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

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13 thoughts on “Behind the Book: Literary Agent Claire Wilson

  1. Pingback: Behind the Book: Ghostwriter Tom Easton – Lauren James

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  3. Pingback: Behind the Book: Library assistant Sarah Barnard + #YAShot blog tour – Lauren James

  4. Pingback: Behind the Book: Publicity Assistant Charlie Morris – Lauren James

  5. Pingback: Behind the Book: Typesetter Sorrel Packham – Lauren James

  6. Pingback: Behind the book: Cover designer Jack Noel – Lauren James

  7. Pingback: Behind the book: Foreign Rights Manager Claudia Medin – Lauren James

  8. Pingback: Behind the Book: Blogger Lucy Powrie – Lauren James

  9. Pingback: Behind the Book: Scout Natasha Farrant – Lauren James

  10. Pingback: Behind the Book: Translators Franca Fritz and Heinrich Koop – Lauren James

  11. Pingback: Behind the Book: Book Trust coordinator Katherine Webber – Lauren James

  12. Pingback: Behind the Book: Copyeditor Miranda Baker – Lauren James

  13. Pingback: Behind the Book: Media Editor Anna James – Lauren James

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