story, and tips on how to polish your manuscript.


Week Three The pitch: how to communicate your story in a concise and confident way.


Week Four The author’s career: how agents help authors to build a long and lasting career.

The inaugural course will begin on Thursday 16 November, 2023 and will run again on 1 February 2024 and 7 March 2024. Packages start at £125, with thirty grants available to writers with limited financial means.


To find out more or to secure your place on the course, head to the Curtis Brown Creative website here.


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