The Best Children's Book Agents 2017

This is the most popular blog on my website and I update it every year with agents recommended by their writers. Thank you to all the children's writers who responded to my 2017 call out. 

I’d like to pay tribute to Philip Ardagh who first posted the question on Facebook in 2015: ‘Who is your agent and would you recommend them?’ which inspired me to continue his work.

I’ve had the good luck to work with one of the best agents in the business, the wonderful Philippa Milnes Smith from LAW (details below). Good luck in finding someone as wise, kind and supportive as Philippa.

Who represents Eoin Colfer? Who helped Derek Landy climb to the top? Who represents Cathy Cassidy? Read on and find out!

WHY DO YOU NEED AN AGENT?

 Eoin Colfer - Represented by Sophie Hicks 

Eoin Colfer - Represented by Sophie Hicks 

In Ireland we are lucky to have the O’Brien Press whose editors are happy to read unsolicited manuscripts. You can send your book directly to one of their editors. Details of how to do this are here.

Little Island are also happy to read unsolicited manuscripts – they have excellent submission guidelines here

Penguin Ireland - experienced writer and teacher, Claire Hennessy is their Children’s and YA Editor – Claire will read unsolicited manuscripts and will accept them by email, details here.

Gill Books has recently started publishing children’s fiction, Mercier also publish children’s books and Poolbeg are also back in the game after a strong season of 1916 related children’s books. 

But most UK publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts so you will need to submit your work through an agent.

WHAT DOES AN AGENT DO EXACTLY?

1/ An agent can advise you on your manuscript and on how to make it more attractive to a publisher. Some of them will act as unofficial editors to their clients or at the very least can suggest changes or improvements. They are also excellent at coming up with zippy book titles as I’ve discovered.

2/ An agent can find the right editor or publisher for your work – like a book matchmaker. And they can sell your UK, US, digital and foreign rights. They can also look after any film or television rights.

3/ Agents deal with the difficult and technical area of contracts. This is particularly important at the moment as digital rights can be tricky.

4/ Financial back up – they can chase up your royalties and talk to your publishers about outstanding monies owed to you.

These days having potential isn’t enough, your manuscript must be as perfect as you can make it before it goes anywhere near a publisher. A good agent can play a vital role in this process.

WHO REPRESENTS SOME OF THE BEST CHILDREN'S WRITERS?

The Agents Who Represent Some of the Most Successful Irish Children’s Writers (with Contact Details) and Children’s Agents Recommended by UK Writers

Remember to check each agent’s website for submission guidelines before you send anything out. Or ring the agency for details – I know it’s daunting but they are always happy to advise you on how (or if) to submit. Be warned – you may get the agent herself/himself on the phone. Be prepared.

Recommended Children’s Agents:

Eoin Colfer is represented by Sophie Hicks. Sophie is a very experienced agent and her writers rate her highly. She also represents Oisín McGann. www.sophiehicksagency.com

Derek Landy is represented by Michelle Kass, who also represents Patrick Ness. www.michellekass.co.uk

Darren Shan is represented by Christopher Little   For general enquiries email: www.christopherlittle.net

Sarah Webb and Chris Judge are represented by the wonderful Philippa Milnes Smith at LAW

Contact: All submissions should be sent, in hard copy, by post to:

LAW, 14 Vernon Street, London, W14 0RJ www.lawagency.co.uk

Marita Conlon McKenna is represented by Caroline Sheldon www.carolinesheldon.co.uk

Irish Writer, Elizabeth Rose Murray recommends her agent, Sallyanne Sweeney of Mulcahy Associates (London). She says she’s ‘supportive, thorough, creative, knowledgeable & really champions her authors. And she really loves children’s/YA literature too – always a bonus!’ 

Let's hear from some other Irish writers:

Sheena Wilkinson: 'My agent is Faith O'Grady who's lovely.'

Dave Rudden: 'I'm with Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson - can't recommend her enough!'

Clare also represents Olivia Hope.

Shirley McMillan: 'My agent is Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg Associates. She is wonderful.'

Jenny also represents Nigel Quinlan.

Sinéad O'Hart is represented by Polly Nolan who is also recommended by Louis Stowell.

Celine Kiernan says 'I changed agencies late 2015. Am with Sallyanne Sweeney now, of Mulcahy Literary Agency. Have worked with her on two books now and find her wonderful.'

Marianne Gunn O'Connor represents Shane Hegarty and Cecelia Ahern.  Read about her here.

Other Recommended Agents - UK and International Writers 

Cathy Cassidy is represented by Darley Anderson and highly recommends him.

 Cathy Cassidy with Judi Curtin and Sarah Webb at the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival 

Cathy Cassidy with Judi Curtin and Sarah Webb at the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival 

Eve Ainsworth:  'I'm with Stephanie Thwaites at Curtis Brown, she's fab.'

Russell Sanderson and Lu Hersey recommend their agent, Ben Illis

Zana Fraillon recommends her agent, Claire Wilson

Julia Churchill at A M Heath who says 'my speciality is checking if people need to go to loo before meetings.' I have met Julia and she is a funny and smart woman who knows her onions. Well worth sending your manuscript to. Nikki Sheehan says Julia 'would win against 100 horse sized ducks.' Clearly a woman to have on your side. 

Mark Burgess: 'Im represented by excellent & wonderful Nancy Miles of Miles Stott Children's Literary Agency. She also represents Gill Lewis & Frances Hardinge.'

Eve White, Eve White Literary Agency

Veronique Baxter at David Higham

Catherine Clarke at Felicity Bryan

Robert Kirby at United Agents

Jodie Hodges at United Agents (recommended by William Bee); Catherine Mary Summerhayes, Jo Unwin and Clare Conville at United Agents

Hilary Delamere at The Agency

Lindsey Fraser at Fraser Ross

Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency

Penny Holroyde at Holroyde Cartey

Elizabeth Roy – www.elizabethroy.co.uk

Laura Cecil – www.lauracecil.co.uk

Madeleine Milburn – www.madeleinemilburn.co.uk

Sam Copeland and Claire Wilson at Rogers Coleridge and White – www.rcwlitagency.com

Good luck with finding a great agent!

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX

 Some of the Irish Children's Book Tribe - Yasmeen Ismail, Elaina Ryan from Children's Books Ireland, Chris Judge

Some of the Irish Children's Book Tribe - Yasmeen Ismail, Elaina Ryan from Children's Books Ireland, Chris Judge