Chiswick has a new literary agent. Anna Klerfalk, who for two years ran the Waterstones branch in Chiswick, has left the bookseller and is pursuing her dream of setting up a literary agency.
Originally from Sweden, Anna is known to many in Chiswick as an energetic supporter of the Chiswick Book Festival, present with her team throughout, surrounded by mountains of books, quietly and efficiently making sure the authors had enough books to sign for the queues of festival goers. She went on maternity leave last year and as many of us do, used the time to reassess her career, deciding the full-on job of managing a major bookstore across the other side of London from her home would mean spending too little time with her son Carl and if ever there was a time to go into business for herself, this was it.
She knows the book industry inside out, first of all as an avid reader , devouring literary classics in English such as the works of Dickens, the Brontes and Virginia Woolf as a student. She knows it as a publisher, having worked for a publisher in Sweden during and after her time at university reading Cultural and Literary Studies and gaining a Masters in Publishing Studies at the University of Lund. Crucially she knows what interests the British book buying public, having worked for Waterstones for ten years, managing shops in Ilford, Ealing and Chiswick, scrutinizing the figures month on month to see what sells best and artfully highlighting in store the subjects and authors most likely to titivate us. (We’re big on ‘smart thinking’ books in Chiswick apparently).
Photographs: Anna at the Waterstones stall at the Chiswick Book Festival, Anna reading a story to toddlers at Waterstones and Anna with Carl
Chiswick’s “cultural pulse”
It is her knowledge of Chiswick, through the Book Festival dealing with the many authors who live locally, that has led her to set up her tent here, having run the Local Authors sessions at the bookstore. But she says it’s more than familiarity with Chiswick which has prompted her to start her agency here. “Chiswick is a unique community, with a real cultural pulse to it” she says. Anna would like to hear from anyone looking to publish a book. I asked her how she would deal with what could potentially be a deluge of manuscripts. “I read pretty quickly” she told me “I can get through maybe four of five books a week”.
She offers to help with editorial suggestions, represent authors at book fairs, community events and in social media, marketing, organizing book launches and events and supporting her writers’ careers by placing them with an appropriate publisher, negotiating on their behalf and exploring opportunities for film, television and theatre rights, including selling translation rights in Europe.
Her agency is called Intersaga, a deliberate reference to the story telling history of her Viking heritage and reminder that she is internationally connected. Foreign sales are a lucrative market for authors and here she sees her Swedish origins as an advantage. If you are writing a book and you would like to get in touch you can contact Anna on firstname.lastname@example.org. She will also be at The Chiswick Calendar party on January 17, where you could sidle up to her and quietly confess that you have a manuscript you’d like her to look at.
Since Anna keeps up with book-buying trends I have asked her to write a monthly blog about what’s new and interesting to read. You can see her first blog, with recommendations for January 2019 here.