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Jonny Geller CEO of Curtis Brown visits EBS

Jonny Geller is Joint CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the company Curtis Brown and Managing Director of the books division. The company has a long and illustrious history as a world renowned literary agency representing many of the most famous figures of the literary and political world throughout the twentieth century including Winston Churchill, John Steinbeck, Samuel Beckett, AA Milne and DH Lawrence. Many great authors have passed through the portal of Curtis Brown at one point or another in their careers, and many of these remain clients to this day.

East Barnet School was extremely lucky to secure such a prestigious speaker for our Year 10s, 12s and 13s through the charity Speakers For Schools.

Jonny’s speech was very inspiring, covering the work of a Literary Agent as well as general tips about working in the creative industries.

Literary Agents represent authors and sell the authors’ books to publishers. They also represent TV programmes and musical theatre as well as actors. Jonny received 150,000 manuscripts novels in the post last year but obviously not all were suitable to be published. His job is to spot those that might make it!

A debut novel could be worth £5000 to £500,000.

We were told that 190,000 books were published last year in UK and that adults generally read  5-10 books every year.

Our students listened to Jonny talk about how one should take every available opportunity when starting out on a career path, and he also emphasized the importance of looking at your strenghts and deciding on the environment where you would most like to spend your working life – in his case, his love of reading, coupled with his aptitude for selling, led him to the idea of a Literary Agent and working in the Creative Industries, which now generate £92 Billion for the UK economy, create 3.12 million jobs, 32% of which are in London.

Our students asked some interesting questions in the Q and A session at the end including:

“What is the best way to get an agent’s attention?”- Jonny replied that the covering letter is critical. It needs to be 2 paragraphs and concise as well as to the point .

“What were your favourite books were when young” – Jonny answered, One Hundred Years of Solitude, books about boxing and Anna Karenina.

At the end, some students stayed behind to talk to Jonny and one student mentioned she had already written a novel and was looking for tips as to what to do with it.

This was an inspiring talk and there has been some very positive feedback from students who attended.

Mrs Cobb (Librarian) and Mr Carrington (Leader Of Provision For More Able Students)

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