Who are you pitching to? The Hook @ Conference '15

Are you gearing up for your spot on The Hook at this year’s conference? Or just looking to get the lowdown on this year's excellent line up of agents? 

So, what makes a good hook?

Let us help you with your homework. 

Here are the splendiferous agents who will be on the panel for The Hook with their wise words and the lowdown on what they’re looking for… 

"Every pitch is different, every hook is different. But certainly something that every good hook achieves is a kind of recognition in the listener. I guess I just wait for something that 'sounds good', that brings some shape and blooms in my mind. And I'll think to myself, that book sounds FUN to pitch. I want to pitch it." Julia Churchill

Julia joined A.M.Heath in 2013 as Children's Agent, after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where she started the children's book side of the list. Julia is lucky to represent some fabulous writers, but is always on the treasure hunt for new writing talent and considers the slushpile to be the greatest place on earth. Julia is looking for debut and established authors with storytelling magic, from picture book texts right up to YA fiction. www.amheath.com 

"A good hook to me is one line that instantly tells me either a summary of the concept, or the place where the book would fit in the market. I'm a BIG fan of the 'X meets X’ pitch, like 'Shaun of the Dead meets Finding Nemo' for MY BIG FAT ZOMBIE GOLDFISH, 'The Breakfast Club meets The Great British Bake Off' for LOVE, LIES AND LEMON PIES, 'Agatha Christie meets Enid Blyton' for MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE. Having a memorable and clever title is also a great way to hook me." Gemma Cooper 

Gemma Cooper joined the Bent Agency in 2012 having previously worked for literary agencies in London and New York. She represents authors who write for all ages of children – from picture books to young adult, fiction and non-fiction. Working with a global agency, Gemma represents authors from all over the world, and loves funny books for younger kids, and swoony romance for young adults.

"For me, a good ‘hook’ is one that instantly gives a clear idea of where the story is going to take me AND makes it sound exciting/engaging/intriguing enough that I want to go along for the ride. It shouldn’t involve a full rundown of the story, but rather it should be a brief and compelling snapshot of what’s to come! I don’t want the speaker to feel like they have to sell themselves – just come across as enthusiastic, open and collaborative." Amber Caravéo 

Prior to founding Skylark Literary with Joanna Moult, Amber was the Editorial Director for Orion Children’s Books where she was privileged to work with a host of prize-winning and bestselling authors such as Caroline Lawrence, Liz Kessler, James Dawson and Holly Black. She has also worked as Senior Commissioning Editor for Random House Children’s Books and for Working Partners where she edited and developed the million-copy-selling series phenomenon, Rainbow Magic. 

"A Good Hook, in My Book. A good hook, in my book, will instantly spark my curiosity and make me sit up straight. Think about what emotions you want your work to evoke and to whom would it appeal. Is it funny? Thrilling? Fantastical? Moving? Or simply a celebration of the everyday? It is vital that you capture this within those first few sentences." Felicity Trew 

Talented, enthusiastic and energetic, Felicity Trew is keenly building up a list of children’s writers and illustrators at the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency. Clients she already represents include Joseph Coelho, Wendy Meddour and Yuval Zommer. Felicity has a particular love for quirky and imaginative children’s books. Dream projects to arrive on her desk would be: a spellbinding novel of our time, a bold UK teen voice to rival the likes of John Green and Holly Smale, an accessible, well-plotted (and don’t hold back on the funny!) middle grade book, and a picture book classic of the future à la The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Felicity is also on a mission to find extraordinary illustrators who capture the life of their characters and have a real love of story-telling at the heart of their artwork.  

"We’re known for author/illustrators such as Debi Gliori and Chris Mould so I always want to see illustrators who can write. Everyone knows I love picture books but I’m actively seeking funny girls, romantic teens, big concept MG and a British YA voice." Penny Holroyde

Penny Holroyde and Claire Cartey founded Holroyde Cartey in April 2015. They have both had long careers in publishing, Penny as an agent and rights director and Claire as an art director and designer. We represent an internationally award-winning and bestselling roster of authors and illustrators working in all areas of children’s books and we’re always on the lookout for quality writing and illustration. As an agency we work closely with our clients to get manuscripts and portfolios in the best possible shape before submitting to publishers and we’re also active in the world of television and merchandising. We’d love to find a funny middle-grade series and a sophisticated stand-alone novel for the tween reader, and we’re interested in hearing from non-fiction authors. We’d also like to find illustrators who appeal to an older reader and illustrators who are confident in non-fiction. 

Thank you Penny, Felicity, Amber, Gemma and Julia for your time and insight into what you're looking for.

Have you booked your place at this year's conference? What are you waiting for? 

Click here for further details and to book or here to view the programme.

Lou Minns is the Events Editor and joint Features Editor for Words & Pictures. 

Contact: events@britishscbwi.org 

Blog: Louminns.blogspot.com 

Follow: @LMMinns

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