A blue pencil was traditionally used by editors to show corrections to manuscripts as blue didn’t show in most reproduction processes. In the digital world blue pencils are seen more rarely but they still exist as a metaphor for editing.

The idea of collaboration between editor and writer isn’t new. Once it was the job of agents and publishers to nurture new literary talent. But in today’s saturated market you need to arrive with a polished manuscript. An editor is your second pair of eyes. Our job is to encourage, persuade and problem solve. Working with us is making the leap from the fear of criticism to accepting support and establishing a clearer perspective of the market – understanding work as product, not just art.

 

“Writing isn’t just being heard, it’s about forming a relationship with the reader and understanding who that reader is.”

Sara Sarre

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Head Editor & Founder

Sara discovered a talent for editing following her involvement in a number of writers’ workshops. After being asked to read more and more novels she was eventually offered a fee and in 2015 founded Bluepencilagency. Prior to this she worked as an Interiors journalist for magazines and newspapers. She has also written short stories that have been published, recorded for radio and shortlisted. Sara writes women’s commercial fiction under her pen name, Sara James and her first novel, Mothering Sundays, will be published by Orion in February 2021. She studied scriptwriting, completed an MA in creative writing and a novel writing course at Curtis Brown Creative, all of which helped her to understand the fragile psyche of the writer and the workings of the publishing industry. Sara is represented by Rowan Lawton.

“Writing was my first love, editing is my passion”

Emma Haynes

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Head Events & Agent Submissions

Emma is responsible for BPA’s bespoke programme of literary events and retreats as well as managing the First Novel Award and Pitch Prize competitions.  With a background in communications and special events she has an eye for detail and a desire to give writers the best possible experience in an imaginative programme involving creative writing tutors, best selling authors and leading literary agents as guest tutors.  Her retreats at Asthall Manor, the childhood home of the Mitford sisters have set a new benchmark in literary experiences.  The programme is currently running online. With an up to date knowledge of what literary agents are looking for and industry contacts, Emma also handles submissions to agents where she feels there is a potential match between writer and agent and a polished manuscript.

“Being part of a writer’s journey to getting published is an incredible privilege”

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Oliver James

Oliver is our in-house senior editor. He is a tutor at our retreats and is involved in our competitions. He is a decisive, shrewd editor and a well-respected mentor. Oliver works in a variety of genres, but particularly enjoys working with thriller, espionage and crime writers. He holds a BA in English from UCL and an MA in Text and Performance from RADA. He also writes and publishes music.

“Oliver showed me how to structure a novel. He showed me the vitality of dialogue and how to pick out small observations which bring the story to life.”

Elisabeth Sears

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J. David Simons

David’s novels include the best-seller An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful (2013) and most recently A Woman of Integrity (2017). His work has been short-listed for The McKitterick Prize, he has been awarded several writers’ bursaries from Creative Scotland and The Society of Authors, and is a former recipient of the prestigious Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship. He has many years experience as an editor of both fiction and non-fiction and is currently a mentor for the Scottish Book Trust.

“David Simons was assigned as my editor and his report, completed promptly on time as promised. He showed me why my story hasn’t received agent interest and inspired me to move on.”

Rachel Hubbard

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Iain Maloney

Iain is a published author, poet and journalist. He has also worked as an editor for several years for Freight Books. He works in all genres of fiction though contemporary literary fiction and science fiction are his main areas of expertise. Iain has also worked in non fiction editing with an interest in history, science and popular culture. He’s also an experienced copy editor.

“Iain’s insight and suggestions pushed me to the next level, which I would not have reached on my own. I unreservedly recommend to any writer, published or not.”

John Nassari

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Saskia Sarginson

Saskia’s best-selling debut novel, The Twins, was a Richard and Judy pick 2013. Her other novels are: Without You, The Other Me, and The Stranger. Her books are published in 20 countries, and were longlisted for the New Angle Prize for Literature, 2015, shortlisted for Best Historical Read, 2015, and shortlisted for the Leserpreis (German) Book Award, 2014. Her new novel, How It Ends, will be out in spring 2019. She’s been a columnist for The Guardian, worked as a script reader, and writes for women’s magazines. She has a BA in English Literature from Cambridge University, and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She discovered a love of editing while doing her MA. “The collaboration between writer and editor is the catalyst that turns a manuscript into a novel.”

“Saskia offered very thorough and thoughtful advice. I found all of her tips and suggestions very helpful. I’m now fired up and ready to tackle the revisions.”

Karen Mckibbin

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Lesley McDowell

An author and critic, who has reviewed for The Independent, The Guardian, The TLS and many other publications, Lesley’s novels include The Picnic (2007), Unfashioned Creatures (2013) and The Three Lives of Madeline Smith (date yet to be confirmed). In 2010 she published Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th Century Women Writers. She has a PhD on the work of James Joyce and is the recipient of two arts council writing awards. Her agent is Laura Williams at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop.

“Lesley McDowell reviewed several drafts of my work in progress. Her observations and criticisms were deft, intelligent, clear and entirely apt.”

Tom Allen

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Fiona Mitchell

Fiona Mitchell’s debut novel, The Maid’s Room, was published internationally by Hodder & Stoughton in 2017. It has also been translated into five languages. Her next novel, The Swap, was published in April 2019. Fiona worked as a journalist for more than 20 years, first in news then as a features editor on women’s magazines. Before all that, she read English Literature at the University of Sussex. Fiona judged the 2018 Blue Pencil First Novel Award alongside literary agent of the year Madeleine Milburn. She is currently working on her third novel and is represented by literary agent Rowan Lawton, The Soho Agency. She is a dedicated and sensitive editor whose interests lie in character-led fiction and upmarket women’s commercial fiction.

“Fiona is an insightful and hardworking editor. I’m truly grateful for her generosity and inspiration.”

Megan Whitley

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Frances Merivale

Frances Merivale is a freelance writer and editor based in London. She has had six short stories published and has been short-listed for the Bridport Prize. A few years back, she won an Arts Council grant to travel on a cargo ship to research her current novel, now close to completion. Frances has a flare for language and loves character-driven novels, succinct prose and unexpected observations. She has a strong sense of story-telling and structure, learnt from years spent writing in-depth reports and news stories for UN organisations. Frances has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, and is a graduate from Curtis Brown’s six-month writing programme. 

“Frances’s report was incisive, supportive and incredibly thorough. I couldn’t believe how well she understood my novel.”

Roberta James

Tess O’Hara - – Blue Pencil Agency - BPA Agency

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Tess O’Hara

Tess manages the editorial department and runs Blue Pencil’s social media channels and blog, as well as providing manuscript assessments. She completed a Masters in Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia, where she found a love for workshopping fiction and decided to pursue a career working with words. Tess was runner-up for the 2018 Brighton Prize for short fiction and is working on a contemporary novel. Her literary agent is Eve White.

“Tess provided the most helpful comments I’ve had on anything I have written. I am excited rather than daunted about getting back and writing another draft now.”

Shahnoor Nina Gregory

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Katya Balen

Katya is the author of The Space We’re In (Bloomsbury 2019) and October, October (Bloomsbury 2020). She is also co-director of Mainspring Arts, a charity that supports and mentors neurodivergent people in creative projects. She lives in London with her partner and their lazy lurcher, Raffia. She also reads for a literary scout.

“Katya’s report gave me a clear, step by step breakdown. As I begin to re-structure the book, it’s so exciting because I can already feel how more dynamic and engaging it is.”

Daniel Cullen

Katya Balen (Author) - The Space We're In Hardcover – Blue Pencil Agency - BPA Agency
Christian - Blue Pencil Agency / BPA

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Christian Livermore

Christian is a novelist, short story writer and essayist. She was named a Notable Contender for the 2020 Bristol Short Story Prize and Highly Commended for the 2020 Cambridge Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2019/20. Her writing appears in literary journals such as Salt Hill JournalThe Texas Review and The Undertow Review. She was a featured contributor in the 2014 BBC Radio Scotland documentary The Walking Dead, presented by A.L. Kennedy, which examined belief in revenants in Scotland from the Middle Ages through the Reformation. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews and has taught creative writing at Newcastle University and medieval literature at the University of St Andrews. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked for ten years as a journalist in Savannah, Ga. and New York.

Editorial Services…

A blue pencil was traditionally used by editors to show corrections to manuscripts as blue didn’t show in most reproduction processes. In the digital world blue pencils are seen more rarely but they still exist as a metaphor for editing.

The idea of collaboration between editor and writer isn’t new. Once it was the job of agents and publishers to nurture new literary talent. But in today’s saturated market you need to arrive with a polished manuscript. An editor is your second pair of eyes. Our job is to encourage, persuade and problem solve. Working with us is making the leap from the fear of criticism to accepting support and establishing a clearer perspective of the market – understanding work as product, not just art.

Single-Quotes

“Writing isn’t just being heard, it’s about forming a relationship with the reader and understanding who that reader is.”