Special Events Feature: Q&A With Children' s Literary Agent, Joanna Moult

Joanna Moult, co-founder of Skylark Literary Limited, talks to Events Editor A.M. Dassu about her role as a children's literary agent, her wish list and what she looks for in a submission.

Most SCBWI members in the UK have heard of Skylark Literary Limited. It is a boutique agency with a small list of carefully selected clients. But did you know that Skylark currently have only thirteen clients and are actively looking for new talent?

Skylark Literary Limited will be joining SCBWI members for an enlightening London Industry Insiders event on 7th March 2017 at the Lukin, where they’ll talk about an agent’s role, their top tips for submission and what publishing professionals are looking for right now.

Ahead of the event, I thought it would be great to find out more about one of the agency co-founders and and am delighted to share Joanna Moult's insightful and enjoyable interview with you!

Look out for the special SCBWI member mention and submission tip below!

Hello and welcome Joanna!

Q. What’s the best thing about being an agent?
A. It’s impossible to pin down to one thing! There is nothing like the buzz of finding something wonderful to read in the submissions inbox. I’m able to spend as much time as I need going through the editorial process with writers, which is something I really enjoy as well. All our Skylark authors are so lovely and positive and it’s great to see how supportive they are of each other. Agenting is also a brilliant way to catch up with all my old colleagues and friends who still work for publishers – and make it look like work!

Q. What’s on your Manuscript Wish List #MSWL?
A. I have been looking for a beautiful, compelling YA romance with a fresh hook. Also I’d love something really funny for middle grade. To be honest, I’m really on the lookout for that book that I don’t expect to love as it’s not usually my cup of tea but that completely blows me away. That means it must be spectacular. Sorry. That last one isn’t very specific or helpful!

Q. Why do you represent children’s books?
A. I have only ever wanted to work on children’s books. I remember when I fell in love with reading aged about eight and I SO want to be involved with that experience for another child. I want to be part of that moment when a reader suddenly feels that, at long last, somebody GETS what it’s like to be them. It’s such a buzz.

What can SCBWI members do to ensure they get your attention?
A. Mention SCBWI. It is good to know that this is a writer who has really taken time and effort to understand the writing/publishing world around them. It shows a real commitment to their writing. It’s great if the query letter can convey a little bit of your personality but really the most important thing to us at Skylark is the writing – it has to be outstanding.

Q. Have you received a submission that has stood out of the slush pile for the wrong reasons?
A. Oh, there have been a few. There was the woman who said she wanted her book to be published without a word being changed and we were only allowed to communicate with her by email. As you can imagine, that didn’t really work for us!

Q. You did an agency tour of England in 2015. A little birdie told me you signed someone from a one-to-one session. Please do tell us more about it. What did they get right?
A. Oh, we had a brilliant time on our tour! Everyone was so welcoming and lovely. At that particular writers’ group, they gave us delicious homemade soup as well as cake, so that it why we signed her! ☺ Actually, Anne was a very talented and I loved the warmth and humour in her writing. She took on board my comments from the one-to-one and it’s been fab to see her work really take off from there.

Q. Favourite place to read?
A. In bed. Ideally with a cup of tea.

Q. Favourite character from a book?
A. Pippi Longstocking. I longed to have the freedom, the physical strength and the who-cares attitude. I still try and channel that attitude as an adult!

Q. Favourite book as a teenager?
A. Hmm, probably Gone with the Wind. But I also loved Stephen King, Jane Austen and Flowers in the Attic. My tastes were rather eclectic and there was no such thing as Young Adult back then so there was far less choice.

Q. Ebooks or paper books?
A. Paper books, all the way. Even though my house is already jam-packed with them!

@JoannaMoult and @SkylarkLit
Website: www.skylark-literary.com

Biography: Joanna Moult is co-founder of Skylark Literary Limited, a specialist Children’s and YA literary agency. Previously she was Editorial Director for Children’s Fiction at Mulcahy Conway Associates, discovering and nurturing new talent.
Joanna began her publishing career at Hodder Children’s Books, where she edited authors such as Cressida Cowell and Kes Gray. She then moved to become Senior Commissioning Editor at Simon & Schuster, managing the children’s fiction list and editing Sophie McKenzie among other talented authors.


SCBWI members attending the Skylark Event had a fantastic opportunity to book a one-to-one meeting with Joanna Moult or Amber Caravéo prior to the talk, to discuss the first 3 chapters or up to 3,000 words of their 5+ Chapter Book, Middle Grade or YA/Crossover novel.
All one-to-one slots are now FULLY BOOKED. However, some tickets are available to attend the talk where you will have an opportunity to ask Joanna and Amber questions.

A. M. Dassu rediscovered her love of writing for an audience three years ago. Since then she has become a featured writer for The Huffington Post and written for the Times Education Supplement. Her previous experience includes project management, marketing and some editorial work at Reader’s Digest. She has written five picture books since becoming a SCBWI member and is currently editing a contemporary teen novel. She enjoys planning school workshops and as a lover of hats, she spends a lot of her time choosing which hat to wear.

A M Dassu is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team, she manages the Events team and SCBWI BI events coverage.
Contact her at events@britishscbwi.org
Follow her on Twitter @a_reflective

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