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Profile Summary

James is an experienced agent and the current Managing Director of Watson, Little. As a former secretary of the Association of Author's Agents, he has a good understanding of the publishing world. His tastes are well defined on the Watson, Little website, 'I am looking for striking, quirky, character-driven, commercial and literary fiction that is thrilling, bold and beautifully written'.

James' client list is diverse and reveals an interest in crime; children; young adult (Evangeline Lilley, Elon Dann); fantasy; and horror (Conrad Williams). In the field of narrative non-fiction, he represents work developed from blogs and websites (notably, popular satirical website 'The Daily Mash); sport; history (Adam Hart Davies); science; popular culture; comedy; and illustration (comic book creator, Ian Edginton and master of the cross section, Stephen Biesty).

We can bring you the following facts about James' literary predilections and profile:

Holds a BA in English and Italian and an MA in 20th Century Literature from the University of LeedsTweets regularly about current authors and interests @agentandagentWilling to attend writing events and workshops to find new talentSays that a strong online presence and a good website help to catch an agent's attentionAn awareness of current trends in commercial literature is important but imitation will not impress. His list features a number of award winning crime writers, including Martin Edwards (The Harry Devlin series) and Christopher Fowler (the Bryant & May mysteryYou need to have set the scene within the first few pages if you want him to read on.Given his experience, James is unlikely to be actively building a client list but he has previously said that he is, 'always looking for writers with an edge who are experts in their fields'.


Detailed data

Agency:
Watson Little
Agent since:
2004
Short biography:

James looks after a dynamic and wide-ranging list of writers. He has a BA in English and Italian and an MA in 20th Century Literature from the University of Leeds and is passionate about reading and good writing. He is hugely enthusiastic about his authors' work and is always searching for new, exciting material. James was Secretary of the Association of Author's Agents from 2009-2011.

Client list status:
Open to new clients
Genres this agent is interested in:
Travel, Science, Politics, society & current affairs, Other non-fiction, Religion, Mind, Body, Spirit, Memoir and autobiography, Food and Cookery, History, Women's fiction, Science fiction, Paranormal romance, Horror, Historical fiction, Genre romance, Fantasy, Erotica, Crime, thriller, action, General Fiction, Literary Fiction
Authors & books liked:

"I am looking for striking, quirky, character-driven, commercial and literary fiction that is thrilling, bold and beautifully written. My interests range from the decidedly off-beat to the unashamedly popular side of popular culture but I am always looking for writers with an edge who are experts in their fields. At present, I'd particularly love to see strong, narrative non-fiction, including history, sport, science, popular music, comedy and website/blog-based material."

Other loves & passions:

James Wong's work on gardens and food.

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

"Check the agent's website for submission guidelines and do what they say! Emails are acceptable."

"Yes, you can contact multiple agents, but be courteous enough to let them know you are doing this, and inform them should you accept an offer; it is very annoying for an agent to spend a weekend studying an author's work only to find on the Monday that another offer had been accepted the week before."

AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES

Q. Are literary agents getting fewer submissions due to the rise of self-publishing?

James: No, they are getting more!

Q: Has self-publishing affected literary agents?

James: Not really; the agent's search for serious writers continues.

Q: Can the self-published book get the attention of an agent?

James: It can, but it does depend on the degree of success and other factors.

Q: Will agents be impressed by a web presence?

James: Broadly, yes; but if you are not good at website creation then get experienced help.

Q: What percentage of a book is read by an agent?

James: This depends -- enough to make a decision!

Q: Do sub-editors have the right qualifications and skills?

James: Yes, if you pick the right one for your book!

Q: What about copyright protection of the MS?

James: Usually quite adequate, but in the event of an infringement the AAA may be able to help.

Q: What about the contradictory comment and advice an author gets from different agents?

James: Comments will always be subjective, but are worth analysing and absorbing.

Q: Must we write purely for commercial appeal?

James: Best to immerse yourself in what is going on at the time and understand what is popular and why, but do not simply duplicate.

Q: Is the selection of children's books for publication purely commercially driven? Are themes of sex and violence creeping in too much?

James: Editors of children's books are lovely people, but with the changing times slightly darker themes will inevitably creep in.

Q: Are the first and last sentences really key?

James: No -- but they are a good start!

Q: If a book has not grabbed the reader by the throat by the 5th page, will it be binned?

James: Probably, unless you have effectively set the scene by then.

Q: Would works of acknowledged genius, if submitted today, get published?

James: If it is not what the intern is looking for, it probably will not. Newspapers try this out periodically, but fail to appreciate that publishing is market-driven.

Q: Should I complete the book before trying for an agent?

James: If fiction, absolutely.

Q: Will an agent dump a book after reading just one sentence?

James: Such brutality is very rare, but the reputation is worth having!Do not go to an agent who asks for money to read your MS.

Q: Are there any truly taboo subjects for thrillers?

James: Yes; truly appalling sexual violence etc. Discuss your intentions with your agent.

Q: How long should an author allow for a response from an agent?

James: This depends on the time of year, Watson Little try to be under 4 months. A polite nudge is acceptable if you have been waiting for far too long.

Q: Some agents ask for 3 chapters; how much material do they think they will get for that?

James: Some people do write with short chapters; use common sense and send 30-50 pages as you believe will do the job.

Q: Do film and TV tend to use adaptations or fresh material?

James: Literary agents usually have associates who handle these options; check the agent's website carefully.

Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
No
Follow on Twitter:
@agentandagent
Interesting links:
http://theasianwriter.co.uk/2010/05/writing-industries-conference-2010/
Clients:
Paul Bahn, Trevor Barnes, Steve Berry, Hayley Birch, Andrew Blackman, Jack Challoner, Guy Claxton, Dan Conaghan, Edward Craig, The Daily Mash, Windy Dryden, D.J. Enright (Estate), Ian Freer, Adrian Furnham, Anita Ganeri, Tim Hall, Alex Hesz, Andrew Jefford, Richard Jones, Will King, Bill Lamin, John Lees, Rebecca Levene, Joel Levy, Sienna Lewis, Antony Loveless, Jaromir Malek, Leah Moore, Paul Murdin, William Newton-Smith, Eamonn O'Neill, Mark Oldfield, Pamela Oldfield (Estate), Barty Phillips, Mark Piggott, Suzanne Portnoy, Tim Rayment, John Reppion, Will Robinson, Stewart Ross, Robert Shore, Daniel Smith, Mary Jane Staples, Emma Vieceli, Henning When, Philip Wilkinson, Annette Witheridge, James Wong, Tony Wrighton.
Full client list:
http://www.watsonlittle.com/Clients.HTM
Email address:
jw@watsonlittle.com

Agents of: Watson Little

Agency details

Website:
http://www.watsonlittle.com/
About the agency:
Watson, Little Ltd is a long established literary agency which handles an unusually wide range of adult, children's and young adult fiction and non-fiction. We represent authors ranging from the Hans Christian Andersen 2006 award winner Margaret Mahy to Adam Hart-Davis, alongside a host of writers, each at the top of his or her particular field of expertise. We also look after a small number of illustrators including Stephen Biesty. Watson, Little's agents combine many years of experience with modern attitudes and a keen awareness of the changing face of publishing. All forms of media are handled by in-house staff or associates with a view to developing each client's long-term career as author or illustrator.
Address for submissions:
Watson, Little Ltd Suite 315 ScreenWorks 22 Highbury Grove London N5 2ER
Office address:
No data
Email address:
office@watsonlittle.com
Phone number:
020 7388 7529
Number of agents:
5
Accepts email submissions:
Yes
Submission type:
Standard (Letter + Synopsis + First three chapters)
Further submission info:
Preliminary letter, synopsis and sample chapters. Please include return postage if you'd like to have your material returned; otherwise we will respond by email.
More info on this agency:
No data
Average response time:
8 days
Agency Transparency Index:
36/100
Member of the AAA:
Yes
Overseas offices:
None
Accepts overseas writers:
No
Follow on Twitter:
@watsonlittle
Latest news:
None
More about the agency:
Watson, Little Ltd is a long established literary agency which handles an unusually wide range of adult, children's and young adult fiction and non-fiction. We represent authors ranging from the Hans Christian Andersen 2006 award winner Margaret Mahy to Adam Hart-Davis, alongside a host of writers, each at the top of his or her particular field of expertise. We also look after a small number of illustrators including Stephen Biesty. Watson, Little's agents combine many years of experience with modern attitudes and a keen awareness of the changing face of publishing. All forms of media are handled by in-house staff or associates with a view to developing each client's long-term career as author or illustrator.

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