About the agency
Robert Smith Literary Agency Limited was set up in 1997 to seek out quality non-fiction authors with original and well researched book ideas. We work closely with our authors to develop their books, so that they have strong editorial and commercial appeal, enabling us to obtain the best possible advances and terms from publishers.
As long-standing members of AAA (The Association of Authors’ Agents), we are up-to-date with the latest industry intelligence to further and protect our authors’ interests.
I start every day at the agency wondering what exciting proposals and offers will pop onto my desk. I am expecting 2015 to be a great year for us. It is gratifying to be told by our accountant that we have just completed a record quarter for sales turnover. Here are some of our highlights for the year ahead.
We began 2015 with two successful diet books in January. Rising to an incredible No. 4 in Amazon’s listing of all books, came The High Fat Diet by the very promotable driving force behind The Library Gym, Zana Morris, and health writer, Helen Foster, published by Random House’s Vermilion imprint. Penguin published The Ice Diet by the top health author and Times columnist, Peta Bee. In fact, The Times went very big over several days in its promotion of both books.
Moving on, we expect to attract enormous attention with Lee Rigby: A mother’s story, Lyn Rigby’s account of her son’s slaying by Islamic terrorists on the streets of Woolwich in May 2013. The book has heart-breaking, but ultimately uplifting first-hand accounts by Lyn and her family, Lee’s fiancée and friends, and the “angels of Woolwich” of how profoundly that event impacted on their lives. The co-writer is Rosie Dunn, whose last book, My James by Ralph Bulger, was a No. 1 bestseller. We sincerely hope, that the public will be moved to support this book as enthusiastically, when it is published by Simon & Schuster on the second anniversary of Lee’s murder.
We are also proud to be agenting Naomi Jacob’s Forgotten Girl. Partly as a result of traumatic events in her childhood, 32 year-old Naomi woke up one morning believing she was 15: she had lost all memory of the last 17 years. This true psychological thriller of how she re-discovered her identity and took the second chances offered to her to make a better life is totally absorbing. Pan will publish in April, and an Oscar-nominated producer has already snapped up the film rights.
On a lighter note, Before Marilyn unveils a newly discovered cache of unseen photographs and personal documents, which belonged to Emmeline Snively, the founder of the famous Blue Book Model Agency in Hollywood. Marilyn’s early career as a Blue Book Model and burgeoning film actress unfolds delightfully in this superbly illustrated book by Astrid Franse, who owns the Snively Archive, and by Monroe authority, Michelle Morgan. The History Press will publish in July. Michelle also has another book being published later in the year by Chicago Review Press. It’s The Ice Cream Blonde, in which she solves the mystery of why 20s silent star, Thelma Todd, was found dead with carbon monoxide poisoning in a garage owned by her lover, film director, Roland West.
Also in July, Pan Books will launch the paperback of Naming Jack the Ripper by Russell Edwards, which will prove decisively that Jack the Ripper was Aaron Kosminski. The DNAs left by the killer and by one of his victims, Catherine Eddowes, on a shawl left at the murder site, have been subjected to extensive new forensic tests since the hardback publication last September. Rights were sold in the USA and to a large number of foreign language publishers. A TV documentary on the shawl is in production.
Incidentally, our client, Alan Hicken, has just signed an agreement with a major Hollywood studio, for a TV series to be based on The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper by James Carnac, a partly fictional psychological account of the Whitechapel murders. Alan owns the original manuscript written in 1929.
Before leaving Jack, author and surgeon Wynne Weston-Davies, has discovered the true identity of Mary Jane Kelly. Until now, very little has been known about her, but Wynne’s deeply researched book, detailing the whole fascinating history of her life will be published by Blink Publishing in the Autumn.
Another landmark book for the agency this year is the autobiography of former Detective Chief Superintendent Clive Driscoll, the legendary policeman, whose ground-breaking reinvestigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence brought two of his killers to justice in 2013. Clive is an extraordinary detective, who has succeeded in nailing the perpetrators of many of the vilest crimes, where all others had failed. Ebury Press publish in the Autumn.
More 2015 highlights, in brief.
- Journalist Heidi Kingstone is publishing initially as an ebook, and to be published in paperback in May, Dispatches From The Kabul Café, her illuminating and vivid account of working and living in war-torn Afghanistan. In an exciting new initiative, her publisher, Advance Editions, invited readers to participate and interact in the creative process of writing the book.
- Carol Ann Lee has written the definitive story of the killing of the Bamber family in Essex 30 years ago, The Murders At White House Farm, to be published by Sidgwick & Jackson in July. Did Jeremy Bamber murder his family? Carol has interviewed everyone involved, including Bamber himself, and has reassessed all the evidence, much of it new, to answer that question once and for all.
- Roberta Kray publishes her 8th crime novel for Little, Brown, in November, always a big month for her ever- growing fan base.
Of course, many more of our books will be published during the year, but this selection will, I hope, demonstrate that this agency is the perfect place for exceptional authors of exceptional books to be represented.