Spotlight: Hattie Grünewald, Literary Agent
Hattie Grünewald is an Agent at The Blair Partnership who mainly looks after fiction, but also represents some non-fiction. She is particularly interested in women’s fiction, crime and thriller, historical and contemporary fiction, upmarket and accessible literary fiction, as well as some non-fiction in the fields of lifestyle and self-help.
We caught up with Hattie to find out more about her role and the type of work she loves to represent.
What is an average day like for you working as a Literary Agent?
One of my favourite things about my job is that there is no average day! Some days are all emails – sending out submissions to editors, discussing a cover with one author, discussing edits with another, negotiating offers, updating my colleagues about new projects that my authors are working on. Some days are full of meetings with editors, authors and other colleagues across the industry (I have to confess, I’m a big fan of the publishing lunch…). Some days I’m elbow-deep in an edit on a manuscript – I always like to work closely with my authors to make sure their work is in the best shape possible before submitting. And if I’m lucky, I might have some time to read submissions… though usually, this has to wait for the weekend, usually a Sunday evening while dinner is cooking.
I am incredibly grateful to all my authors for the trust they put in me – writing a book and trying to get it published is an incredibly vulnerable thing to do…it leads to the best reward – a brilliant book finding its readership.
What do you enjoy the most about the author-agent relationship?
I am incredibly grateful to all my authors for the trust they put in me – writing a book and trying to get it published is an incredibly vulnerable thing to do. It usually means that I feel very close to my authors – we ride the highs and lows of the publishing process together. I want my authors to feel they can rely on me to pitch their book the way they want it presented, that I will share my advice and knowledge with them to the best of my abilities, and that if they have any concerns or worries about the process I can be there to help them. If that relationship is working properly, it leads to the best reward – a brilliant book finding its readership.
What are you looking for in a submission?
Generally speaking, I’m currently looking for the following genres:
- Women’s fiction
- Crime and Thriller
- Historical fiction
- Contemporary fiction
- Upmarket and accessible literary fiction
- Some non-fiction in the fields of lifestyle and self-help
For me, a strong submission should grab me from the very first page with a hook, a mystery or an intriguing character. I’m looking for a confident voice, convincing dialogue and that extra sparkle that makes it distinct from other books on the market.
Your cover letter should focus first and foremost on the book itself, with a 2-3 sentence pitch and then a longer blurb that introduces me to the characters. You should have a sense both of where it would sit on bookshop shelves and comparative titles, but also what makes this book different. Any information about yourself as an author, your qualifications and publication history, and why you chose to write this book is good to know – but that should be secondary to the book itself (at least in the case of fiction).
Little things that make my heart sing in a submission include: stories about food and cooking; stories about psychoanalysis, mental health and trauma; books that aren’t afraid to call themselves feminist; diverse characters; millennial stories, as well as older protagonists; crime and thriller outside of the ‘male cop, dead woman’ mould; love stories, and stories about challenging family dynamics.
I’m not currently looking for: children’s and YA, fantasy and sci-fi, action, adventure and espionage thrillers, poetry or short stories.
What is your Desert Island book – the one book you could not do without if you were stranded on a desert island?
I think my answer to this has to be Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – because it soothes my soul, makes me laugh and inspires me, and I think I’d need that if I were on a desert island! But my other favourites include Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, Rising Strong by Brené Brown and Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.
You can also follow Hattie on Twitter