How I found the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency (part 7)

A further selection of entries from author pages on how they came to the agency which may provide useful tips on how to find an agent.

DEBORAH McDONALD I am afraid there is nothing clever or witty to say about how I found the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency. It was simply a case of opening the ‘Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’ and looking for an agency that dealt with historical biography. This one fit the bill admirably so I began to subscribe to the Newsletter, which confirmed my hunch. I contacted Andrew who liked what I was doing.

SEAN McMEEKIN I was contacted by an agent following the success of The Berlin-Baghdad Express, but we did not hit it off. I found the Lownie agency through Googling literary agents/history and was immediately impressed with the design of the webpage and the emphasis on non-fiction. I also noticed that the agency represented Roger Crowley, whose works I admire. Crowley, too, found the agency online, and said that he e-mailed his proposal to Andrew Lownie and heard back the next day. I did the same, and heard back the same afternoon.

NICK MEO Contacts in the publishing world recommended Andrew Lownie as one of the best agents to go to for a non-fiction book.

PAUL MERRILL I’d Googled several non-fiction agents and among them was Andrew. It soon became clear that he believed in what I was doing, was always encouraging and, unlike others, promptly returned emails and gave insightful advice. I was also impressed that he acted for both Gloria Hunniford and David Hasselhoff, both of whom I intend contacting in order to form a new Bloomsbury Set.

HELIA PHOENIX I came to the agency through a recommendation from Orion Publishing. I had been doing a lot of work for Orion, but wanted to spread her wings to work with other publishers. Orion’s non-fiction department recommended the Andrew Lownie agency as offering an efficient and personalised service, and being easy to work with.

KATHARINE QUARMBY I approached Andrew a few years ago when I was at the Economist to discuss a number of book ideas, and he was extremely helpful and informative, then, and has been ever since. I’m very pleased to be represented by him.

VICKY RADTKE I was introduced by Gilly Smith, a food writer and published author of books including The Mediterranean Health Diet, biographer of Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver and now lecturer at Sussex University.

HANNAH RENNIER I was diffident in approaching agents. I was pretty sure that any connection between ghostwriting and writing history, which is what I wanted to do, wouldn’t immediately spring to mind. Andrew Lownie’s directory entries and website were promising, but how on earth was I going to persuade him I could write about London or produce a scholarly biography? Apart from Lambeth Past, a steady seller of merely local interest, my name was on nothing but a few articles and the membership roll of some learned societies. As to the modest shelf full of well reviewed, published history that I had written and researched, I was bound by confidentiality agreements. I faced a credibility gap.

I then noticed the address. A. Lownie’s office is just five stops on the bus from my house. I would beard the lion in his den. …Well, actually, no. I wrote a letter and he agreed to see me. It seems to have worked. He is an exacting agent but tirelessly helpful. If we could all just stick to the directions on his website – sorry, Andrew – his life would be a lot easier and our success rates even higher.

CHERYL RICKMAN All of the best service providers tend to come via direct recommendation. That’s certainly how I found Andrew Lownie. I had e-mailed fellow author/ghostwriter, Andrew Crofts, known in the industry as “the king of modern ghostwriters” to ask if he could recommend a suitable literary agent. He suggested I try Andrew. So I called Andrew that day and he immediately invited me to send him some information.

We met shortly afterwards and I was impressed by his advice, his pedigree within the industry and his genuine love for books. Later that day, when I opened the Writers & Artists Yearbook to read what it said about Andrew’s agency, I opened the 822 page book on the exact page that listed The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency. That was enough for me. The fact that he specialises in non-fiction and is well-respected within the industry is, of course, an added bonus.

Within a week of our meeting I had signed up to the agency, by which time Andrew had already lined up meetings for me with top publishers and provided invaluable guidance on a book proposal I’d been working on. I am bursting with enthusiasm and confident that I have found the perfect person to represent me in my career, both as a ghostwriter and an author.

CELIA SANDYS I was introduced to Andrew Lownie by Andrew Roberts.

LEILA SCHNEPS A friend and I were emailing about our respective book manuscripts and how to look for agents, and he told me about Andrew Lownie’s site, particularly mentioning that fact that Andrew had quizzed 34 commissioning editors on what they were looking out for in the year ahead.

Together with my daughter and co-author Coralie, we had a look at the site, and then couldn’t get away from it because it was so lively and humorous. After reading through all the pages and laughing out loud, we decided to break the rule we had set ourselves to send our manuscript only to agents who had represented similar books, and make Andrew Lownie our best hope. We crossed our fingers, and our optimism was rewarded!

DOMINIC SELWOOD I found the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency’s website on the internet, and was quickly struck by two compelling features: the treasury of free advice, and the statement that the agency is always looking for new authors. Andrew’s swift response to my first e-mail immediately demonstrated how proactive and engaged Andrew is in helping authors. I have been delighted with the whole process.

SHERIDAN SIMOVE Blame Mark Zuckerberg. After bucking the pull of ‘Facebook’ for years, I finally gave in, signed up, and what a pivotal decision that proved to be. As well as making it easy to spread the word about my books, products and performances, it also allows me to post questions on my profile, like the life-changing one that said “Help! Do you know a brilliant LITERARY AGENT?”. Lo and behold – within minutes, someone I’d recently connected with recommended Andrew. We quickly met, and I was immediately struck by his huge warmth, mammoth intelligence, phenomenal expertise and enormous passion for the medium. Plus, he never looked down on me for writing a blank book! And the rest, as they say - is a meeting of minds, a stimulating adventure and massive success… How wonderfully exciting…

NEIL SIMPSON I was quite mercenary in my search for an agent – I wanted to find the one who was doing the most business for his or her clients. Andrew Lownie’s name seemed to come up whenever I saw good deals signed for authors I admired – for serialisations as well as book rights. I also liked the fact that his back list of books and authors gives him a huge amount of credibility in the industry, as does his connection with The Biographers’ Club. When we met I was hugely inspired by Andrew’s enthusiasm for all types of books and I hope we produce plenty of great ones over the years ahead.

ADAM SLUTSKY Andrew Lownie’s reputation as a top notch agent is well known throughout the literary community, especially by authors on the American side of the pond. His many successes in the nonfiction arena is just one of the reasons I sought him out. I feel very fortunate to have him at the helm of my work.

GARY SMAILES I always knew that I would need an agent if I was going to take my writing to the next level. Before contacting Andrew I had a number of books already in print with independent publishers but I was never able to get ‘near’ the bigger publishers. I had approached a couple of agents before submitting to Andrew Lownie but had never found the right match. It was Andrew’s passion for history that attracted me to the agency. I asked around a few writer friends and contacts before submitting to Andrew and, after hearing only good things, I knew (hoped) he would be ideal for my work.” “I polished up my submission and sent off my book with fingers crossed. There are no words that can describe the feeling when you get ‘that’ phone call. Andrew rang me to say he loved my book and wanted to offer me representation. We clicked immediately and I knew it was the right choice for my work and my career as a writer.

TONY SPAWFORTH I found the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency in about 1990 on the strong recommendation of a friend of a friend. Oxford University Press had asked Simon Hornblower and myself to undertake a third edition of The Oxford Classical Dictionary. We realised that we needed a good literary agent not only to negotiate our own contracts but also the terms for contributors, which as a result turned out to be generous by the standards of UK reference works at the time. I have stayed with Andrew Lownie ever since.

DAVID STAFORD Andrew was recommended to me by Robin Denniston, whose father Alastair had run Bletchley Park at the beginning of the Second World War and who was then (Robin) living in Edinburgh. He and Andrew had briefly joined forces to run an agency but Andrew, living in London but with strong Edinburgh links of his own, was taking it over full time. He was also an author in the field of espionage and intelligence, and as I was writing a book about Churchill and espionage (later to appear with John Murray as Churchill and Secret Service) he seemed the logical choice. Since then we have flourished together through several books and often complicated contracts that I could never have dreamed of winning or negotiating myself. So it’s paid off financially. But what I value above all is the close personal attention he gives me- and he’s always there, at the end of the phone or an email, with a prompt and helpful response, so that I can genuinely think of him as a friend, as well. What more could you ask of an agent?

BARBARA STCHERBATCHEF I saw your agency on the internet, and that you had a great reputation. Simple as that.

JULES STENSON Andrew was recommended to me by an author and a contact in publishing. I was immediately bowled over by his enthusiam, brilliant contacts and ‘can do’ attitude.

PEGGY TRENTINI I was fortunate enough to find Andrew through researching top agents specializing in my genre on the internet. Thank goodness for the internet. I can’t even imagine how hard it used to be without it. I feel it was fated that we formed the perfect partnership and look forward to a successful future.

SIMON VIGAR I’ve met some sharks in the broadcasting game but nothing prepared me for the world of publishing. However, Andrew’s website seemed a bullshit-free zone and I’m very happy to report it reflects the man. He says what he means, means what he says and he gets things done.

SHAUN WALKER I was browsing the internet for agents and came across Andrew Lownie’s useful and informative site. I signed up to his newsletters, which I found interesting and helpful, and a year later when I was ready to send out my proposal, he was the first agent I sent it to. He responded promptly and within a couple of weeks I was signed up.

ALEX WARREN A friend who was already working on a book with Andrew suggested that I get in touch. Andrew has provided some extremely useful guidance in shaping my proposal, resulting in a much-improved end product, and is refreshingly prompt at giving feedback and answering questions.

CASEY WATSON I came across Andrew’s agency by typing into my computer’s tool bar ‘Top 10 UK literary agents’, Fortunately for me, the first name I saw was Andrew Lownie. After viewing his web site, and realising that his agency was right for my project, he was the only agent I submitted to. I am so pleased I did this. Andrew’s patience and support has been second to none, and he has given me the confidence to continue to write.

RACHEL WOODS After searching the internet looking for a potential literary agent, I found Andrew Lownie’s website professional, clear and concise. Since he also accepted submissions via email, he immediately became top of my list, and he was the only UK agent I ended up contacting. Andrew had an instant understanding of the concept of my book, he showed a genuine enthusiasm for the topic, as well as being extremely helpful and prompt with replies, and it is a pleasure to be working with him.

KAREN WOODS I was introduced to the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency through freelance journalist and publicist, Judy Broadbent, of Custom PR