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Profile Summary

Sarah has been an agent since 2006.  She followed the well-worn publishing route of English at Oxford and then an editorial role at a publishing company (Hodder and Stoughton).  

Sarah has a strong client list which features prize winning authors (notably, Julian Barnes) alongside journalists, poets and playwrights.  From perusing her list, our researchers would say that her tastes and preferences lean towards literary fiction (Barnes), memoir (Emma Brockes’ ‘She Left me the Gun’ is a recent critical success), poetry (B R Collins and Blake Morrison); teen fiction (Sophie McKenzie); and some food and lifestyle (Food Writer and journalist Bee Wilson and designer Emma Bridgewater, are some of the more well-known names on her list).

We would offer the following advice to writers thinking of submitting to Sarah:

  • She likens trying to find an agent to applying for a job, and warns prospective clients to ‘Take it seriously’.  
  • Keep your cover letters business-like and brief and check manuscripts carefully for typos, grammatical errors and poor presentation. As Sarah says herself, 'The quality of the writing is my absolute priority’
  • She is an infrequent twitter user and, overall, has a fairly limited online presence.  Attempts to impress this agent via social media or a website are unlikely to work as she has previously described them as being ‘irrelevant to me as an agent’.
  • Sarah’s list suggests that she does take on debut authors. However, as an established agent with an already successful stable of authors, we believe that she is only likely to consider high quality submissions that fit with the genres represented on her existing list (see above). 

Unfortunately, Sarah has not responded to our requests for more detailed information on what she looks for in a submission so if any of our subscribers are able to add to the picture we are building of this agent please do get in touch. 



Detailed data

Agency:
United Agents
Agent since:
2006
Short biography:

Sarah Ballard read English at St. Anne's College, Oxford before studying Publishing at Oxford Brookes University. From 1998-2000, she worked for Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton, followed by a period as an in-house editor. For the past six years, she has acted as a literary agent, representing authors in her own right. In 2008, she was part of the team that established the new agency, United Agents.

Client list status:
Open to new clients
Genres this agent is interested in:
Travel, Politics, society & current affairs, Memoir and autobiography, Food and Cookery, History, Women's fiction, Historical fiction, Crime, thriller, action, General Fiction, Literary Fiction
Authors & books liked:

Really well-written commercial fiction - but it's such an elusive thing! The writing has to be lucid, and more than the sum of its parts. I like writing with a strong sense of narrative, that's also doing something interesting with the language.

Other loves & passions:

No Data.

How to make a submission:
As an agency, we value and welcome approaches from prospective authors. Instead of writing generally to the Book Department, however, we request that you take a look at our literary agents' pages on our website, and make a specific and informed approach to one agent only.
Other advice and background:

I've got a Sony Reader, so I'm quite happy to receive submissions by email or on paper, but I'm not keen on getting phonecalls from authors before I've read their work. I like a short direct letter, addressed to me personally, with a brief summary of the book- its plot and genre - and a bit of biographical background. What I'm looking for here is something that demonstrates a degree of professional stamina, I suppose, a sense that they're serious about what they're doing. Looks, PR potential, age are just the trimmings: nice for the publisher if they're there, but irrelevant to me as an agent. The quality of the writing is my absolute priority. I don't like people cracking jokes in their covering letter - I hate that, even if the novel's supposed to be funny. Submitting a manuscript is like applying for, or advertising, a job: you have to take it seriously. So it's always off-putting if the manuscript looks scruffy or if the covering letter looks odd and unbusinesslike, with lots of colours and fonts. Because I come from the editorial side, I find typos and grammatical errors especially distracting, and I'd rather not be sent a photo, though I don't mind a professional head and shoulders shot to accompany a CV.

Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
No
Follow on Twitter:
@sarahbatua
Interesting links:
http://theconstantauthor.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00:00:00Z&updated-max=2010-01-01T00:00:00Z&max-results=1
Clients:
Julian Barnes, Sally Beauman, Jane Borodale, Emma Bridgewater, Emma Brockes, Lindsay Clarke, Felicity Cloake, Josh Cohen, BR Collins, Lucy Dawson, Tim Dee, Conor Fitzgerald, Nicci French, Sean French, Venice A Fulton, Elizabeth Garner, Nicci Gerrard, Ben Goldacre, Annie Hauxwell, Alexandra Heminsley, Erin Kelly, Dorian Lynskey, Sophie McKenzie, Blake Morrison, Clare Sambrook, Susie Steiner, Simonetta Wenkert, Bee Wilson.
Full client list:
http://unitedagents.co.uk/sarah-ballard?dept=3
Email address:
sballard@unitedagents.co.uk

Agency details

Website:
http://unitedagents.co.uk/
About the agency:
United Agents was established in 2007, following the departure of all 75 members of staff from PDF (Peters Dunlop Fraser), in protest against PDF's parent company. UA is owned by its employees. UA represents actors, authors, cinematographers, composers, designers, directors, editors, playwrights, presenters, and voiceover artists. United Agents is currently in the final stage of negotiations to take over A.P. Watt, the world's longest-established literary agency. UA claim to offer its clients "unrivalled service and creative opportunities with a unique understanding of traditional and emerging media platforms".
Address for submissions:
12-26 Lexington Street, London W1F 0LE
Office address:
No data
Email address:
info@unitedagents.co.uk
Phone number:
020 3214 0800
Number of agents:
18
Accepts email submissions:
Yes
Submission type:
Standard (Letter + Synopsis + First three chapters)
Further submission info:
As an agency, we value and welcome approaches from prospective authors. Instead of writing generally to the Book Department, however, we request that you take a look at our literary agents' pages on our website, and make a specific and informed approach to one agent only. Each agent may have specific requests in terms of how they wish to receive material, and those instructions will be on their individual pages. Generally, we ask you to email a full outline for non-fiction projects, or a synopsis of your novel and the first three chapters, together with covering note telling us about yourself and your writing career to date.
More info on this agency:
No data
Average response time:
8 days
Agency Transparency Index:
34/100
Member of the AAA:
Yes
Overseas offices:
None
Accepts overseas writers:
No
Follow on Twitter:
@unitedagents
Latest news:
http://unitedagents.co.uk/news_archive
More about the agency:
United Agents was established in 2007, following the departure of all 75 members of staff from PDF (Peters Dunlop Fraser), in protest against PDF's parent company. UA is owned by its employees. UA represents actors, authors, cinematographers, composers, designers, directors, editors, playwrights, presenters, and voiceover artists. United Agents is currently in the final stage of negotiations to take over A.P. Watt, the world's longest-established literary agency. UA claim to offer its clients "unrivalled service and creative opportunities with a unique understanding of traditional and emerging media platforms".

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