Sam & Jenny Bailey - How Selwa Became My Agent

In 1999, the year we married, our story appeared in The Australian Women’s Weekly. Tucked away at the end of the article was a throw-away line that happened to mention we would like to write a book about our story one day.

A few days later a note arrived in our mailbox from a literary agent called Selwa Anthony – who at that stage we hadn’t heard of. We quickly discovered she was a legend in the publishing industry. We made contact with her and she re-iterated her offer to help if we wanted to write our story.

But time passed, life got in the way, and despite appearing in early 2000 on ABC TV’s “Australian Story” to an overwhelming response, we didn’t get around to writing our story. Over the next couple of years we started public speaking and people kept suggesting we write a book. With the dream re-kindled we decided to contact ABC Books through our contacts in the organisation but the head of publishing knocked back our book proposal.

The note from Selwa seemed a distant memory by then, we’d lost her contact details and we were sure she would have forgotten all about us. So, Jenny joined Sydney Writer’s Centre for extra inspiration and guidance. One day she noticed an upcoming event that featured a number of speakers including Selwa. She suggested we attend.

We made sure we were sitting front and centre at Selwa talk, which was quite a challenge as the room was completely packed, chairs were full and people crowded along the walls overflowing into the doorways. There was no questioning her popularity.

After her talk, Selwa invited questions from the riveted audience – many aspiring writers who would give their right hand to be represented by one of the country’s best known literary agents.

Sam waited until the very end, then put up his hand. He was invited to ask his question.

“Hello Selwa,” he said. “My name is Sam Bailey. My wife Jenny and I have decided to write our story and we’re looking for a book agent. And I think you’re really, really good-looking, so will you represent us?” Everyone cracked up.

Selwa jumped down from the stage and gave Sam a hug and kiss and said, “Sam, send me something, please!” She’d remembered us after all.

After a lot of persuasion from Selwa, ABC Books changed their minds and published our book Head Over Heels in 2006. It went on to become a best seller and a second book is in the pipeline.