Meet the Agents – Juliet Mushens from PFD

Juliet Mushens, Peter Fraser & Dunlop
Juliet Mushens is an Agent in the Books Division of PFD. Before becoming a literary agent, Juliet worked in fiction marketing and editorial at HarperCollins, after reading history at Cambridge. She is always looking for new voices and supervises a dissertation on the Kingston University Creative Writing Course. Juliet represents a commercial list of both fiction and non-fiction writers at PFD. On the fiction side, Juliet likes reading group fiction, thrillers, historical fiction, fantasy/SF and commercial writing for children aged 12+ with an emphasis on YA. On the non-fiction side she represents everything from celebrity autobiographies to cook-books, with a passion for inspirational memoirs and a growing list of ghost-writers.

  • When did you come into agenting? What did you do before? And why agenting?

I joined PFD in 2010, having previously worked at HarperCollins. I was drawn to agenting because I liked the idea of finding something undiscovered and exciting on the slushpile and then helping shape that person’s career. I love people as much as I love books and I enjoy the fact that no two days are ever the same. And nothing beats the buzz of calling a client and telling them that their book is going to be published.

  • What’s your pet peeve on covering letters?

I have a few. People getting my name wrong is probably key. Treat a cover letter for your book like you would the cover letter for a job – make it professional, to the point, and well-researched. Get someone to spell-check it. And please, please don’t call me ‘Julian’ when my name is ‘Juliet’.

  • What sort of books do you love?

I have incredibly diverse taste, which is reflected in the fact that my list contains everything from cookbooks to children’s fiction. I am a sucker for an unreliable narrator, the dark side of female friendship (think Cat’s Eye), anything that talks about gender in an interesting way and books that make me cry. The only books I really don’t love are political thrillers (sorry) and hard sf.

  • Do you need good personal chemistry with your authors?

Absolutely! You spend a lot of time with your authors editorially, throughout the publication process, on book tours, events, lunches with their publishers… I think it would be pretty painful for all involved if that chemistry wasn’t there.

  • If you had one bit of advice to give to new writers, what would it be?

If at first you don’t succeed…

 

Juliet 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.

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  • Peter Benning

    I have just completed my second book which falls into the science fiction/thriller genre.

    I self-published the first one, called Far-Rangers, through Xlibris, because I wanted to get it out there because I was pleased with my accomplishment.

    I feel that I would be far better finding a Literary Agent to look at what I have written, give a positive and honest critique of the content and make me a better writer.

    Can you offer any advice?

    Kind regards,

    Pete

    PS: My intention is to write a collection of eight stories within the Far-Rangers title.

  • Harry

    You do need an agent – and you probably need to start with the first book of the series, not try to find an agent for book #2.

    But agents don’t offer critiques or turn people into better writers. That’s not their job. They are there to sell manuscripts to publishers, and while they might do a limited amount of editorial work for clients, they are basically looking to take on saleable manuscripts. If yours isn’t yet up to scratch, they won’t take you on as a client. They reject – literally – 99.9% of the work that comes their way.

    So if you want editorial advice, you need to come to us.That’s what we do – it’s what we’re expert at. (And way more expert than at least 90% of agents.) For info about the services we offer, please go here. For advice about agents in general, the best starting point is here.