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.


Agency News

TV Drama Series


It’s been an extraordinary eighteen months, with nearly all publishers and literary agents working from home, including us, which I have to say has had its compensations.


The most startling phenomenon during this period has been the clamour of TV production companies beating a path to our door, keen to pursue option agreements for dramatic and documentary rights in many of our authors’ books.  Increasingly, the rights are being snapped up, even before the manuscripts have been delivered to the publishers.


ITV 1’s big ratings winner, aired back in Autumn 2019, A Confession, seemed to kick start the rush.  It was based on former D. Supt. Stephen Fulcher’s book for Ebury Press about Christopher Halliwell and his victims, Catching A Serial Killer, and starred Martin Freeman and Imelda Staunton.  Then, in January 2020, ITV aired White House Farm staring Freddie Fox and Stephen Graham, based on Carol Ann Lee’s in-depth investigation of the Jeremy Bamber case in The Murders at White House Farm, published by Macmillan.


Coming up in 2021, we have ITV’s much heralded drama series Stephen on the Stephen Lawrence murder, currently being filmed by Hat Trick, and based on former DCI Clive Driscoll’s memoir, In Pursuit of the Truth (Ebury Press).  Clive, who finally brought Stephen’s killers to justice, is played by Steve Coogan, and the series is produced by Mark Redhead and Line of Duty’s producer and writer Jed Mercurio.


Clive could only enable Stephen’s killers to be tried and convicted because another client of our agency, Ann Ming, had campaigned tirelessly to overturn the 800-year-old law of double jeopardy, which protected murderers found not-guilty from being retried in the light of new evidence such as DNA.  Ann’s book, For the Love of Julie, published by HarperCollins, has now been optioned for a TV drama series, too.


Carol Ann Lee truly is the queen of true crime writing.  Every book she writes attracts enormous competitive interest from both publishers and TV producers.  I’ve already mentioned the hit ITV series, White House Farm, but all of her most recent books are also under option for TV drama series, including her book on the victims and survivors of the Yorkshire Ripper, Somebody’s Mother, Somebody’s Daughter, published by Michael O’Mara.  And we are just about to conclude an Agreement for Carol’s Ruth Ellis book, A Fine Day For A Hanging, published by Mainstream / Random House.


New Books For 2021


Carol Ann’s intriguing book for 2021 focuses on the extraordinary life and career of master poisoner, Graham Young, A Passion for Poison.  This first ever book on Young will be published in August by John Blake Publishing / Bonnier, and has already been optioned for a TV drama series.


Our first book to be published in 2021 (by HarperElement) was How To Solve A Murder, by forensic scientist at Guy’s Hospital, Derek Tremain, and his forensic secretary, Pauline Tremain.  I like to characterise their blossoming romance as love in a mortuary.  Published in January, it stormed to No. 8 in the Sunday Times non-fiction bestsellers, and it, too, has been snapped up by a TV production company for a drama series.


Justice For Helen, Marie McCourt’s heart-breaking quest to find where pub landlord, Ian Simms, had buried her murdered daughter, was published in February 2021 by John Blake Publishing / Bonnier, amidst a blaze of publicity on TV, radio and in the press around the book and Marie’s huge achievement in finally getting “Helen’s Law” on the statute books.


We were delighted by the news that the paperback sales of Roberta Kray’s eighteenth crime novel Betrayed, published by Sphere / Little, Brown in March, were 83% up on her previous book.  With her ever-growing fan-base, it cannot be long before Roberta is rewarded with a much-deserved place in the top 20 fiction bestsellers.  Her next novel, Double Crossed, will be published in hardback in November 2021.


We have two books published in June: The Macro Method by prolific health and diet guru, Helen Foster, being published by Aster / Octopus; and The Freshwater Five by Jamie Green and Mike Dunn, to be published by The History Press.  We have signed a great deal for the TV drama rights and are about to close on a hard-fought contest for the TV documentary rights.  It is the story of a truly shocking miscarriage of justice for five fishermen from the Isle of Wight, who were sentenced in 2011 to a total of 104 years in prison.  They were found guilty of smuggling £53 million of cocaine.  Despite an Appeal in February 2021, which revealed a host of legal irregularities and the withholding of vital evidence by the Crown Prosecution Service during the trial, the original sentence was upheld by the Appeal Judges.


Two more titles follow in July, both breaking important new ground with inside testimonies on two of the most legendary and controversial crimes of the twentieth century.  Former Police Commander and S.I.O. for Major Crimes, Hampshire Police, Paul Stickler, draws on the evidence and previously unseen writings of Valerie Storie, who was shot and left for dead by James Hanratty in a lay-by on the A6 in Bedfordshire in August 1961,60 years ago.  Her fiancé was shot and killed.  Valerie was permanently paralysed and wrote her own account of exactly what happened in this cat and mouse seven-hour ordeal, and about its repercussions for her subsequent brave life in a wheelchair, which ended in 2016.


No one could be better qualified than Julian Hayes to write the definitive story of disgraced Labour Cabinet Minister and Czech spy, John Stonehouse, who mysteriously disappeared from a Miami beach on 20th November 1975, presumed dead.  He, with his glamorous mistress, Sheila Buckley, would eventually be found in Melbourne after an intensive worldwide hunt played out before the captivated media and public.  As a child, Julian knew Stonehouse.  His father, Michael Hayes QC, was Stonehouse’s nephew, who was unwittingly dragged into his uncle’s nefarious business operations.  Top city criminal lawyer, Julian, unravels Stonehouse’s colourful life, and his largely unreported spying for the Czech Security Services (the StB), discovered from archives in Prague.  Stonehouse will be published by Robinson / Little, Brown.


Another two titles come in August: Carol Ann Lee’s aforementioned A Passion For Poison; and Inside Parkhurst, a tough and revealing month-by-month first-hand account of former prison officer David Berridge’s 27 year career in Parkhurst and Albany prisons on the Isle of Wight, home to many of the UK’s most violent and craziest criminals.


Many more books are in the pipeline, as we look forward to a Covid-free (we hope!) year ahead.


May 2021