Oliver’s great gift was to reveal to me all that habit, lack of distance and impatience were preventing me from seeing for myself, and beyond that to come up with simple but inspired suggestions that would never have occurred to me, but whose sharpness and perceptiveness seemed blindingly obvious once I’d had the time to digest them. Honest, patient, supportive and tough throughout the entire process, his contribution to The Madness of Grief could not be overstated.
I contacted Bluepencilagency because I was unable to find an agent willing to represent me. David Simons was assigned as my editor and his report, completed promptly on time as promised, showed me why my story hasn’t received agent interest. I now understand which characters to develop and which scenes need expanding. From the annotations on the manuscript, I also know when to reign myself in and classically ‘show not tell’! However, where Bluepencilagency helped the most, was in returning to me a sense of inspiration and enabling me to reconnect with my characters and story. I am now rewriting with renewed vigour.
I poured my heart and soul into my debut Y/A manuscript Resistance and I knew after the first few rejections that something was off, something that as a new writer I didn’t have the experience to fix. A really kind agent emailed to say I could write but that my package needed work and she suggested Bluepencilagency to me. It was a godsend. Sara gave me some of the best feedback notes I’ve ever had. Remarkable story insight, clear, concise, and professional notes. Exactly what I needed to bring the next draft to a level where it would attract an agent. More importantly, Sara’s comments also gave me the confidence to really go for it when pushing the manuscript out. I have no doubt that the work she did with me is what helped me find an agent. She’s a rare find in a tough competitive industry and I can’t recommend her and the team enough. When it came to seeking representation, both Emma and Sara were very helpful and found me an agent. As it turned out, I was offered representation by Marianne Gunn O’Conner at the same time, but it was their faith that kept me going.
When I first met Oliver I thought I had a novel to discuss with him. I very soon found that what I thought was a novel was really a glorified memoir. In a few short sessions Oliver showed me how to structure a novel, how to plan in the round rather than tailing off in a straight line. He showed me the vitality of dialogue and how to pick out small observations which bring the story to life.
From the skeleton of a confused first draft, Sara helped me extract the backbone of the story I had wanted to write. Then with her toughness as a reader and her insight as an editor she helped me flesh it out. It was to no small degree because Sara saw its promise that POLK, HARPER & WHO came to life.
Sara and I met on the Curtis Brown novel writing course in 2013. Yes, it often takes that long to get an agent. At the end of 2017 I finally got one – Rachel Mills at Furniss Lawton, which I attribute entirely to Sara and Emma. At our first session on that course all 14 of us pitched our novels and Sara told me later that she thought, when she heard mine: ‘I could sell that book. But I’m not sure she can.’ At that stage she hadn’t even thought of setting up her own agency, but when Bluepencilagency was set up, I was an early client. Sara has now worked on two of my novels and it was she who persuaded me to revisit Persons Unknown, which I’d rather given up on, having received just about every conceivable agent brush-off. But Sara and Emma did feel passionately enough about it to try and sell it for me. The agency looks for a match between author and agent and when they met Rachel Mills, they pitched it. I was completely bowled over by Rachel’s first email which made it clear she had got the book I had written; was hugely enthusiastic about it, and wanted to work with me.
Emma provided me with a very thorough, swift and perceptive report with an extraordinary amount of detail. I agreed with much of what she wrote at the time, but there were other comments that I dismissed but have been subsequently supported by a senior and very successful literary agent. If you’re serious about producing a book that is publishable, I believe that Emma could provide the kind of feedback you need, saving you time and from some of the painful ordeals of rejection.
Sara has been a wonderful mentor to me.Working with her is like having a writing partner who also understands the publishing world. She is full of great creative ideas and does not pull any punches in her criticism. The work always improves after her input. Oliver is also an excellent editor. He combines the ability to quickly understand the potential in a storyline while also fearlessly pruning and improving the prose. Most importantly of all he has helped inspire better writing.
Bluepencilagency was heartily recommended to me by a novelist friend. My own novel was intractably long and over burdened and despite my many years of experience as a TV drama editor I was finding it hard to see the way through. The report was extensive, detailed, infuriatingly provocative and extremely helpful.
My reader’s report identified the reasons why my manuscript has not yet received an offer from a literary agent. The constructive advice on writing technique has inspired me hugely and probably saved me years of fruitless struggle. This service is utterly invaluable and I really can’t thank my editor enough. I would recommend bluepencilagency for any writer that’s serious about being professional.