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Profile Summary

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 relationshipsShe 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 charactersKatie 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 bookShe 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.

Please send me:

Chapter Books (fiction for 5+)Middle grade fictionYoung adult fictionAuthor/Illustrated picture books onlyChildren's non-fiction

I'm not currently accepting submissions in:

Adult fictionAdult Non-fictionPicture Book Texts
Client list status:
Keen to build client list
Genres this agent is interested in:
Young adult fiction, 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 email
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!

Attends Festival of Writing or other WW events?
No
Follow on Twitter:
@gemma_cooper
Interesting links:
http://talltalesandshortstories.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/agent-interview-gemma-cooper-at-bent.html
Clients:
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:
www.thebentagency.com
About the agency:
Notable books represented by The Bent Agency include: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman, a No. 1 New York Times and international bestseller; The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo, a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestseller; Roseblood by Anita Grace Howard, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller; Bent Road and Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy, both Edgar Award Winners; and Caraval by Stephanie Garber, a New York Times bestseller.
Address for submissions:
The Bent Agency (London), 21 Melliss Avenue, Richmond, TW9 4BQ
Office address:
19 West 21st Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10010
Email address:
info@thebentagency.com
Phone number:
No data
Number of agents:
10
Accepts email submissions:
Yes
Submission type:
Other - see details
Further submission info:
Potential clients should visit the agency’s website first to find out what the agents’ individual submission requirements and areas of interest are. These are subject to change and updated accordingly. The standard method of submission to The Bent Agency is an email query including a cover letter, a description of the work, the author’s qualifications and writing experience, and the first ten pages of their manuscript. All of the content should be found in the body of the email; unsolicited attachments will be ignored. Authors submitting picture books should include the complete text of the proposed work, a link to an online portfolio, and two or three images (in JPEG format) of proposed illustrations. Those submitting graphic novels should include the first ten pages of their script and the first 6 pages of their dummy (a link to these is best). If the dummy is unfinished, applicants should include a link to their online portfolios. Please note that submissions via regular mail are not accepted here; any material submitted this way will be recycled unread. If they have not heard back in four weeks, applicants are encouraged to resend their query. If the agency has requested a full manuscript after receiving an initial query, authors should then tell the agency if they have had interest from other agencies.
More info on this agency:
The Bent Agency, founded in 2009, is a boutique full-service literary agency that represents authors of fiction and non-fiction, with a focus on rights and marketing deals. The agency comprises 9 agents across offices in New York and Richmond, with the UK office opening in 2015. The agents (Jenny Bent, Nicola Barr, Victoria Cappello, Gemma Cooper, Heather Flaherty, Louise Fury, Molly Ker Hawn, Rachel Horowitz, and Sarah Manning) represent a truly wide range of interest, including most genres of adult fiction and non-fiction and children’s books. Despite its relative youth, the agency has already represented over thirty New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers. Genres represented by the agency in fiction include thrillers, mysteries, romance, fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction, historical fiction, erotica, contemporary, graphic novels, horror, and YA and middle-grade fiction. Collections of short stories and picture books are also welcome. In terms of non-fiction, the agency represents works concerning popular culture, cooking, humour, lifestyle, animals, and women’s issues, memoirs, and YA and middle-grade non-fiction. The Bent Agency is keen to emphasise its expertise in negotiating rights for foreign and media sales. The agency claims to have made over 1,000 foreign rights deals since the foundation of the company, and it employs an in-house rights agent who works with sub-agents in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. It is also a regular presence at international rights fairs in Italy, Germany, and London. Nevertheless, the agency additionally states its commitment to assisting authors throughout all stages of the publishing process, including editorial work and cover design. The Bent Agency claims access to a large number of Hollywood agencies, which should be encouraging to authors hoping to sell the adaptation rights of their work. The Bent Agency is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives.
Average response time:
4 days
Agency Transparency Index:
26/100
Member of the AAA:
Yes
Overseas offices:
Y
Accepts overseas writers:
No
Follow on Twitter:
No data
Latest news:
http://www.thebentagency.com/blog
More about the agency:
Notable books represented by The Bent Agency include: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman, a No. 1 New York Times and international bestseller; The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo, a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestseller; Roseblood by Anita Grace Howard, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller; Bent Road and Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy, both Edgar Award Winners; and Caraval by Stephanie Garber, a New York Times bestseller.

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