Sarah Manning is a new literary agent at United Talent Agency, working alongside Juliet Mushens and Diana Beaumont. She is now actively actively seeking submissions to build her list of authors.
I’ve recently been promoted to agent and building my list from scratch is both terrifying and incredibly exciting! My very first job was in the Paperbacks Department at Orion, I then worked in script development for TV and film for a short while before moving to The Agency Group as assistant to Juliet Mushens. I’m dedicated to reading my slush pile and am keen to discover new authors; I find building an author’s long-term career incredibly rewarding and is a large part of why I love being an agent. My taste is eclectic and I’m building my list to encompass both fiction and non-fiction.
In terms of fiction, I love stories that have a strong hook – an idea or event that steadfastly pulls me through the narrative – and am interested in stories that combine these high-concepts with quirky and unique voices. A couple of my favourite novels which do this brilliantly are The Rosie Project and The Wasp Factory. I’d say my taste leans more towards the very accessible literary fiction and upmarket commercial fiction, as I like to be completely immersed in the characters and setting from page 1. I also love stories that tackle complex topics with heart-warming (even if flawed) characters, such as Room and Me Before You.
One of the best novels I’ve read in the last couple of years is Pretty Is. It is about two twelve year-old girls who were kidnapped for six weeks during the summer. We then join their story years later when their paths collide again at the age of thirty. A fiercely thought-provoking novel that doesn’t conform to most mainstream dialogues on this topic, I enjoyed the subtleties which were so expertly layered throughout. I think this is a perfect example of a well-structured and developed novel with the pace of a thriller but without the contrived plotting that I think some stories fall victim to.
For non-fiction, I’m really looking for interesting people with inspiring stories, or who shine a new perspective on issues/events. For me, this needs to be written in a very narrative and accessible way.
I’m actively seeking to build my client list and have so much energy and enthusiasm to dedicate to those authors who I really believe in. I’m very hands-on editorially and would describe myself as the biggest possible cheerleader for all my authors. If you’d like to submit to me, please send in a cover letter, synopsis and first three chapters to Sarah.Manning@unitedtalent.com
You can also find me on Twitter @SarahManning123