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Profile Summary

Editor turned agent, Louise Buckley is part of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror specialist agency Zeno, and was brought on to broaden the agency's genre coverage. While Louise does take on SFF work, her main priority for the agency appears to be looking for more general fiction, women's fiction, and YA. 

However, her taste is quite varied, from commercial to more niche genre fiction, from adult to YA. When it comes to fiction, she looks for compelling characters with agency. Like most readers, Louise hates a passive protagonist! Louise enjoys 'issue-led' fiction and stories that ask big, complex questions. If you have a unique voice and something interesting to say, she wants to hear from you!

Louise is not looking for any children’s or picture books, novellas, short story collections or poetry. She is also curating a small, bespoke non-fiction list. Louise is particularly keen to see authors writing in the following areas: cookery and food; health & lifestyle; popular history – particularly social history; popular psychology and sociology; biography/memoir; nature writing; true crime; parenthood.

Louise occasionally closes for submissions while she works through slushpile backlogs, so do check the Zeno website before submitting.

To find out more about Louise, have a read of our interview with her below.

Detailed data

Zeno Agency
Agent since:
Short biography:

Before joining Zeno Agency, Louise spent six years working as an editor for Pan Macmillan and Dorling Kindersley publishers. As an agent, she has broad taste in fiction and is also currently building up a small non-fiction list.

In moving to the agenting side, Louise is loving the freedom of being able to represent any authors whose work she likes whereas as an editor, she felt she was restricted to the list on which you work. She also loves the idea of working with authors from the beginning of their careers and on.

As well as working as an associate agent, Louise still offers editorial services independently. She will provide advice on entire submission packets and manuscripts. Given her experience on both sides of the publishing industry, she can provide expert advice.

Client list status:
Keen to build client list
Genres this agent is interested in:
Young adult fiction, Science, Other non-fiction, Mind, Body, Spirit, Memoir and autobiography, Food and Cookery, History, Women's fiction, Science fiction, Historical fiction, Fantasy, Crime, thriller, action, General Fiction, Literary Fiction
Authors & books liked:

Find out more about Louise's preferences in the interview below. Here, Louise names just a handful of the authors and books she has enjoyed in historical, dystopian, women's, literary, YA and many more varying genres:

  • Among the Lemon Trees, Nadia Marks
  • Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
  • Sometimes I Lie, Alice Feeney
  • The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapena
  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
  • Burial Rites,Hannah Kent
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel
  • Dark Matter, Blake Crouch
  • Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
  • Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver
  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Other loves & passions:

Louise enjoys reading all kinds of genres, from action-packed thrillers and cosy crime novels, to high-concept SF or emotionally powerful YA. She loves reading books that transport the reader to exotic locations and stories that tug on the heartstrings (“bonus points if you make me cry!”). She also enjoys reading sumptuous, epic historical fiction and loves anything with a hint of magic.

How to make a submission:
Agency standard During over several ‘open’ periods she has each year, Louise takes on an average about 3-5 authors a year. Louise occasionally closes for submissions while she works through slushpile backlogs, so do check the Zeno website before submitting. Also works as a freelance editor. You can engage Louise for editorial services at her private website:
Other advice and background:

Q. What books/authors do you love in commercial fiction? (Crime, women’s) Give us some examples and say why you liked these books/authors.

I enjoy reading a huge variety of commercial fiction books. I love reading women’s fiction with an epic, sumptuous feel – authors such as Lucy Foley or Lucinda Riley. Or summery stories set in foreign locations such as Among the Lemon Trees by Nadia Marks or The Island by Victoria Hislop. I also love reading humorous fiction with heart – books such as Miss You by Kate Eberlen or Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. 

I read a lot of psychological thrillers but there is a huge amount being published at the moment, so something would really have to stand out from the crowd for me to represent it. I am always looking for books that make me ‘gasp’, so stories full of unexpected twists and turns. Recently enjoyed reads in this category include Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney, Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough and The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.

In crime fiction I am also looking for something a bit different – a twist on the police procedural or something with a more ‘classic’ or high-concept feel to it. I loved The Dry by Jane Harper. 

I am not as keen on Dan Brown-style adventure novels or novels with a military aspect to them. 

Q. What books/authors do you love in literary/historical/book group fiction? Examples and reasons, please!

I would say my tastes tend towards the more accessible end of literary fiction – I like books that are well-written and smart with a strong voice, but not necessarily trying to break new stylistic ground. For me, plot and character have to come first, and if the quality of the writing is exceptional, well, that’s a huge bonus. 

I like books that transport me to unusual places or situations. Or that force me to ask uncomfortable questions – books that tackle important or ambitious themes and give the reader much to talk about, so books such as The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas or Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I also love authors writing about what it means to be human, authors such as Elizabeth Strout or Emma Healey or Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. 

In historical fiction I am looking for vivid characterisation and an utterly compelling plot. I love stories that focus on a little-known but fascinating person’s life, so books such as Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. My favourite periods of history to read about are the Tudor/Elizabethan/Stuart periods, the Victorian period and the first half of the Twentieth Century. 

Q. How about sci-fi/horror/fantasy/paranormal/YA dystopian/erotic? What would you be interested in, and what’s a big no?

I LOVE dystopian fiction and it doesn’t matter if it is YA or adult. Some of my favourite novels in this area include The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and Delirium by Lauren Oliver.

In my fantasy, I tend to prefer YA fantasy or simpler narratives – I don’t like overly-complex worlds and I prefer no more than three points-of-view. I also love reading magical realism and books that feature magic in a real-world setting. 

In science fiction, I prefer reading big, ‘high-concept’ novels and I generally prefer a real-world or near-future setting, rather than novels set in space. Examples would be books such as Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter or Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. 

I love reading horror but it is a tough sell at the moment and so something would have to be truly exceptional for me to take it on. But I do have a soft spot for traditional ghost stories, and authors such as Susan Hill and Shirley Jackson

I am not looking for any urban fantasy or erotica. 

Q. On the non-fiction side, are there particular areas that interest you? Does your non-fiction list have a particular slant to it?

Non-fiction is an area that I very much want to expand into, as I read so much of it in my spare time. Since becoming a mother, I have become passionate about representing authors writing about the female experience, specifically experiences of motherhood but also more broadly books that tackle what it means to be a woman in society today. 

I have a strong interest in nutrition – in both the science behind what we eat and why, and in cookery. I enjoy reading books that inspire and motivate me, so self-help and those that could be classified as ‘inspirational’. I am always interested in what makes us tick, so I like reading books about popular psychology or psychiatry. I also love reading books about nature! 

Q. And are there any areas of zero interest to you in non-fiction? What would you NOT want to see?

I enjoy reading the odd memoir or biography, but I don’t feel I am best placed to represent it as it’s not an area I know enough about. Similarly, I don’t know much about sport and I’m not really interested in books about business. 

Q. What’s your biggest turn-off in a covering letter? What would you really hope to see?

I have a few turn-offs. I am not impressed when the author prioritises writing about themselves over writing about the book – even if you have lead an amazing life, the agent will always be more interested in the book, and whether they can sell it.

I am always more attracted by covering letters that are succinct and confident, that contain all the necessary information but don’t waffle for any length. 

Q. Do you have any unpredictable loves? 

I have a huge soft spot for Groundhog Day-style novels and stories that provide a clever conceptual twist on the everyday and ask what ‘might have been’ – for example, I really enjoyed Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver and Before You Go by Clare Swatman. 

I also love reading time-slip or novels that feature time-travel. 

Q. What single piece of advice would you most want to give writers?

Persevere. You’ve been rejected thirty times? Keep going. You might need to go back to the drawing board or source an independent editorial opinion to see where you are going wrong. Then write something new or rework accordingly and try again. And repeat. 

Also, most writers don’t land agents and big publishing deals straight away. Some of them wait years and years before their big break. But you don’t always hear that on Twitter or The Bookseller, where the big success stories are given so much focus. 

Q. How many submissions do you see annually? And how many of those submissions will end up on your list?

I probably receive a few thousand submissions over several ‘open’ periods each year and take on an average of 3-5 authors a year. 

Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
Follow on Twitter:
Interesting links:
Full agency list: Ben Aaronovitch, Algis Budrys (estate), Peter V Brett, Jack Campbell, Tobias Capwell, Charlaine Harris, Michael Cobley, Myke Cole, Dave Bara, Aliette de Bodard, Naomi Foyle, William Gibson, Elizabeth Hand, Mark Hodder, Andrew Hodges, Tanya Huff, Charlie Human, Sylvia Hunter, Christopher Husberg, James P. Blaylock, Katie Lumsden, Anne Lyle, Ian R MacLeod, Louise Mangos, Marie Brennan, James Maxey, Ian McDonald, Elizabeth Moon, Tim Powers, Justina Robson, Brandon Sanderson, Simon Green, Kari Sperring, Andrew Stevens, E.J. Swift, Lavie Tidhar, Ian Tregillis, Simon K. Unsworth, Freda Warrington
Full client list:
Email address:

Agents of: Zeno Agency

Agency details

About the agency:
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Address for submissions:
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Office address:
Email Submissions only
Email address:
Phone number:
Number of agents:
Accepts email submissions:
Submission type:
Standard (Letter + Synopsis + First three chapters)
Further submission info:
We are currently open for submissions. Please ensure that you read this message in its entirety before contacting us. We are unable to consider any submissions that do not follow these guidelines. At the moment we are only looking for completed works of fiction over 75,000 words in the following categories: Crossover fiction: especially thrillers with a sci-fi, fantasy or horror twist. Horror: both adult and YA so long as it's about the characters Accessible science fiction : no tech-heavy, military or hard SF Thrillers Epic fantasy If your novel fits this brief, please email us the first three chapters (or an equivalent segment of around 50 double-spaced pages), a synopsis, and a covering letter. If you've already sent your novel to Zeno and we did not take it further, please do not send it in again. The chapters should be sent in .doc or .rtf format, in a legible font (no smaller than 12pt), double spaced, and with the pages numbered. Please ensure your name, email address, and a contact number are on the title page. The synopsis should not be cover copy, but rather a simple explanation of the story, from chapter one to the end. This shouldn't run over two pages. The covering letter should include an �elevator pitch� and a few lines about yourself and your writing career to date. Be sure to mention if you have sent another novel to Zeno before. We will get back to you, but do ask for your patience. Please note that it is not possible for us to critique or offer any editorial advice on submissions. Zeno does not accept submissions by post. Please be sure to put �SUBMISSION [title of novel] by [name]� in the subject line, then email it to info [at] zenoagency [dot] com Our turnaround time is anything up to eight weeks, longer if we�re busy with things like the London Book Fair or the World Fantasy Convention, so we ask for your patience. If we wish to see a full manuscript, we�ll ask for it. If we decide that your submission is not for us, we�ll say so � but do please note that we�re not obliged to offer you any explanation. It�s simply not possible for us to critique or offer editorial advice on everything we receive.
More info on this agency:
Zeno Agency Ltd is a London-based literary agency specialising in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror. We represent a top-drawer range of genre authors, both as primary agent and in association with a number of well-known agencies abroad. Our list comprises major brand-names, high profile award winners, talented debut authors and prestigious literary estates. Founded in 2008, Zeno was originally a partnership between literary agent John Parker and freelance literary consultant and genre critic, John Berlyne. John Parker left in 2012 and the company is now solely run by John Berlyne. In 2014 former commissioning editor John Wordsworth joined the company as an agent. Zeno is a member of the Association of Author's Agents and an affiliate member of SFWA.
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