In some cases, we may be willing to act as your Literary Agent if we think that your book is BOTH good enough AND that it is 'publisher friendly'.
In terms of being 'publisher friendly', it must be said that some books we see are truly excellent, but due to the genre, or subject matter, have virtually no chance of ever being accepted by a mainstream publisher.
First and foremost, an initial disclosure…
Castle Tower Consulting is principally a literary consultancy rather than a literary agency. We are not in the top 100 of UK literary agents, nor are we anywhere close. Our current connections and relationships with publishers are not anywhere near as close as more established agents like Madeleine Milburn, Darley Anderson, Alice Williams or Aitken Alexander Associates, to name but a few of the best known established UK Literary Agencies.
It is often said that "it’s not what you know, but whom you know that counts", and in the world of Literary Agency, that aphorism is probably truer than in almost any other business in the world. So, for example, if one of the agents from Madeleine Milburn sent a manuscript to Bloomsbury (the original publisher of “Harry Potter”), they would most likely at least read it, whereas if they received the same manuscript from us, they might or might not, depending on how busy they were and what else they had in the current pipeline. In other words, a recommendation from a Madeleine Milburn agent carries weight with the big publishers; a recommendation from Castle Tower Consulting does not.
So, in all honesty, we should not be your first choice agency if you are looking for a traditional publishing deal and have a manuscript that is both good enough and of a relevant genre for publication by a mainstream publisher – we will advise you on this if you use our Consultancy Report service. We will also advise you which well-known agents are worth trying in your case, based on experience.
So, why do we offer Agency? The reason is simply that we are prepared to act as agents for authors whom most other agents would not even consider. So, for example, if you, as an unknown author, have written something along the lines of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ or ‘The Hunger Games’, it is entirely possible that you will find a mainstream agent to act for you if you are persistent enough – it might take three years or more, but it is possible.
Now, suppose you have written a non-fiction book called ‘The Sarum Rite versus the Roman Rite in Medieval English Liturgical Practice’. In that case, your chances of finding a mainstream agent are very close to zero. It is not a question of whether your book is any good or not, or whether it is well researched and well written; it is simply a question of projected sales. No mainstream publisher will spend capital publishing a book with such a limited potential readership because put simply: they will not see a return on the money they have spent. It is because no publisher will touch it that no agent will represent it, except maybe some small start-up agent like Castle Tower Consulting, which might agree to act as an agent under certain circumstances.
Because we are new to offering agency, we are necessarily in a position where we are looking to expand our client base quite considerably and are therefore prepared to consider manuscripts that other agents will not. Obviously, we will not consider manuscripts that are badly written or riddled with grammatical errors – no agent would accept such – but if a manuscript has satisfactorily passed proofreading, even if the subject matter is somewhat esoteric, e.g. The Sarum Rite, we might be prepared to try to find a publisher - it is plausible that a hybrid publisher might take it if a compelling case for sales can be made.
Obviously, there is a cost to a publisher for turning your manuscript into a book and putting it on sale. In addition, there is a cost to marketing the book once it has been published. So, what the publisher will need to see is that there is a likelihood of selling enough copies of your book to both get those costs back and make a profit. In the case of a hybrid publisher, the initial costs are shared between the publisher and the author, so it could be that it is going to cost a total of £2,000 to publish your book (this might include Format Editing, Book Cover, Typesetting, Advertising, Printing, Etc.) and the publisher offers to go 50/50 with you to get the book published and then give you 20% of each sale (i.e. the cover price, let’s say £9.99 for example), with the publisher also retaining 20% and the remaining 60% being the cost of distribution (e.g. warehousing, delivery, advertising, bookshop’s share of cover price, etc.). These figures are purely for the sake of example – they don’t reflect any particular deal.
Now it can be seen straight away here that the publisher is immediately out of pocket by £1,000 plus time spent - which you, as an author, need to remember is always an additional cost to a publisher because staff need to be paid for whatever time they spend on your book. But, ignoring the staff cost for now, for the publisher to get back the £1,000 spent at a rate of £2.00 per book sold (i.e. 20% of £9.99), 500 books will need to be sold (i.e. 500 x £2.00 = £1,000) and even after selling 500 books, the publisher has made nothing and has only broken even (minus staff costs). As your agent, the question for Castle Tower is: can we persuade a publisher that it is possible to sell 500 books on such an esoteric subject as ‘The Sarum Rite versus the Roman Rite in Medieval English Liturgical Practice’? And this is where we can add some value as an agent.
We would now look at who you, the author, are in terms of selling the books – are you famous in some sense? For example, do you have several thousand followers on Facebook or Twitter, or a YouTube channel dealing with medieval history, or liturgy, with say 25,000 subscribers? Are you a well-known university lecturer or professor who is well regarded in the field that you have written about? Are you a vicar, dean, priest, bishop, et cetera who has a following that would be interested in buying your book?
In short: whom are we going to sell 500 books to, and why will those people want to buy your book?
This is really the essence of what we do as an agent: we show the publisher that it is worth publishing your book and that a profit can be made on it.
If you want us to consider acting for you as a literary agent, then please follow these instructions:
1) Email us at: email@example.com putting "Agency Request:<<your book title>>" in the subject line.
2) In your email tells us:
i) your legal name (for copyright purposes) & nom de plume, if applicable;
ii) your age;
iii) relevant educational background (e.g. BA(Hons) in English Literature if you've written a book about Dickens);
iv) your experience at writing;
v) full details of any books you have had published before;
3) Attach your complete manuscript in the latest version of Microsoft Word (<<your book title>>.docx)
4) Attach a synopsis (maximum 3 A4 pages)
5) Tell us who did your proofread (e.g. XYZ Agency Ltd, Auntie Hilda, My Husband); if not an Agency, please state experience.
6) Attach your CV/Résumé if you have one (it can help show that you know what you're talking about re your book's subject)
Costs & Notes
We do NOT charge a reading fee for agency applications.
We will ALWAYS reply to you whether we accept or reject.
If we reject your manuscript, and time allows, we may give you very brief reasons why we have rejected it.
If we are able to accept your manuscript, we will make you an offer to act as your agent based on the type of calculation above (i.e. based on how many books we realistically foresee being sold versus how much time we need to spend to get you published).
Turnaround times will depend on how many manuscripts we have in for reading at any given time, but we try to reply within one month of your submission.