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Pitching An Agent: Andrew Lownie Literary Agency

This agency seeks well-researched nonfiction that's quirky and commercial

By Jeff Rivera - February 8, 2011

Number of agents: One
Number of clients: 130
Notable clients: Juliet Barker, Joyce Cary Estate, Roger Crowley, David Day, Laurence Gardner, Robert Hutchinson, Christopher Lloyd
Amount of unsolicited material selected: One percent
Fiction vs. Nonfiction: 80 percent nonfiction, 20 percent fiction

Background: Born in Kenya and educated in Scotland and North Carolina, literary agent Andrew Lownie studied at Cambridge and Edinburgh University before a chance meeting with John Le Carre in 1984 introduced him to the world of publishing. He later spent time as a bookseller, journalist, and an editor before finally forming his own literary agency in 1988. Lownie is also the author of several books, including a literary companion to Edinburgh, a life of the writer John Buchan, and a forthcoming biography of the spy Guy Burgess. A former literary agent to the charity English PEN, Lownie sits on the Board of BIO (Biographers International Organization) and also founded the Biographer's Club, a networking organization of which he is now president, in 1997.

Lownie prides himself on personally handling new material himself, rather than delegating them to an assistant or junior agent. "Many authors have been with the agency for over twenty years or since their first book," Lownie says. Although his agency represents a large volume of authors, because his clients are at different stages of development with their projects, he is able to juggle projects seamlessly without his authors feeling left out. Being an author himself, he knows the importance of that personal attention.

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