Working with a Literary Agent

Undertaking a work experience placement is definitely an invaluable way to learn about working in an industry and understanding the roles available. I knew when we had a little less class time in semester two, that I could supplement my learning with another placement in order to understand more about a part of the industry I knew little about: literary agents. I contacted Jenny Brown, one of Scotland’s biggest agents and began working with her one day a week.

Jenny Brown Associates was founded in 2002 and aims to represents authors based in Scotland, writing fiction and narrative non-fiction. Jenny has a comprehensive list of over 50 authors including Malachy Tallack, Lin Anderson and Alex Gray. She needed someone to help her work through submissions, help design her Rights Guide for London Book Fair, to post on social media, and to assist with one of the books that is coming out this year. I was more than happy to be involved in all of these tasks and to be learning from Jenny about the inner workings of a literary agency. She was always answering questions I had and helping me when I was unsure.

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The first few weeks I read a lot of submissions and wrote readers reports for Jenny, as she had just opened her submission window and was receiving a lot of emails daily from authors. This gave me a great insight into the kind of books Jenny was looking for, and we often discussed books that we found interesting and why.

Throughout my time with Jenny, I also did a lot of social media posting for her. As an agent, she has so many authors to promote and various launches and events happening almost every week. I would take photos for her Instagram, construct tweets and post on her Facebook to promote her authors and their books.

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Finally, I helped with the Rights Guide which was probably the most valuable thing I did in my time with Jenny as it really gave me an understanding of the role of agents when it comes to rights and how she works at the London Book Fair. I was able to use InDesign to work on the guide, as Jenny usually had to send it away to be worked on, so I was glad to be able to put my InDesign skills into use to make her life a wee bit easier. It was also great to know that something I had helped to work on was being used in all of her meetings at London Book Fair. Whilst at the Book Fair, I was lucky enough to be able to sit in on some of Jenny’s meetings. This was probably the best part of the fair for me, as I was able to get a real understanding about the kind of work that goes on at the fair and to see Jenny’s job in action.

Overall, work experience with a literary agent was an amazing experience for me. I was able to learn about another side of publishing I knew nothing about, to learn some new skills, meet other people in the industry and even sit in on meetings and see an agent doing their fascinating work. I would definitely recommend anyone to seek out a placement with an agent as it is a brilliant learning experience.

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Spotlight: She is Fierce Magazine

Edinburgh Napier alumni, Hannah Taylor founded She is Fierce magazine as an inspirational publication for creative young girls, who were looking for an alternative to current teen magazines. Instead of focusing on boys, celebrities or trends, Hannah uses it as a platform for championing creative women who can inspire and encourage her readers. Featuring interviews with women forging amazing and innovative careers for themselves, tutorials on how to get crafty in the kitchen or with your sewing kit, and artwork and writing from multiple contributors, She is Fierce is so much more than just a magazine.

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Every issue has a resident illustrator who creates a number of images throughout, including the cover, which gives each publication a very coherent aesthetic. She also openly invites anyone to contribute their writing whether it be poetry, a short story or a non-fiction piece, giving a platform to anyone who is talented and creative and looking to get their work published somewhere. Every issue is packed full of inspirational women doing incredible things, and I know that as a teenager, I would have loved a magazine like this with women in it that I could look up to and admire.

Hannah has also managed to create a real sense of community around She is Fierce. With her open submissions and call for work, every weekly email is a lovely reminder of the work she is doing and the numerous ways to get involved. I love the fact that she is doing something different and making an amazing publication for young girls at a time when it is especially difficult to grow up and be a teen.

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Her latest venture saw She is Fierce launch their first event, The Noisy Girls Club, and as soon as I saw it online, I knew I had to get a ticket! It was an all-day event, running from 12 noon until 5pm at the incredible Whitespace, Edinburgh. It featured a number of fantastic creatives doing tons of cool stuff. From dance performances, live music and talks to craft workshops and a pop-up shop, there was plenty to do at The Noisy Girls Club and I ended up staying for the whole time. My main interest was on the craft workshops available so I mostly chilled out and got crafty, but the beauty of the event meant that whatever your area of interest, you could dip in and out of workshops or performances.

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First off, I hung out with Birch and Bloom and learned how to make a wonderful woodland wall hanging. Using herbs like lavender and rosemary, along with ivy, pine cones and some flowers, I made a lovely (and beautifully smelling) wall hanging. Then, I did some embroidery at the Wool and the Gang embroidery station. With lots of fun designs and different fabrics, it was easy to be creative and make something cute to take home with me. There was the option, for a wee bit more money, to join a weaving class with Squid Ink Co. which I signed up for. This included all the materials for weaving plus a mini loom to take home. This class was so fun and I loved the relaxation of weaving and being creative.

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Also on offer was printing with Natasha Russell, badge-making with Wild & Kind and design your own tote with Hannah herself. There were even some talks and spoken word from incredibly inspiring women, including Jenni Sparks, Kylie Reid and poetry from Aischa Daughtery. Band, L-Space treated us to some amazing songs and the dance groups performing were incredible!

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The Noisy Girls Club was such an amazing event and I had a lovely day, getting crafty, learning, chatting to fellow Noisy Girls and being inspired by so many kind and wonderful creative people. I can’t wait for the next event, so I would recommend keeping your eyes peeled on social media to hear about what Hannah and She is Fierce get up to in the future. In the meantime, check out the magazine and if you’re a writer, artist, photographer or a generally creative person, get involved!

All images courtesy of She is Fierce and event photos by Neal Gruer www.nealgruerphotography.com