A Who's Who of Exceptional Children's Literary Agents

Who represents Eoin Colfer? Who is Darren Shan’s agent? Who helped Derek Landy climb to the top? As this month I have two new children's books out - Ask Amy Green: Love and Other Drama-ramas (Walker Books) and Sally Go Round the Stars (O'Brien Press), I thought I'd focus on writing for children.

You’ve written a book for children (or teenagers) and you’d like to get it published, so what’s next?

If you are interested in reaching the widest readership possible and giving your work the best possible chance to be successful, you’ll need to find a good agent.

Why do you need an agent? Can’t you just go it alone?

In Ireland we are lucky to have the O’Brien Press where the 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. 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. 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, with ebooks coming to the fore. 4/ Financial back up - they can chase up your royalties and talk to your publishers about outstanding monies owed to you.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing for children is not paying enough attention to the age range. Who is your book for? An early reader of 5 to7? A confident reader of 8 to 10? A strong reader of 10 to 13? Your characters/language/themes must be appropriate for and also interest the age you are writing for. Read award winning and bestselling books in the age group you are writing for to get a clear idea of what works best. I’ll come back to this again in another post as it’s so important – you must write for children for the love of it – not because you want to make your fortune. Write because you can’t not write. And be very aware that these days writing for children means schools visits and events – and a lot of them! If you are not good with children you might need to reconsider. The very best children’s writers have a child like quality and also remember what it feels like to be a child or teen – to be 4, or 13, or 17.

So back to finding an agent: My own children’s agent is called Philippa Milnes-Smith from the LAW Agency (details below). She used to be the MD of Puffin, which gives her a brilliant insight into the market and a great eye for what works and doesn’t work in books. I have a different, equally brilliant agent for my adult books (also in LAW). These days having potential isn’t enough, your manuscript must be as perfect as you can make it before it goes anywhere near an editor – this especially goes for children's and YA fiction. A good agent can play a vital role in this process.

So to the Good Bit - The Agents Who Represent the Most Successful Irish Children’s Writers (with Contact Details)

 Remember to check each agent’s website for submission guidelines before you send anything out. Or ring the agency for details first – 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!

Eoin Colfer is represented by Sophie Hicks sophie@edvictor.com 0044 (0) 2073044100

Derek Landy is represented by Michelle (Who also represents Patrick Ness) office@michellekass.co.uk 0044 (0) 207 74391624

Darren Shan is represented by Christopher Little Christopher Little Literary Agency 10 Eel Brook Studios 125 Moore Park Road London SW6 4PS Tel: +44 (0) 207 736 4455 Fax: +44 (0) 207 736 4490 For general enquiries please email: info@christopherlittle.net

Sarah Webb is represented by 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

Cathy Cassidy is represented by Darley Anderson (Spends a lot of time in Ireland and a lovely woman so I’ve included her!) Contact: Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency Estelle House 11 Eustace Road London SW6 1JB Tel: 00 44 (0)20 7385 6652 Fax:00 44 (0)20 7386 5571 Email: enquiries@darleyanderson.com

Judi Curtin and Marita Conlon McKenna are both represented by Caroline Sheldon Contact via: www.carolinesheldon.co.uk 71 Hillgate Place, London W8 7SS

And finally John Boyne is represented by Simon Trewin

See www.simontrewin.com for details

Other Recommended Children's Agents:

Julia Churchill Greenhouse Literary Agency  submissions@greenhouseliterary.com 

And note this - Check our submission guidelines on this site for full information before querying.  Please note, we no longer accept snail-mail queries or email attachments. We are sorry that we cannot take (or return) phone queries regarding submissions. 

Eve White, Eve White Literary Agency (represents Andy ‘Mr Gum’ Stanton) eve@evewhite.co.uk 00 44 (0) 207 6301155

Veronique Baxter at David Higham Contact: David Higham Associates 5–8 Lower John Street Golden Square London W1F 9HA Switchboard: 00 44 (0)20 7434 5900 Fax: 044 (0)20 7437 1072 E-mail: dha@davidhigham.co.uk