Today we’re delighted to welcome Lina Langlee, a literary agent from the Kate Nash Agency. Hi Lina, welcome to the RNA. Let’s dive right in with the questions.
Can you tell us a bit about the Kate Nash Agency and how you came to join it?
I’ve been working in publishing since 2013, in roles covering publicity and rights. I’ve always wanted to be a literary agent because it combines lots of reading with strategy, pitching and selling, which to me is the dream. I couldn’t quite believe my luck when I stumbled on the job ad saying that the Kate Nash Literary Agency were looking for an agent – or that I landed the role!
The agency was founded by Kate Nash in 2009 and specialises in popular fiction. We are a full service literary agency, representing new and established author – including several RNA members.
What are you looking for personally?
I often say that I am looking for stories ‘with a lot of heart’, meaning that I want the reader to be really emotionally invested in the story and its characters. My favourite kinds of books are the ones that make you both smile and tear up a bit (or straight out bawling). I’m enjoying the ‘uplit’ trend.
What makes a submission stand out to you?
The submissions that stand out are the ones where the voice grabs you instantly and you quickly get a sense for who your protagonist is. I just signed a client who had me laughing at her hopeless heroine after page one.
I see a lot of submissions that focus too much on giving backstory and letting the reader get to know the characters before something actually happens. It is better to start at the catalyst of the story, and get to know the characters based on how they react to whatever the author puts them through.
What would you like to find on the slush pile?
This is always difficult to respond to as you usually like the submissions that surprise you! But there are few things that would definitely catch my attention in the submissions inbox: for romance, I’d love to see a love story where one, or all, main characters are BAME where their background and possible cultural difference play a part in the story, but isn’t the main focus of the story. I’d also love to see some more contemporary issue-driven YA, and I’m enjoying the creepy gothic trend at the moment so would love something in that genre. I’m also always on the lookout for a good crime series.
A lot of people struggle with writing the synopsis. How important is the synopsis to you? Can you give any tips on writing one?
It is important to have as part of a submission, but I actually jump to the sample writing pretty much immediately. I only look at the synopsis when I open a submission if it isn’t clear from the covering letter what the genre and setting is, and what the main characters are called. I want the writing to speak for itself, and I want to have the same reading experience as a reader would have, i.e. I don’t want to know the plot twists in advance.
Having said that, the synopsis should definitely be a brief but precise blow-by-blow of the story, including any twists. I just, personally, choose to use the synopsis more for reference once I’ve finished reading or have read a really good chunk of it.
So I’d say it’s important to make sure to take care when writing a synopsis, but not to stress too much about it.
What is your typical working day like?
It can vary quite a bit, but will likely contain lots of emails, reading submissions as well as looking after existing clients. Kate and I work remotely, so most days we check in with each other over Skype.
What do you enjoy reading? What was the last book you read and enjoyed?
I read very widely across genres. At the moment I am reading a Sarah J Maas YA fantasy series, and Circe by Madeline Miller, which is probably quite representative of the breadth of my reading tastes.
I recently finished Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (I bought a gorgeous 80th anniversary edition with a introduction by Sarah Perry) and I really enjoyed that. It is obviously a classic but works just as well today – and it is bang on trend at the moment with its gothic and creepy atmosphere.
Thanks so much for talking to us, Lina. More about the Kate Nash Literary Agency and their submission guidelines can be found here: Kate Nash Literary Agency
Lina was talking to Karen King. Karen writes sassy, heart-warming romance and edgy YA with a heart. You can find out more about her here: Website