Byte Connects: Laetitia Rutherford and Anna Reading

Posted by Justine Solomons on 20 March 2023, in Byte Connects, News

Byte The Book loves bringing people from all areas of the publishing world together so that they can learn from each other and collaborate, and we want to highlight some wonderful collaborations that have come about via Byte The Book. Here's Laetitia Rutherford, an agent with Watson, Little, who met Anna Reading, a professor, journalist and author, at a Byte the Book Agent Table event in February 2023.

We asked Laetitia to tell us more:

How did you find Anna?

Anna’s 5,000 word sample came to me through Byte the Book, when I signed up for the pitch-an-agent tables. I read it and then had the opportunity to meet and discuss it with Anna over a 15-minute zoom.

What did you like about her work?

Anna’s unusual protagonist – a vulnerable older woman clearly holding a lot of unresolved experience and struggling to express it – got me. I also love her novel’s setting, physical and historical, looping from contemporary Australia back to London and to wartorn Poland, and the way she tackles huge and familiar historical events (the Holocaust) through a lesser known angle (the Roma persecution), among other urgent subject matter such as institutional treatment of young women. Anna does all this with a creative sense of style, and through an intimate, character-driven lens, and ultimately through the uplifting lens of a love story.

What are the next steps when someone signs up with an agent?

Anna and I spoke at further length over zoom, and then arranged to meet in person and discuss her novel from creative and commercial/publishing perspectives. We quickly established a shared vision and are looking forward to working on a few revisions to her manuscript and devising a plan to submit to publishers.

What's your top tip for anyone looking for an agent?

  1. Read widely, and carefully polish your manuscript.
  2. Be clear about the pitch and positioning of your book, and if it does not fit in to neat boxes or obvious comparisons, educate yourself towards confidence about why it is how it is and how this could work commercially. Research and then aim your submission personally towards agents who look best placed to represent your particular project.

About Laetitia:

Laetitia grew up in London and took a BA in English from Oxford and MA in 20th Literature from Goldsmiths. Her career in books started as a Marketing Executive for Fiction at HarperCollins. After 3 years, she decided to take a year out to do a Masters degree. She then joined the pioneering small independent agency Toby Eady Associates in 2003, going on to become a literary agent and then director of the agency. In 2013, she joined Watson, Little, attracted by its long-standing reputation, its ability to work with authors in many genres, and its close in-house work across Translation markets and across Film, TV, stage and radio.   She represents a broad and diverse list of authors in Fiction and contemporary Non-Fiction offering an editorially supportive and business-driven relationship. Her list is relatively small as she is committed to growing each writer’s potential across as many platforms as possible. Her specialisms are Literary and/or Upmarket Fiction and Crime Fiction.

About Anna:

Anna is a Professor of Cultural Memory at King’s College, London. Born in the Midlands, a comprehensive school in Camberley fuelled her love of books. She read English and Politics at the University of York, followed by an MA in Women’s Studies, and a PhD on gender in Eastern Europe. She has worked as a journalist, playwright and academic in the UK, Poland and Australia. Anna has written six performed plays and has published three non-fiction books with expertise in feminist memory, Eastern Europe, Roma and the Holocaust. In 2022, she was accepted onto the Faber Advanced Fiction course, and completed her first novel. She lives in South London.

Is your writing ready to take the next step and get feedback from an agent? Join us at the the next Byte the Book Virtual Agent Tables on 21 June 2023.

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