Sam Brace is an Agent building a list of crime and reading group fiction. Alongside working on her own list, Sam looks after podcasts for Peters Fraser + Dunlop. At PFD’s digital-first imprint Agora Books, Sam launched the Lost the Plot Writers Competition as well as the Uncrowned Queens of Crime series, which celebrated forgotten female crime writers.
We were delighted when Sam agreed to answer some questions on titles, knowing your genre, and, of course, what she’s looking for at the moment! Read on for her top tips.
Your PFD profile says you’re looking for crime and reading group fiction. Are there any particular stories or perspectives on your wish list at the moment?
I’m drawn to stories within those genres that explore relationships. Be that between friends, rivals, family, or strangers. I think human connection and motivation are the simplest things sometimes to keep the pages turning.
Should writers have a clear idea of their novel’s genre when they submit?
Absolutely. It’s critical to know the market you’re writing into. It means that you’re crafting your story for the audience who will be reading it and the story will be so much better received by them. Knowing your genre (and therefore knowing your reader) is so important.
“It’s critical to know the market you’re writing into. It means that you’re crafting your story for the audience who will be reading it and the story will be so much better received by them.”
Do you usually discuss the novel’s title with your authors before going on submission to publishers?
Yes. Sometimes we change them and other times we leave them. But we work to find the best fit for the work and the market and position it when pitching, knowing that the publisher may still change it anyhow.
It seems to be very competitive out there these days! What’s your advice for writers who are struggling to find representation?
Research who you’re submitting to! Finding an agent with a wish list that matches what you’re writing (another reason knowing your genre is so important) will give you a much better shot at landing the perfect pitch. Agents receive so many submissions and it’s so refreshing when you receive work that really matches up with your tastes – tell them that you’ve read their wish list and explain why you think your writing matches up with that.
“Agents receive so many submissions and it’s so refreshing when you receive work that really matches up with your tastes.”
How do you decide that a writer is a good fit for your list – is it all about the writing or do you need to gel on a personal level?
The writing is so important. Plots can be reworked, characters can be cut, and tenses can be changed, but good writing is good writing. That’s what draws me in from the very start. But after meeting to discuss possible representation, it needs to be a comfortable fit in the very least a professional way. I want writers to know that I’m here to champion their work, not chop and change it. So feeling you can work well editorially is key to that process.
Could you tell us what you’re currently reading and what compelled you to read it?
I’m about to start Embroidering Her Truth: Mary Queen of Scots and the Language of Power because I picked up embroidery during the pandemic and one of my clients recommended it to me. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.
Find out how to submit to Sam on the PFD website.