Ask The Agent – Hannah Schofield

Writing Magazine – April 2024

Simon Whaley caught up with romance-loving Hannah Schofield after she won the Romantic Novelist Association’s Agent of the Year award for the second year running.

Hannah Schofield joined the LBA literary agency in 2018. Prior to that, she worked for a literary scout and gained experience in dealing with translation rights. Growing up in Luxembourg gave her an insight into the global publishing world, so she’s always looking for stories that may have an international appeal. Hannah loves the world of romance, and the RNA loves her, for they’ve awarded her their Agent of the Year award in 2022 and 2023.

Before you were an agent, you were a literary scout. What does a literary scout do?

Literary scouts work as consultants for international publishers and/or production companies to find the very best manuscripts or fill specific commissioning requests for their clients. I worked mainly in children’s scouting, which meant I reviewed middle-grade and YA (Young Adult) manuscripts that were on submission in order to find the top-tier ones to recommend to our clients. Scouts also need to know all the publishing gossip, so there’s a good chunk of networking involved. Around bookfair season, I was also responsible for managing 30+ client fair schedules—luckily I’m very good at spreadsheets!

What is it about the romance genre you enjoy as a reader?

Romance is unapologetically fun and optimistic—and in an often-cynical world, that means so much. (Plus, hot people falling in love? Yes, please!)

When you’re not reading romance, what other genres do you enjoy reading?

I am a hugely eclectic reader and my personal reading habits mirror my client list: lots of commercial and book club fiction of pretty much all genres, some YA (again of all genres) and narrative nonfiction, especially history. My ten most recent reads include four thrillers of very different vibes, a romcom, a historical book club novel, a fantasy, a beach read, a history of Ireland, and a short story!

You used to work in translation rights. How popular is romance in foreign markets? Which markets do you try to exploit for your romance authors?

Short answer: very! The rising tide of BookTok has lifted romance all over the world, and there’s great overseas potential both for tropey, twenty-something romance, and sweeping love stories for an older readership. I try to place my authors in as many overseas markets as possible—but Brazil and Germany are good litmus tests for romance books; the publishers there tend to jump at all the best ones!

How difficult is it for new romance writers to stand out in this large market? Are there any cliche plots to avoid, or that publishers have seen enough of now?

It’s difficult to stand out in any crowded market, but the appetite for romance from readers doesn’t appear to be waning. Having a really strong concept—the classic “one-line pitch”—is always key. As romance is a genre very driven by tropes (enemies-to-lovers, small-town romance, secretly famous, etc) I wouldn’t say there are cliches to avoid but more it’s about putting a fresh spin on established favourites!

How do you see the romance genre developing in the future?

Hopefully going from strength to strength! And with a discerning and voracious readership, I hope we’ll see more inclusive storytelling—love stories are for everyone!

Some publishers like to see two books a year from romance authors (Christmas and summer). Is this a growing trend, and is it something every romance writer should consider?

Publishers in the digital space tend to want two books a year to satisfy a very hungry audience over on Kindle Unlimited. But this is also true for some authors in traditional publishing. It honestly depends on the author and their books—but if you’re a fast writer and love seasonal stories, it’s definitely worth bearing in mind!

The publishing industry is keen to increase diversity. Is it just authors of diverse backgrounds publishers are seeking, or are they interested in diverse characters, too?

There’s space for everyone! Publishers are rightly making strides to commission and support a wider range of voices than have previously been represented in the industry, and readers are also seeking out books which reflect the diversity of the world we live in. Depending on context, characters in a novel may well represent a certain sliver of society or the spectrum, and writers can always do their research to ensure they’re not leaning into harmful stereotypes unconsciously when writing diversely.

What common mistakes do writers make when submitting to you?

Not checking whether I represent their genre is the main one—I don’t represent literary fiction or sci-fi, and still get a lot of queries in these spaces. But also I think a lot of people query when they’ve finished a first draft instead of making sure they’ve got the most polished version of their book to share. Shoot your best shot!

Hannah Schofield’s Top Tip

Read romance fiction! Know your tropes, know what’s hot, and know what the audience wants.

Further Information

For more information about the genres Hannah represents and how to submit to her, visit