I live in Bedfordshire in the UK with my family and two daft pets. I’ve been writing little books of stories since I can remember. My first story was about a bird called Boris, and I loved writing about witches, fairies, and children having Blyton-style adventures. I always wanted to be a writer but forgot I needed to actually finish a book, so it wasn’t a surprise to find that I didn’t get published as quickly as I’d expected. In fact, it was really hard! I created this blog to encourage others as well as myself and share information along the way. My blog post listing publishers and agents for children’s writers really took off and I was motivated to keep sharing information, tips and leads on markets for children’s writing. Then in late 2015 I got the magic email from Maverick Arts Publishing – they were interested in my picture book Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip. I was on the way to becoming a published children’s writer at last!
Now I split my time between writing books and helping authors. My critique service is proving popular and I love doing events like school visits and literary festivals. Reading my books out loud to children is a dream come true.
92 thoughts on “About me”
I just wondered what prompts you to write about the dark side of life?
Interesting question! Well, I’m fascinated by the human imagination and the way we can take ourselves to different places through both reading and writing, so I suppose writing about the ‘darker side’ is a way of taking the reader and myself somewhere unusual. But in more practical terms, there seem to be more opportunities for short horror or speculative stories to be published on the web and in indie anthlogies than other genres so it’s a good way to test the water and get your name out there. I do like writing about lighter subjects as well, and especially humour. I recently came second in the Cats Protection League poetry writing competition with a poem that was definitely not horror – apart from the dead rat that featured in it!
Hi Lou! Thanks for the revealing answer! It seems we all long to see our names on the front cover and diversifying from our “normal” genre can help, as you say!
I have been writing poems and Christian devotional literature as well as songs on and off for years. A few months ago I decided to try my hand at short romantic fiction and have sent 9 stories to Woman’s Weekly for consideration. It was like a breath of fresh air writing something fictional, and so different from my normal stuff! It actually gave me a buzz to make up the ending!
I’m also spending time on children’s pieces now which again is therapeutic and exciting.
Thanks again for the superb list of would-be publishers you have prepared for us! I will of course keep a look out for your work!
Sorry to have missed you at Silsoe today. I had in my mind that the show was Monday! Even made mention of it on my Facebook page last week! What a shame! But I will keep looking and learning from your pages here.
After many years of writing factual articles, I need to let my imagination run riot a little at the same time, enter into novel writing with plot, characters in tact. I hope to learn more from your ex articles here.
Lou – It’s funny, but like yourself I too spent much of my childhood drifting off and now that i am 43, I am beginning to think that childhood phase should have ended. Anyway, I just want to say that stumbling on your page was one of the best stumbles of my life – I have written in the academic world – and been published – but my heart lies in children’s fiction and your web page and advice are excellent –
That’s so nice to hear – thank you for your lovely comment. I think one of the qualities of being a children’s writer is having that ability to drift away into a dream and lose yourself for a while as you never know where you may end up! Good luck with your writing. It sounds like you have a solid background of writing experience behind you which will be a great foundation.
I just wanted to say that I have found your page so very useful; especially the list of publishers and information regarding writing for children.
I hope it would be o.k to list your page on my own, incase people happen to stumble upon it and may find your page just as useful.
I found the inmformation clear and easy to understand, unlike some of the other pages I have found.
Of course you can, that would be great.
Do you still have interest in receiving unsolicited manuscripts for children’s book to date.
Hi Trudy, have a look at this post listing children’s publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Hopefully it will give you the information you need.
I’ve been meaning to ‘visit’ for a while, but have been busy finishing the sequel to Fledgling. Now it’s done 🙂 Whether the publishers will accept it or not I have to wait and see. It’s darker than Fledgling so they may not . . .
Holly has just told me that Fangtales is the best selling Wyvern book to date – how cool is that?
Hope the writing and painting is going well 🙂
Hello Berni – congratulations on finishing your next book. Dark is in so I’m sure the publishers will love it! Great to hear Fangtales is doing well too.
Hi this is quite uncanny, I’m a published children’s poet and illustrator, work as a childminder with my daughter and do pastel drawings of pets and people. I also write really dark adult fiction I think because most of the time I work with and write for young children. I came upon your sight looking for somewhere to send a couple of picture book ideas and have found it very useful bt when I clicked on your information I couldn’t believe how many similarities there were. Sorry also dyslexic so spelling may be wrong I generally warn editors although I have a wonderful proof reader.
Hi Sue, you are right although you are a bit more successful than me! We must be a certain type although what that is I am not sure! Enjoyed reading your poems on http://sludge-bog-stew.blogspot.co.uk/.
So pleased you enjoyed them, there’s more on poemcat if you’re ever at a loose end. Re successful, a little maybe but it depends how you measure success, I love what I do and could never stop even if I never earned another penny.
However it’s taken a while and I still need a day job, I got my first poem in a mainstream anthology in 2002 when my children were still young. Most of the cutbacks in publishing have happened in the poetry lists so most of the poets I know rely on workshops in schools; again less plentiful in these belt tightening times.
Love your pictures, I think we have a similar style when drawing animals. Do you work in other mediums?
I’ve experimented with watercolour and oils a bit, but always come back to pastels because I love them so much!
Hi Lou, just been using your list of “publishers accepting manuscripts”. I found this very helpful and wanted to thank you for making it available.
Glad you have found it useful, Ian. Good luck with your submitting.
Hi Lou! I just found out this interesting blog. It’s very informative. I do write, mostly poetry. Dark theme is a fave, too. Writing one comes too easy. I’m trying out something new, though, like writing some for children. I’m just starting, and I’m really having a hard time. I’m just glad I was taken here. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!
Thank you for al your great info on writers and publishers. Very helpful and very generous!!
Lou, your site has really motivated me out of a dark place. Many many thanks. EW Harris
Hello, Mrs Lou,
My name is Hijran. I live in Belarus. I am a children writer and translator. I am going to have published my book in England or America. I hesitate what to do. Could you help me?
Hi Hijran, I like your website. What particularly did you want to ask and I’ll see if I can help!
Hello, Mrs Lou,
Thank you for your response I am going to have my book published.There is a few options for it. 1 to do it in self-publishing houses and 2 in litrary agency (Litrary and Right agency). What do you advise? Could you tell me, how books are sold in England and in America? Can I have published my book in your P. H.?
With best wishes Hijran.
Good evening, Lou.
I wanted to let you and your followers know that Penguin Books – Australia is currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts for what they call their “Monthly Catch” It is through the month of January (sorry for short notice, but just found out myself) and they accept any genre, length, style, etc. You can visit their page for details, and I am sure we can all use any opportunities like this! Here is the link and good luck to all!
Thanks Christine, I’m sure that will be helpful!
Thank you for the info about US publishers. Last year I wanted to send some stories/poems to the US. If my submission did not contain a s.a.e. the submissions would be rejected. I asked about what postage to use. I was told that at the post office you could get an International Postage Slip. But the post office said these were no longer used. It may be a silly question but how do you send s.a.e to various countries. What postage do you use? Thank you.
This is a tricky one. A lot of publishers now accept submissions by email which makes life a lot easier, not to mention cheaper. And if you are to be published in the US, it would make more sense to be able to deal with a publisher that uses email rather than post, so to be honest I would be inclined not to submit to overseas publishers who only deal in paper submissions!
You are correct in saying that the post office no longer sell international reply coupons. Apparently they’re not used much any more and when they were used it was mostly for fraud! You could try buying US stamps on the internet. Other than that I’m not sure what you can do. If anyone else has any thoughts, please shout!
I’m Dr. Hailun Tang, a retired scientist from the U of T.
Thanks for your kindness to share your information with mew writers like me. I’ve published two photo-e-books in Amazon-Little Blue Tang, using my diving photos to make a kid’s story about a fish Blue Tang’s physical development and to introduce the Caribbean fish and coral world to kids.
I’ve now finished a few children’s picture books and looking for a publishing house in Canada first, because its my way to replay Canada for giving me a good and happy life in Toronto.It’s also entertaining for adults. 60% of my profit is a donation to Toronto Western Hospital and Sickkids Hospital.
I contacted a couple of presses like children’s Play from your list, but they want me to invest a couple of thousand dollars. The big ones here like Scholastic, Random House, and Annickpress don’t read unsolicited manuscripts. Any recommendation for the ones who don’t want my investment. Also how can I find when the big ones may open their house for new authors?
Thank you very much for your time and teaching. ht
Hi I have a question a question for you, if a company like kindle asked for an upfront fee before publishing should you pay it or not. I’m having quit a dilemma with this as everyone is saying so many different things. HELP!?! Thanks
Hi Kelly Marie. As far as I know, self publishing on to Kindle is free. They will take a slice of your royalties but that’s only when you sell a book. See this link for more details. https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin There are other companies who will manage the process for you but they do usually ask for a fee. I would be inclined to save the money and do it myself!
Thanks that’s great 🙂 I have published now on kindle free I may add it turns out the one that was charging me was a different company called Kindle that provide vain publishing
How much does publishing cost? First I need it.
By the way I have published my book in America. I would be glad if you are inyerested. I am sending the link in order you see: http://sbpra.com/Zaidova/
Hello Kelly Marie…I am about to do the same with my book on Kindle. So like you the information about fee’s would be great.
Thanks 🙂 it’s called Sisters of Halvanna. I hope you like it let me know when you publish yours and I will download it 🙂
Hi, I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award! Check out my blog if you’re interested, but no worries if not.
Hello Betty, I have just published on kindles free self-publishing and it’s great! i have actually made sales already. I would definitely recommend it 🙂
Hello Kelly Marie CONGRATULATIONS! and thank you for your advice. Cant wait. What is your book called? I will download it onto my Kindle. Thank you Lou for this fantastic blog.
I’ve downloaded your book Kelly Marie….can’t wait to read it!
Thats great thanks Becky! I hope you like it, would you mind giving me some feedback when you have read it please 🙂
Betty sorry auto correct 😮
Hi, did you get a chance to read my book? I hope you liked it. 🙂
Hi, I was wondering if anyone would read two of my stories and give me some feedback?
Do you also write children’s stories?
The information on your blog and the way you get it across is brilliant. Your play at Small World was really appreciated by the audience (and it was a good hall-full) and even talked about afterwards between themselves afterwards which I always think is the sign of having said something that has really gone home!!
Thank you, Liz, that’s so nice to know!
I have written my first children’s illustrated tale and after months of trying to get an agent I have started submitting to publishers directly. Your site has been invaluable and I just wanted to say thank you, much appreciated. Could you give me some more info on CoopJack, I was wondering the authenticity and progression of this publishing platform as their website is particularly sparse. Is it safe or worthwhile submitting to them?
PS. If you have any interest in poetry or food, please feel free to stop by my sites on WordPress and have a read.
Hi Doug, glad you are finding the site useful! Coopjack are taking a break at the moment so no point in submitting until things have got going again there – keep an eye on the website for the future though.
My introduction is going to be similar to many of the above. First of all thank you for the invaluable information on your site. Google really is a mine field when looking for publishers – especially when you market is specific to a certain audience. Your site has consolidated a lot of knowledge into one area which I’ve found really helpful.
I’ve wanted to “get into” writing now for a long time. I get told I’m not too shabby when it comes to putting pen to paper and since I had children I’ve rediscovered my love for children’s literature – albeit from a 34 year old’s point of view this time round.
My kids love it when they get a bedtime story as do so many others. They especially enjoy it when daddy makes up stories that incorporate their day and experiences. Their ability to relate to my content really gets their attention which really helps as you will know if you have ever tried to get the attention of a 2 & 3 year old!
I’ve really warmed to your site and the comments from your readers are so positive and friendly so I was wondering if you would care to have a look at my story and give me some feedback? Baring in mind it’s my first attempt at actually documenting one of my stories.
I’ve had a few people look over it and they seem suitably impressed but I would hate to be that person on X-Factor who can’t sing a single note in tune yet their family and friends still let them go ahead and apply for the show – if you know what I mean?!
Many thanks in advance
Hi Chris, thanks for the nice comments. I’m happy to have a look and give you a second opinion if you like – it would only be my personal opinion but if it would help then no problem! (I’m not as blunt as Simon Cowell either.)
Hi, thanks for the prompt reply and thank you so much for doing this – is there an email address I could send a link to – just in case of prying eyes 🙂
Yes, it’s further up the page (just before the heading Published Works).
Got it thanks – sorry I really should have looked closer…
Email on its way.
Hi Lou from not-so-sunny Sweden
Thanks for the list of UK agents – very useful and great to have a little summary for each.
I’m looking for rep to get my books out of Scandinavia to the wider world – so this was really useful.
Good luck with your writing
Good luck, Andy!
Thank you for the mention on your Blog about my book Vampire Cat. I was very pleased to get picked up by Pants On Fire Press and they have been Great. Answering all my naive questions about the publishing world and explaining what happens next.
Thank you also for your list of publishers that accept unsolicited submissions without which I wouldn’t have found POFP.
Just waiting to hear about going to the London Book Fair and then just seeing what happens next.
Antony Bowers Smith
Congratulations, Antony, I’m excited for you! I didn’t realise you’d found Pants On Fire Press through my list. Let us know how you get on, won’t you? Would be happy to do another blog post nearer the time all about your publishing journey. Lou
Hi lou just readying through your very helpful Blog 😉 Do you have any recommendations for Literary agents for short children’s illustrated short stories, i have 10 in total just short stories and i have no idea of what to do with them now i have them ? any help would be great thanks Meg Hawkins
Wow! Very impressive! 🙂
Hi Lou, I just wanted to take the time to say thank you.
I have just started on the road to becoming the author of children’s books, and was feeling daunted about how to find a publisher, and the pro’s and con’s of approaching a literary agent. All the information you have shared has been extremly useful, it has helped to put my mind at rest and its wonderful that someone has been generous enough to complete some of my home work for me! Now I can stop procrastinating and dedicate my time to my book.
It did make me wonder what we all did before the wonderful internet was invented, however that is something to ponder for another day…
You are very welcome, fellow Louise! Good luck with your book.
I just wanted to say how helpful your website is – thank you! You have answered so many questions I had and have given me vital information about the route to take to (hopefully) get my children’s book published!
I would like to suggest sweet cherry publishing a children book publisher in leicester who are accepting manuscripts for picture books children books and are listed in writers and artists year book
Thank you Leslie – I have finally got around to adding them!
Thank you regards Betty
I echo the thanks given by Louise Fletcher.
By the way, on the topic of Louises:
Years ago when I worked for a university I set up and ran a report that gave all the middle names of the students, with a count for each. For female students, the most common middle name by far was Louise. I speculated that parents who had chosen the likes of Karen or Rachel for the first name of a daughter had thought it good to go for a softer (more feminine?) middle name and that was often Louise.
Do you think this would be of interest to a publisher?
Useful site. I have already sent one children’s story by e mail today from your suggests. If I get any responses I will mention you. I will bookmark your site, as I’ve got an in-built memory to forget names dates and events. Philip
I wanted to say Thank you.
I have found your website helpful.
My favourites are list of publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts & the link to storybird.
I have started to send my work to the publishers you have listed.
I loved your story on storybird. You inspired me to created my own; Homer the Hungry Cat. https://storybird.com/books/homer-the-hungry-cat/
I would love to know what you think?
Loved it, Anand! Have left you a comment.
Hi, I’ve had some work rejected (sob sob) but the envelopes containing a copy of my stories, that I sent to myself as security against anyone ‘stealing’ Have perished and are virtually open. Is sending by email to myself as good as this for proving a story was my idea? Thanks – I hope that’s not confused you.
Hi Rob. Another way would be to keep earlier drafts on your computer that will prove the date you wrote the story. But to be honest it’s very difficult to copyright an idea. Your writing is automatically copyrighted to you as author when you write, but the idea or concept is not. You just have to make sure you write about it better than anyone else!
Thank you. That’s really helpful.
lou – I have a question you may know the answer to. I submitted a children’s book I’d written to an agent. He replied that he “loved” the concept but asked if I could try a few revisions. This wasn’t an exclusive submission, so, if he likes the revised manuscript that only he has seen, and he wants to represent it, can I still contact the other agents who have the original manuscript and say I have an offer of representation to see if they’re interested? the concept seems a little off center of being fair and honest, but it is my work and I want to know it has the best chance of succeeding possible.
Hi Ed – that’s a tricky one! I’d say yes, contact the other agents if you are offered representation by the first one. It would be polite anyway, as otherwise they will be wasting their time looking over your work if you’re already committed to someone else. You can say you have been offered representation and are considering it – are they likely to look at your work any time soon or should you withdraw it from the queue? What a lovely dilemma to have though. Good luck with your search for representation – it sounds very exciting!
Hi Lou, wonderful blog!
I literally stumbled upon it; karma.
I recognised your name, but couldn’t quite recall from where. Then upon delving further I came across your ‘Storybird’ connection and the penny dropped; your hilarious “CATVERTS” story!
You were kind enough to ‘follow’ my nom de plume on Storybird, so it is only fitting I repay the gesture by following you in the RW.
Good look with the ‘Professor,’ I look forward to purchasing it for our five year old ‘alpha child.’
Write long and prosper…
Hi David. How funny! I must do another Catverts some time. Thanks for following and will keep you updated with Professor McQuark – should be out January!
It’s Anand S here. It’s through your blog, I came to know about storybird. Having seen your story I was inspired me write my own (https://storybird.com/books/homer-the-hungry-cat/). You were kind enough to take look at it and you liked it. The confidence I gained from writing on storybird was important stepping stone for me. I have now gone on to publish my own book. Thank you for your blog. It’s one of factors that has helped me to create this book.
The book is called Pigs Can’t Fly. It’s a children’s picture book. Pigs Can’t Fly is a heart warming tale about a little pig, named Zig. Zig wants to fly more than anything. But Zig is repeatedly told, “Pigs can walk, pigs can run but pigs can’t fly.” The question is: ‘Will Zig prove the doubters wrong?’ At the heart of the story, is the message that dream can come true if you put the effort in. Pigs Can’t fly is featured on the Manchester Children’s Book Festival Blog (http://mcbf-relay.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/pigs-cant-fly-or-can-they.html) and is available for purchase from the Amazon e-bookstore (www.amazon.co.uk/Pigs-Cant-Fly-humorous-pre-school-ebook/dp/B00ZI33682/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1434203624&sr=8-3&keywords=pigs+can’t+fly).
If it would help, I would be happy to share my publishing story with your readers. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for the list of literary agents on somewhere on your site. I hope it will help me.
You’re welcome. Good luck!
Please Lou, I would really like to email you about something, please kindly give me the address I can use. I know you can give me the advice I desperately need.
Hello, you’ll find my email address on my ‘About’ page.
Hi Lou, I just wanted to congratulate you on the picture book. Well-deserved success! One day I hope to have my own picture book published and your list of publishing houses accepting submissions is an invaluable starting point. Keep up the good work.
Congratulations Lou, just noticed you have two more books due for publication shortly. You must be on a roll. Keep up the good work. xx
Thanks Kim! I’m loving it!
Dear Lou, I came online to find a way of contacting you because I wanted to let you know that my daughter brought “Letter from Pluto” home from school last week as her reading book. She is in Year 2 and she enjoyed this book more than any other book she has brought home for guided reading in the past three years. She (and I) enjoyed the epistolary format, the plot and the ideas behind it, and all the illustrations. She reads a wide range of writers and I agree with her that you have a unique voice. Please write more books for this age group!
Oh thank you so much Sadiya – you have made my day! I’m so glad your daughter enjoyed the book. I loved writing it. Please tell her that the sequel Homework on Pluto is out on 28 April and I am currently writing book 3 so lots more to come! Lou x
Hello, I like your blog very much. Its so informative!! Today I have a question about Walker publishers.
I wrote to them asking them to clarify it, but the email came back as undeliverable so here is my question. On their website, this is stated: “These should be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope for us to return your material to you if we decide not to pursue it. Material received without the appropriate SAE will be recycled. Please note, we can no longer return any material sent from outside the UK, even with international response postage coupons.” Its a little confusing for a person outside the UK who wants to submit. They want SAE postage but state they cannot return anything. I would be happy to send with the SAE or accept the fact they recycle but as you can see, it is not really clear what is their policy. Perhaps you can contact them to clear this up? Thank you
Hi Nellie. Thanks for the nice words about the blog! I see what you mean, it’s a bit ambiguous! I would take it that you should only send an SAE if you wish the manuscript to be returned, and that they don’t offer that option outside the UK so you should assume that your manuscript from outside the UK will be recycled if not accepted. To clarify this, you could always write in your covering letter that you understand that your manuscript will not be returned and you are happy for it to be recycled. This would then make it clear on both sides. Hope that helps! Lou