But my story is exclusive! The things some interviewees say …

… as an agent I can only presume they DON’T want to sell their story!


  • Tell the journalist or agent your real life story is exclusive when you have already sent it to every single newspaper, agency and magazine going. Exclusivity is what makes stories valuable – editors will pay for stories that are exclusive. Obviously, if you have touted your story to all and sundry, its value will drop – so fast it might even become unsaleable. This is because mags and papers will be worried their exclusive story might suddenly be printed elsewhere…
  • Tell the agent or journalist your story has never appeared in any publication before when it has. We will know eventually – you might even find you’re rumbled when the same photographer turns up. The sad thing is we can often sell stories that have been published before – but we need to be honest with editors.
  • Send an email to a media agent or publication saying: “I am emailing everyone about my story to see how much you can all offer. I will then take the highest offer. Sorry in advance if that isn’t you.” Amazingly, some people even forward you the very email they have already sent to various agents and publications – sometimes with the reply attached turning them down.
  • Send an email to a publicist saying: “Do you deal with stories worth millions? I won’t sell my story for less than £1 million.”
  • Send an email to a press agent saying: “I have a story that will amaze you. It will be on the front page of every newspaper in the world.”
  • Write saying: “How much will you offer for my story? I can only tell you what it’s about if you drive for six hours to this garage off the motorway. You must be on your own and sign this agreement with my mafia lawyers first.”
  • Agree to deal with one agent or publication and then try to play everyone off, merrily chatting to other journalists.


  • Try to write a few sentences describing what your story is about (busy media agents, publicists and editors must know what your story is about but don’t have time to read long emails.)
  • Be honest. Tell the agent if a story about you has been published before. Also if you have approached another agent – and what they said. Your story can still be sold but the agent can market it from a different angle or try a different publication.
  • Be loyal to agents and publications. You will gain more deals in the long term if you are seen as reliable and pleasant to deal with – rather than underhand and not to be trusted!
  • If you are not happy with the payment or the way your story is proceeding, tell the agent or publication. Give them a chance to put things right or explain themselves. The media industry is tight-knit and you never know when you might need them again…

Media agent Alison Smith-Squire is an ethical media agent and journalist who runs sell my story website Featureworld, specialising in selling a story safely for the ordinary person.

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