Agent Confidential: Tom Witcomb

Name: Tom Witcomb

AKA: The Man in Black 

Agency: Blake Friedmann Literary, TV & Film Agency

Genres represented: As an agency we represent right across the board, fiction & non-fiction. My list has a lot of middle-grade and Young Adult fiction, with a few Adult Fiction titles thrown in for good measure. I love crime and thrillers, I like romance, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, contemporary and a real good old-fashioned adventure story – you name it. That said, I’m not too keen on anything about football (or sport in general) the ‘exciting’ world of finance or anything SUPER literary. 

Authors represented: MC Rogerson: THE GIRL AT THE END OF THE WORLD; Tim Baker: FEVER CITY; AV Mather: REFUGE; Verity Glass: THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING; Wendy Bevan-Mogg: SPRING FORWARDS; Zosia Crosse: A SEVERAL WORLD

Recent deals: Andrew Cartmel’s noir detective trilogy to Titan is the most recent I’ve done.

Wish list: Can I say what I don’t want more of? ANGELS. Please never send me anything with angels in it.
What I’d like to see more of is great characters, perfect plotting, good writing, no clichés – as I’m quite open to anything and everything, the concept doesn’t really make the book, in my opinion (though it admittedly gets people’s attention). There are some great ideas books out there which are terribly written. Funnily enough I never finished reading them. 

Favourite books: When I was a kid I used to love Goosebumps, X-Files spin offs and Point Horror (I think I still do!) But of all time: Vernon GOD Little, Where the Wild Things Are, The Cat in the Hat, Watchmen, Giovanni’s Room, Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, The Hobbit & LOTR, Charlotte’s Web, Maurice, A Song of Ice & Fire…see, the list just goes on and on and I’m definitely missing some really important ones. At the moment, I’m getting a crash-course in contemporary fantasy and sci-fi from our new digital assistant so am reading ANCILLIARY JUSTICE. And I’ve just started Mrs. Dalloway for what seems like the 150th time.

Agent style: I like to think I’m a ‘full-service’ agent! A sounding board for new ideas, a good listener. I love giving a manuscript a spit and polish alongside the author. Like any good agent, I’m available all hours of the day (though I do occasionally sleep) for anything that might crop up and that’s the part of the job that’s the most rewarding – the relationship you build with a client is wonderful.

How to submit: See our website for full instructions. Please follow them. Please. I know it might seem nit-picky but I receive loads each week and if someone’s not even performed a basic courtesy of following a set of simple instructions – I don’t think that relationship is going to work. It’s like asking someone to knock quietly because the baby’s asleep, but instead they Sellotape down the doorbell and yell through the letterbox.

Submission tips: See above! I really can’t emphasise the elevator pitch enough, though. In the body text of your email I want to know your name, the title of your book, and a blurb intro to your manuscript which gives me an introduction to the idea and the main players. Add a bit about your history of published work, but only if it’s relevant – journalism, published books, short stories, prizes won – I want to know about the book first and foremost, and hopefully, if I love it, I’ll love you, too.

Twitter: @twitcomb / @bflagency

Do you have questions for Tom? Leave them here in the comments. You have more than 140 characters!

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  1. Thanks Tom. I love *whispering* the door knocking simile.

  2. I wonder what is your policy in regards illustrators and picture book author/illustrators ?

    1. Hi John,

      Not for me, I'm afraid. In fact, I answered a submission this morning saying as much. That world, whilst linked, is quite different, and it's one which I'm not really properly keyed into at the moment. There ARE several very good agents who'll be able to help you, though. As a rule, I'd perhaps suggest that unless an agent explicitly says that they do represent picture books, you can assume they don't.


  3. I'm with you on 'Vernon GOD Little' - it has my most favourite opening line of all time too - 'It was hot as hell in Martirio but the papers on the porch were icy with the news' just love that.

    Thanks for a great 'Agent Confidential' Tom!

    1. Cheers, Jan. Full disclosure: when I first read it (I was 16, in the summer before my English teacher set is as required reading for the next year - the one and only time I was ever ahead of my reading at school...) I thought Jesus' name was Zeus...took a long time for that coin to drop... must re-read, actually. Oh, for the time.


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