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Profile Summary

Carrie Kania is unusual among London agents in having had a very high-flying career in New York publishing where, after a spell at Random House, she became Senior Vice President Publisher of Harper Perennial, HarperCollins’s more literary arm. Whilst there, she looked after well-known literary treasures (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bell Jar) and more contemporary big names, such as Michael Chabon and Barbara Kingsolver. While she was a publisher, she co-created an imprint with an emphasis on pop culture: music, fashion, film, and celebrity.

In mid-career, she decided she wanted a change, and chose to come to London to become an agent and set up a bookshop and cafe (The Society Club, in Soho, close to Conville and Walsh’s former offices.)

Her literary loves are highly eclectic. In her own words: “My home is stacked high with tomes, new and old, always on the brink of tumbling over. I love books that move me, make me question something or teach me … I like questions and love how books can offer answers (or solutions or even more questions.)”

In terms of authors she loves and recommends to others, she cites, Vendela Vida (author of And Now You Can Go, a book about a young woman’s impulsive travels following a sexual assault), Nicole Krauss (author of Man Walks Into a Room and The History of Love) and Jess Walter (Beautiful Ruins, among other books).

She hates the bulk email route to submission (“we all know a ‘bulk’ email when we receive one”). She gets most of her authors via personal recommendation rather than the slushpile, and emphasises the importance on working on authors’ careers, not just their books.



Detailed data

Agency:
C+W Agency
Agent since:
2011
Short biography:

Before packing her bags and leaving 'Bright Lights' to search for Brideshead, Carrie Kania worked in US publishing for 15 years at Random House and HarperCollins. Most recently, she was the SVP Publisher of Harper Perennial where she watched after countless authors and classics, including To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bell Jar and Brave New World; new writers such as Simon Van Booy, Sarah Hall and Tony O'Neill and notable authors such as Michael Chabon, Barbara Kingsolver and Mary Karr. She also co-founded It Books, an imprint dedicated to pop-culture, fashion, film, music and celebrity. In the imprint's first 18 months, it boasted 13 New York Times bestsellers, including two no 1 titles: Shit My Dad Says and Red by the former lead singer of Van Halen, Sammy Hagar. She has taught at NYU as well as spoken at numerous writer's conferences. She co-runs the independent bookstore/cafe The Society Club in Soho, London.

Client list status:
Keen to build client list
Genres this agent is interested in:
Travel, Politics, society & current affairs, Other non-fiction, Memoir and autobiography, History, Historical fiction, Crime, thriller, action, General Fiction, Literary Fiction
Authors & books liked:

Likes Samuel Beckett.

Other loves & passions:

Carrie is an avid follower of philosophy and fashion and the fashion of philosophy. She likes the store Liberty, taxidermy and skulls.

How to make a submission:
Agency standard submission.
Other advice and background:

Q: When did you come into agenting? What did you do before? And why agenting?

Carrie: I was in New York City for just over 15 years, working at HarperCollins.  I had an absolutely wonderful job – where I worked with great writers and a very dedicated publishing team.  But when I reached ‘a certain age’, my heart told me to try a new challenge.   I had a dream as a kid to live in London and a dream to open a bookstore – so I decided that if I didn’t try to do that now, I’d never do it.   So I moved!

I opened The Society Club with my close friend Babette Kulik.   And since my heart will always be with writers, I asked Patrick Walsh and Clare Conville if I could join their firm Conville & Walsh as an agent.   As an agent, I am able to work closely with writers at every level – from concept and proposal, to editing and direction.   It’s a wonderful job and brings me a new challenge every single day.   I feel very lucky.

Q: What sort of books do you love?

Carrie: A difficult question! My home is stacked high with tomes, new and old, always on the brink of tumbling over. I love books that move me, make me question something or teach me … I like questions and love how books can offer answers (or solutions or even more questions).

Q: Have you ever opened a new manuscript, read a single page, and thought ‘I’m going to end up making an offer on this’? What was it about that page which excited you?

Carrie: Yes.  In 2007, I was at the London Book Fair (representing Harper Perennial in the US).  I met with a foreign rights manager, she presented me a book, and I opened it – read one line and make an offer on the spot.   That book, Dandy in the Underworld, went on to be a very important book to me, personally.  And its author, Sebastian Horsley, became one of my closest friends.

Q: What’s your pet peeve on covering letters?

Carrie: When comparing yourself to another writer, please spell their name correctly.   And we all know a ‘bulk’ email when we receive one.   Sending your manuscript via email to hundreds of names pulled off the internet never works.

Q: Of the authors who are not on your list, who would you most love to represent? (You can pick a few names.)

Carrie: A very difficult question. I’d rather say that the authors (that I do not work with) that I recommend the most include Vendela Vida, Nicole Krauss and Jess Walter.

Q: Are you most drawn to beautiful writing? Or a wonderful plot? Or a stunning premise? Or what?

Carrie: It’s hard to say – I just know it when I see it.  There’s no sense in me working on something I’m not drawn to, personally.  I’ve worked on just about every sort of book there is – so after 15 years, you develop a certain taste for certain material…

Q: Have you ever surprised yourself by representing an author whose work you had assumed you wouldn’t like?

Carrie: Not yet – but I’ve only been an agent for a year and a half.

Q: Tell us how you like writers to submit work to you. And how you’d like them not to submit work.

Carrie:There’s no real wrong way (except the bulk-email!).   Email or physical mail is absolutely fine.  But I’ve been given manuscripts at parties, and – for me – that’s perfectly cool.   I’m lucky to co-own a bookstore.  Writers love bookstores and I encourage writers to come in and talk to me directly about their projects.  I’ve done one deal this year via an author I met at the store.  And I am working with two other writers via the store, too.  I have no problem having that door open and available to writers who just need advice.

Q: Where do most of your authors come from? The slushpile? Personal recommendation? Or what?

Carrie: Mainly personal recommendation – though I have gone after non-fiction writers (blogs, academics), too. [For info on non-fiction submissions, try here and here - ed.]

Q: Do you need good personal chemistry with your authors?

Carrie: Yes.  I think that is essential.  An agent is meant to be, for me anyway, the writers’ number one fan and supporter.   It is a lot easier to work with people you like.

Q: What’s the most important part of your job? Is it editing/shaping the manuscript? Selling the manuscript? Or supervising the publication process?

Carrie: All of the above!  And more (see next question)

Q: Do you get involved in shaping an author’s career?

Carrie: I think agents today need to.    At Conville & Walsh, I have the benefit of watching two of the best agents in the business (Patrick Walsh and Clare Conville) work with their writers on their careers – not just their books.   As the publishing world changes, daily it seems, it’s important for agents to be aware of the changes and help writers manage those changes – and, most of all, work within those changes to help their long-term careers as writers.   There are loads of opportunities out there for creative individuals – you just need to know where to find and how to embrace those opportunities.

Q: If you had one bit of advice to give to new writers, what would it be?

Carrie: Try to be patient.

Q: Are e-books going to bring about fundamental changes to the publishing industry? What would you say if one of your authors wanted to e-publish their next book, cutting out conventional publishers altogether?

Carrie: Remember, you’re speaking to a not-too-long-ago former publisher…   Publishers are needed.   Editors are needed.  Marketing and Publicity teams are needed. And, importantly, bookstores – physical real live bookstores – are needed.  More than needed, they are essential.
Every book is different and every author is different.   An eBook original might be the best thing for one writer – to help establish a readership – but might be a complete disaster for the next.
That said, yes, the publishing industry is changing.  But everything changes.   How you work within change, navigate change, adjust to change and embrace change is the challenge.

Q: Have you enjoyed reading more since becoming an agent? Or are there times it feels like a chore?

Carrie: :No – for me, reading is not a chore.  This isn’t a job for me; this is what I chose to do.   I work in books (agent/bookseller) practically 24 hours/7 days.   It’s my life.

Q: The grim stats: how many submissions do you get per week (or year)? And how many new authors do you take on?

Carrie: There’s no way for me to count.  I look at new material every single day.

Q: What Unique Selling Points do you have as an agent or agency?

Carrie: I am lucky I found Conville & Walsh, because they are known for editing and shaping manuscripts before going to publishers.   There’s a real core editorial sensibility here, and I love that.   Conville & Walsh also has, in my opinion, THE BEST foreign rights department – gathering book contracts for writers in numerous countries.   And with our recent alliance with the powerhouse-that-is Curtis Brown, we now have co-workers who specialize in film and television.    It’s a great firm.

Q: Do you like your authors to tweet & blog & Facebook … or do you really not care?

Carrie: I care very much, but if the author doesn’t want to, forcing someone to do ‘social media’ is not helpful to anyone.

Q: Which is most important: the editor, the publisher or the advance?

Carrie: Please.  Editor and publisher, always.

Q:If you weren’t an agent, what else would you be?

Carrie: I am everything I want to be – agent & bookseller.   I just want to be better at it.

Q: Do you secretly have a book in you? And if so, tell us more …

Of course!  Someday, someday….

Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
No
Follow on Twitter:
@MissCarrieK
Interesting links:
http://observer.com/2008/11/carrie-kania-makes-harper-perennial-clubhouse-for-losers/
Clients:
Giovanni Frazzetto, Simon van Booy, Julie Ferry, Allen Frances
Full client list:
http://cwagency.co.uk/agent/carrie-kania
Email address:
carriek@cwagency.co.uk

Agents of: C+W Agency

Agency details

Website:
http://www.convilleandwalsh.com/
About the agency:
Founded by Clare Conville and Patrick Walsh in 2000, we are a leading international literary agency based in the UK, who represent an eclectic range of best-selling and award-winning commercial and literary authors, including novelists, scientists, historians, travel writers, biographers and children's authors. We have a well-established track record nurturing talented newcomers and re-launching established authors; working closely with all our clients to provide solid advice and support from pitch to publication; and offering expert representation - often dealing directly - in all media, markets and languages across the world. Jo Unwin and Claire Conville were shortlisted for Literary Agent of the Year in the 2010 and 2012 Bookseller Industry Awards respectively. Jake Smith-Bosanquet won Rights Professional of the Year in the 2011 Bookseller Industry Awards.
Address for submissions:
5th Floor, Haymarket House, 28-9 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4SP, United Kingdom
Office address:
5th Floor, Haymarket House, 28-9 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4SP
Email address:
Look at Website for agent email
Phone number:
44 20 7393 4200
Number of agents:
9
Accepts email submissions:
Yes
Submission type:
Standard (Letter + Synopsis + First three chapters)
Further submission info:
You should send your submission (in Word.doc format) via email directly to the agent you would like to consider your work following the guidelines below. Contact details are listed under our agent profiles. Please don’t write to more than one of us. If we think a book is promising, we’ll make sure it gets to the person most likely to want to represent it. Please note, we no longer accept postal submissions. To read our individual profiles and wish lists, please take a look at the Staff page. Have a look here for more information: http://cwagency.co.uk/page/submissions
More info on this agency:
Founded by Clare Conville and Patrick Walsh in 2000, C&W describes itself as "a leading international literary agency based in the UK, who represent an eclectic range of best-selling and award-winning authors, including novelists, scientists, historians, travel writers, biographers and children's authors." In 2013, C&W announced the sale of a 50% share in the agency to industry giant, Curtis Brown. Representatives of Curtis Brown will sit on the C&W board. Conville and Walsh will also move into CB's offices in London's Haymarket. Curtis Brown will make use of C&W's excellent agency services for speakers and the two companies will share various other operations. Nevertheless, C&W will retain its operating indepedence, so we continue to list the company separately on this site. C&W's write up of themselves continues thus: "We have a well-established track record nurturing talented newcomers and re-launching established authors; working closely with all our clients to provide solid advice and support from pitch to publication; and offering expert representation - often dealing direct - in all media, markets and languages across the world. As a small group of agents, we have decades of experience in both literary and commercial publishing. We are proud of our reputation for the happy enduring relationships we have built up with our clients, and of our dynamic team of staff."
Average response time:
9 days
Agency Transparency Index:
33/100
Member of the AAA:
Yes
Overseas offices:
None
Accepts overseas writers:
No
Follow on Twitter:
@CWAgencyUK
Latest news:
http://cwagency.co.uk/section/books/news
More about the agency:
Founded by Clare Conville and Patrick Walsh in 2000, we are a leading international literary agency based in the UK, who represent an eclectic range of best-selling and award-winning commercial and literary authors, including novelists, scientists, historians, travel writers, biographers and children's authors. We have a well-established track record nurturing talented newcomers and re-launching established authors; working closely with all our clients to provide solid advice and support from pitch to publication; and offering expert representation - often dealing directly - in all media, markets and languages across the world. Jo Unwin and Claire Conville were shortlisted for Literary Agent of the Year in the 2010 and 2012 Bookseller Industry Awards respectively. Jake Smith-Bosanquet won Rights Professional of the Year in the 2011 Bookseller Industry Awards.

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