Bright Literary: Crafting Your Submission
last updated 02 June 2021
It seems that amidst the choas of the past year, lockdown has afforded many aspiring authors the time to harness their creativity and complete ongoing writing projects. As a result, literary agencies everywhere are experiencing an influx of submissions from writers eager to take the first steps towards getting their newly finished work published.
We caught up with Bright Literary’s Associate Agent, Georgia Tournay-Godfrey to get some advice on how to keep your submission game strong, in an increasingly competitive market.
Write a snappy covering email
Different agencies will have different processes, but at Bright the first thing we will review is your covering email.
We like to see a short bio with some personality. Maybe a little bit about your inspiration or background, but 2-3 sentences at most. It’s not a job application so avoid listing your professional achievements, unless they are relevant to storytelling. Give a 2-3 sentence description of your work, stating whether it has series potential or if it’s a stand-alone piece.
Include your target audience and word count as it makes us aware of your familiarity with the markets. We are still surprised at how many submissions we get for 4000+ word ‘picture’ books! If you are uncertain, read the Children’s Writers & Artist Yearbook for guidance. They usually present clear readership brackets and list the word count expectations for each category. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule! If yours is a story that simply won’t fit into these defined brackets, acknowledge this in your covering letter and give us a reason to trust why your chosen format is integral to the story.
Include a strong synopsis
The synopsis is a breakdown of the key moments of your plot. Avoid lengthy character descriptions and protracted explanations. If you find yourself struggling to write a succinct and clear synopsis, it’s a good indicator that something isn’t functioning properly within your narrative. Your synopsis should be brief (no more than one page) and we are always delighted to find the inclusion of the ending, plot twist and all! I know– it’s a highly contested issue, but we find it a mark of an author who has confidence in their craft.
Master your manuscript
It’s not a deal breaker, but a perfectly formatted Word document is truly welcomed. When we are presented with 1.5 spaced, Times New Roman font in size 12, with the pages numbered and paragraphs indented – you’ve got our full attention!
For younger, illustrated fiction we would expect to see the full manuscript and author-illustrators are encouraged to send some sample artwork. For middle-grade submissions we require the first three chapters only.
It goes without saying, make sure you’ve worked and reworked your opening chapters and never send a first draft. Set up your location, introduce your characters and ensure the plot is underway by the end of the chapter three. If the start of your narrative is well paced, it gives us hope for for the rest of your text.
As for the genre, we are an open-minded bunch and will consider each submission regardless of themes or style. Saying that, we are currently particularly drawn to authentic stories from diverse voices, effortlessly endearing characters and creative world-building.
Once your manuscript is sitting comfortabley in your sent box, you should expect a bit of a wait before you hear back from someone. At Bright, we aim to get back to our fiction submissions within 8 weeks, although this can be variable. If you’ve sent your work to more than one agency and receive some interest elsewhere, it’s courteous to make the other agencies aware.
Lastly, if we are unable to offer you representation, remember that an agent’s tastes are so subjective. Just because a particular agency doesn’t offer you representation, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a home for your story elsewhere. Don’t take rejection personally, in fact don’t see it as a rejection at all! All agents have stories of the magical (and incredibly successful) manuscripts that they’ve had to decline, because of reasons beyond the quality of writing. Keep going! There is nothing to stop you submitting your reworked piece in again in 6 months’ time.
Bright Literary are expanding their list and are encouraging submissions of Chapter Books and Middle Grade Fiction across all genres. As an agency committed to championing diverse talent in children’s publishing, we strongly encourage submissions by authors from underrepresented backgrounds.
For information on how to submit your work click HERE
For more information on writing for children visit:
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators