* UPDATED JUNE 2021 *
Following on from my list of children’s publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts, I thought I’d post a list for people who are submitting children’s books to agents, as I’m considering that route for one of my novels and I thought others might find it helpful. Publisher or agent? There are mixed opinions about which to try first. As we know, there aren’t many children’s publishers (or indeed adult ones) who accept unagented manuscripts these days, but on the other hand some small publishers may be more likely to take a chance on an unknown than an agent. Some people argue that if you approach publishers first then the agent won’t be able to submit to them, but to my mind there are such a small number of publishers you can approach yourself that I don’t think this would be a problem. If you have decided to take the agent route, this list of agents is not exhaustive but will give you a starting point. You can find full listings of UK agents in the Writers and Artists Yearbook or the Writers Handbook. You will find that agents are more likely to respond promptly than publishers as they are always searching for the next breakthrough book. The turnaround can sometimes even be brutally quick! You are also more likely to get a standard rejection form, so you need to develop a tough skin and not take the lack of feedback personally – it’s simply a lack of time. If you haven’t approached agents before, take these points into account before submitting:
* Be professional. Make your submission business-like and to the point.
* Study the agency website thoroughly. Get a feel for the type of work they like and the authors they represent.
* Links to submissions requirement pages are included on this list. Make sure you following the guidelines for submitting to the letter or risk the wrath of the reader! Missing something simple like what should be attached and what should be pasted into the email could cost you a response. Note that quite a few agents don’t take postal submissions any more.
* Make a note of whether the agency prefers to be exclusively submitted to. Some recommend you approach multiple agencies while others discourage it.
* Some agencies don’t accept picture books; others prefer literature for older children or teenagers only.
* Make a list of your favourite agencies and work your way through them. If your manuscript returns home or to your inbox with a rejection, send it straight back out the next day to the next name on your list. Don’t waste time feeling despondent when your bestseller could be back out there finding a home! Good luck and if this list helps you in any way, I’d love to hear from you.
Alice Williams Alice Williams set up her own agency after ten years at David Higham and represents a growing number of children’s authors and illustrators. Follow the helpful guidelines on the submission page to ensure you include the correct information and respond during an open submission window. She aims to respond within 6 weeks.
AM Heath This is one of the UK’s leading literary agencies with 7 agents and with a huge list of clients. The children’s agent is Julia Churchill who is looking for picture books right up to YA. They only accept electronic submissions; you should use their submissions form and follow the instructions to type or paste in a covering letter and synopsis, and attach your sample chapters. They suggest you follow up after six weeks if you haven’t heard back from them.
Andlyn A boutique literary agency, Andlyn focuses on nurturing a few select authors across various media. Agent Davinia Andrew-Lynch is looking for chapter books, middle grade and young adult, including graphic novels but not picture books at present. Find something that will ‘smack us between the eyes and capture our hearts’ and send it to the email on the submissions page (covering letter, one page synopsis and the first three chapters or 3000 words).
Andrew Nurnberg This London agency also has a number of overseas offices. They have a large number of authors on their books including Cornelia Funke. Send a covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters or 50 pages by email to the specific agent required. If you do not hear back within 3 months you can assume you have been unsuccessful. No picture books please.
Anne Clark Literary Agency Anne Clark, previously from Piccadilly Press, has founded an agency specialising in children’s and YA authors and it is growing fast. You should paste a synopsis and the first 3000 words into a covering email. Picture books can be sent as a complete text. Anne favours the personal touch with dealing with clients so prefers UK or UK-based authors.
Annette Green Authors Agency This is an independent agency who pride themselves in the personal service they provide between agent and author. Annette Green and David Smith are the agents. They accept fiction for older children and teenagers (preferably not science fiction or fantasy), by post or email, and you should send a covering letter or email, a brief synopsis and sample chapters up to 10,000 words (Word not PDF).
Antony Harwood This Oxford-based agency has a large list of high profile authors writing in many fields including children’s literature. They accept manuscripts by post or email; you should send a covering letter, brief outline and the opening 50 pages. Jo Williamson is the children’s agent and accepts picture books to YA.
Bell Lomax Moreton This is a large agency which handles adult fiction and non-fiction as well as children’s books for all ages, including picture books. Agents handing childrens books include MD Paul Moreton, Lauren Gardner (not picture books) and Lorna Hemingway. To submit, send the first 3 chapters up to 50 pages (full text with sample pictures, if any, for a picture book), a short synopsis, and a covering letter. You can send up to 3 picture books. You can email or post material, and response time is 8-12 weeks.
Caroline Sheldon This is a leading literary agency who are very selective about their work. They have two agents and a large list of clients including the incomparable Julia Donaldson. Submit by email (although post is acceptable as well) for the attention of Caroline or Felicity Trew (read about their preferences on the site) and attach a synopsis and the first three chapters or 10,000 words, whichever is shorter. If the children’s book is under that length you may submit it in its entirety, or up to three picture books. You should also read their twelve pet hates! In fact, read them anyway whether or not you are submitting. They aim to respond in 4-6 weeks.
Caroline Wakeman Literary Agency This growing agency with international offices founded by author and industry expert Caroline Wakeman represents illustrators and authors of picture books and early chapter books, but has recently expanded into older chapter books and middle grade. Submit a synopsis and first chapter to the email address provided. They usually deal with published authors only but at present have an open window for new authors.
The Catchpole Agency – CURRENTLY CLOSED TO SUBMISSIONS – This is a small agency with two agents who take on only one or two new authors a year. They have a very specific way of handling submission: a dedicated email address to which you should send a brief email and a small sample of your work pasted into the email itself (no attachments). If they are interested they will ask for more.
Conville & Walsh This large, established agency takes pride in championing first time authors. They have 14 agents for both adults’ and children’s books. Email your covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters or 50 pages to the appropriate agent by visiting their page and using their contact email. They aim to reply within 2 months. They encourage authors to submit to other agencies at the same time, but you should mention if your manuscript has or is being read in full by anyone else. They are not looking for picture books.
Curtis Brown – CHILDREN’S SUBMISSIONS CURRENTLY CLOSED – Curtis Brown are a large, long established agency with a huge number of clients working in literature, TV, film and theatre. They have a brand new submissions system on their website and no longer accept postal submissions. Prepare a covering letter, synopsis of no more than 1,500 words and the first 10,000 words of your manuscript and follow the prompts in the link above to submit directly – do not send by email. The children’s agent is Stephanie Thwaites and you can read my interview with her here. Curtis Brown aim to reply in 10-12 weeks.
Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency A spin off from the main Darley Anderson agency dedicated purely to children’s authors, it has around 40 of them on its books. Send a covering email, synopsis and the first three chapters or up to 3 picture book texts to Clare Wallace or Lydia Silver – or if you are not sure which agent to choose you can also send to the general submissions email. They aim to respond to all submissions within 8-10 weeks.
David Higham This is a huge, long established agency with a large stable of authors. The children’s agents are Veronique Baxter, Christabel McKinley and Caroline Walsh. The email should take the form of a covering letter to which you should attach a word document consisting of a synopsis and the first three chapters plus a CV. For picture books attach the whole manuscript and you may send up to 3 texts. They aim to respond within 6 weeks.
DHH Literary Agency is a London agency with an editorial focus. They have a large number of authors and Hannah Sheppard is their children’s agent and director. Send her your covering letter, first three chapters or 10,000 words and synopsis in that order pasted into the body of the email (see her individual page for details). You should hear within 8-16 weeks if they are interested.
Eddison Pearson This is a small London-based agency run by agent Clare Pearson that deals mainly with children’s books and has a select number of clients. The website asks you to email them for their latest submissions details, which then provides you with a form to respond. They should reply in eight weeks.
Eve White – CURRENTLY NOT ACCEPTING CHILDREN’S FICTION – This small agency has a good number of authors including the brilliant Andy Stanton, author of the Mr Gum books. About half her authors are children’s writers. You should submit by email only with one attachment consisting of a brief synopsis, word count and the first three chapters. She is currently not accepting picture books. You will receive an automated conformation of receipt and impressively she aims to reply within a week. See also the FAQs.
Fraser Ross Fraser Ross Associates deal mainly with children’s writers and illustrators. They have two agents and many clients. They accept submissions by post or email using the form provided which should consist of a synopsis, the first three chapters, and a writing CV – read their guidelines for more details about this. They warn on their website that a response may take some time so assume it’s a no after 8 weeks. In my experience they can take a long time to reply but have given valuable feedback to me in the past.
Greenhouse This UK/US-based agency has three agents and a large number of clients and has a focus on nuturing their author’s careers. They prefer to be a paperless office and use a system called Query Manager with which you can check the status of your query. Note that they only accept picture book submissions if you are an author-illustrator.
Kowal Stannus Agency (KSA) This boutique agency with a global perspective is run by American rights and publishing expert Angharad Kowal Stannus. She represents a select number of children’s authors and illustrators and is open to new submissions. Send the complete manuscript to the email address provided together with a few lines about the work and yourself.
Lindsay This one woman agency is keen to develop new talent and currently represents over twenty authors You can submit by email but check the website as they are currently catching up with their backlog. Attach the first three chapters and the synopsis as two seperate Word documents. A covering email should introduce yourself and your work. They accept picture books in which case you should send the whole manuscript. As a small agency they don’t commit to a time frame for a response so you need to be patient.
Luigi Bonomi Associates This growing agency has five agents and a large number of clients and is keen to develop new authors. Louise Lamont is the children’s agent (but note she is not currently accepting picture books). You should submit by email directly to your chosen agent and attach the synopsis and the first three chapters. They will respond within 12 weeks if interested.
Madeleine Milburn A leading London agency actively looking for new authors. They have six agents, and Chloe Seager is looking for middle grade and funny books across all ages. She is also a horror fan! Read the specific submissions requirements carefully before submitting by email only to the dedicated children’s email address. You will hear back within 12 weeks if they are interested.
Marjacq Scripts This is a large book, film and TV rights company. They have six agents and numerous authors as well as directors, screenwriters and software developers. Catherine Pellegrino accepts middle grade and YA submissions. Submit via email to which you should attach the synopsis and first fifty pages. No picture books.
MBA MBA are a large agency who represent writers in all media. They have five agents and a number of authors including children’s writers. Agent Sophie Gorell Barnes handles children’s writers and is particularly looking for middle grade fiction. Email submissions should be marked for the attention of the appropirate agent; send a covering email and attach the synopsis and first three chapters. They will reply in eight weeks if interested.
Miles Stott Children’s Literary Agency is a small but dynamic dedicated children’s agency. They have three agents and represents both authors and illustrators. They focus on all children’s writing from board book up to young adult and including non fiction, and are happy to hear from both debut and mid-career authors. Submission is by email only and response time is 4-6 weeks if they are interested. If submitting picture books, send up to three.
Pickled Ink This wonderfully monikered agency began as an illustration agency but now represents authors and author-illustrators as well. They have three agents, two for illustrators and one, Helen Boyle, for authors. Pickled Ink are looking for chapter books, middle grade and young adult books in particular and are not currently looking for picture books unless you are an author-illustrator. Email only and expect a response if they are interested in taking your submission further.
RCW (previous known as Rogers, Coleridge & White) are one of the world’s leading literary agents with a vast stable of big name clients including the brilliant Katherine Rundell. Three of their 13 agents handle children’s writing: Claire Wilson, Sam Copeland and Georgia Garrett. You should submit directly to them with a covering email, synopsis and the first 3 chapters or 50 pages (no US submissions). They aim to respond in 6-8 weeks.
Skylark Literary Agency A boutique children’s literary agency run by two industry experts. Looking for anything from chapter book to young adult. Send the full manuscript with one page synopsis and covering email. Lots of useful information on the site, including guidance as to what to put in your covering letter. They confirm receipt and respond in a month.
The Ben Illis Agency (BIA) No, it’s not the secret service of the literary world (or is it…?) – it’s the young, dynamic literary agency of Ben Illis, previously of AM Heath. Submit using the form on the submissions page to which you can attach your synopsis and sample pages, and you should hear back within 2 months. No picture books You can read an interview with Ben on the Golden Egg Academy website.
The Bent Agency (TBA) The Bent Agency is a large agency with a boutique ethos, and two offices on either side of the Atlantic. They deal with both adult and chldren’s literature and non fiction plus memoir, lifestyle, history – you name it. A number of their agents represent children’s writers so look through the bios to see who would suit your work and submit to them directly. Read the submissions guidelines on how to structure your query, which involves pasting a sample of the work into your email. Response time for requesting further material is one month.
The Blair Partnership This large, modern agency packs a punch with a large range of authors including JK Rowling as their clients. They also have 2 production companies and adapt some of their own work. Josephine Hayes is the children’s literary agent. Submit the first 30 pages and a synopsis in Word or PDF and take account of the email content requirements on the submissions page. Reponse time is 6-10 weeks.
The Soho Agency Lucas Alexander Whitley or LAW has merged with Factual Management to form dynamic new agency The Soho Agency representing large list of bestselling authors internationally. Philippa Milnes-Smith is the children’s agent and managing director. You should submit a covering letter, short synopsis and the first three chapters or first thirty pages if shorter to the email address specified. Read the tips before you submit – and you should hear back quickly or not at all.
Tyild’s Agency This recently founded small agency specialises in children’s authors and illustrators who are, or have come from, the teaching profession, from where many amazing authors have sprung! Send them your fiction or non-fiction for ages 2-12, preferably as a PDF. They respond promptly within a month.
United Agents United Agents are a large literary and talent agency with interests in many fields and big name children’s authors including Anthony Horowitz, Ali Sparkes, Rick Riordan and Ian Whybrow. Their two dedicated children’s agents are Jodie Hodges and Emily Talbot, to whom you should submit by email. Picture book authors can send three picture books. Expect a response in 12-15 weeks.
Watson, Little Watson, Little handle a wide range of writers among their 6 agents and their children’s agent is Megan Carroll. See her page on the website to find out what she is looking for. They ask for a covering email, synopsis of 1 page maximum and sample chapters. Submit by email only. You should expect to hear back in 6 weeks.