This month, Penny Holroyde from the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency has stepped in to answer our readers' questions and also has a few handy tips for those looking for an agent.
On my wish list currently are: an M R James for 10+, the junior novel that makes a child a lifelong reader – Gerald Durrell did it for me, a really funny series for 8-10s that makes the mundane funny, a historical novel (although it doesn’t have to be set in the past, I guess) where the protagonist has a very unusual job – assistant to Charles Darwin – something like that. I’m also looking for some narrative nonfiction – if you can do for children what Wendy Moore and Giles Milton do for adults, I’m really interested in seeing it. And I’m always looking for picture book texts.
Tip: read as many picture books out loud repeatedly to get a sense of how they work and to get a proper understanding of the 32-page construct.
Tip: read some of the agency’s clients’ work and tell the agent why you liked it.
Tip: always be transparent in your submission letter about whether yours is an exclusive (or not) submission.
Tip: don’t let what you perceive to be current industry trends influence your writing too much.
Tip: finish it. What are you going to do if an agent loves it and asks for the full manuscript?!
Tip: while your full manuscript is under consideration, don’t tinker with it! Move on to writing something else and step away from the refresh button.
Tip: let the publisher know that your work is on submission to agents.
Gemma and Molly will be back next month with some more query critiques. If you have a question or a query you'd like critiqued, leave them in the comments below, or send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.