Literary talent spotter is on the hunt for would-be novelists in York

A literary agency is heading to York in December for a '˜pitch an agent day' at which it hopes to unearth some new voices. Chris Bond finds out more.

Pitch battle: Literary agent 
David Headley is coming to York in December in search of new authors.
Pitch battle: Literary agent David Headley is coming to York in December in search of new authors.

The journalist and writer Christopher Hitchens supposedly once said: “Everyone has a book in them and that, in most cases, is where it should stay.”

The first part of that sentence is quite possibly true, the second is a matter of opinion.

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After all, there are plenty of examples of writers who went on to become famous who received numerous rejection letters before someone finally gave them a break.

There is, in other words, no magic formula to what makes a successful book or who will make it as a writer. The search for new talent is a continual one and DHH Literary Agency is holding a ‘‘pitch to an agent day’’ in York in December.

Anyone interested has until October 25 to get in touch with their idea and the first 5,000 words of their novel. Those who are successful will then be invited to a venue in the city for a 10 minute pitch directly to an agent.

David Headley, who founded the agency and hails from York, wants to encourage people to get in touch and hopes to unearth some new talent.

“I did one in London last year and I said to my colleagues ‘maybe we would should go round the country’ because I wanted to find people who couldn’t come to London for one reason or another,” he says.

“York is my home city, so it feels right to start there. I spent a lot of time in Spelman’s Bookshop and York City Library as a child and teenager and my love of books started then. Going home to find new voices, great stories, feels the right thing to do.”

There’s no guarantee that those invited to pitch their story idea will end up getting their book published one day, but Headley is keen to find out if there are any potential novelists waiting to be ‘‘discovered’’.

“Hopefully, we can give feedback to writers so they might edit or revise their stories so they become more of a viable commercial proposition. What we want to do is help people who want to be published and try and help them achieve that goal,” he says.

“I want to find really good stories and there’s always a market for that. There are trends in publishing but I don’t think people should worry about that, they should write the very best story they want to tell. And I honestly believe the best stories will find a route through.”

As well as the obvious commercial benefits that come with discovering a new writer and a potential bestseller, for literary agents like Headley there’s the sense of satisfaction this brings.

“When I start to read a manuscript, it might not be perfect but you know if the voice is confident and the writer knows what they’re talking about and they have a good story to tell. It’s incredibly exciting when you know an author has captured something magical.”

Headley is convinced there are plenty of talented writers, of all ages and backgrounds, out there. And by inviting people to get in touch, it’s a chance for voices from the North to get noticed, too.

“I think there are diverse voices in Yorkshire that I’d like to see published. There isn’t, for instance, a great story based around the history of York and immigration and I’d love to find something like that. The same goes for places like Bradford and Leeds – there are so many great stories out there – they just need to be found and published.”

Submissions close on October 25. Authors are invited to submit a one-page synopsis of their novel, and the first 5,000 words to [email protected]

The ‘‘pitch an agent day’’ is being held in York on December 1.

More information on how to submit can be found at