Following on from my list of children’s publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts, I thought I’d post a list for people who are submitting children’s books to agents, as I’m considering that route for one of my novels and I thought others might find it helpful.
Publisher or agent? There are mixed opinions about which to try first. As we know, there aren’t many children’s publishers (or indeed adult ones) who accept unagented manuscripts these days, but on the other hand small publishers are more likely to take a chance on an unknown than an agent. Some people argue that if you approach publishers first then the agent won’t be able to submit to them, but to my mind there are such a small number of publishers you can approach yourself that I don’t think this would be a problem.
If you have decided to take the agent route, this list of agents is not exhaustive but will give you a starting point. (I have left off agencies who do not have a website or who just have a ‘wallpaper’ website with contact details only.) You can find full listings of UK agents in the Writers and Artists Yearbook or the Writers Handbook.
You will find that agents are more likely to respond promptly than publishers as they are always searching for the next breakthrough book. The turnaround can sometimes even be brutally quick! You are also more likely to get a standard rejection form, so you need to develop a tough skin and not take the lack of feedback personally – it’s simply a lack of time.
If you haven’t approached agents before, take these points into account before submitting:
* Be professional. Make your submission business-like and to the point.
* Study the agency website thoroughly. Get a feel for the type of work they like and the authors they represent.
* Links to submissions requirement pages are included on this list. Make sure you following the guidelines for submitting to the letter or risk the wrath of the reader! Missing something simple like an SAE (always include a stamped addressed envelope with submissions) could cost you a response. Some agents don’t take email submissions while others are paperless and will recycle any hard copy manuscripts they receive.
* Make a note of whether the agency prefers to be exclusively submitted to. Some recommend you approach multiple agencies while others discourage it.
* Some agencies don’t accept picture books; others prefer literature for older children or teenagers only.
* Make a list of your favourite agencies and work your way through them. If your manuscript returns home or to your inbox with a rejection slip, send it straight back out the next day to the next name on your list. Don’t waste time feeling despondent when your bestseller could be back out there finding a home! Good luck and if this list helps you in any way, I’d love to hear from you.
A spin off from the main Darley Anderson agency dedicated purely to children’s authors, it has nine of them on its books and accepts submissions by email or post. Send covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters . They aim to respond within a month and prefer exclusive submissions. You are welcome to chase them up politely after 6 weeks.
This fairly young agency is keen to develop new authors. They have four agents and a large number of clients. You should send them a covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters by post only. If you don’t want your work returned, include an email address for the response.
This is a small agency with two agents and twenty-seven authors, who take on only one or two new authors a year. They have a very specific way of handling submission: a dedicated email address to which you should send a brief email and a small sample of your work pasted into the email itself (no attachments). If they are interested they will ask for more.
Anne Clark from Piccadilly Press has founded a brand new agency specialising in children’s and YA authors and already has eight clients. Send a covering email attaching a single Word file with the synopsis and first 20 pages (rounded to the nearest chapter). Picture books can be sent as a complete text. Anne favours the personal touch with dealing with clients so prefers UK or UK-based authors.
This large, established agency has six agents for both adults’ and children’s books, and over eighty authors. They ask for postal submissions consisting of a covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters by post only. They aim to reply within two months. They encourage authors to submit to other agencies at the same time, but you should mention if your manuscript has or is being read in full by anyone else. At the time of writing they are not looking for picture books. As well as reading the very comprehensive submissions page, you should also click on the link to read some extremely useful advice from their reader David Llewellyn (who has instantly endeared himself to me by suggesting ‘the slush pile’ be renamed ‘the talent pool’!).
Read an interview with Paula Rawsthorne and her Conville & Walsh agent Jo Unwin at the Tall Tales and Short Stories blog.
Curtis Brown are a large, long established agency with a huge number of clients working in literature, TV, film and theatre. They have a brand new submissions system on their website and no longer accept postal submissions. Prepare a covering letter, synopsis of no more than 3,000 words and the first 10,000 words of your manuscript and follow the prompts in the link above to submit directly – do not send by email. The children’s agent is Stephanie Thwaites. They reply in six to eight weeks.
This is a small agency that deals mainly with children’s books. The website asks you to email them for their latest submissions details. At present they are not accepting submissions until after 1 October 2013. When open, they accept email submissions only and should reply in six to ten weeks.
Fraser Ross Associates deal mainly with children’s writers and illustrators. They have two agents and nearly seventy clients. They accept postal submissions only consisting of a synopsis, the first three chapters, and a writing CV. (Read their guidelines for more details about this.) They warn on their website that a response may take some time. In my experience they can take a long time to reply but have given valuable feedback to me in the past.
This is an independent agency who pride themselves in the personal service they provide between agent and author. (As a font fan I was also excited to see the rare appearance of courier on their menus!) They have two agents and over sixty clients. They accept fiction for older children and teenagers (preferably not science fiction or fantasy), by post or email, and you should send a covering letter or email, a brief synopsis and the first five to ten thousand words. They aim to respond within four weeks.
Greene & Heaton specialise in authors “prominent in their field”. They have seven agents and around 150 authors as well as speakers, presenters and illustrators on their books. You can submit by post or email including a covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters or about fifty pages. They will try to reply within six weeks to postal submissions with an SAE or email contacct but will not respond to an emailed submission unless they wish to take your submission further.
This US-based young agency also accepts submissions from the UK. They have two agents and over fifty clients. They prefer to be a paperless office and you can email them with a short synopsis, a few details about yourself and the first chapter or first five pages, whichever is shorter. This must all be pasted into the body of an email – no attachments are accepted. They aim to reply within six weeks and in my experience are very prompt.
Antony Harwood have a large list of high profile authors writing in many fields including children’s literature. They have three agents including one for children’s authors, and over fifty authors including the amazing Garth Nix. They accept manuscripts by post or email but don’t specify any particular requirements on the website other than asking for a ‘brief outline’. So the best approach may be to email with a short description of your work and ask how they would like you to submit it if they are interested. Alternatively you could presume the standard covering letter, synopsis, first three chapters package will be acceptable.
This is one of the UK’s leading literary agencies with a huge list of clients. They only accept electronic submissions; you should use their submissions form and follow the instructions to type or paste in a covering letter and synopsis, and attach your sample chapters. They suggest you follow up after six weeks if you haven’t heard back from them.
This is a huge, long established agency with a large stable of authors. They ask for postal submissions only for adult work but in the case of children’s manuscripts you should submit by email only to the address given. The email should take the form of a covering letter to which you should attach a word document consisting of a synopsis and the first two or three chapters plus a CV. They accept picture books (send the whole manuscript).
You can read an interview with client William Hussey and comments from agent Veronique Baxter at the Tale Tales and Short Stories blog.
This London agency has four agents and a large number of clients. You can submit by post or email and should send a covering letter (or email), a synopsis and the first three chapters or first fifty pages. If sending by email you will not hear back unless your submission is taken further. They do not accept picture books.
Lucas Alexander Whitley or LAW is a small London agency representing large list of bestselling authors internationally. The link takes you to a pdf giving submissions guidelines; their main site is here. Submissions – a covering letter, short synopsis and the first three chapters or first thirty pages if shorter – should be sent by post only and they aim to reply within eight to twelve weeks. Send an SAE if you want your work returned; otherwise send a small envelope or email address for a reply. They also accept picture books.
This one woman agency is keen to develop new talent and currently represents thirteen authors You can submit by post or email. If emailing include the first three chapters and the synopsis as two seperate Word documents. A covering letter or email should introduce yourself and your work. They accept picture books.
This London agency has two agents and a variety of clients including children’s authors. They prefer email submissions if possible with a brief synopsis pasted into the email plus the first three chapters or forty pages as an attachment. They will reply within eight weeks.
This small agency specialises in children’s fiction. They are closed to submissions at the moment but may reopen so keep checking the website.
You can read an interview with author Steve Hartley with comments from Sarah Manson at the Tall Tales and Short Stories blog.
This is a book, film and TV rights company. They have four agents and over thirty authors as well as directors, screenwriters and software developers. They accept book submissions by post or email which should consist of a covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters. If sending by email, use attachments rather than pasting work into the email itself.
MBA represent writers in all media. They have seven agents and a large number of authors including fourteen children’s writers. They prefer email submissions but will accept postal ones too; send a covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters. They aim to reply within eight weeks.
This London agency also has a number of overseas offices. They have over eighty authors on their books including Cornelia Funke. Send a covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters by post or email to the address on the submissions page. If emailing, the synopsis and chapters should be one document sent as an attachment. If you do not hear back within three months you can assume you have been unsuccessful.
This London agency has around eighty authors on its books including screenwriters and illustrators and only takes on a few each year. Submit to them by post only including a covering letter, a cv, a synopsis and the first three chapters. They aim to respond within two months.
This is a leading literary agency who are very selective about their work. They have two agents and a large list of clients. Submit by email to one of the agents (read about them on the site) and attach a synopsis and the first three chapters. If the children’s book is under ten thousand words you may submit it in its entirety, or up to three picture books. You should also read their twelve pet hates! In fact, read them anyway whether or not you are submitting.
United Agents are a large literary and talent agency with interests in many fields. Twenty-six of their many authors are children’s writers including Anthony Horowitz, Ali Sparkes, Rick Riordan and Ian Whybrow. They are happy to receive submissions by email to their children’s agent consisting of a covering email with a synopsis and the first three chapters as Word documents. Picture book authors can send three picture books. If you do send material by post, include an email address for a response. Expect a response within eight to ten weeks.
Read an interview with United Agents client Ellen Renner at Talltalesandshortstories.blogspot.com.
Watson, Little handle a wide range of writers and have three agents keen on developing the long term careers of their writers. They ask for a covering letter, synopsis and sample chapters but do not say if they accept by email or not; however if you do not include an SAE they will respond by email.
This small agency is almost a one woman show and yet has a good number of authors including the brilliant Andy Stanton, author of the Mr Gum books. About half her authors are children’s writers and she now accepts picture books. You should submit by email only with one attachment consisting of a brief synopsis, word count and the first three chapters. For a picture book, no synopsis is required. You will receive an automated conformation of receipt and they will reply any time within six weeks. (To my submission they replied after six days.) See also the FAQs.
Read an interview with client Kate Maryon and comments from Eve White at Talltalesandshortstories.blogspot.com.