Book Broker – An interview with Eve White & Ludo Cinelli
Agents: Eve White & Ludo Cinelli
Crime/thriller, reading-group fiction, literary fiction, commercial nonfiction, literary nonfiction.
Eve White started the Eve White Literary Agency in 2003. Her company has grown to represent everything from prize-winning literary fiction to bestselling picture books whilst maintaining the caring, family feel of a boutique agency. Eve’s goal from the start was for massive success for each of a small stable of authors.
She is very happy to say that she has achieved that aim with Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling writers on her list and many book-to-film deals signed. Throughout it all she has continued to work with each individual closely – both editorially and to help to shape their career.
Eve was shortlisted for The British Book Awards, Literary Agent of the Year 2015 and in 2017.
Ludo Cinelli joined the Eve White Literary Agency in 2017 after various internships in the publishing industry. He assists Eve White on her list of clients as well as building and maintaining his own. He has an MA in creative writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. Regardless of their genre, the books he loves shine a light on unfamiliar people, places, and things.
When you’re reading a great submission, it feels as if you’re in a bookshop. You’ve read a cracking blurb, opened the book, read the first couple of pages, and instantly taken it to the till to buy.
2) What is the most common error or flaw you see in query letters?
A common flaw is an exhaustive hard sell, rather than giving us a brief, passionate introduction. The words speak for themselves, and we want to be left to draw our own conclusions. We don’t want to be told that a submission will be successful; we want to find that out for ourselves.
3) What's a typical warning sign that a manuscript isn't ready for representation?
The level of polish that has gone into a submission. A covering letter or opening chapters with typos, unnecessary repetition, clumsy wording, or any other sign that a professional level of care and attention hasn’t gone into a manuscript.
4) What advice can you give to writers who are submitting their work?
Follow any submission guidelines. Agents design these to make their lives easier and will be frustrated if they’re ignored. The administration involved in getting through the submission process is expensive and time-consuming. Following the guidelines shows an agent that you’re treating your writing life professionally. This is especially important to us as we consider developing an author’s career.
5) Are there any recent changes or trends in the publishing industry that you think authors should know about?
If you mean trends in terms of topics and genre, writers should ignore them, as they will have changed or moved on by the time their book is published. We’re much more excited to read something written with passion and energy and little consideration for what’s currently on trend, rather than something written to a brief to fit the market. That said, writers should always be aware of the tradition they’re writing in and comparative titles – all great writers are great readers.
6) You've just decided to represent an author and the contract is signed. What steps do you take to prep the manuscript for submission to publishers?
We will do as much editing as we think the book will need to give it the best possible chance of getting more than one offer, both here in the UK and internationally. Sometimes this takes a week; sometimes it takes months. There is no pattern, and we only know a manuscript is ready when it feels ready.
7) What's the best (non-client) book you've read recently, and how did it hook you?
Eve – A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. What grabbed me was the pure joy in the words themselves, and in the way the main character lives his life to the full in such dire circumstances.
Ludo – Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry. It hooked me with its sparse, dreamlike atmosphere, its dissection of fragile masculinity, and its laugh-out-loud humour.
8) Can you tell us about an exciting author you're working with at the moment?
Eve – Luan Goldie. While working with Luan to get her first novel, NIGHTINGALE POINT, up to scratch for submission, she won the Costa Short Story Award. This was exciting for us because it generated a lot of interest in her writing, and it’s thrilling to finally see it in bookshops. It is a story of five people living in a council estate in the East End, and I fell in love with the empathy with which Luan tells this story. HQ at HarperCollins have now done a fantastic job of the package, of the PR, and of the sales. One of the most exciting things about being an agent is seeing a book come together in this way.
Ludo – James Clarke. He’s just won the Betty Trask Prize with his debut, THE LITTEN PATH, about the ’84/’85 miners’ strike. His upcoming novel-in-stories, HOLLOW IN THE LAND, is out with Serpent’s Tail in April 2020; it’s set in a small valley in Lancashire, where the rural and industrial collide. His evocative yet fiercely realist style and his deep empathy for all his characters make him one of Britain’s most brilliant young writers.