January 26, 2017

Orwell: 1984 meets 2017

What a week for Orwell. 1984 went up to Number 1 on the Amazon US bestsellers list all day, Number 3 on the UK equivalent, and social media are throwing Orwell in Trump’s alternative -truth face. (Yes, we’ve contributed enthusiastically via Trump’s favourite weapon of Twitter.) Theatres worldwide are clamouring to license a production asap and enquiries for film rights are flowing in (sorry folks, not available)… Orwell is a unique political hot potato when politics go really sour. Despite the fact that the book was published in 1950, and he was writing about the immediate post-war and early cold war world, his vision of a world warped by the destruction of truth via the destruction of language, and the brazen way the power-hungry obliterate facts themselves, has never been superceded. And here we have, in front of our eyes, a new US President playing out the power games of Big Brother. To a far lesser extent, but just as sinister, our own Prime Minister, when all the facts of a financial crisis in the NHS are obvious to the entire population, is blithely ignoring the facts in favour of a completely fallacious narrative.  So the obvious question: what would Orwell think about all of this? Well, we know. It’s all there in his great essays, such as Politics and the English Language, as well in his dystopian 1984. Look on his warnings and Despair (to paraphrase Shelley’s Ozymandias)? No, get out there and shout about it. Americans do; they’re really good at protest. And they will have a lot to protest about for the next few years.

September 7, 2016

Job Opportunity – Agents’ Assistant (Maternity Cover)

We are looking for a hard-working and enthusiastic person to cover the maternity leave of one of our agents’ assistants, starting in the first week of November, for a fixed term.

The job involves supporting two senior agents in their representation of authors and estates. Day to day this can include: reading and reporting on manuscripts, author care, diary management, drafting and checking contracts, tracking and chasing payments, manuscripts, publication dates – as well as many other kinds of general administrative support.

We are looking for someone who is efficient, organised, who communicates well and who uses their initiative. You will also need a keen editorial eye, and to be well-read across a range of genres, both fiction and non-fiction.

If you’d like to apply, please send a CV and covering letter to Victoria Hobbs at

Update, 20th September: the deadline for applications is now 5pm on Friday, 23rd September. 

April 28, 2016

Job Opportunity – Agents’ Assistant

AM Heath are seeking an enthusiastic, hard-working and organised person to support two senior agents in their representation of authors and estates.

Our ideal candidate will be rigorous, resourceful, intuitive, and have a great editorial eye. A keen interest in books is a must, and the successful applicant will be well-read across a wide range of genres in both fiction and non-fiction.

Responsibilities will include reading and reporting on manuscripts, database and schedule management, author care, diary management, and providing full administrative support. Strong writing and communication skills are essential.

Please send a CV and covering letter to Bill Hamilton at by Friday 6th May.

July 29, 2015

Job Opportunity – A M Heath Rights Department

Are you keen to get into the publishing world and have a particular affinity for different languages and cultures? If so, the AMH rights department could be for you. We’re currently seeking a resourceful and organised person with good communication and administrative skills to support our dynamic translation rights team.

Our dream candidate will have an avid interest in books across a wide range of genres, some general knowledge of trade publishing and a particular interest in foreign markets. Dog lovers preferred. This would be a great first job for a candidate with some work experience or coursework within the industry.

Send CV and a good covering letter to Jennifer Custer by Thursday 6th August.

June 3, 2015

An author-bookseller relationship

When we saw this great dual interview with our very own Mari Hannah – prize-winning author and Criminal Lines 2015 judge – and her local bookseller, Helen Stanton, we just knew that we had to share it on our blog.

You can read the original at

Award-winning crime writer Mari Hannah and independent bookseller Helen Stanton: a symbiotic relationship, a formidable team.

Mari: When you live in a small village, as I do, you learn the mantra – use it or lose it – pretty quickly, whether you happen to be talking about the butcher, baker or candlestick maker, to quote the ancient nursery rhyme. To do otherwise would mean the local economy would collapse, businesses would die, residents would jump ship faster than a cabin boy on a sinking cruise liner. RIP Corbridge – nice knowing you.

Helen: It’s not often that a double murder on your shop’s doorstep is good for business, but so it proved with Mari’s blistering debut, The Murder Wall. In the opening pages, a body is discovered in a church that sits opposite our front door. It’s given us an excellent way to hand-sell the book. If a customer comes in looking for a particular crime novel it’s their lucky day because, even if we don’t stock it, we have Mari Hannah, our very own crime writer. Almost a thousand customers have left the shop with one of her titles and come back for more – hard to imagine she was first published as recently as April 2012.

Mari: Before I wrote one word of crime fiction, as a reader I appreciated a leisurely browse through Forum Books, the independent bookshop near my home. It was always my first stop shop for reading and writing materials and I worried that it might close as the owner neared retirement. My concern was unfounded. He wanted to sell the shop on as a going concern. It really mattered to him and the wider community that Corbridge kept its bookshop identity. But the significance of having an independent bookseller within half a mile of my office didn’t register until the business changed hands a few months before my debut was published.

Helen: At Forum we celebrate every book that Mari writes – and boy does she graft. She promotes relentlessly after publication, putting herself out to meet with readers at signings across the region. She’s also a regular contributor to crime writing festivals and library events. If she’s asked to take part in an event locally, the first thing she does is ask if they need a bookseller. If they do, she pitches Forum in the spirit of support and cooperation. This is not only mutually beneficial to us. It works for event organisers and libraries too. Books taken care of. Job done.

Mari: Never could I have envisioned such a close working relationship with a bookseller before I was published. But when the new owner of Forum Books arrived in the form of Helen Stanton, she had other ideas. Helen has worked in the industry for many years as a bookseller & buyer at Waterstones, and in sales & marketing for Headline & Canongate books. She knows her market. She’s passionate about books and readers. She understands what is required for independent booksellers to compete with larger stores and supports authors with flair and enthusiasm. She has a great rapport with sales reps and her interest in books is infectious. She does that word-of-mouth thing, recommending titles that are individually tailored to her customers’ varying tastes. Put simply, she knows what they like because she cares and puts herself out to get to know them in a way a librarian would. I could never have reached out to readers in the way that I do without her support.

Helen: Following swiftly on the heels of her debut, Mari’s books have taken us all over Northumberland, a county that is often overlooked. One would think that she’s not on the tourist board’s good books (no pun intended) with gruesome murders in beautiful churches, crime scenes close to Hadrian’s Wall, multiple deaths in the shadow of the Angel of the North, a rising body count on the sweeping sands of Bamburgh. But they’d be wrong because Mari, like Ann Cleeves, has put the northeast on the map. Edinburgh has Rankin, Aberdeen MacBride, and Mari’s name is fast becoming synonymous with this region in the same way that Colin Dexter and Inspector Morse are inextricably linked with Oxford. She really nails this place and brings the county alive. There is no mistaking her love of the region. As a Northumberland bookshop, why wouldn’t we promote her?

Mari: I’m staggered that more writers don’t follow our lead. If they are fearful of aligning themselves with one bookstore over another, they shouldn’t be. I have as close a working relationship with big retailers as I do with Helen. The excellent staff at branches of Waterstones are equally supportive, but in a different way, arranging cluster signings across the north, giving me floor space when new titles are launched. Both are in the business of promoting and selling books. In my opinion, they serve different functions. They coexist without treading on each other’s toes. To quote my literary agent, there’s room for all at the publishing bar.

Helen: It was serendipity that I arrived in Corbridge just before Mari’s first book was published. I’m lucky and grateful that she’s been so supportive of the shop, not just in terms of promoting her own work, but in coming in to help on days that celebrate writing: Books are my Bag, World Book Day or Independent Booksellers Week. Putting her writing aside, she’s been nothing less than a loyal, supportive and generous customer.

Mari: This is a difficult time for the publishing industry, more so for independent booksellers on the high street. There are now less than a thousand in the UK but, like a lot of indie bookshop owners around the country, Helen remains optimistic for the future, squirreling away behind the scenes, planning her next event or thinking of imaginative ways to sell her wares. Because of her excellent reputation, she’s able to draw big names to the region. For example Costa winner Helen Macdonald was a sell-out evening, and US crime writer Tess Gerritsen stopped by on her UK tour – a major achievement for such a tiny rural outlet. And, because Helen has a list of loyal customers who will come out and support her, her events are always a resounding success. Long may they continue.

Mari Hannah is published by Pan Macmillan in the UK and by Harper Collins/Witness Impulse in the US. Her latest book Killing for Keeps is out now. She can be found at or on Twitter: @mariwriter

Helen Stanton is the Owner & Manager of two independent bookshops in Corbridge, Northumberland: Forum Books & Forum Books Kids! She can be found at or on Twitter: @ForumBooks

Mari Hannah’s new paperback of her latest Kate Daniels’ novel Killing for Keeps is published in Pan paperback on 16th July.

May 21, 2015

Pitching In

Last year, for the Bridport Prize, I wrote a blog about the logistics of submitting – the do’s/don’ts etc. When they asked me to write another blog this year, I decided I wanted to get more specific about an important part of the submission – the pitch letter – as it is something I am always asked about. A good pitch letter is essential. It is the first impression that I get of you and your work, and your first opportunity to pique/kill my interest. Think of it as an application for a job interview. Of course, there is nothing you can do in a pitch letter that will persuade me to take you on if I am not keen on the work itself, but there are things you can do to make me more or less excited to read your book.

Some Do’s: find out the name of the agent and address the letter to them. Alert the agent to the genre into which your work falls. Include a short “blurb” – who, what, where. Comparisons to other novels can be helpful, particularly if you know what the agent likes. Tell us a bit about yourself – but not your life story. Do mention any relevant writing experience. Do check your grammar and spelling.

Some Don’ts: don’t ignore the submission guidelines (they are there for a reason). Don’t tell us that your book is a hybrid of every genre under the sun. Don’t confuse a “synopsis” with a “blurb”. Don’t try to be (too) funny. Don’t tell us how great your book is or what it is “about” – we don’t need to know what the symbolism means. Don’t include an A4 photo of yourself.

February 17, 2015

Criminal Lines 2015


Dust off your pens laptops murder weapons… Criminal Lines is back for 2015!


Last year AM Heath in association with The Writers’ Workshop launched Criminal Lines, a crime-writing prize open to unagented, debut authors, born or resident in the UK and Ireland. We had lots of brilliant entries – from grisly historical murders and psychological suspense to alien abductions and Alaskan thrillers – and had a great (though difficult!) time reading and choosing the shortlist.


With debut crime writers already hitting the bestseller lists this year, we know the next big thing in crime is out there. Is it you? Only one way to find out – enter your novel for Criminal Lines 2015…


The nitty gritty

To enter, send the first 15,000 words and a synopsis (max 800 words) of your novel as word documents to:
You can enter any kind of crime, suspense or thriller novel for the prize, although anything previously submitted to AM Heath is ineligible. Please remember that you must be unagented, debut, and born or resident in the UK and Ireland in order to enter. Your novel doesn’t have to be finished but the synopsis does need to show you have a clear vision for the book. Self-published authors are welcome to enter.
Submissions are open from 17th February 2015, and the deadline is midnight on 4th May.


A shortlist of five novels will be announced on 1st June, and a winner on 1st July.
We will offer representation if we find an author, or authors, whose writing we love. If you are offered representation by another agency while Criminal Lines is running, please tell us straight away.
You will receive confirmation that we’ve received your submission, but only shortlisted candidates will be contacted subsequently to that.


The judging talent

The prize will be judged by AM Heath agents Euan Thorneycroft and Oli Munson, and crime authors Harry Bingham, David Mark and Danielle Ramsay. Go to AM Heath’s website to find out more about the judges.


The stash

First prize: entry to The Writers’ Workshop Festival of Writing 2015, and £500

Second Prize: £500

All shortlisted writers will have the chance to meet with Euan Thorneycroft and Oli Munson to discuss their work.


For updates on twitter, follow
And join the discussion at #Criminal_Lines.

For any questions, email

The Writers’ Workshop


November 13, 2014

Irish Children’s Prize WINNER

We’re so delighted to announce that our 2014 winner is Martin Meenan and his funny and charming FAT ROMEO. Congratulations Martin! Watch this space!

October 27, 2014

Irish Children’s Prize 2014 Shortlist

This year we received over 500 submissions, and so much talent to enjoy. To everyone who entered, we’re very grateful to you for helping make the competition happen. It wasn’t an easy job judging it, and there was something to enjoy in every submission.

*drum roll*




Serena Lawless FIGMENT

Geraldine Feehily BAKERUPT





Martin Meenan FAT ROMEO

We’ll announce our winner on 7th November. Watch this space!



October 16, 2014

The Third Time, You Buy Me a Drink

The Frankfurt Book Fair organisers ran a campaign this year to get industry people sharing their ‘Serendipity Stories’ – stories of chance meetings that have led to surprise sales, or other good things. It’s a nice idea, capturing something of the spirit of the fair, which involves impossibly long working days spent with some of the most interesting people in the world. It got me thinking about the more light-hearted side of the fair, and how, while we often talk about the amount of work, stress and stamina required, there’s another important side that does involve a kind of serendipity.

Each fair brings happy coincidences that seem uncanny, but when you consider what a relatively small circle we are, and that we’re all hanging out with each other for the better part of a 24-hour day, five or more days straight, it’s perhaps not such a strange thing. Add to this that we all share a passion for literature in its many forms and a love and concern for our industry, and it’s no wonder that many of us find close friends among the group, as well as trusted colleagues.

And then, just when you think you’ve collected the best relationships from this small group of hundreds and hundreds, here comes another book fair with its unexpected and unarranged encounters. This has been a hallmark of all my book fairs: new personalities coming into focus, people you meet several times out of the blue, sometimes every day, forming a personal rapport that might have been missing in your dealings before. I remember one such sequence of impromptu encounters at my first Frankfurt, which inspired an editor to teach me the well-known Dutch expression* which means ‘the third time, you buy me a drink’. I always think of it as the perfect book fair thing – a sort of hoped-for spatial jinx to invoke when you meet three times by chance. (* It has since been proven that this expression does not exist in Dutch.) Another fair, I was part of a small group having dinner when I suddenly ‘discovered’ an editor I had actually met many times. We hadn’t previously found our way to a real personal connection, but we’ve been close friends since.

During this Frankfurt 2014, my collection of serendipitous encounters shows how the people who work in the industry are as varied and colourful as any fictional character: there was a tall Swede, literally 20 feet tall, with a hammer that shoots lightning; and a resident of B-612 – so interesting, so hard-working, and so slow to return emails. Also, the Orwellian, who cracked me up with his consistent dogmatic observations (‘What would Orwell think of this dancefloor?’). Actually, there’s a long list… And I know that these meetings will bring me an even closer perspective on the international markets – and some committed publishers for our clients. As I get stuck in on the follow up for a hundred meetings, some more serendipitous than others, I feel a kind of sadness that the crazy, murderous, wonderful week is finished. And, as I look forward to seeing old and new friends again (though I think we can all agree it is too soon to mention LBF, even briefly), I do wonder what unexpected meetings I can look forward to in the spring.

PS You can read my own FBF Serendipity Story, as well as others, here:

A.M.Heath & Company Ltd
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