Julie Shackman - How Selwa Became My Agent

When I approached Selwa with my third novel, A Room at the Manor, in April, 2017, I honestly hadn’t expected to hear back.

I had read about Selwa’s phenomenal reputation in the Australian literary world and assumed that with her impressive client list, she would more than likely reply with a polite decline.

I recall emailing her my synopsis and first ten pages of my novel on that Saturday afternoon, only to be lost for words when an email reply pinged in my inbox from her on the Monday morning, saying she enjoyed my writing and could I send her the full manuscript?

She added that she would get back to me with her decision within fourteen days, so I spent the next week or so trying not to refresh my inbox every five minutes! I tried to feel quietly optimistic and told myself that even if she declined, having an agent of her stature ask for my completed manuscript was a step in the right direction.

Then, on day twelve, another email arrived from Selwa, asking if we could have a telephone chat. When I spoke to her, I remember my heart thumping in my chest when she said my manuscript required some work but that she loved my writing style and the premise of my book. Then, when she offered to represent me, I just burst into tears!

After several rounds of edits, Selwa began submitting A Room at the Manor and within six weeks, she had secured me a publishing deal with Allen & Unwin – cue more heart hammering and tears!

She then informed me that she had negotiated an audio version of the book with Bolinda.

A Room at the Manor was released in ebook, paperback and audio on 27 June, 2018, in Australia and New Zealand and since then, the rights have been sold to Forever Ullstein in Germany, who are releasing their edition of A Room at the Manor in ebook on 4 March, 2019, and in paperback on 2 May, 2019.

I have also just learnt that A Room at the Manor is being published in the UK and the USA by Allen & Unwin, with details being released in February, 2019.

I have just finished writing my next novel and re-submitted that to Selwa, following her first round of revisions, at the beginning of this month and am now working on the one after that.

Without Selwa’s assertiveness, passion and persistence, my writing dreams would never have got off the ground. She believes in me – and for that, I will always be truly grateful.