Dr Karen Brooks - How Selwa Became My Agent

Long before I met Selwa, I’d heard about her. It’s actually more a case of who in the literary community hadn’t. Those I knew who were represented by Selwa Anthony were the envy of other authors.

I’d been with a different agent for about five years when, due to a range of factors, I started to think of leaving her services. As it happened, two people involved in publishing (one an author, the other an editor), told me Selwa would be the ideal agent for me and my work and I should make contact. I was very nervous but took their advice and phoned her.

Warm but also very professional, Selwa told me she couldn’t take me on while I was still with my current agent. She also said she couldn’t guarantee she would take me if I left my agent!

Anxious about cutting myself adrift, I knew it was something I had to risk. I had to step away and take the chance that, if not Selwa, then another agent would sign me up. Needless to say, I wanted it to be Selwa.

Contacting her again after I severed ties with my former agent, she encouraged me to keep working on a new novel I’d just started (Tallow, the first book in what became known as The Curse of the Bond Rider series) and to send the manuscript when finished. She made me no promises, simply saying that she’d be keen to see my work.

Six months after our initial contact, I completed Tallow. Within a couple of weeks, Selwa had read it and extended an invitation to join her agency, outlining very carefully and thoroughly, the conditions under which I’d be accepted and how our professional relationship would unfold. The terms were familiar to me as they were identical to that which I’d had with my other agent who, among other things, was still entitled to a percentage of the books she’d signed while I was with her agency.

I vividly recall the joy I felt, the sense of coming home that being part of Selwa’s authorial stable imparted.

The first time I actually met Selwa was magical. It was at one of her annual Sassy events. I already “knew” her, but what I didn’t know was that the warmth I felt across a phone or via email was increased a thousand-fold in person. Genuine, kind, clever and, above all, professional and personable, Selwa is one of a kind. She’s also what some might call an “old-school” agent in that she’s very hands on. From the outset, I was able to discuss my ideas, hopes, dreams but also very pragmatic issues about writing, works in progress, and publishing, including when something simply did not work. Selwa nurtures you as a person and writer and seeks to bring out the best, fostering talent and personal growth – sometimes even under her own roof. She really, really cares. I think this was like a collective secret that all her authors kept and which you sensed from the outside but never really knew until you become one of the ‘sassys’ (as Selwa’s authors are fondly known). You not only gained the services of one of Australia’s (and the globe’s) most respected and admired agents, you gained a mentor.

Better still, I didn’t just acquire a new literary agent the day I met Selwa, I gained another member of my family.