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Profile Summary

Ben keeps his submission status up-to-date on the website, so check there for the latest details. As of November 2016, he is currently closed for submissions.

Ben Illis founded his agency in 2012 and specialises in representing children’s, young adult and crossover fiction (his list also features a small selection of adult fiction).  The agency aims to remain small in order to offer a more personal service to its clients.

Prior to setting up on his own, Ben worked in management for Books Etc where he was responsible for buying children’s and YA books.  He co-founded Old Street Publishing and has worked as both a sales director and marketing director.  Alongside working as an agent, he is also a photographer, writer and travel journalist. He is the author of a number of travel guides and the Beatrix Potter parody 'The Tale of The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse, A Modern Retelling'. 

  • Over the last few years, Ben has built an impressive list of prizewinning authors.  In teen fiction, Fletcher Moss’ ‘The Poison Boy’, won both the 2012 Times/ Chicken House Prize and the 2013 Dudley teen Book award, while Lu Hersey’s ‘Deep Water’ won the 2012 MsLexia Children's Novel 
  • The teen list covers everything from thrillers and fantasy (Ian Johnstone’s ‘The Mirror Chronicles’) to comedy (Brian Conaghan ‘When Mr Dog Bites’) and romance (Lisa Glass’ ‘Blue’ being a good example of the latter genre)
  • Ben is also building a strong list of debut middle grade authors (Chloe Daykin ‘Fish Boy’ and H L Dennis’ thriller series ‘The Secret Breakers’,’
  • The agency represents a number of writers with trilogy or series plans. Recent publications include, Stefan Mohammed’s superhero cross over novel Bitter Sixteen and Eugene Lambert’s children’s sci-fi thriller trilogy ‘The Sign of One’.  
  • Illustrated picture books for young children also feature on the list (Beverley Birch)
  • Adult fiction writers include Seth Hunter, author of six maritime adventures set in the Napoleonic Wars, featuring Nathan Peake. 
  • Ben says that Children and teen fiction should empower young characters and show the world through their eyes.  Manuscripts need to demonstrate an authentic and original voice, a narrative arc, and a reasonable degree of pace.
  • He regularly attends writers' conferences and festivals, like the Winchester Writers' Festival and the Writer’s Workshop Festival of Writing.  Many of his clients are graduates of creative writing degree courses.  


Detailed data

Agency:
The BIA
Agent since:
2012
Short biography:

I have been lucky enough to work in many guises in the publishing industry over the past almost two decades. As part of the branch management team of Books Etc, I bought kids and YA books in stores across the whole of London. I was a co-founder of Old Street Publishing. I have been both sales director and marketing director of small publishers. I have acquired, commissioned and edited;  done picture research and ghost-written, all ahead of turning my hand to agenting. I am a published writer in my own right and have had the experience of working with agents both good and bad from the other (your) side of the fence. 

I speak regularly at writers' conferences and festivals, such as the Writers' Workshop Festival of Writing, Winchester Writers' Festival; as well as to creative writing courses, such as The Golden Egg Academy, and groups like The London Writers' Group on writing for children and young adults and, of course, getting that all important publishing deal. I network with graduates of all the major creative writing degree courses and source clients and contacts from across the publishing world. All in all, I have a broad base of experience to draw on and a wide network of friends, colleagues and mentors within the industry to call on for advice whenever I see fit. 

Client list status:
Open to new clients
Genres this agent is interested in:
Young adult fiction, Children's fiction, Children's & YA non-fiction
Authors & books liked:


Other loves & passions:


How to make a submission:
http://www.the-bia.com/submissions.html
Other advice and background:


Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
Yes
Follow on Twitter:
@bookboyben
Interesting links:
No Data
Clients:
Beverley Birch, Paul Bryers (also Seth Hunter), Brian Conaghan, Chloe Daykin, H.L. Dennis, Alan Early, Liz Flanagan, Lisa Glass, Seth Hunter (see Paul Bryers), Lu Hersey, Ian Johnstone, Gabrielle Kent, Eugene Lambert, James Mayhew, Claire McFall, Anna McKerrow, Stefan Mohamed, Fletcher Moss, Sophie Plowden, Eloise Williams
Full client list:
http://www.the-bia.com/clients.html
Email address:
No Data

Agents of: The BIA

Agency details

Website:
http://www.the-bia.com/about-us.html
About the agency:
No data
Address for submissions:
No data
Office address:
http://www.the-bia.com/submissions.html Currently actively seeking new manuscripts in the following areas: Young Adult and Crossover fiction (12+) Children's Fiction (7+ and 9+)
Email address:
No data
Phone number:
No data
Number of agents:
1
Accepts email submissions:
No
Submission type:
Standard (Letter + Synopsis + First three chapters)
Further submission info:
No data
More info on this agency:
The BIA was established in 2012 by Ben Illis to offer specialist literary representation, focusing on writers of Children's, Young Adult and crossover fiction and select clients who also write for adults. We work directly with publishers around the world, both directly and via a network of sub-agents and scouts. Put simply: We are looking to be transported. We look for the sorts of stories that make us want to stay up late under the covers with a torch, squeezing in just one more chapter before we fall sleep. Help us unleash the child within! Here's just a few of the specifics we look out for: VOICE - The toughest thing to fix. Voice needs to be authentic and compelling from the off. POWER - Nothing worse than a kids' story in which adults retain power. Empower your kids in an original way. POINT OF VIEW - If your protagonist is a child, let's see their world through their eyes AND from their height. PACE - Get the story started and keep it moving. Watch chapter length. Keep prose spare and drive the story on. NARRATIVE ARC - Sequels are important, but give your reader some satisfaction before leaving them hanging.
Average response time:
0 days
Agency Transparency Index:
34/100
Member of the AAA:
No
Overseas offices:
No data
Accepts overseas writers:
No
Follow on Twitter:
No data
Latest news:
No data
More about the agency:
No data

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