Meet Stephanie Roundsmith, a showjumper-turned-agent, who specialises in children’s fiction, particularly in the age 5-12 range. In this blog, she explains how she came to be an agent, what she looks for in agent submissions she receives and shares some insight in to the publishing industry.
What made you decide to become a children’s literary agent?
I’ve always loved children’s literature but it wasn’t until I launched my reading and writing scheme for children that I began to think of agency work. The scheme has given me a huge amount of first-hand knowledge as to what children read and what they are looking for next so I started to think how I could use this knowledge for the benefit of the children. Editing and proofreading is also a passion of mine and I have supported many children’s authors over the past few years, so an agency role seemed to tick all the boxes for my dream job. Working with authors, improving manuscripts and getting great books into the hands of children: the perfect job!
What books do you enjoy reading?
I have a very eclectic taste and read anything that’s well written. In terms of children’s books I grew up with the classics: Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl but I also love many of our modern authors such as Jonathan Stroud, Anthony Horowitz, Guy Bass, Michelle Harrison, Cat Weatherill, Steve Cole, Jeremy Strong and Matt Haig, to name but a few.
Alongside my work in children’s literature, I also run two adult book groups and review crime fiction. So, when I’ve had enough of fairies, underpants and magical pyjamas, I turn my hand to murders, Chinese warlords and the occasional non-fiction title.
How much of a writer’s three chapters do you read before deciding if you want to see more?
I’ll always give the first three chapters a chance, but if you haven’t grabbed me by then I’m afraid I won’t be requesting the full manuscript.
Are you currently looking for clients?
Sadly, due to an overwhelming backlog, submissions are closed until further notice but keep an eye out on my website during 2018 for updates!
What features do you look for in a submission?
Humour always does very well with children of all ages so if you’re writing the next Jeremy Strong novel I’ll gladly take a look! I’m looking for originality and style. Something that’s fresh and exciting that can fit in either the fiction, non-fiction or fantasy market. Whether it’s about flying underpants, a dragon university or a cat detective – I really don’t mind – so long as it’s well written. I’ll consider picture books but my main area of expertise is the market for 5 to 12 year olds. I’m very keen to work with new, unpublished writers but I also welcome published authors too.
Do you have any tips for writers looking to submit to you?
Firstly, don’t panic! I’m very approachable and although I expect writers to send in work that is well proofed and well presented I won’t be rejecting work for things like typos. It’s not a job interview so I’m happy for you to send in a punchy, personal email. I don’t request a covering letter for the very reason that I like to keep things informal. However, please don’t send in your work unless it’s finished. I do get a lot of requests to ‘please read and then give me your opinion on whether I should continue’. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to do this.
How can writers submit to you?
Please send a one-page synopsis (including age range and word count), a paragraph or two about yourself, and your first three chapters. For picture book submissions please send in the whole text. Please note that I only accept email submissions, but all details are on my site.