14 Jun Meet the Agent: Becky Bagnell
Meet the Agent: Becky Bagnell: Lindsay Literary Agency
*This interview is subjective and pertains to Becky and her experience*
The Lindsay Literary Agency was founded in 2008 by Becky Bagnell, after whose maiden name the company is known. Becky has worked in publishing for over 25 years and started her career whilst still a student at Trinity College Dublin reading manuscripts for the Lilliput Press and being paid initially only in books.
Becky moved to Macmillan in London in 1996 where she worked as a commissioning editor and was fortunate to work alongside authors such as Max Hastings, Robert Service and John Simpson. One of the first books Becky commissioned was Bear Grylls’ debut, Facing Up.
To continue reading agency details, click here: About | Lindsay Literary Agency
Becky is open for submissions and is looking for children’s scripts from picture books to young adult. Full submission details here: Submissions | Lindsay Literary Agency
Q & A
What do you look for in a query letter?
The first impression is key and if the manuscript title in the subject line is intriguing, this will pique her interest. As a general rule, Becky goes straight to the writing sample but will always read the query letter. The longer spent with the submission the more interested she is especially if the query letter backs the writing.
She has no preference for the layout of the letter but a basic suggestion would be as follows: Elevator pitch followed by comparative titles (she likes to see two and having them be opposites is a bonus). Genre and word count to conclude the first paragraph.
Second and third paragraph—a more detailed synopsis but do not disclose the full plot, keep to an extended elevator pitch.
The fourth paragraph would contain the bio. Keep it succinct but do mention what qualifies you to write your book.
The fifth paragraph could highlight why you have chosen to query her (this can also be done in the first paragraph line) as well as wrapping up the letter, keeping it short and sharp. Becky is not overly picky with how the letter ends as long as it’s polite and professional. The query letter should be no more than a page.
Is the first name okay to use for the salutation?
She doesn’t mind at all. Becky or Becky Bagnell is fine and it’s worth it to note here, that even if her name was spelt wrong, she would still read the writing sample.
Can you clarify which genres you prefer?
She is quite versatile and will look at a bit of everything. She advised this can also be down to personal preference and what she rejects may be exactly what another agent is looking for.
She would like to acquire a YA or middle-grade fantasy, (editors are looking for this genre just now) a YA love story, and chapter books also.
Becky, although her primary market is the UK, she will consider international clients also.
Do you read all your submissions or does it go to an assistant first?
Becky receives around twenty/thirty submissions a day. Unfortunately, she cannot read each and every one as she has a busy client list. Her assistants are well versed in what she is looking for and will pass any potential manuscripts to her that may be of interest.
Would word count influence a decision?
Not especially although a very high word count could be off-putting. At the moment translators are paid per word and so a shorter word count could be a more attractive sell when thinking about international publishers. As a general rule of thumb, young adult should be around 70k, although could be as low as 60k or as high as 80k. Publishers, in general, prefer under 100k and would encourage closer to 70k, particularly with debut authors.
For middle grade 40k would be a suitable word count and chapter books, anything from 5k to 20k.
When an agent requests a polished manuscript but there are still some mistakes would that be enough to make it a rejection?
Most manuscripts have mistakes, which wouldn’t be a reason for rejection if the writing was strong enough. Voice will always be the main requirement for further material. Becky also advised that she has represented several clients who were dyslexic and being a hands-on editorial agent, she works with her clients to prepare their manuscripts before sending them out on submission.
Can you explain the process of how you decide to offer representation?
Each individual is different and there are no set rules. An email to set up a call or zoom meeting would be the first step if Becky has read and enjoyed the manuscript. Sometimes it may be a straight offer and at times it can be a suggestion to workshop with the potential of an offer to follow. This allows both, Becky and client to gauge how they would work together.
What happens next after offering, and how long would you expect for an answer to the offer?
That depends on the client and time is allowed to consider the offer. Usually within a week is ideal but there are no hard and fast rules. Communication is key at this stage.
A contract would be sent, and the client can be in touch with questions regarding this. As with the majority of UK agents, all future contracts for published work would be between the author and the publisher. Becky works at fifteen per cent.
Would you consider authors who have previously self-published or published through a small press?
What would put you off a manuscript? E.g. swearing etc?
Not much to be honest. Becky would be put off by a manuscript that seems too similar to another.
What is a respectable time frame for a nudge email?
For a general submission, two to three months. For a full manuscript request, Becky doesn’t mind being nudged after three or four weeks with a polite email.
Do you like to know if people querying have had manuscript requests or offers of representation?
Yes to both.