Updated Wishlist — a post by Gemma

While I was away in September a milestone passed — my first anniversary of starting with the Bent Agency! Over a year ago I wrote this post on what I wanted to find in my submissions, and actually I’ve been really lucky in checking off some of these:


  • I’d love to find fantastic chapter books (7+ fiction) with an obvious hook and a laugh on every page — and I found WITCH WARS by Sibéal Pounder, sold to Bloomsbury.
  • A YA or MG crime novel or some sort of heist would be great. My favourite detectives are Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, and I’ve love to read something with the same feel written for younger audiences — red herrings, opulent settings and gathering everyone in a room for the reveal! – I found MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE by Robin Stevens, sold to Random House UK.



As you can tell from these successes, it seems that if I ask for something, I actually get it! So I thought now might be the time to make some more requests and see what you can do to make them happen… 


  • I’d really like a dual-POV YA, ideally in a contemporary setting. Something like DASH AND LILY’S BOOK OF DARES would be perfect. Or a third-person dual-POV like ELEANOR AND PARK. I’d really love a good YA romance, and an authentic boy perspective on this would be fantastic. 
  • Author/illustrators – for any age. I have re-opened to picture books recently, but I’m not open to illustrators who don’t also write. I signed an amazing author/illustrator this year, and I’ll like some more please, especially in the 5-12 age range. I’m also open to graphic novels.
  • Paranormal for MG (ghosts, witches, even vampires) — things with a slightly quirky and yet commercial hook. Think Frankenweenie, the movie by Tim Burton. Ideally set in mostly the real world or a twisted version of it. Can be funny or action/adventure. Or a bit of both, like The Goonies!
  • For picture books, I prefer quirk over sentimentality. I love a big bold character, and books that have a message without being too didactic. I prefer sparse texts, with 700 words being a max for me – less is more. I also enjoy clever novelty or concept books. Author/illustrators writing picture books will get immediate attention.
  • Strong friendships – for all ages. I love books where the best friend isn’t just a clichéd minor character, but a really important part of the main character’s life. In both of my clients’ books mentioned above, friendship is the key to why the books work and have so much heart.
  • Funny chapter book (5-8 age) series with an obvious hook. I’ll never stop requesting these as they are such fun to read and work on. They have to be different from the books I already have, though. I’ve been getting a lot of evil pet submissions, but these are a bit similar to MY BIG FAT ZOMBIE GOLDFISH. Maybe something girlier or not set in the real world. Surprise me with something different for this age range. 
  • I’m still looking for my diary-feeling historical in the vein of Morris Gleitzman’s ONCE, THEN, AFTER series. I don’t really mind what the historical period is as long as the voice grabs me. 
  • Non-fiction for kids and teens – interesting topics, told ideally in a narrative. I love science and history especially, but would be keen to see any boy-focused non-fiction.
  • All the MG – action/adventure, magic, historical, mystery/crime, issues, fantasy, horror, literary, anything really. Just keep sending them all.
  • For YA, I’d still really love a crime thriller or murder/mystery. I’m also quite keen on finding a cult novel, or something with real page-turning suspense. Oh, and a ghost story would be great. I always love a good fright!


Below is a list of books I’ve loved this year:


  • FANGIRL – Rainbow Rowell
  • EVERY DAY – David Levithan
  • CROC AND BIRD – Alexis  Deacon
  • DEAD ENDS – Erin Lange
  • THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN – Katherine Applegate
  • I AM AN ARTIST – Marta Altes
  • THIS MOOSE BELONGS TO ME – Oliver Jeffers


I’m sure as soon as I post this blog, I’ll remember a ton of other books I’ve loved and things I want in submissions. Remember, this is just the wishlist I can think of right now; maybe you have a book that is nothing like the above, but it’s well-written, with a great voice and a big hook – send it! I’ve signed a few projects this year that I never imagined I’d fall in love with.

You can send submissions to cooperqueries@thebentagency.com with your title and genre in the subject line, and your first 10 pages pasted under your query letter.   Submissions guidelines can be found here. I love finding gold in my submissions – so please keep sending them!

Gemma's posts

2 Responses to Updated Wishlist — a post by Gemma

  1. Jared Larson says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this out for us. It really is beneficial and sparks a flare of excitement as I prepare the final touches to query.
    PS. I like your taste of books. Very cool.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Happy Anniversary. Thanks for sharing your updated wish list.