Children’s Book Blog: Ask the Agent
Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and, like me, managed to devour as many children’s books as you did chocolates over the festive season. For my first post of 2014 I thought I’d put up a little something for any aspiring children’s book writers out there.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to finally bag yourself a literary agent, you could do worse than heeding the below advice from Stephanie Thwaites, children’s book literary agent at Curtis Brown.
I asked her for the top five things an author should do when approaching an agent… and also the top five things they should never, ever do. Here’s what she said:
- Be professional in your approaches
- Write a decent covering letter, preferably tailored to that particular agent
- Make sure your manuscript is as polished as possible when you start submitting
- Be prepared to work on your material further and respond positively to feedback
- Be normal/easy to get on with (or at least pretend to be)
- Try sending gimmicks, gifts, bribes or begging letters
- Ignore submission guidelines
- Send masses of material
- Tell us that your children/parents/ pets love the manuscript
- Expect things to happen very quickly
I know I’ve been guilty of at least two of the ‘don’ts’ in the past (no bribes, though). And, although I’d like to think I always stick to the ‘dos’, there have certainly been times when my initial reaction to feedback has been to rant, sob and then explain in minute detail to anyone who’ll listen (usually my long-suffering husband) precisely why the feedback is wrong. And then I’ve slept on it and made precisely the changes the agent has suggested. As always, with writing, it pays to take a step back and quadruple check that you’ve done everything you possibly can to make your work stand out, and for the right reasons.
If you’d like more detailed advice on agent-getting, check out Stephanie’s blog, it offers astonishingly useful (and occasionally terrifying) insight into what agents are really looking for in an author.
Rebecca Davies is a journalist and children’s author. She is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel set in Hackney. You can follow her on Twitter as @TheStoryMonster
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