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Profile Summary

Sally Holloway takes after Felicity Bryan herself in having a firm focus on non-fiction.

Prior to joining the agency, she worked as a senior commissioning editor at publishers including Penguin, Headline, Virgin and Fourth Estate (part of HarperCollins). There she worked on books by celebrities, politicians, and a wide variety of journalists, broadcasters and academics.

She represents:

•    writers of sports books (Johnny Acton)
•    writing on popular psychology (Psychoddities, by Ben Ambridge) and more serious psychology (eg: Ian Robertson’s Mind Sculpture and others)
•    writers on conservation (Mark Avery)
•    some travel writing (‘Giant Steps’ by the remarkable Karl Bushby)
•    Some self-development work (though – see our interview below – Sally tends to steer clear of mind, body, spirit type work)
•    Economic, financial and business non-fiction (eg, Peter Chapman’s Jungle Capitalists, Tim Harford’s economic works, Sam Wilkin’s Wealth Secrets of the 1%)
•    She also represents some of those hard-to-categorise books on the modern world, such as Koch & Lockwood’s ‘Superconnect’ about the power of networks

She says about herself “I like finding out about worlds about which I know nothing, so if a writer can take me by the metaphorical hand and transport me into that world, whether it’s historical or geographical, or indeed a world of ideas, then they’ve got me.”

In terms of approaching Sally, writers should be clear about their expertise without being pompous or self-important. It’s also vital to make it clear – through your writing – that you can actually write about complex topics in a way that makes them clear and gripping to the general reason. Also – and this is a biggie – under no circumstances should you ever use the word ‘peruse’. Lots more info in the useful interview below.



Detailed data

Agency:
Felicity Bryan Associates
Agent since:
2002
Short biography:

Sally Holloway started working as an agent in association with Felicity Bryan in autumn 2002. Previously she commissioned and edited a wide range of authors, from film stars and politicians to academics and journalists, for Penguin, Headline, Virgin and Fourth Estate.

Client list status:
Open to new clients
Genres this agent is interested in:
Memoir and autobiography, Mind, Body, Spirit, Other non-fiction, History, Politics, society & current affairs, Science, Travel, Religion, General Fiction, Literary Fiction
Authors & books liked:

She is interested in both fiction and non-fiction, particularly from innovative writers on contemporary themes.



An Interview with Sally


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.
Not my area of professional expertise but for pleasure I like reading crime fiction and psychological thrillers, and some of the Scandi stuff. I also admire Robert Harris enormously – he carries off the very difficult feat of writing page-turning novels on everything from City ‘quants’ to arcane Roman politics. His novels are commercial yet very well written and impeccably researched.

Q. What books/authors do you love in literary/historical/book group fiction? Examples and reasons, please!
My favourite writer is Kazuo Ishiguro – a very spare writer for whom what’s not said is more important than what is said. I loved Stoner, too, for a similar reason – very spare, understated writing.

Q. How about sci-fi/horror/fantasy/paranormal/YA dystopian/erotic? What would you be interested in, and what’s a big no?
Not interested in any of this!

Q. On the non-fiction side, are there particular areas that interest you? Does your non-fiction list have a particular slant to it?
My list has a strong slant towards ‘Big Ideas’, economics, business, popular science, history (both macro and micro) and – weirdly, since I have no great personal interest in it – sport!

Q. And are there any areas of zero interest to you in non-fiction? What would you NOT want to see?
I don’t really understand mind, body and spirit stuff. Most memoir is terrible, though there are a few honourable exceptions to this. Travel writing is very tough to sell.

Q. What (very roughly) is the balance of your list between literary fiction / commercial fiction / non-fiction?
Almost exclusively non-fiction

Q. Is there anything in particular you’d love to see at the moment?
Anything with a strong idea behind it that is both original and well written. The author is also probably already an expert in their field. I’m prepared to be interested in anything as long as it fulfils those criteria. One of my tick list questions is ‘Could anyone else have written this book?’ and if the answer is ‘no’ for whatever reason, then that’s a good start. I’d love to find an intelligent true crime writer who can write really well.

Q. What’s your biggest turn-off in a covering letter? What would you really hope to see?
Overfamiliarity or, by contrast, pomposity. Ridiculous self-aggrandising comparisons to established writers. I also have an irrational dislike of the word ‘peruse’.
On the other hand, I really want to establish quickly that the author knows what they’re talking about, genuinely wants to and is capable of writing for the general reader (we get a lot of academics approaching us who fulfil neither of these criteria) and has thought it through. Also, that they have done their research on similar books, the market etc.

Q. What are your biggest peeves in an opening page or opening chapter? And what do you love to see?
I want it to grab me from the outset. I don’t really care how that’s done. If I’m bored by the opening pages or they’re not getting to the point, I’m not going to read any further.

Q. Do you have any unpredictable loves?
I like finding out about worlds about which I know nothing, so if a writer can take me by the metaphorical hand and transport me into that world, whether it’s historical or geographical, or indeed a world of ideas, then they’ve got me.

Q. Would you take on an author who had self-published? What kind of self-pub sales would make you sit up?
Only if I feel they have more books in them. I see a lot of self-published business books which often aren’t at all bad, but I frequently feel that that is going to be that author’s one and only book. It’s not to do with sales (unless we’re talking hundreds of thousands!), it’s about potential.

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

Q. How many submissions do you see annually? And how many of those submissions will end up on your list?
I don’t see everything that comes on to our slush pile – it is filtered before I see it – but I look at several hundred submissions a year, of which I take on 2 or 3. What’s more, I know almost instantly which ones I’m seriously interested in.

Q. Do you look for social media and online presence? Do you care?
Depends on the type of book. Business books it’s pretty essential unless you’re already an established author; history and science it matters a lot less. Only do it if you enjoy it and choose just one platform to concentrate your efforts on.

Q. When people are pitching the concept for a book to you, what do you find is the most common failing?
They haven’t thought it through and/or it lacks substance. They should think to themselves: Is this a book-length idea? If so, can it be broken up into 8-10 chapters and what are they? If they can’t do that, then they should stop right there.
Q: What character (from any book) would you be and why?
Dorothea from Middlemarch. I read Middlemarch when I was 18 and I really empathized with her then in a way I haven’t really done with any character in a novel since, though I’ve enjoy reading about plenty of them.

Q: Which 3 famous people (alive or deceased) would you invite to a dinner party and why?
Three of the greatest politicians of the twentieth century, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi. I’d like to know what they’re really like and whether they’d get on with each other!


Other loves & passions:

No data

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

An extract from our interview with Sally which is available on the house blog (link in the interesting Links section): Q. What's your biggest turn-off in a covering letter? What would you really hope to see? Overfamiliarity or, by contrast, pomposity. Ridiculous self-aggrandising comparisons to established writers. I also have an irrational dislike of the word 'peruse'. On the other hand, I really want to establish quickly that the author knows what they're talking about, genuinely wants to and is capable of writing for the general reader (we get a lot of academics approaching us who fulfil neither of these criteria) and has thought it through. Also, that they have done their research on similar books, the market etc. Q. What are your biggest peeves in an opening page or opening chapter? And what do you love to see? I want it to grab me from the outset. I don't really care how that's done. If I'm bored by the opening pages or they're not getting to the point, I'm not going to read any further. Q. What single piece of advice would you most want to give writers? Do your research.

Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
Yes
Follow on Twitter:
Does not Tweet
Interesting links:
http://agenthunter.co.uk/blog/meet-the-agents-an-interview-with-sally-holloway/
Clients:
Ben Ambridge, Johnny Acton, Mark Avery, Johnny Beardsall, Karl Bushby, Tom Butler-Bowdon, Peter Chapman, James Fairhead, Jan Filochowski, David Goldblatt, Simon Hall, Tim Harford, Richard Koch, Alysa Levene, Greg Lockwood, Glyn Redworth, Ian Robertson, David Waltham, Sam Wilkin. On behalf of the Zoe Pagnamenta agency: Andrew Blum.
Full client list:
http://www.felicitybryan.com/SallyAuthors.html
Email address:
agency@felicitybryan.com

Agents of: Felicity Bryan Associates

Agency details

Website:
http://www.felicitybryan.com/
About the agency:
No data
Address for submissions:
Felicity Bryan Literary Agency, 2a North Parade Avenue, Oxford OX2 6LX.
Office address:
No data
Email address:
agency@felicitybryan.com
Phone number:
01865 513816
Number of agents:
6
Accepts email submissions:
No
Submission type:
Other - see details
Further submission info:
Fiction: Please write to us enclosing a synopsis and the first three or four consecutive chapters on loose A4 paper, one side only, with double or 1.5 line spacing. Please ensure that the pages are numbered. In the covering letter, tell us briefly about any previously published work and relevant details about yourself. Please include your email address and sufficient return postage if you would like us to return your manuscript, otherwise just a stamped addressed envelope for our response. Do make sure you keep a copy of all material submitted to us. Non-fiction: We suggest you include the following in your submission: A covering letter of ideally not more than one page, explaining who you are and why you are the best person to write the proposed book. An outline of 3-4 pages, on A4 paper, double-spaced, setting out clearly why the book is important and original, what research or experience you are basing it on, how it compares to any other books on the subject, and what you would cover in it. Children's books: We welcome novels for children of 8 and older, including Young Adult novels. We don't represent illustrators, or picture book writers. Please follow the same guidelines as for Fiction in submitting your work to us.
More info on this agency:
Founded in 1988 by Felicity Bryan, our agency represents a wide variety of distinguished authors writing adult non-fiction, fiction and children's literature. Based in Oxford, we see ourselves very much as an international agency selling rights in our authors' books throughout the world. We also work closely with a select number of film and TV agents. We pride ourselves in the personal attention we give to our clients and when The Society of Authors held a poll of how its members rated their agents we were voted number two.
Average response time:
8 days
Agency Transparency Index:
41/100
Member of the AAA:
Yes
Overseas offices:
None
Accepts overseas writers:
No
Follow on Twitter:
None
Latest news:
http://www.felicitybryan.com/News.html
More about the agency:
No data

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