Network News: North West - meeting Skylark a personal view

We’re having some superb meetings now in our North West network group – thanks to the hard work of Catherine Whitmore and Marion Brown our great coordinators.
Last Saturday 25 September was no exception when we met Amber Caravéo and Joanna Moult, of Skylark literary agency.

I’m published but unagented in the UK and would still really like an agent. I’m also currently working on a piece that seems to have lost its identity so I readily accepted a chance to get some feedback. Amber and Joanna presented a picture of what the industry is like now. It is hard to break into still but it isn’t without hope and there are certain things that you can do:
  • Read the guidelines 
  • Use other cultural influences to describe your work e.g. Anne of Green Gables meets Hunger Games. 
  • Look out for #askagent on Twitter.
Skylark is a very editorial agency. Amber and Joanna like to work with authors on polishing their books. 

It is part of their job to know and to talk to publishers. They will understand some things that writers may not. “Be patient” is a big message. It may take several weeks for them to look closely at your work even though they’ve accepted it.

 “So what should we do while we wait?” I asked. Of course, I knew the answer even before she told me. Carry on writing, of course. Put my characters into new situations. Tinker with new ideas. Write something completely different.

It was a little nerve-racking waiting for our turn to talk to one of them.

Amber had looked at my work. She confirmed something I’d suspected. I have to make more of my protagonist’s story. It’s highly likely that the first hundred pages are written just for me and need shortening, putting somewhere else or even taking out altogether. Then something more needs to be added.

I worked on a rewrite as soon as I got home I was astounded at how much stronger my opening chapter became, though there is still much work to do.

I’m really glad that Skylark describe themselves as “editorial”. Not all agents do this sort of work.
And one thing pleased me no end. Amber liked my writing.

Amber and Joanna

Read more about Skylark here. 


Gill James is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford where she specialises in Children's Literature and Writing Novels for Young People. Her latest novel, The House on Schellberg Street, a young adult novel with a new twist on the 1940s, was published in April 2014.       

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