Peter Buckman, Ampersand Agency
Peter Buckman was on the editorial board of Penguin Books, and moved to New York to be a commissioning editor with the New American Library. He then became a full-time writer, producing books, films, plays, and scripts for tv and radio. Agenting has always been part of his life. The Ampersand Agency Handle literary and commercial fiction and non-fiction. Contemporary and historical novels, crime, thrillers, women’s fiction, memoirs, history, biography, cookery – anything as long as it’s well written. No fantasy / sci-fi / horror though.
- When did you come into agenting? What did you do before? And why agenting?
I was a publisher and then a full-time writer before becoming an agent in 2003, so I know the pleasures and pain involved in all aspects of the creative process.
- Have you ever opened a new manuscript, read a single page, and thought ‘I’m going to end up making an offer on this’? What was it about that page which excited you?
Yes. The opening sentence of “Q&A”, which turned into “Slumdog Millionaire”
- What’s your pet peeve on covering letters?
packages or envelopes so plastered in sticky tape that I have to get a carving knife to open them. Anything addressed “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern”
- Do you need good personal chemistry with your authors?
Not necessarily, though agenting is a very personal thing – like having a lover, without the sex. You need to respect and be generous to one another, as well as being capable of surprise.
- The grim stats: how many submissions do you get per week (or year)? And how many new authors do you take on?
Around 100 a week, say 5000 a year, and in nine years we’ve got maybe 60 authors. You can figure out the stats.
- Do you like your authors to tweet & blog & Facebook … or do you really not care?
- Which is most important: the editor, the publisher or the advance?
The most important thing is that the author is happy and well-served
- Do you secretly have a book in you? And if so, tell us more …
I’ve published seven books, all out of print, and some of them so boring not even my wife has read them
Peter is one of the agents appearing at this year’s Festival of Writing. Each year we invite literary agents who are hungry for new talent and who represent some of the biggest and best agencies in the business. Don’t miss your chance to book a one-to-one session with an agent of your choice.