A literary agency based in Edinburgh

© Portobello Literary. All rights reserved.


Caro Clarke is a literary agent with over thirteen years' experience in publishing – at Transworld (PRH) and at Canongate Books as a Senior Rights Manager. They were named Rights Professional of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2021.In 2019, they co-founded the Nan Shepherd Prize for underrepresented nature writers, which kickstarted a passion to demystify the publishing industry and help emerging writers to develop their craft and build their writing careers. Portobello Literary was established in 2022 to build on that work.Writers they have worked with have won or been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Saltire National Book Awards, Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize, Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, Forward Prize, Morley Prize for Unpublished Writers of Colour, Mo Siewcharran Prize, Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award, Northern Writers Award, Nan Shepherd Prize, Laurel Prize, Nature Chronicles Prize, Wasafiri New Writing Prize, Eric Gregory Award, Women in Journalism Georgina Henry award, SI Leeds Literary Award and the Frank Allen Bullock Creative Writing Prize.Contact emailFor more information on the type of authors we're looking for, please visit the Submissions section.Portobello Literary is a network member of Publishing Scotland and Caro Clarke is the Chair of the Association of Scottish Literary Agents.Portobello Literary is proud to be a member of the Association of Authors’ Agents and endorses the principles of best practice in the Association’s Code of Practice.

Logo designed by Rafaela Romaya


Polly Atkin | Fiona Black | Gill Booles | Jenny Chamarette | Rachel Charlton-Dailey | Mona Dash | Joe Donnelly | Samantha Dooey-Miles | Harry Josephine Giles | CL Hellisen | Russell Jones | Louise Kenward | Wenying Li | Annie Lord | Aefa Mulholland | JC Niala | Eleanor Noyce | Andrés N. Ordorica | Wendy Pratt | Alycia Pirmohamed | Adam Ramsay | Christina Riley | Sarah Stewart | Twelve Triangles (Emily Cuddeford and Rachel Morgan) | Elspeth Wilson

Polly Atkin

Polly Atkin (FRSL) lives in Cumbria. Her first poetry collection Basic Nest Architecture (Seren, 2017) is followed by Much With Body (Seren, 2021), supported by a 2020 Northern Writers Award and a residency at Cove Park.She has also published three pamphlets: bone song (Aussteiger, 2008), shortlisted for the 2009 Michael Marks Pamphlet Award; Shadow Dispatches (Seren, 2013), winner of the 2012 Mslexia Pamphlet Prize, and With Invisible Rain (New Walk, 2018).Her biography of Dorothy Wordsworth, Recovering Dorothy: The Hidden Life of Dorothy Wordsworth (Saraband, 2021), is the first to focus on Dorothy’s later life and illness.Her doctorate on Romantic legacies and the Lake District was conducted under the AHRC Landscape and Environment project, in collaboration with The Wordsworth Trust and Lancaster University. In 2019, she co-founded the Open Mountain initiative at Kendal Mountain Festival, which seeks to centre voices that are currently at the margins of outdoor, mountain and nature writing. She works as a freelancer from her home in Grasmere, in the English Lake District.Her book Some of Us Just Fall was published by Sceptre (Hachette) in July 2023.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

Fiona Black

From the Highland village of Evanton, Fiona Black is an artist, musician, writer, researcher, history geek and lover of stories.She creates work inspired by Scotland's history, culture, and landscape, particularly that involving women. She tours with international folk band The Outside Track and is currently creating a series of lino prints of Scottish women from history.While completing an MLitt in Highlands and Islands Culture, Fiona met 18th-century writer Sarah Murray through reading a mass of historic travel writers in Scotland. She stood out as one of the first woman writers to write a guide of Scotland for others to follow in her intrepid footsteps (with or without the help of their maid and manservant).
Fiona was longlisted for the 2019 Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing. Since then, she has been slowly working on writing a travelogue retracing Sarah's journey through the current landscape.

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Gill Booles

Gill Booles is a copywriter specialising in emerging tech such as blockchain-based digital currencies, quantum computing, robotics, and extended reality. She began writing fiction during the COVID lockdowns of 2020.Outside of writing, Gill plays in chess club tournaments for Sandy Bell’s in Edinburgh, exercises on an anti-gravity treadmill and perseveres with riding therapy sessions despite her ignorance and mistrust of horses. She lives and works in Inveresk in East Lothian.She couldn’t find any book or film with a positive depiction of Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, so she wrote the book she would have wanted to read on being diagnosed with the chronic condition in 2019.

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Jenny Chamarette

Jenny Chamarette is a writer, artist/curator and mentor who for the last 17 years has worked in higher education, researching and teaching gender and sexuality in film, contemporary art and visual culture. She has lived for many years with chronic illness and has found writing and nature connection to be sources of truth in troubling times.Her public words have appeared in MAI Journal, Another Gaze, Club des Femmes Culture Club, the LUX, Litro Magazine, Sight & Sound and recently in an artist’s book by the art collective the Hildegard von Bingen Society for Gardening Companions.Her nature memoir Q is for Garden was shortlisted for the Nature Chronicles biennial prize 2021/2, the Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize 2021, and longlisted for the Nan Shepherd Prize 2021. An essay extract from Q is for Garden was recently published by Saraband.

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Rachel Charlton-Dailey

Rachel Charlton-Dailey is an award-winning journalist editor and disability activist. They regularly write for sites outlets such as Glamour, Verywell Health, Stylist and The Independent as well as appearing on many others such as The Guardian, Digital Spy, Big Issue, Healthline and HuffPost.In the summer of 2022, she guest edited The Daily Mirror's groundbreaking series Disabled Britain, which highlighted the reality of disabled life, written entirely by disabled people. She now writes a weekly disability rights column with The Mirror and works closely with them and other organisations to better represent disabled people in media.After using their platform to raise awareness of issues that affect disabled people, Rachel wanted to help others find their voice. Seeing how difficult it was to get disabled stories published in mainstream media inspired Rachel founded The Unwritten, where they are also editor-in-chief. The Unwritten is a publication for disabled people to share their authentic experiences without the trauma or inspirational lens of mainstream media. In 2021 she won the Women in Journalism Georgina Henry award at The British Journalism Awards for creating The Unwritten.Rachel lives on the North-East English coast with their sausage dog, Rusty.

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Mona Dash

Mona Dash is the author of A Roll of the Dice: A Story of Loss, Love and Genetics (Linen Press, 2019) winner of the Eyelands International Book Awards for memoir, and very recently, Let Us Look Elsewhere (Dahlia Books, June ’21). Her short story Twenty-Five Years was commissioned by BBC Radio 4 Short Works, a long running short story series. Her other published books are two collections of poetry A Certain Way and Dawn-drops, and a novel Untamed Heart. Her work has been listed in leading competitions such as Novel London 20, SI Leeds Literary award, Fish, Bath, Bristol, Leicester Writes and Asian Writer, and widely published in international journals and more than twenty-five anthologies. A graduate in Telecoms Engineering, she holds an MBA, and also a Masters in Creative Writing (with distinction). She works in a global tech company. Born and brought up in India, she lives in London.

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Joe Donnelly

Joe Donnelly is a Glaswegian journalist, editor, and writer, and is a video games enthusiast and mental health advocate. He has written about both of those subjects' complex intersections for The Guardian, New Statesman, VICE, and many more, and is a regular expert contributor to BBC radio and television.A firm believer in the transformative power of video games, Joe's debut narrative non-fiction book Checkpoint, published by 404 Ink, tells his own mental health story through the lens of gaming, alongside many other players, industry professionals and mental health experts. In 2021, Checkpoint was shortlisted for Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year by the Saltire Society. As a video game devotee, and an ex-plumber and gas fitter, Joe will never waste an opportunity to compare himself to Super Mario.

Twitter | Instagram

Samantha Dooey-Miles

Samantha Dooey-Miles writes fiction that explores the significance seemingly small moments can hold and how characters react in times of high emotion. She is particularly interested in shame, embarrassment, and female rage.Her stories have been published in Gutter, Postbox, Severine, and Razur Cuts amongst others and her monologues have been performed by Slackline Productions and Coronavirus Theatre Club. In 2021 she won a Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award.

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Harry Josephine Giles

Harry Josephine Giles is a writer and performer from Orkney, now living in Leith. She has lived on four islands, each larger than the last. She has a MA in Theatre Directing from East 15 Acting School and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling. Harry Josephine's work generally happens in the crunchy places where performance and politics get muddled up.As a poet, Harry Josephine has toured globally, given feature sets at venues from the Bowery Poetry Club to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, performed at festivals from the New Zealand Writers Festival to Montreal’s Metropolis Bleu. Her verse novel Deep Wheel Orcadia was published by Picador in October 2021 and won the 2022 Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction book of the year. Her poetry collections — Tonguit (Freight Books 2015) and The Games (Out-Spoken Press 2018) — were shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award (twice), the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and the Saltire Poetry Book of the Year.As a theatre artist, Harry Josephine has been featured in the SPILL National Platform, and at festivals including to Forest Fringe (UK), NTI (Latvia), Verb Festival (Aotearoa) and Teszt (Romania). Her one-to-one show What We Owe was listed in the Guardian’s “Best of the Edinburgh Fringe” round-up – in the “But is it art?” section. Her multimedia poetry show Drone debuted in the Made in Scotland Showcase at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe and toured internationally.

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CL Hellisen

CL Hellisen writes weird, lush speculative fiction with mercurial characters. Originally from South Africa, they now live in Scotland and spend way too much time watching figure skating when they should be walking their dog.Under the name Cat Hellisen they have published nine novels, and have short stories and poems that have appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Apex, Tor, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. They won the 2015 Short Story Day Africa with their story The Worme Bridge.

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Russell Jones

Russell Jones is an Edinburgh-based writer and editor. He has published three novels (Beast Realms trilogy), six poetry collections and a graphic novel (The Wilds). His short stories and poems have also appeared in hundreds of publications internationally. He is deputy editor of "Shoreline of Infinity", a sci-fi magazine, and has edited three collections of poetry and short stories. Russell was the UK's first Pet Poet Laureate and has a PhD in Creative Writing from The University of Edinburgh. He loves books, travelling, his dogs and (too much) food.

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Louise Kenward

Louise Kenward is a writer, artist and psychologist. Her writing has featured in Women on Nature, The Polyphony, The Clearing and Radio 3 (Landscapes of Recovery). In 2020, she set up ZebraPsych with the aim of raising awareness of energy limiting chronic illness, and she co-produced the anthology Disturbing the Body (Boudicca). Louise was Writer in Residence with Sussex Wildlife Trust (2021–2022) and is a postgraduate researcher at the Centre for Place Writing, Manchester Metropolitan University.Louise is the editor of Moving Mountains: Writing Nature through Illness and Disability, a first-of-its-kind anthology of nature writing by authors living with chronic illness and physical disability out from Footnote Press in October 2023.

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Wenying Li

Wenying Li was born and grew up in Singapore. Food and reading are her two lifelong passions. She (foolishly) turned down the opportunity to study literature at Yale University and instead read law at Oxford University before becoming a corporate lawyer in New York. She was able to indulge her foodie passion in Manhattan - managing to eat in 148 restaurants during her seven years there - but working all hours left her with little time to cook and read. Leaving legal practice enabled her to cook through 203 cookbooks and eat in another 383 (much cheaper) restaurants in London. She still cooks a different recipe almost every night. Wenying is driven to promote empathy between cultures by enabling people to sample and learn about the flavours of different cuisines, and to bring back people’s happy memories of childhood reading and eating. It is in pursuit of these goals that she has written her first book.

TikTok | Instagram

Annie Lord

Annie Lord is an artist and writer based in Edinburgh. She studied sculpture at The Slade School of Fine Art before developing her work to encompass writing, storytelling and community-based practice. Annie’s work explores how we interact with the physical world – transforming plants, animals and minerals into objects of artistic, scientific and domestic value.Annie’s site-specific storytelling pieces have been presented at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Summerhall, Edinburgh Science Festival and Hidden Door Festival.In 2018 she was commissioned by Forth Rivers Trust; co-creating with fellow artist Morvern Odling a series of brass sculptures in West Lothian exploring water pollution, fish migration and the community’s relationship with its river.
In 2020, Annie created The Neighbouring Orchard a major ongoing artwork commissioned by Art Walk Projects developing a community of 160 apple trees across Edinburgh’s coastal suburbs. An accompanying book, written and illustrated by Annie and published in 2022 by Art Walk Press, tells the story of The Neighbouring Orchard as it takes root and becomes a vibrant network of trees, people, communities & wildlife.
In 2022 she was shortlisted for the Quiet Man Dave Flash Non-Fiction award for her piece ‘Cyst–Hand–Spine’.

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Aefa Mulholland

Aefa Mulholland is an award-winning writer, journalist and editor who has worked with The Irish Times, RTE, The Miami Herald, The Advocate, Curve, Diva, MSN, AOL, the Mysterious Package Company, and many more. Her first book, travel memoir The Scottish Ambassador, was published by P+H Books in 2015. Aefa’s creative writing appears in Cagibi, Wanderlust, Slackjaw, Points in Case and elsewhere. Born in Glasgow, she now divides her time between Toronto, Tipperary and Glasgow.Her first novel The Glorious Cuckoo features a century-old bird who steals human hearts. It's about how grief can stall a life, and what it takes to start living again.

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JC Niala

JC Niala is interested in the ways our imaginations of the world affect how we treat it. During the growing season of 2021, she recreated an English allotment in the style of the year 1918, which became a living memorial to the 1918/1919 (Spanish Flu) and COVID-19 pandemics and the First World War. The resultant artists’ journal of poems from the project was published by Fig in 2022 and turned into an online exhibition by The Museum of English Rural Life.Her essays and poems have been published by Bad Lilies, Iamb, Little Toller’s The Clearing, and others.JC is an award-winning stage, screen writer and podcaster. Her play Unsettled is available as a secondary school/ college level Drama resource and can be used to support curricular diversification.JC’s nature writing debut A Loveliness of Ladybirds was shortlisted for the Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing in 2019 and will be published by Little Toller in 2023. An extract from the book, Field notes from an African anthropologist was awarded the Frank Allen Bullock Creative Writing Prize by St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford in 2020.

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Eleanor Noyce

Eleanor Noyce is a London-based freelance journalist and copywriter specialising in sex and relationships, disability, health and LGBTQIA+ culture. She’s written for The Independent, Cosmopolitan, i-D, VICE, Women’s Health and more, and she was formerly the Junior Staff Writer at DIVA Magazine, the leading publication for LGBTQIA women and non-binary people. Championing bisexual representation, disability and neurodiversity in her work, she also has experience in radio, podcasting, panels and events. When she’s not writing, she can be found running, travelling or in the crowd at a music festival.

Website | Twitter

Andrés N. Ordorica

Andrés N. Ordorica is a queer Latinx poet, writer, and educator based in Edinburgh. Drawing on his family’s immigrant history and his own third culture upbringing, his writing attempts to map the journey of diaspora and unpack what it means to be from ni de aquí, ni de allá (neither here nor there).He is a recipient of the Edwin Morgan Trust’s Second Life grant. In 2021, he was shortlisted for both the Morley Prize for Unpublished Writers of Colour and Mo Siewcharran Prize.His short fiction has been published in Gutter, Speculative Books, We Were Always Here (404 Ink), and The Colour of Madness (Bluebird Books). His non-fiction has been published in The Guardian, The Skinny, and Bella Caledonia.At Least This I Know, his debut poetry collection, is published with 404 Ink.

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Wendy Pratt

Wendy Pratt is a poet, author and workshop facilitator living and working on the North Yorkshire coast. She is the author of two pamphlets and three collections of poetry. Her latest collection, When I Think of My Body as a Horse won the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet competition 2020. She is the editor in chief of Spelt magazine, which seeks to validate and celebrate the rural experience through poetry and creative non-fiction. Wendy runs popular online courses and workshops and also teaches creative writing courses at York Centre for Lifelong Learning. Wendy is currently working on her fourth collection of poetry which will be published by Smith/Doorstop in 2024. Her other project, a creative non-fiction project, The Ghost Lake, was recently longlisted in the Nan Shepherd Prize.

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Alycia Pirmohamed

Alycia Pirmohamed is a Canadian-born poet based in Scotland. She is the author of the pamphlets Hinge and Faces that Fled the Wind, as well as the collaborative pamphlet Second Memory, co-authored by Pratyusha. Her debut poetry collection, Another Way to Split Water, was published by Polygon (UK) and YesYes Books (US). Another Way to Split Water was shortlisted for Scotland’s Poetry Book of the Year by the Saltire Society. She is the recipient of several awards, including a Pushcart Prize, the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize and the 2020 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award. Her debut narrative non-fiction book A Beautiful and Vital Place won the 2023 Nan Shepherd Prize for underrepresented nature writers and will be published by Canongate Books in August 2026.

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Adam Ramsay

Adam Ramsay is special correspondent at openDemocracy, having been an editor of and leading contributor to the site in various roles since 2013. In that time, he’s broken major stories on dark money in British politics, including during the Brexit referendum, been undercover with far-right groups in Italy, Spain and the UK, interviewed people in Palestine, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia, Croatia, Italy and every part of the UK about their experiences of the democratic process, and led campaigns – some successful – for a number of democratic reforms. For a decade,
Adam has covered the democratic crisis in Britain. His investigative work – shortlisted for a Press Gazette Media Award – has helped expose the role of dark money and lobby groups in shaping British politics and been picked up by outlets across the UK and around the world. Adam is Scottish, and his writing has often covered – and supported – movements to break up Britain.

Website | Twitter

Christina Riley

Christina Riley is an artist and writer based in Ayrshire, Scotland. Born in Miami, Florida and inspired by the essential connections between art, literature and science, her work draws attention to the natural world with a particular focus on the Atlantic coasts of Scotland and North America.Christina’s essays have been published by Little Toller’s The Clearing, Caught by the River, Elsewhere, Minding Nature, Gold Flake Paint and others, and her book The Beach Today—a photographic diary documenting marine objects collected over three months of daily beach walks in spring 2020—was published by Guillemot Press in summer 2021.Christina was longlisted for the 2019 Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing, before later that year starting The Nature Library, a travelling library bringing books about nature and the environment to public spaces. She is currently exploring works which focus on women’s lives by the coast and the role of literature in times of climate crisis.

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Sarah Stewart

Sarah Stewart was born in Aberdeen and worked as a magazine journalist before moving into book publishing as a fiction editor. As a journalist, Stewart has written for Time Out, The Herald, The Big Issue and The Guardian, among others. As a poet, Sarah was a UNESCO City of Literature Writer in Residence in Krakow, a Keats-Shelley Prize finalist and the winner of the Callum Macdonald Award. She lives in Edinburgh, where she is Director of the Lighthouse Literary Consultancy.

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Twelve Triangles - Emily Cuddeford and Rachel Morgan

Emily Cuddeford and Rachel Morgan opened their Edinburgh bakery Twelve Triangles on 31st March 2015. Since then, they have grown the bakery, added a savoury production kitchen as well as opening eight shops in Edinburgh and, most recently, the Scottish Borders. They produce daily, slowly fermented sourdough, pastries, sandwiches, salads and ferments as well as their own retail range of jams, caramels and granola.Twelve Triangles won the Great British Food Awards 2021 for best bakery, as voted by Great British Food magazine readers and the Best Baker at the Slow Food Awards 2020. They were shortlisted in the Best Baker category at the Olive Awards 2019 and nominated in the bakery category at the YBFs in 2019. In April 2023, they were featured as one of the twenty best bakeries in the UK in the Financial Times.

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Elspeth Wilson

Elspeth Wilson is a Scottish writer and poet who is interested in exploring the possibilities and limitations of the body. Her work has been shortlisted for the Canongate Nan Shepherd Prize and Penguin’s Write Now editorial programme, and she is currently working on her debut novel and debut nature writing manuscript. She is also co-founder of the Writing Happiness project. Her work has been supported by Creative Scotland, Arts Council England and the Royal Society of Literature.

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Thank you so much for considering Portobello Literary for your submission.We are looking for clients and are happy to chat to writers at any stage of their career.Please follow the guidelines below, which make it easier for us to review your book.Owing to the enormous and increasing volume of submissions that we receive daily, we regret that we cannot guarantee a reply to your submission. We respond to as many submissions as we can but individual responses cannot be guaranteed, and we cannot offer feedback on any submissions that we are unable to pursue further. If we are interested in reading or hearing more about your book, we'll be back in touch within eight to twelve weeks.Please note that we don't accept postal submissions. We also do not accepted submissions originated, written or edited by Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.To send in your submission, please address your email to Caro at submissions@portobelloliterary.co.uk with:
A synopsis of your book
A short bio
And, depending on whether you're sending fiction or non-fiction:
- For fiction: the first three chapters or the first 50 pages of your manuscript along with the total word count
- For non-fiction: a chapter outline and three sample chapters no longer than 50 pages.
It is helpful if your name and book title are both in the file name and within the files you're sending in the header or footer.If you have any queries about the format of your submission and can't see it answered above or you aren't able to submit in the way outlined below, do email us on info@portobelloliterary.co.uk and we can discuss.If you'd like some tips on crafting your submission, head to our Resources page.

What we're looking for

Caro ClarkeI represent fiction and non-fiction.I have very broad taste in fiction and I’m attracted to excellent writing, clever plots, unusual settings and complex characters. I love all types of stories from niche literary novels, to speculative fiction and fantasy, gripping crime and novels with wide appeal. I am partial to fiction that transports you, steals your heart and makes you think.Some fiction I’ve loved recently: Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa, The Mothers by Brit Bennett, Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, Memorial by Bryan Washington, Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang, Girl A by Abigail Dean, At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop, The Stranding by Kate Sawyer, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, Book Lovers by Emily Henry, Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, A River Called Time by Courttia Newland, Welcome to my Life by Bethany Rutter and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.On the non-fiction side, I’m looking for narrative non-fiction, memoir, popular science, big ideas, travel, culture, essays, queer culture and intersectional feminism. I’m also interested in food writing and cookbooks. As the co-founder of the Nan Shepherd Prize for underrepresented nature writers, I have a particular soft spot for nature writing of any type. What I look for in non-fiction are fascinating topics, a unique perspective or one that disrupts the status quo and an engaging voice. Most of all, I’m looking for writers who are passionate about the topic of their book.Some non-fiction I’ve loved recently: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles, Islands of Abandonment by Cal Flyn, Inferno by Catherine Cho, Coming Undone by Terri White, Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica J. Lee, The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara, Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui, Thin Places by Kerri ní Dochartaigh, Afropean by Johny Pitts, Dark Skies by Tiffany Francis-Baker, Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe and The Lonely City by Olivia Laing.I am always on the lookout for writers from underrepresented backgrounds.I am not looking for children’s books (picture books to YA) at this time.


If you're new to writing and seeking representation, the submission process can seem daunting. Here are some tips on how to prepare the best submission.FICTIONWhat to send?
- The sample chapters you are sending should be the first chapters.
- A synopsis should be a one or two-page document that summarises the plot (including spoilers and the ending!). A synopsis isn’t there to showcase your style (that’s what your sample chapters are for) so keep to simple sentences and get straight to the point. (Most writers find creating a synopsis to be the worst part of the writing process so hang in there.)
- Your bio should tell us a little bit about who you are, and should include any relevant information to your writing. It’s absolutely fine if it’s very short.
When to send?
- Send in your book if – and only if – you have finished writing the whole book. (If we request your full manuscript and you haven’t yet finished it, we will ask you to finish it and contact us when you're done).
- Writing is rewriting, so a first draft usually isn’t the best draft to send. Once you finish writing your book, wait a few weeks and read your manuscript again to hone and edit it. Then read it again (and again!) and edit until you’re happy with it.
- You can then share it with someone else for their (honest) thoughts and see what they say. It’s always best to ask someone who enjoys reading the type of book you’ve written. It’s good to send it to a few people, as opposed to just one person.
If you’re in the middle of writing your book and you’re not quite sure it’s working and you don’t know what to do…
- One of the best ways to learn your craft is to read a lot of books and read them critically. How is the writer making the characters shine? Is the plot interesting? Is the writing notable?
- If you can afford to, you might consider trying a creative writing course.
On Writing by Stephen King
Your Story Matters by Nikesh Shukla
Story Genius by Lisa Cron
The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr
On Editing: How to edit your novel the professional way by Helen Corner-Bryant and Kathryn Price
New Yorker Fiction
Monocle Meet the Writers
Death of a 1,000 Cuts
The Underground Writing Podcast
The Writer Files
Writing Excuses
Online masterclasses:
NON-FICTIONIf you would like to receive a proposal template created by Portobello Literary, just email us on info@portobelloliterary.co.uk and we'll send it over!What to send?
- A synopsis should be a one to two-page document that summarises the entire book. A synopsis isn’t there to showcase your style (that’s what your writing sample is for) so keep to simple sentences and get straight to the point. (Most writers find creating a synopsis to be the worst part of the writing process so hang in there!)
- Your bio should be about you, who you are, and any relevant information on your writing or your professional experience or qualifications. It’s absolutely fine if it’s very short.
- Your chapter outline should have a description of equal length for each chapter in your book. This can include the topic you will be talking about, the examples you’ll use, the themes etc.
- The writing sample you include should showcase the very best of your book (subject-wise and writing-wise).
When to send?
- Non-fiction books tend to sell on proposal so you don’t need to have finished the book to submit, though you should have a full proposal.
- You will need to edit your writing sample a few times, making sure the extract is very strong and showcases the best of your book idea. Do spend a lot of time and thought on the chapter outline and synopsis. The structure of your book should make sense and be dynamic. It should show how passionate you are about the subject and why you are the best person to write this book. If you're not achieving that, go back and take a look at your structure.
If you’re putting together the idea for a book and you’re not quite sure it’s working and you don’t know what to do…
- One of the best ways to learn how to write is to read a lot of books and read them critically. How is the writer showing their passion for the subject? Do they have any particular personal connection to the topic? How is the book structured?
- If you can afford to, you might consider trying a narrative non-fiction writing course.
Storycraft by Jack Hart
How To Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
Write It All Down by Cathy Rentzenbrink
Online masterclasses:


For all rights information and North American co-agents, email Caro Clarke caro@portobelloliterary.co.ukFor any queries about rights for our authors in foreign territories or for film and television, please contact the relevant co-agent below:Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia
Mira Droumeva mira@anas-bg.com
Andrew Nurnberg Associates Sofia | Jk. Yavorov bl. 56-B, Ap. 9, Sofia 1111, Bulgaria
Arabic Rights
Mohammed Al-Dhabaa Rights@Kalemat-agency.com
Kalemat Agency | Said Bin Zaid, Building No. 6113, Secondary No. 2678 Qurtubah Dist., 12348 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
Tatjana Zoldnere zoldnere@eearagency.com
Eastern European and Asian Rights Agency (EEARA) | 19/21-3 Gertrudes St. Riga, LV 1011, Latvia
China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Mongolia
Jackie Huang jhuang@nurnberg.com.cn
ANA Beijing Representative Office
Room | 1705, Culture Square, No.59 Jia Zhongguancun Street, Haidian District, Beijing 100872, People’s Republic of China
Croatia, Hungary
Évi István rights@nurnberg.hu
Andrew Nurnberg Associates Budapest | Gyori út 20, Budapest 1123, Hungary
Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia
Jitka Německová nemeckova@nurnberg.cz
Andrew Nurnberg Associates Prague | Jugoslávských partyzánů 17, 160 00 Praha 6, Czech Republic
Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Antje Hartmann antje.hartmann@mp-litagency.com
Literarische Agentur Kossack GbR | Papenhuder Strasse 49, 22087, Hamburg, Germany
Efrat Lev efrat@dhliterary.com
The Deborah Harris Agency, P.O. Box 8528, Jerusalem 9108401, Israel
Hamish Macaskill hamish@eaj.co.jp
The English Agency (Japan) Ltd. | Sakuragi Bldg 3F., 6-7-3 Minami-Aoyama Minato-ku Tokyo, Japan
Netherlands, Belgium (Flemish), Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland
Diana Gvozden d.gvozden@schonbach.nl
Marianne Schönbach Literary Agency b.v. | Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 12, 1017 RC Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Spain, Portugal, Brazil
Txell Torrent txell@mbagencialiteraria.es
MB Agencia Literaria | Ronda Sant Pere, 62, 1º-2ª, 08010 Barcelona, Spain
Whitney Hsu whsu@nurnberg.com.tw
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Film and TV
Our film and TV rights are handled by Matthew Dench at Dench Arnold.


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PUBLICATION: The Language of Trees: How Trees Make Our World, Change Our Minds and Rewild Our Lives by Katie Holten
15th June 2023
It's publication day for The Language Of Trees: How Trees Make Our World, Change Our Minds and Rewild Our Lives by Katie Holten, a beautiful collection of writing on our close connection to trees, conservation & the Rights of Nature, all illustrated with Katie's Tree Alphabet.
Order from your local bookshop here and from the Portobello Bookshop website.

COVER REVEAL: Some of Us Just Fall: On Nature and Not Getting Better by Polly Atkin
April 2023
Out 6th July 2023. More information on Sceptre's website.

Polygon Acquires World English Language Rights to Bucket List by Russell Jones
April 2023
We're delighted to have wrapped up a deal with Polygon for Bucket List by Russell Jones which will be published in Spring 2024.‘Russell Jones’s Bucket List is the feel-good novel of the year,’ says Polygon editor Edward Crossan. ‘It’s a hilarious page-turner that’s like a warm hug. Russell’s writing is charming, and he’s developed characters that are both memorable and loveable. I can’t wait to get this book into the hands of readers. And I can’t wait to read more from this author.’More on the acquisition on Birlinn's website.

COVER REVEAL: Too Hot To Sleep by Elspeth Wilson
April 2023
Out April 2023. More information on Bent Key Publishing's website.

Some of Us Just Fall: On Nature and Not Getting Better by Polly Atkin - a Bookseller's Editor's Choice
April 2023
Caroline Sanderson picked Some of Us Just Fall by Polly Atkin as a Bookseller's Editor's Choice for July 2023 calling it 'striking'.

The Borough Press to publish 'powerful' exploration of grief and nature
April 2023
We're delighted to have wrapped up a deal with the amazing Borough Press, an imprint of HarperCollins UK, for Wendy Pratt's The Ghost Lake which will be published in Spring 2024.
More on the acquisition on The Bookseller.

Footnote Press scoops Moving Mountains, 'first of its kind' anthology of nature writing by disabled and chronically ill authors, edited by Louise Kenward
February 2023
We're thrilled to have wrapped up a deal with the brilliant Footnote Press for Moving Mountains, an incredibly special anthology of nature writing by disabled and chronically ill authors edited by
Louise Kenward which will be published in October 2023.
More on the acquisition on BookBrunch.

Andrés N. Ordorica's How We Named The Stars sold to Tin House Books in North America
February 2023
Andrés N. Ordorica's How We Named The Stars, set between the United States and Mexico that explores belonging, grief and first love between a man, who is coming to understand what it means to share his late uncle's name, and his college roommate, who changes everything, to Elizabeth DeMeo at Tin House Books for publication in Winter 2024.

Katie Holten's The Language of Trees sold to Elliott & Thompson
February 2023
Elliott & Thompson Publishing Director Sarah Rigby acquired UK & Commonwealth excluding Canada rights to The Language of Trees by Katie Holten following a two-way auction from Tin House via Caro Clarke at Portobello Literary.Inspired by forests, leaves, roots, and seeds, The Language of Trees is a gorgeously illustrated collection, a love letter to the wonder of trees – and how they make our world, stretch our minds and rewild our landscapes and lives. The book will be printed in rich, deep green ink and published in demy hardback and ebook on 15 June 2023.

Andrés N. Ordorica shortlisted for the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year for Scotland
November 2022
Andrés N. Ordorica has been shortlisted for the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year for Scotland's National Book Awards for his poetry collection At Least This I Know. The news was announced in the Bookseller.The Saltire Society website features a video of a judge talking about the book and a reading from Andrés.

Sceptre lands ‘exquisite’ meditation on chronic illness by prize-winning poet Polly Atkin
September 2022
We're thrilled to share that Sceptre has acquired Some of Us Just Fall by prize-winning poet Polly Atkin, a “raw and exquisite meditation on chronic illness and our place within the landscape" to publish in July 2023.
More on the acquisition in The Bookseller.