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Profile Summary

In 2005, Susan Armstrong joined Conville and Walsh after a short stint at Pan Macmillan. After a spell as Clare Conville’s assistant, she became an agent and is now a senior agent at a firm known for its embrace of debut writers.

Susan’s tastes run from the accessible literary (Kate Atkinson, David Mitchell, Donna Tartt’s Secret History) to the more commercial. She is open to all the normal commercial genres – crime, thriller, book group, historical – but also has a particular love for speculative and cross-genre fiction. By this she means novels that have a small element of magical realism, supernatural, SF or fantasy to them but would still sit on the general fiction shelves (such as Station Eleven, Frankenstein and The Time-Traveller's Wife).

Her wish list in terms of writing includes, “strong prose, great storytelling, vivid characters and a true originality of vision”. We interpret that as meaning Susan will tend to be swayed more by concept / narrative / character than simply amazing prose, although you can’t get away with poor writing, no matter how strong the underlying concept.

She is also unusual in stating openly her willingness to work editorially with writers: most agents do offer editorial feedback, but they’re not all keen to advertise the fact. That said, there’s no use coming to her with mediocre work and hoping that she’ll improve it. Agents will only get involved editorially when there’s something clearly dazzling underneath.

When approaching Susan, it’s as well to be very clear – in your own mind but also in your covering letter – as to your book’s USP. In her words, “I like to know what sort of book it is, a few strong lines about the book that shows why it's unique and intriguing”.



Detailed data

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

Being an agent allows me to do what I love best: discovering new and original voices, helping debut writers launch their careers and working with already published novelists who might want a change in direction. What I look for in the writers I represent is strong prose, great storytelling, vivid characters and a true originality of vision.


I love to see literary fiction, book group/upmarket commercial women’s fiction, historical, crime, psychological thrillers and suspense. I’m also keen to see high-quality magical realism and speculative fiction. I enjoy novels that blend genres, are unusual in setting or circumstance, have unexpected twists, have a little darkness, pull at the heart-strings, and/or contain some sort of moral dilemma. Ultimately a cracking story is what I want to read. Though I’m open to submissions from anyone anywhere, I am particularly keen to hear from British, Australian and Irish writers, and those from diverse backgrounds.


Client list status:
Open to new clients
Genres this agent is interested in:
Women's fiction, Historical fiction, Crime, thriller, action, General Fiction, Literary Fiction
Authors & books liked:

The Secret History, Cloud Atlas, Under the Skin, Frankenstein, Hilary Mantel, David Mitchell, Michel Faber, Robin Hobb, Lian Hearn, Kate Atkinson, Tana French, Junot Diaz, Ann Patchett, Memoirs of a Geisha, The English Patient, His Dark Materials. As an agent, she is primarily interested in debut literary fiction, bookgroup and high quality genre fiction.

Susan comments: 'What I look for in the writers I represent is strong prose, great storytelling, vivid characters and a true originality of vision. I love to see literary fiction, book group/upmarket commercial women's fiction, historical fiction, psychological thrillers and suspense. I'm also keen to see high-quality magical realism and speculative novels. 



Other loves & passions:


How to make a submission:
If you think your work might be a good fit then please email me direct at sue@cwagency.co.uk. I like to know why an author has chosen to submit to me and a brief description of what sort of novel it is. In the first instance please send the first three chapters or 50 pages with a synopsis (no more than one page). It can take 4-6 weeks to hear back and if the book isn't one for me then you may receive a response from my assistant, for which I apologies but is simply because I receive over 100 submissions a week and it's not possible for me to reply to everyone (though I do personally look at every one). With thanks.
Other advice and background:

Always say why you're submitting to me in particular. 

Never include other agents in the email/do a group submission.

Keep your letter and synopsis brief, clear and to the point. 

When summing your book up, think about what makes it stand out from the crowd.

Don't include quotes from other writers unless they are well-known.

Most importantly, remember that it's about finding the right match for your book, not just any agent so if you receive a rejection, it means that agent wasn't the right one to take your book forwards. Rejections are a rite of passage - if you believe in your work, keep going!

Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
Yes
Follow on Twitter:
@susanW1F
Interesting links:
http://cwagency.co.uk/agent/sue-armstrong http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/blog/meet-the-agents-susan-armstrong-from-conville-walsh/
Clients:
Joanna Cannon, M L Stedman, Jess Kidd, Daniel Cole, Ali Shaw, James Hannah, Holly Cave, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Lindsay Hawdon, Joe Ide, Rebecca James, Tasha Kavanagh, Olivia Kiernan, Justine Kilkerr, Martha Conway, Lex Coulton, Nicola Mostyn, Lisa O'Donnell, Favel Parrett, Al Robertson, Kim Sherwood, Simon Sylvester, Rebecca Whitney, Simon Wroe, Keir Alexander, Stephen Baker,
Full client list:
http://cwagency.co.uk/agent/sue-armstrong
Email address:
sue@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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