Font Literary Agency is based in Dublin and extending our reach as we open a London office in a few months time and an office in San Francisco early next year.
Font is not a typical literary agency; I suppose because I am not a typical literary agent. My representation of writers arises out of my own experience as a writer and teacher of writing.
I have been writing professionally for twenty years, firstly as a features journalist in Dublin and London, and for the past eight years as a novelist.
I always wanted to write fiction but opted to do journalism first because it seemed more manageable, more achievable, than the strange, complex challenge of sitting down and writing a novel. Coming up to my 40th birthday, I knew that if I didn't do it now, I never would. So down I sat.
It took me five years and 668-pages to write Lovers' Hollow, the story of a small Irish village's experience of Civil War, and the complex, angry heroine who fled her own private wars with the place and its people, only to return twenty years later to try to become reconciled to family feuds and secrets.
Writing it was the most gruelling, and most joyful, work I had ever done. Then began the almost equally drawn-out task of finding the right publisher. After a London literary agent failed to win interest, I reluctantly took the task upon myself.
I was very systematic about it - with an A-list and B-list of publishers, which I worked methodically through, refusing to take rejection personally and all the time, rewriting, editing and improving the manuscript in the light of any feedback I got. In the end, after negotiating a very steep learning curve, I managed to win simultaneous interest from four publishers, two in Dublin, two in London.
Publishing has become increasingly competitive and editors have less and less time to devote to writers. I started Font because I seem to be one of very few people who is comfortable in both worlds and because I felt there was a real need for a writer-centred agency.
Our growth has been very organic, slowly building contacts and gaining trust and respect from writers and editors. We are pleased to be opening a UK office in the autumn and have already begun to sign some British authors. And this year, for the first time, we will be travelling to the US for Book Expo, bringing UK and Irish writers to US readers, and US writers to a readership on this side of the pond.
To me, being a writer means being dedicated to writing and that means other people's writing as well as my own. After all, in a short life I can only write so many books. Despite the cult of personality stoked by our media, I know that it is writing, not any one individual writer, that's important and I find it increasingly difficult to separate my work as writer, mentor and agent.