As you will know if you are a regular reader, I like to write.  More specifically, I like to write stories for 4-7 year olds.  I’ve written or made up stories for a long time that have been well received and sometimes, much loved and often re-requested by the children I’ve shared them with.  You’d think this would make me fairly confident about submitting my work for the scrutiny of literary agents.  Not so!  The writing world can be tough, difficult, draining, critical, harsh and at times seem like a trip up Mount Everest would be less stressful. Here’s Why…


Lots of people dream of being a writer.  For many people, writing is as much a part of their daily existence as breathing and the desire to share that writing can be overwhelming.  For others, writing is seen as a dead cert to make money and bring fame and glory. We’ve all heard of JK Rowling’s amazing luck and rise from pauper to multi-million pound industry.  Even if she never picks up a pen again, she won’t starve.  All this means that the amount of writers wishing to be published far outweighs the number who will actually be published.  Everyone wants to be the next JK. Plus the place I call home, Britain, is steeped in folk lore, traditional tales, fairy tales, legends, stories and myths.  With this many creative, souls on one small island the competition can be fierce.  Almost as fierce as the dragons and trolls from the oldest tales.


I think this one is really key.  Over the years I’ve noticed that all books (not just childrens’) go through fashions.  Witness the success of the recent Twilight series which has prompted the bookshelves to be flooded with similar teenage, romance, vampire, good v evil story lines.
At the moment, there seems to be a real trend in young children’s books for what I can only describe as bodily functions.  Personally, this isn’t something I choose to write about.  In fact without sounding like an old fuddy duddy, I think there is too much of this in kids’ books at the moment.  Ok so breaking wind can be mildly amusing but let’s give our young people some credit, a good story will always capture them, even without bad wind and enormous poos! That probably puts me onto a non-starter with agents straight away but my writing is something I’m passionate about. I’ve never followed fashion trends just because a magazine has told me to and I won’t start writing about subjects that leave me cold just because someone thinks they may be trendy and cool.

Finding Agents

Lots of people have told me that this is the first step before even looking at publishing.  You have to have an agent first.  But as finding an agent is as elusive as finding an amazing publishing deal with a 7 film franchise in the bag, I’m not holding my breath.
There is a great book called Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook that has been recommended to me by several people.  It is very good as it is full of useful tips as well as all the relevant agencies.  However, I must point out that anyone wishing to send work off should definitely visit the website and double check submission guidelines first.  Even if you are the next big thing, you’ll never be discovered if you don’t follow the guidelines. Instead, your treasured work will end up in the bin or delete folder.

Editing/Final Draft

I am no expert but I like to write my stories, then leave them for a while before returning to them.  I also physically write my stories into a notebook first, then transfer them onto a computer and then print them out. For some reason, this process seems to really help me when deciding where to make changes. I would also recommend finding someone you trust to read it through and give you honest but constructive feedback. A creative writing group with people who write in the same genre can be perfect for this. However, speaking from experience, not every town has one of these that specialises in stories for young children.  So much so that my friend and I have set up our own creative writing group in the hopes of finding some like minded people we can share ideas with.

Sending it Off!

Gulp! This is the scary bit.  Our writing is part of us.  We have devoted much time and energy to it.  Tea consumption has been high, scrutiny intense, re-working maddening.  
I have completed 7 childrens’ stories now.  One of those was my winning story for the Disney Laureate competition. Although that award was thrilling, it hasn’t increased my confidence. I won that award back in March and the author Jane Costello (who judged my story) recommended I should send some of my work off. I didn’t!  Since then my partner and other family members have been dropping hints ranging from subtle to sledgehammer in a bid to make me submit. Last week I finally got around to compiling the email, adding the attachment and pressing send…

I can only describe it as giving your soul away and watching someone put it through the mincer.  I now wait with baited breath. The two agents I have submitted to take online submissions which is very convenient. However, it does mean that every time I check my emails my heart is in my mouth.  Will it be the polite but firm rejection or will there be a glimmer of hope? I expect to hear back within the next 6 weeks… 

What Makes a Good Deal?

This is the difficult one as it is probably personal to each writer.  How much value you put on your work and what someone is willing to pay for it may be two very different things.  Again, you have to ask yourself are you in it for the money (in which case you should probably get a part time job as well) or are you just super keen to get your work out there?  Once you know the answer to that, you have to work out if the deal you are being offered is a close enough match.
So if there are any literary agents or indeed publishers who have happened upon this blog, please get in touch.  I may not be the next JK Rowling but I am definitely the next Jude Lennon!

In the meantime, if you wish to see some of my stories in action please visit my blog site

Thanks very much!

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