Four Months On...

Andrew Lownie gives the latest news from the Agency.

It is four months since the new website was launched and the agency became the first British literary agency to take on a PR person and I thought it might be useful to recap on what has been happening.

Jennifer Solignac has been working hard in a number of areas. The first task was to conduct a publicity audit to establish how well authors had been publicised in the past by their publishers and to create a database of contacts and ideas to be used in the future. Our thanks to all the authors who filled in their forms. The material is still being analysed but it is clear much more could have been done by publishers to generate media coverage for authors and that there is scope for agencies in future to do more, especially between publication dates.

She has also been putting together a database of organisations such as hotel groups, cruise liners, museums, book chains and schools and festivals who need literary speakers and will pay. Amazingly such a database doesn't exist, even in the large publishing houses, and it will be invaluable when the Agency's speaker department is launched. Apart from bringing authors extra income in fees and book sales, it will provide an opportunity to maintain profile and for authors to meet their readers. Authors have always been regular speakers at the National Army Museum but now strong links are being forged with, among others, Hilton Hotels, P&O Cruises and existing speaker agencies.

A template for the Agency's media directory has been put together but soundings are still being taken about whether it should be in electronic or published form. The proposed Agency media party to launch the directory has accordingly been put on hold. Jennifer has also been working on an individual basis for Laurence Gardner.

Mike Pead, the site's designer, has been doing sterling work updating the site every month and providing pages of fascinating statistics and graphs on who is looking at the site, which pages, when and how they come to the site. The number of visitors to the website has continued to grow every month. The old site had about 550 unique visitors a month which rose to 1541 in October, 3,477 in November immediately after the launch, 3,289 in December, 3,963 in January and 5,467 in February.

Last month there was an average of 195 visitors a day (the max was 272 on the 22nd) and 3.00-4.00 pm seems to have been the busiest period - previous months it has peaked at Some 12,156 pages were looked at with the most popular pages 'How to Submit', 'On Submission', 'About the Agency' and 'FAQs'. About 2,000 people found the site from Google and most of the rest came from various writing websites but a staggering 125 came from Timothy Good's own site. The top search strings after my own name were divided between authors whose books were highlighted as being on submission and those who were not and in order were Linda Porter, Timothy Good, Christopher Hale, Damien Lewis, Julia Boyd, David Stenhouse, James Jennings, Jonathan Fryer, Richard Rudgley and Adrian Weale.

It is difficult to establish how many new clients have come as a direct result of the website but it is proving a useful showcase of agency clients to publishers around the world and this aspect can only improve as the newsletter is launched. One unforseen benefit is people are tracing long lost friends by typing in their names on Google and finding their names coming up on the site. Only last week I was able to put a best man in search of an old friend of the groom for a wedding speech.