Lorella Belli (pictured), who moved to the UK from Italy 13 years ago, started her literary agency in 2002 after a career working for other agencies and publishers. She studied at the University of Venice where she wrote her dissertation on the role of literary agents. She now has an established stable of authors including Sandro Monetti whose biography of Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke is coming out in September, bestselling women’s fiction author Emily Giffin and financial guru Justine Trueman who recently published the timely Detox Your Finances. Her business has a strong international side too, with many of her authors available in translation around the world. She also handles film and TV rights and newspaper serialisation deals for her clients.
Lorella wanted to be involved with books and to run her own operation from an early stage – she says that being independent suits her personality. When she decided it was time to take the plunge, she went to the Portobello Business Centre for advice on setting up on her own.
‘I found that the Business Centre was very clued up on the creative industries and they were able to help me to get a grant to set up my business. They gave me really useful feedback about my business plan and gave me confidence about the direction I was taking.
‘My business adviser, Maria Stammers, was very knowledgeable and supportive and offered me lots of reassurance that I was doing the right thing. I really appreciated the honest advice I was given. The Centre gave me help on all sorts of issues that I didn’t know about like cash flow, invoicing and finance. They were also able to help with the international side of my business.’
‘My agency receives between 50 and 60 unsolicited manuscripts every day, and in an average year, I might accept two or three new unpublished authors as clients. Everyone seems to think that they can write, but the reality is that very few can write well enough to sell their work!
‘My job as an agent is to help authors improve their work and then to get them the very best deal I can from publishers, newspapers and producers. Writing can be a lonely activity so I’m also there to act as a sounding board for my authors.
‘I also run courses at the PBC for aspiring writers and businesses that want to get their work published. The course covers the ins and outs of how to approach agents and how not to approach them.
‘The Business Centre has provided me with invaluable help and support over the years. It’s good to know that I can still call Maria if I have a business related question’