Brie Burkeman – Agent
How long have you been agent and how did you get your start Brie?
I started as a secretarial assistant at Curtis Brown (UK) thirty years ago, learnt the trade and after three years left and helped set up the Directors Guild of Great Britain. I then joined Jonathan Clowes Ltd and for sixteen years was a director there before taking a short break and setting up my own agency nine years ago. Having worked in tandem with Serafina Clarke for many years, we this month decided to consolidate our companies and so have just embarked on the next stage of life with Brie Burkeman & Serafina Clarke Ltd.
What makes your agency different than any others?
Our agency is a small, boutique agency, but we still work in all mediums; book, film, theatre and television. Being our own agency and small means the list can be as eclectic and, within commercial boundaries, as subjective as we like. I love finding that new voice but I also love the challenge of a well published or produced author who needs a new look at their career. We take the long view with our clients rather than looking at the short term.
What are you looking for specifically that you wish you would see more of?
The same thing were always looking for; original, commercial ideas combined with beautiful writing. The combination often feels like looking for the philosophers stone.
Brie what are you tired of receiving?
Badly conceived, unfinished material that isnt suitable for our agency in the first place. For instance, all the guidelines say we dont handle musicals. Does that seem to stop people sending them to us? Unfortunately no. There is so much good advice out there for writers now, not least on this site and your YouTube tips, on how to approach agents, how to prepare your material and what not to send that if a writer ignores all this information it doesnt encourage an agent to respond in the positive.
How can a new writer get your attention in a good way?
Follow the guidelines I mention, and these are available in free form in libraries, on the web etc. Get as much advice before approaching myself or another agent about the genre youre writing for and see if, for instance, the length is right. If you are writing a commercial novel for todays market and your book is only 35,000 words, its not long enough. If youre writing an authoritative book on, say, the mating habits of the American eagle, research your subject. Tell me why you are the person to write this book and what else is on the market that would be competition but why this book would be better. A new author doesnt have to be an expert in the publishing world but if they are interested in becoming a published author then some homework wouldnt go amiss.
How can a signed writer stay in your radar without driving you insane?
Im pleased to say that because our list is so small, we dont have a problem staying in touch with our clients. The beauty of email is that a short note saying hello can be replied to with an equally short note. Email is also great for helping to be in touch around the world quicker, cheaper and easier than in the past; our clients are spread around the world; they currently live in the USA, Britain, Ireland, Japan and France and we have no problems being in constant touch.
What do you wish more writers understood about you as an agent Brie that they don’t seem to?
Although being a small agency has many benefits it also of course means that we dont have the manpower to deal with the level of submissions that some of the larger agencies do. For instance a writers group in Arizona recently recommended us to their attendees and we received two hundred emails over four days. In that instance we just had to do a mass rejection as we couldnt deal with each proposal individually. As an agent, I am dependent on writers for my livelihood and I love nothing more than finding a new writer and working with them to build their career. That takes time and dedication and doesnt happen overnight. It also means reading a great deal of material and that also takes time.
What are your submission guidelines?
Our basic guidelines are available in all the good trade directories and on many of the good writers sites, but for our more detailed guidelines please visit: www.burkemanandclarke.com
This article is courtesy of http://www.gumbowriters.com
Brie Burkeman – Agent