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Profile Summary

Gemma Cooper

Gemma Cooper represents children’s authors who write picture books, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction and non-fiction.  The Bent Agency is based in the US but Gemma is listed on our site as she is based in the UK and represents British authors.  Her publishing career began in New York and she previously worked as a literary agent for the Bright Literary Agency.

•In young adult fiction, she likes Rainbow Rowell (‘her characters are always so flawed and interesting’) and Katherine Applegate’s ‘The one and only Ivan’ (I love the vulnerability).  Young love is one of her favourite topics and she also likes contemporary settings and stories which focus on strong friendships or sibling relationships

•She is on the lookout for a MG fantasy adventure or mystery with possible scope for a series.  Rebecca Stead’s ‘When you reach me’ is one of her much loved Middle Grade titles as she likes the ‘blend of genres’ and the characters

•Katie Davies ‘The Hamster Massacre’ typifies the kind of books she is looking for in the 7+ market.  The voice and the irreverence caught her eye.  She is a fan of books with animals and anthropomorphic characters.

•Picture books should have short texts, and ideally, a ‘high concept idea that can be sold on the title alone’. 

•In non-fiction, she will consider almost anything but is particularly interested in history, science, pop culture and art. Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPre’s ‘The Noisy Paintbox’ is a favourite book

•She is building her list but only takes on 2-3 new clients each year. Clients include Katy Cannon (6+ series ‘Pooch Parlour'), Mo O’Hara ('My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish' chapter book series) and Robin Stevens ('The Wells and Wong Mysteries') 

•Gemma’s favourite literary character is Thursday Next from Jasper Fforde’s comic fantasy series.  Who wouldn’t like the idea of being a literary detective who can hop from the real world into the fictional world?

•Top tip!  You need to have a one line pitch ready for Gemma. 

 



Detailed data

Agency:
The Bent Agency
Agent since:
2010
Short biography:

Gemma Cooper represents authors who write for children, from picture books to young adult, fiction and non-fiction:

Originally from London, I started my publishing career while living in New York . I have since moved back to the U.K., and I work with authors based in the U.K. and the U.S. Before joining the Bent Agency, I worked as a literary agent at Bright Literary Agency, representing a wide range of authors and author/illustrators.

The best part of my job is getting to be the first fan of an unpublished book and then champion this book nothing beats being able to talk up your passions to other book fanatics! My client list is typified by character-led stories, and voice is the most important thing I look for in submissions.

I love younger fiction, and have a soft spot for funny chapter books aimed at 7+ with series potential. For middle-grade, I'd love to see a good mystery or adventure, but really any MG with a strong voice will get my attention, whatever the subject matter or setting (historical, fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, thriller). For young adult fiction, I prefer a contemporary setting and I'd love a standout YA romance or something with strong friendships or sibling relationships. For picture books, I prefer short texts that don't take themselves too seriously, and high concept ideas that can be sold on the title alone. Author/illustrators writing for any age will get my immediate attention, particularly in the chapter book and MG market. For non-fiction, I'm interested in history and science, but want very accessible books with an obvious hook.

Client list status:
Keen to build client list
Genres this agent is interested in:
Young adult fiction, Children's picture books, Children's fiction, Children's & YA non-fiction
Authors & books liked:

Recently I’ve become a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell and devoured all her books in the space of a few months. I adore the way she writes about love, and her characters are always so flawed and interesting. THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate is a big favourite of mine – I love the vulnerability of the narrator, and the short chapters mean it’s a one-sitting book and it always makes me cry. WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead is the book that brought me back to middle-grade fiction – the blend of genres, the skill of the writing, the characters – it’s a book that has everything. For younger fiction, I love HAMSTER MASSACRE by Katie Davies. It’s very voice-driven and quite irreverent for a 7+, which felt different for the market at the time. Other favourite authors – Jenny Valentine, Morris Gleitzman andErin Jade Lange.

Other loves & passions:

As a kid, I taught myself to write in fluent hieroglyphics, and I still have a bit of an obsession with Egypt and that period of history. This weird skill means I also like mysteries and secret codes.

I have a twin brother, so strong sibling stories are always going to be of interest. Also, I grew up on a building site in a caravan as my parents knocked down our house, and rebuilt slowly – so we had a fair few Christmas dinners spent sitting on crates around an upturned bucket for a table. I love my quirky family, and would rather have books with strong family ties than the orphaned kid.

How to make a submission:
First 10 pages with a cover letter pasted into an emai
Other advice and background:

 

 

 


 

An Interview with Gemma


Q. What books/authors do you love in YA and Children’s Fiction. Give us some examples and say why you liked these books/authors.

Recently I’ve become a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell and devoured all her books in the space of a few months. I adore the way she writes about love, and her characters are always so flawed and interesting. THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate is a big favourite of mine – I love the vulnerability of the narrator, and the short chapters mean it’s a one-sitting book and it always makes me cry. WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead is the book that brought me back to middle-grade fiction – the blend of genres, the skill of the writing, the characters – it’s a book that has everything. For younger fiction, I love HAMSTER MASSACRE by Katie Davies. It’s very voice-driven and quite irreverent for a 7+, which felt different for the market at the time. Other favourite authors – Jenny Valentine, Morris Gleitzman and Erin Jade Lange.

Q. On the non-fiction side, are there particular areas that interest you? Does your non-fiction list have a particular slant to it?

I’m looking for all areas of children’s non-fiction, from picture books to YA. Personal interests are history, science, pop culture and art. I loved THE NOISY PAINT BOX by Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPre, which explores artist Kandinsky’s synaesthesia and its effect on his art.

Q. Is there anything in particular you’d love to see at the moment?

 

Animals and anthropomorphic characters—I love stories with either animals as the main character, or with a close bond with a child. Or what about historical fiction seen through the eyes of an animal—major events in history with a dog or cat or pig or...etc. narrator?

I want an epic MG fantasy adventure. Something that feels cinematic, with excellent world building, a big cast of interesting characters and scope for a series.

I never get tired of reading about characters falling in love in YA. My favourite part is the flirting and the teasing and the almost-kisses. It’s hard to stand out in this area, so ideally this project will have a unique way of telling the story.

Q. What’s your biggest turn-off in a covering letter? What would you really hope to see?

It’s easy to make mistakes when lots of agencies have different process for submissions, so I try to look past most basic errors. If possible, always try to refer to the agent by name, and don’t do the ‘I know your submission requirements said to do X, but I did Y instead.’ If you accidently make an error, that’s one thing, but being deliberate about it can be frustrating as the requirements are there to help us get to your submissions quicker.

Ideally, I suggest people follow a simple template for a covering letter.

Dear [Agent’s Name],
I am seeking representation for my [age - MG/YA etc.] [genre] manuscript [title] complete at [word count rounded to nearest 1000 words].
[Insert Pitch - 1 or 2 paragraphs explaining your plot. Introduce your main character. What does she want? What’s preventing her from achieving those goals? And what are the stakes if she doesn’t achieve them?]
According to your submission guidelines I have [consult the specific guidelines for the agency, posted on its website. For the Bent Agency, you’d say, ‘pasted the first ten pages of the manuscript below.’]
I am a member of [any writing organisations] and have won [any relevant writing prizes]. [Then add anything relevant to your role as the best person to write this book.] Thank you for your time.
All best,
[your name]

Q. What are your biggest peeves in an opening page or opening chapter? And what do you love to see?

When I look at my client list, the biggest thing they have in common is strong voice. So when I read a sample, I want to instantly picture the main character jumping from the pages and telling me their story. I’m not the biggest fan of prologues, and usually don’t read them.

Q. Do you have any unpredictable loves?

As a kid, I taught myself to write in fluent hieroglyphics, and I still have a bit of an obsession with Egypt and that period of history. This weird skill means I also like mysteries and secret codes.

I have a twin brother, so strong sibling stories are always going to be of interest. Also, I grew up on a building site in a caravan as my parents knocked down our house, and rebuilt slowly – so we had a fair few Christmas dinners spent sitting on crates around an upturned bucket for a table. I love my quirky family, and would rather have books with strong family ties than the orphaned kid.

Q. What single piece of advice would you most want to give writers?

I can only read something for the first time once, so don’t rush to send your submission out. Yes, I’m happy to look at resubmissions if they’ve been revised, but it’s harder to look with fresh eyes when you remember a time when something didn’t work.

Q. How many submissions do you see annually? And how many of those submissions will end up on your list?

I see around 6000 submissions annually, and take on about 2-3 new clients a year.

Q. Do you look for social media and online presence? Do you care?

I do Google someone I’m considering representing and will take a look through their Twitter feed if they have one. I’ve had some clients join me who have no social media presence, and that is okay if they aren’t comfortable with that. It’s better to have no social media presence than a bad or neglected one. As an agency, we will help clients if they want to be more active on social media but don’t know how to go about it.

Q. When people are pitching the concept for a book to you, what do you find is the most common failing?

Not having a one-line pitch ready. I like an ‘X meets X’ style of pitch because then I can instantly see where the book would fit on my list and in the market. Often when people are pitching face-to-face, they give far too much detail on the characters and back story, when really you just need a good one-liner to get an agent interested.

Q: What character (from any book) would you be and why?

Thursday Next from Jasper Fforde’s comic fantasy series, which started with THE EYRE AFFAIR. Thursday works as a literary detective, so doing her job of hopping from the real world into the fictional world would be awesome. Picking her is a bit of a cheat as I could then go into any of my favourite books and hang out with the characters. Thursday is also a fantastic female protagonist – smart, kick-ass, impulsive, owns a pet dodo, loves her quirky parents, juggles her husband and kids while working in life-threatening situations and is obsessed with books. Basically, she is amazing!

 

 

 

Transparency Index:
86/100
Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
Yes
Follow on Twitter:
@gemma_cooper
Interesting links:
http://talltalesandshortstories.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/agent-interview-gemma-cooper-at-bent.html
Clients:
Clients include:Mo O’Hara, Robin Stevens, Sibeal Pounder, Ruth Fitzgerald, Sam Hay, Katy Cannon, Mike Revell, Sam Watkins, Claire Fayers, Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Katrina Charman, Dustin Hansen, Paul Gamble.
Full client list:
http://www.thebentagency.com/authors.php
Email address:
cooperqueries@thebentagency.com

Agents of: The Bent Agency

Agency details

Website:
http://www.thebentagency.com/intro2.php
About the agency:
No data
Address for submissions:
The Bent Agency / London 21 Melliss Avenue Kew, Richmond TW9 4BQ
Office address:
No data
Email address:
info@thebentagency.com
Phone number:
No data
Number of agents:
3
Accepts email submissions:
Yes
Submission type:
Other - see details
Further submission info:
Email only; see http://thebentagency.com/submission.php Submission type: Email only: query + first ten pages, both pasted into body of email message (no attachments) If you know you're a great writer with a story to tell, we hope you'll be in touch with us. Please review these submission guidelines before you contact us. First, review our agents' bios and decide which of us you'd like to query. Please do not simultaneously query our agents; submit your work to only one of us. If she passes, feel free to contact another. Second, email your chosen agent and tell her briefly who you are, about your book, and why you're the one to write it. Include the title of your project in the subject line of your email. Then paste the first ten pages of your book in the body of your email (not as an attachment, please). If you're submitting a picture book, please include the complete text; for illustrations, please also include a link to your website if available, or two or three PDFs or JPEGs of your work. For graphic novels, please paste the first ten pages of your script in the body of your email, as well as the first five pages of your dummy. The dummy doesn't need to be entirely finished, but if it's not, please include up to three samples of your finished work, or a link to your online portfolio. Please do not send an exclusive query. Queries are meant to be shared with multiple agencies. The Bent Agency ONLY accepts email queries. If you send your query by postal mail, it will be recycled and not returned to you. It is our goal to respond to every query. If you don't receive a response within a month, please resend your query and indicate that you're sending it again. If the agent is interested in your work, she will respond with instructions for sending the rest of your material. If we do request material from you, we ask that you check back with us before accepting representation elsewhere. The Bent Agency is grateful for all queries and submissions. We understand that your work is important to you and we thank you for considering us.
More info on this agency:
The Bent Agency is based in the United States, however two of their agents are based in the UK. For this reason we feel they are important to include on Agent Hunter. "At The Bent Agency, we work with authors to map the publishing career of their dreams and work with them to make it a reality. We pay careful attention to every detail, from the terms of a first contract, editorial work and cover design, to the publisher's marketing and publicity plan, royalties and sales figures. We offer the kind of representation that can only be born of years of agent experience in the atmosphere of a smaller boutique firm where every client gets our combined and total focus. We pride ourselves on nurturing and discovering authors whom we can help propel to the top of their category. We have represented over 30 New York Times bestselling titles, with many more on USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and other regional lists."
Average response time:
0 days
Agency Transparency Index:
66/100
Member of the AAA:
Yes
Overseas offices:
Yes
Accepts overseas writers:
No
Follow on Twitter:
No data
Latest news:
http://www.thebentagency.com/news.php
More about the agency:
No data

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