Behind the Book: Literary Agent Claire Wilson

Previously in this series: Agent | Ghostwriter | Editor | Library Assistant  | Publicity Assistant | Typesetter | Cover Designer | Foreign Rights Manager | Blogger |Scout |Translators | Book charity | Copyeditor

I’m very excited to announce a new blog series today. Inspired by Samantha Shannon’s blog series A book from the beginning, I’ve decided to interview some of the many wonderful people who are involved in the process of taking a book from a writer’s early draft to a polished, published novel.

I had no idea how much work was involved in publishing before I became an author. Hopefully this series will be a useful resource for anyone aspiring to work in publishing, to give them an idea of all the different options available beyond just writing and editing.

There are going to be interviews with editors, designers, publicists, ghost writers and more, but I thought it would be apt to start with the person who made it all possible: my agent Claire Wilson of Rogers, Coleridge and White Literary Agency.

Claire is one of the most genuinely lovely, passionate people I have ever met, and I feel so honoured that such a prestigious agent represents me. She supports her authors with everything she has, and I don’t know where I would be today without her.


What does your job involve?

Representing authors through their entire careers – giving advice, fighting their corner when necessary, offering support. And staying up too late reading brilliant manuscripts.

How did you get started as an agent? Did you do any work experience?

I worked in customer services and sales for an educational publisher and then foreign rights for a trade non-fiction publisher, before joining RCW as an assistant and then moving on to build my own list.

Have you ever wanted to write yourself?

I always used to be sure I would be an author when I grew up. I’ve since come to realise that the job involves actually writing books (something I’ve never managed to do), and have become resigned to the fact that it’s not for me.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

The moment when a finished book first comes in is never going to stop being exciting. And now, thanks to Twitter, getting to see author selfies of that moment is probably even better!

529252You represent a huge range of different genres – what’s your personal favourite genre? What are some of your favourite children’s books from your childhood?

I’ve always read everything – when I was a child I was a completely indiscriminate reader and devoured everything I came across, from David Lodge to Sweet Valley High. I still like to read very widely, and that’s part of why I think the children’s publishing industry is the best. Some of my favourite childhood books are CATCHER IN THE RYE, A LITTLE PRINCESS, MATILDA.

What are you proudest of in your career?

I am really so proud to be part of RCW, and to have learnt from Deborah Rogers.

What would you love to see in a submission?

An arresting concept, humour or darkness (or both), strength of voice.

What drew you to The Next Together? 😉

What’s not to like?! Romance, comedy, epic concept, fascinating detail. The warmth and appeal of the characters struck me immediately.

Has being involved in publishing changed how you read books for pleasure?

I do read more analytically now, but if anything I enjoy it even more.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to get into publishing?

Get an entry level job in any department, rather than interning in the most popular ones. Getting a foot in the door is what matters, and being paid for it is important.


Claire Wilson is head of the Children’s Department at Rogers, Coleridge and White. She joined RCW in 2007, having previously worked in publishing sales and rights, and now looks after an eclectic list of talented children’s and YA authors there, from Katherine Rundell to Sally Green. The authors on her list have been nominated for or won every major children’s prize, including the Costa, the National Book Awards, the Blue Peter, the Carnegie, the Branford Boase and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.

Follow Claire Wilson on Twitter: @cmlwilson

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the twice Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series, as well as the dyslexia-friendly novella The Starlight Watchmaker and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. Her upcoming release is The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker. She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone, and been translated into five languages worldwide. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. The Last Beginning was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient.  She has written articles for numerous publications, including the GuardianBuzzfeed, Den of GeekThe Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2020. She teaches creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.

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