Before co-founding DKW, Bryony worked at the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency, and spent several years working in specialist bookshops and libraries. She has worked with top publishers both in the UK and abroad, and loves negotiating publishing contracts to an almost absurd degree. She represents an eclectic mix of talented writers, and loves everything from quirky children’s fiction through to YA and adult fiction and non-fiction.
Bryony has an MA in Publishing from University College London and a BA in English Literature from the University of Reading. She previously volunteered as University Liaison Officer for the Society of Young Publishers, where she visited universities across the UK giving talks and workshops to help graduates break into the publishing industry. Bryony was selected by The Bookseller as one of their Rising Stars of 2013, and was a winner of the London Book Fair Trailblazer Awards 2016.
You’re stranded on a desert island – what 3 books would you want with you?
The Complete Works of Shakespeare (that counts as one, right?). The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – this was my favourite book as a child, and would be quite fitting given the circumstances! How to Survive on a Desert Island – self-explanatory.
What is the single biggest challenge facing the publishing industry right now?
Diversity (or more specifically, the lack of it). I think it’s an issue that is being talked about a lot, and while steps are being taken to address the problem, I still feel that not enough is actually being done. I would particularly love to see an end to the culture of unpaid internships, which are a huge barrier to entry for so many people.
What is the silliest thing you have on your desk?
A snow globe of Neuschwanstein castle. It’s one of my favourite places in the world (an image of Neuschwanstein was used to represent Cair Paravel on the back cover of my 1992 edition of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which may have something to do with my fascination with the place). I’ve visited the castle several times and I’m fascinated by the story of the castle’s origins and King Ludwig II. The snow globe was a gift from my client Nicole Burstein, who went travelling around Europe a couple of years ago and went to Neuschwanstein after I insisted she had to see it!
Who has been your greatest inspiration, and why?
Can I be cheeky and choose two? JK Rowling has always been a huge inspiration (and I’m sure many of my peers would say the same). Partly because of her success, but also her fearless wit and integrity. I’d also say my former boss, Caroline Sheldon, who taught me so much about agenting. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without having had such a wonderful mentor so early in my career.
What do you love about LBF?
The passion for books and the buzzing excitement about new authors and new deals which is tangible from the moment you step into the fair – something which I assumed I would stop noticing to such an extent as I came back year after year, but which still strikes me as powerfully as it ever did. And it’s always lovely to see so many familiar faces in one place.
What piece of advice would you give first-timers at the Fair?
Talk to as many people as possible. Explore every corner. Seize every opportunity.
When was your first London Book Fair (LBF)?
My first London Book Fair was an odd one – 2010, the year that the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland had grounded flights across Europe and prevented many of the usual visitors to the Fair from arriving. So there was an unusually quiet atmosphere that year, which I’ve since learned is far from typical!
Tell us about a passionate interest you have outside the business
I love hiking – the more spectacular the scenery the better.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in publishing today?
Be bold. Know where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Don’t be afraid to ask for things, don’t be afraid to say yes, and if you don’t see the opportunity or the path that you want to take, create your own.
What do you like about your job?
I love how no two days are the same. I could be out all day meeting with editors, meeting with my lovely clients, talking to new writers and discovering new talent. Or I could be at my desk working on a contract (I’ve always loved working with contracts), negotiating terms for new deal or editing a manuscript that I’m really excited about, or working to promote our books and authors through DKW’s social media channels. And every week there’s something new and unexpected. It’s never boring!