Team Cooper's Agent Retreat - Part Two

by Gemma Cooper from the Bent Agency, Team Cooper and Benjamin Scott


One of the many cakes!
Following on from Part One of Team Cooper's Agent Retreat, this week members of Team Cooper - Robin Stevens and Mike Revell, and honorary member - Benjamin Scott, talk about their experiences of the retreat.


Robin Stevens 

Gemma’s client retreat was my first, and I couldn’t have wished for a better introduction to the concept. It was two days of great workshops, great conversation and great food, and I came away from it with a lot more confidence in myself as a children’s writer. 

The workshops were extremely helpful. Mo O’Hara’s, on visiting schools, showed me how to promote myself and my books in a way that’ll be fun for me as well as my audience; Gemma’s on picture books and non-fiction gave me belief in my ability to write in genres and for audiences that I’d never considered before; and Annalie from Walker’s Books’ talk on the publishing process gave me incredibly valuable insight into what editors are looking for in their submissions (and I’m saying that as a budding editor myself). 

Mo's Workshop
For me, though, the most positive part of the weekend was unstructured. I found just being around a group of authors with similar interests, and at a similar stage in their careers, incredibly exciting. Talking to the other members of Team Cooper sparked so many ideas in my head and made me feel part of something really wonderful. I’m prouder than I’ve ever been to be a children’s writer, and at the end of the weekend I came away feeling that I have the skills and the support I need for the next part of my writing career. 

Robin is the author of Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells and Wong Mystery, to be published by Random House Children’s in March 2014. Click here for more about the book and here for Robin’s blog.

Mike Revell 

I learnt so much from the retreat - from what makes a great picture book to how many hearts an octopus has (3 - take that, Doctor) to what happens when a publisher takes on your book and finally to how much a hairless cat costs! (Gemma – follow us on twitter for more on the hairless cat discussions!) 

I’ve never been on a writing retreat before, but I know people who have, and I always saw the pictures and read the reports with a twinge of jealousy. But I don’t think I will anymore, because there’s no way their retreats can match my one. I walked into a roomful of people who I’d never seen before in my life, but within seconds I felt like I’d always known them. It was a perfect mix of writers at different stages of the same journey, and so inspiring. 

Writing was a breeze at Gemma’s retreat. No one had to wait for inspiration to strike. It was everywhere. It was in the house and the workshops and the people and the books. By the time one of the writing periods arrived, my mind felt so abuzz with ideas that I couldn’t wait to get them down on paper. But it wasn’t about the writing. Not really. It was about the people. And probably the most inspiring thing of all was just meeting them and talking to them and listening to them.   

The things I took away from the experience were: 

  • The dream is so close, and I can achieve it. 
  • The importance of pace, good dialogue and BIG ideas. 
  • How to put on the perfect performance on school visits. 
  • That Team Cooper is incredible, and that it really is a team! 

Benjamin Scott

I was thrilled when Gemma invited me on the retreat. Although I’m not one of Gemma’s clients, we’re good friends and she thought I’d not only enjoy the retreat but provide some valuable insight from my roles in SCBWI, teaching and visiting schools as an author. I don’t really need an excuse to hang out with fellow writers to be honest. I learnt masses from Mo O’Hara to help me give my school visits plan a boost, including the best times to approach schools, and had some ideas sparked off from Gemma’s workshops on tackling high concept titles and creating picture books. I even managed to get some writing done before the lure of chatting to other writers got the better of me. 

Katy and Robin celebrating!
Gemma - So the retreat was filled with interesting information, lots of cake and celebrations about the announcements of Katy and Robin’s recent book deals! 

And what did I take from the weekend? Well, some fantastic ideas came out of the brainstorming over tea/wine and I’m so excited for the manuscripts that are being written as we speak. I’m also confident that my clients will be incredible at school visits having listened to the master that is Mo O’Hara. 

My clients are all quite similar – funny, intelligent, talented people who are also really good at making cakes and really competitive at quizzes. The weekend left me exhausted, but with a big smile on my face because most of all, it reminded me how lucky I am to get to work with these people every day and call it my job! 

If you want to become a member of Team Cooper and be at next year’s retreat, submit your cover letter and paste your first ten pages to – I represent all ages of children’s and YA. For more info about Gemma and the Bent Agency, click here


We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.