Ireland today is a society where writers are respected and cherished; the country seems, at times, to be in love with words. The nation has evolved a pluralist, confident and open-minded culture that emboldens fresh voices and radical perspectives. The country embraces the legacy of its native talents, although it was once distant and dubious towards many of them. Castle Rackrent (1800), Maria Edgeworth’s hilarious and subversive debut still warrants a wider appreciation. Elizabeth Bowen, whose Collected Stories were published by Everyman’s Library (USA) in October 2019, is also enjoying renewed recognition from Ireland for her ‘Irishness’. Bowen herself apparently felt that – with regard to her tribe – she belonged at a point in the Irish Sea, between Britain and Ireland. Wilde, Joyce and Beckett can all be called upon to demonstrate Ireland’s contribution to world literature; though Ireland – which prides itself on its welcome – took time to acknowledge their place in the nation’s canon. Irish authors no longer need move overseas for acceptance and recognition, readers in Ireland are enthusiastic supporters of new Irish authors – although the population size means the absolute number of potential readers in Ireland is usually small. And so Irish authors must continue to look internationally to find a readership that is sufficient, when added to their Irish readership, to support them financially as writers.
For those of us living in Britain, it’s striking how highly regarded Irish writers are in the UK. In the past two decades, a great many new Irish authors have been first published in London with significant impact and substantial UK book sales. There’s no exaggeration to assert that it’s often easier for a new Irish writer to win a reader’s attention in Britain than an equivalent new English writer would receive. Irrespective of the book genre, British readers have come to see Ireland as a source of exceptional and distinctive writing and a home of great storytelling and literary innovation.
Our literary agency, Mulcahy Sweeney Associates Limited, founded by Ivan Mulcahy, has recently appointed Sallyanne Sweeney as an agency director. Both Ivan and Sallyanne, based in London, are originally from Ireland, moving to London after university in Dublin. They each travel to Ireland constantly to work with their authors based there, or to participate in literary festivals and other publishing events. Sallyanne and Ivan are keen to find new Irish writing talent; whether in literary or mass-market fiction, non-fiction or children’s books. They already represent highly respected and successful authors in all of these genres.
They also represent a focused roster of original screenwriting talent from Ireland, with a particular focus on writers of television drama and comedy/drama. In particular they are looking for writers who can write scripts for both screen and books.
A primary goal of the agency is to be the ideal representative of Irish writers seeking an international readership and audience. The agency is unique, being located in London – at the heart of the UK’s publishing and media industries – whilst also maintaining a regular and strong presence in Ireland. The UK book buying marketplace, being much larger than the Irish home market, is usually vital (in terms of sales) for Irish writers. Also, American publishers and foreign language publishers in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, look first to the UK market to identify new writers. Most Irish writers discovered by international readers in translation will find those connections through the UK marketplace. This is not to ignore the central role of publishing houses that are based in Ireland in creating and sustaining careers for Irish writers; Irish publishers constantly discover and develop new writing talent. Our agency regularly chooses an Irish press as the best place to create a readership for its authors. Additionally, there are many books of predominantly Irish interest that can thrive in the Irish marketplace but which will have marginal significance for readers in other countries. Ireland’s robust and innovative contemporary publishing industry is the manifestation of a book world that is in great shape.
The agency maintains strong links with Irish publishing and is proud to represent many authors published by Irish publishers. Ideally, an Irish writer will be equally successful in Ireland and Britain.
Writers based in Ireland can submit their book proposals using the specifically-Irish email addresses listed here.
Written by Ivan Mulcahy.