SPECIAL FEATURE Agents' Christmas Stockings

Another year and another just around the corner. To prepare for the new year and new opportunities, Natalie Yates has gathered together some agents' 'christmas lists' so you know what to submit and where to submit in the new year. Merry Christmas everyone! 

You can smell the sweet scent of cinnamon spice.  Your ears have been flooded with the din of Christmassy jingles for weeks.  You’ve written the cards, wrapped the presents and, if you’re super organised, stuffed the turkey and peeled the carrots.  Christmas is literally just around the corner.  You may know what your Christmas wishes are and no doubt those of your loved ones, but what about those clever, sharp-eyed, eager literary agents?  What did they wish for in their letters to Father Christmas?  Well, I have been fortunate enough to have had a quick peak at their wish list for their Christmas slush pile.

Sallyanne Sweeney of MMB Creative doesn’t want much – she lists a foot-popping, high-concept YA love story (think 500 Days of Summer for teens), a magical, mysterious or laugh-out-loud hilarious middle-grade novel, and a mind-blowingly brilliant picture book text, preferably one that will make her both laugh and cry. How wonderful would it be if she found all three in her Christmas stocking?

Gill McLay from Bath Literary Agency is also after a YA book, but one that ‘will make me cry with laughter. . . edgy humour for teens.’ Another agent looking for humour is Megan Carroll of Watson Little Ltd, who wants to find in her stocking a funny and quirky upper middle grade novel with a strong and relatable female lead, something in the vein of Lemony Snicket or Philip Ridley’s Vinegar Street.

Lindsey Fraser  of Fraser Ross Associates is feeling nostalgic as she longs for a novel ‘that makes me feel as I did when I first read Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson or Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. No pressure!’

Hunting for a real-world, middle-grade mystery is Amber Caravéo from Skylark Literary, preferably including a magical twist and a vibrant central character with a distinctive voice that’s engaging and memorable. While Yasmin Standen (Standen Literary Agency) has asked Father Christmas for beautifully crafted stories full of words which will sweep her away to another place.

Felicity Trew and Caroline Sheldon (Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency) have also posted their Christmas List. Felicity wishes for a laugh-out-loud middle-grade fiction stunner with plenty of edge whereas Caroline wants an author with a perfectly formed picture book, preferably someone who can churn one out annually!

Finally, as we all approach the big day and our taste buds get-a-tingling for the wonderful spreads ahead, Louise Lamont (LBA Literary Agency) also has food on her mind – she longs for a novel with really delectable food scenes.

All of this, I am sure has given you SCBWI’s food for thought and something to chew over during the Christmas period. So, in between courses, polish up that WIP, ensure it’s submission-ready and get poised to hit that send button! You never know, you may have the power to make someone’s wish come true!

Natalie has been with SCBWI since 2015.  When she’s not working as a Teaching Assistant, she writes for YA. You can find her occasional musings here https://natalieyatesblog.wordpress.com and tweets @eastyorknat.

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