My manuscript is finished and the one page synopsis has been honed, all with the excellent help of my Cornerstones mentor, Sandra Glover. Now it’s time to take several deep breaths and send my baby out into the world of agents and publishers.

I’m grateful to Cornerstones for their encouraging words about Gravy Danger! They have added to my confidence in my manuscript and make me feel that it is ready to be sent.

But, where to start?

Sandra suggested sending to one large agency, one small agency and a publisher. I am also entering it a couple of competitions.


I began by researching authors of humorous children’s fiction to find out who their agents were. Then, I looked the agencies up in the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2018 and investigated them on the internet. I already follow lots of children’s authors and agents on Twitter and am signed up to various blogs, so this also helped me to know who I felt might be interested in my book.

It is a time-consuming process but important to get right.

Each agency asks for slightly different things and so it is really important to check the submission guidelines carefully. However, as a general rule they all ask for the following:

  • A one page synopsis
  • The first 3 chapters
  • A covering letter

Again, what an agent wants in the covering letter varies, but most seem to want:

  1. A hook to grab their attention about your book. For this, I used the 75 word synopsis/blurb that I had written when thinking about my synopsis. Reading blurbs on the back of similar books also helped.
  2. The There are lots of websites that can help here.
  3. The final word count.
  4. The books unique selling point. What is it that will make your book stand out from the crowd? What is special about it?
  5. A short biography relating to your writing history.

Many of the websites stress that the letter should be short. When they are receiving a couple of hundred manuscripts a week, they haven’t got time for waffle!

Just occasionally, they seem to also want a CV. I hadn’t written a CV for writing before and wasn’t quite sure where to start. The Scottish Book Trust was helpful. If any of you have any other advice on this I would be grateful.


Personally, I want to try the traditional publishing route, but there don’t seem to be many publishers out there who accept unsolicited manuscripts. I found the Lou Treleaven’s website a good place to start:

When researching publishers, do be careful. There are quite a few which look so encouraging, but are actually ‘vanity’ publishers. You will need to pay to get your book published with these.

Writing Competitions

There are lots of writing competitions out there, but most are for short stories or adult fiction. I am looking for competitions which will help to get my children’s book seen by agents. Here are a few that I have found:

Undiscovered Voices

Bath Children’s Novel Award

The Times Chicken House Children’s Fiction Prize

Please let me know of any more. Thanks.

With a whole flock of butterflies dancing in my tummy, I have sent Gravy Danger! off to a big agency and am currently preparing to send to a publisher. One competition has been entered. I have everything crossed (which is making typing a bit tricky!) and now have to wait. With luck, I will get some feedback to help me improve; with a huge amount of luck, I will be asked to send the whole manuscript. I have worked really hard and produced a book that is the best that I can make it, so what ever happens next, I am proud of it. I really want to share Gavin’s world and his inventions with the world.

Have I succeeded in my quest to go from writer to author? Time will tell.

Meanwhile …

I am already working on the plot for another adventure …


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