My Writing 4 Children column was launched in the national writing magazine Writers’ Forum in May 2016. It has show-cased an interview every month with top authors, editors and agents for over two years. The very first feature was with Becky Bagnell founder of the Lindsay Literary Agency.
She provided some valuable insights into the children’s book world and explained to me what she looks for in a manuscript, what makes a good children’s book agent and what makes a great children’s book.
Becky set up the Lindsay Literary Agency in 2008 having worked as a commissioning editor for Macmillan. The agency represents a wide range of authors including Pamela Butchart, who won 2015’s Blue Peter Award. She has a particular interest in discovering new talent from picture books to YA.
I heard Becky talk at this year’s SCBWI Agent’s Party. She said her favourite commercial debut book this year was Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. This gives an indication of Becky’s taste and writing styles which will grab her attention.
In her interview for Writers’ Forum Becky told me she likes to dive straight into the manuscript before reading the submission letter and the synopsis. This reiterates what she said in her interview with me.
I like to get that excited feeling about a manuscript at the very first paragraph, and if I’m still keen after the first three chapters it is a pretty good sign.
She suggests that you look at that agent’s list of authors and really consider if you like any of their work and if you do then tell the agent what it about a certain book or author that appeals to you. Even if their work is completely different to your own – it shows that you’re a reader and you’re thinking about how your writing might fit alongside the other authors that the agent is working with.
You can find out more about Becky Bagnell’s likes and dislikes for submissions in the May 2016 #175 issue of Writers Forum.