Submission Critique Service

stand-out-in-the-slush-pileStand out in the pile.

     Book Bound offers a Submission Critique Service for £325. This will be headed up by author and editor Jasmine Richards and includes:

  • A query letter edit. We’ll edit your query letter to make it as compelling and honed as possible. Having seen hundreds of query letters we know what agents and editors are looking for and which elements may put them off. We will help you write a letter that will hook the reader and you’ll also receive material to keep that will help you write future submission materials more effectively.
  • A synopsis edit. Does your synopsis feel flat? Does it ramble? We’ve written hundreds of blurbs for books and helped many writers improve their synopses over the years. We have also written synopses for our own books that have resulted in multiple book deals. We can help you structure, shape and polish your synopsis to give you the best chance of being asked for the full manuscript. With our help, you will produce a one-page synopsis that will entice agents and editors alike.
  • Feedback on your opening, up to three thousand wordsWe’ll read your opening and offer honest but constructive feedback so that you can refine those first pages and make them even more effective and engaging.

You’ve worked hard on your manuscript. Don’t let yourself down with a mediocre submission package. Book Bound will work with you over two rounds of edits to get your synopsis and query letter to be as strong as they can be.

If interested please e mail with Submission Critique Service in the subject line.

Book Bound Retreat 2016

agents book bound

We’ve just about recovered from our second Book Bound Writers’ Retreat. And what a weekend retreat it was! With an amazing group of talented children’s authors, back-to-back teaching sessions, five literary agents, one key note speaker in the shape of Sarah Odedina of Pushkin Press and countless yummy puddings, we had everything we needed to send our new friends away full of inspiration.

And that’s before we’ve even stopped to consider the Kent location, a mere 45 minutes from London…

oxham hoath

From first chapter breakdown through to honed pitch to agents, we aim to provide as comprehensive an overview as possible. What remains Book Bound’s strength is the friendship between the organisers, which informs the mood of the entire weekend, and our unique range of experience as both children’s authors and publishers. If you want a 360 degree view of the industry, you’ve come to the right place. Just ask this year’s attendees…

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There will be more Book Bound day events coming up and, of course, another writers’ retreat – so watch this space.

Did you attend the Book Bound Writers’ Retreat? Let us know how it was for you!

Book Bound Attendees

Photo courtesy of Melissa Valente


Tips And Links For Inspiration

writing inspiration

Where do you find your inspiration to write fiction? As this summer’s Book Bound Writers’ Retreat hoves into view, we thought we’d take a moment to shine a spotlight on some of the most unexpected sources of inspiration.

Walk It Out 

walking in london

Or knit, or cycle, colour in or do yoga…Have you ever sat in front of a laptop, beating your brow against the desk, wringing your hands as you wait for inspiration to strike? Don’t. Go for a walk instead. Your knotty plot problem will magically ease itself undone as you clock up the miles. Enjoy any activity that is meditative* and allows your mind to empty.

* We have just such an activity on our retreat, and it’s one of our most popular sessions. 

The Real World

vogue books

I often turn to non-fiction books when I’m looking for inspiration for a novel or short story. In fact, the best non-fiction references are usually children’s books – short, succinct, highly illustrated and accessible.

An alternative to this are the real-life stories that flood our brains on a daily basis. Whenever a news article piques my interest, I bookmark it. If it makes me smile, I email it to myself. And if it has a killer headline, I’m always tempted to share it on Facebook with a status update of, ‘Someone HAS to turn this into a novel!’

Maybe that someone should be you…

Other People’s Books


The more you read, the better you write. It really is that simple. There’s no shame in hoovering up other people’s novels, pausing to analyse what works, highlighting phrases that make your heart sing. That next beautiful sentence could be yours, if you do your homework. Just read.


Book Bound Writers Retreat

Get out there and meet people. The more you can connect, the more connection you’ll have with your writing. We recommend SCBWI, London Book Fair, Byte The Book and – of course! – the Book Bound Writers Retreat. You can also subscribe to publishing news via The Bookseller and Book Brunch.

And here are some web links

Looking for more lateral creative inspiration? We really recommend these sites:

If you are looking for both exercise and inspiring history, join Ken on a guided walking tours of London. This is the most research (and fun!) you can cram into an afternoon, if you aspire to be the next Hilary Mantel.

This is our favourite yoga Youtuber and this is our favourite yoga Instagram person. You can’t ask for more inspiration to get moving and, ultimately, get writing.

Good Reads is a great tool for finding books that other people love and want to recommend. One day, someone might recommend yours.

Do you have any tips and links to recommend?

Quick! There are just a few places left on our next writers’ retreat. You can go here to snap up a place, 17-19 June. 

Love is the Answer

— Written by Sara Grant

chasing danger cover_finalHow do you know what to write? What ideas will work?

The first book in my new, middle-grade series Chasing Danger will be published by Scholastic on 7th April. This is a series I’ve wanted to write since I was eight years old    and stayed up late to sneakily watch Charlie’s Angels (the TV show). I’ve been tinkering with this idea for years. How could I put my own spin on an action-adventure series? My answer was to write what I love.

Why was I so obsessed with Charlie’s Angels when I was young? I had the Charlie’s Angel’s action figures, board game, and radio. I still have my complete collection of Charlie’s Angels trading cards. And – perhaps, I shouldn’t admit this – but, yes, I was even a member of the Cheryl Ladd fan club. (Cheryl played Kris Munroe, my favourite Angel.)

For me, the heart of the show was girl power, mysteries and friendship. Three women –Charlie's Angels Logo which was very unusual in the 1970s – caught the bad guys and looked fab doing it. (I’ll admit I practiced running in high heels – like the Angels did in almost every episode – with disastrous results.)

I also love to travel. The first book in the Chasing Danger series sprang from my trip to the Maldives a few years ago. While my husband sunned himself and read a series of books, I plotted and planned mayhem. I envisioned and then pitched Chasing Danger as Die Hard – one of my all-time favourite action movies – on a desert island.

I’m currently writing the second book in the series which is Mystery at the Ice Hotel. Yep, while at this amazing winter wonderland, I was imagining snowmobile chases and dead bodies in blocks of ice.

I’ve loved every single minute of writing this series. I hope that because I’ve had a blast writing it, readers will have a blast reading it.

As writers we can get swept away with book trends, what we should write, what someone convinces us might sell, stories that fill a gap in the market, and on and on…

My advice to you is: Write what you love!

If ever you are working on a draft – maybe you are writing chapter seven or reading the thirteenth draft – and you yawn, stop writing. If you dread sitting down at the computer and working on your story, that’s a bad sign. If you can’t wait to finish this draft because you want to work on something else, by all means switch projects. If you aren’t excited by writing your story, how can you expect readers to be excited about reading it?

Now I don’t mean if you are struggling to solve a plot problem or tame an unruly character. Writing can be difficult. Revision can be endless. But if you are bored then figure out how to interject a spark into your story or set it aside.

I’ve read Chasing Danger so many times I could probably quote the opening word-for-word by heart. But every single time I get to ‘the end’, I feel a thrill. I’m satisfied and overwhelmed – every single time. Are you in love with your current work-in-progress? Or if you are still searching for the right idea, why not make a list of books, TV shows, and films that you loved as a child or teen? Analyse the list. What made you love those stories? How can you give your reader that same experience?

Why Are Book Titles Important?

By Jasmine

There are many factors that will influence whether or not you get a book deal [including a good bit of luck that your book will land on the right desk at the right time].

Without a doubt, the most important factor is telling a compelling story as well as you possibly can but there is also a need to think about whether you are giving your book its best chance to be noticed with the title you have chosen.

Your book title is your calling card.  In a sea of submissions on an editor’s or agent’s desk it can help you stand out.

sub pile

It is surprising then how often I see titles that perhaps seem a little flat or generic—or maybe haven’t had as much thought put into them as might be expected.

Sometimes, you might luck out and the title will come to you easily—a sweet gift that completely encapsulates what it is you’re trying to do.

A good example of this is my second novel Oliver Twisted written under my pen name J.D Sharpe. This title gives the reader a really clear steer as to what the story might be about, it’s memorable and easy to say. All really important.

Oliver twisted cover

Other titles are harder won but it is worth spending the time thinking about what makes your title intriguing and standout. And don’t operate alone! It can be really useful to talk to others. As an editor, I’ve helped many authors come up with titles for their books and sometimes I think it is the fact that I’m a further away from the text than the author that aids this title generation.

I should say at this point that in the publishing process titles are not a fixed thing. Your publisher may well have strong feelings about what type of title might work in the market and as an author it makes sense to listen to that market knowledge.

However, if you are mindful of the importance of the title from the get go—it will undoubtedly help the process and make the whole experience a little bit less stressful.

I’ve asked some others in the industry for their opinions on the importance of book titles. sarah_davies1Sarah Davis of The Greenhouse Literary Agency says that, ‘As an agent, I encounter thousands of titles every year. Some sing powerfully from the query, making me desperate to read the manuscript and predisposed to like it. Others put me off so strongly that it’s a struggle to feel motivated. I’ve seen manuscripts practically sell themselves based on title alone, so I know the power of a great one at all stages of the process, from initial query right through to which book a reader selects off the shelf. Your title is your showcase to the world, so make sure it is enticing, original, and has strong appeal to your target market.’

download elv moodyElv Moody, Publisher at Oxford University Press Children’s Books agrees, ‘It’s not over-stating the case to say that a title can make or break a book. A great title is a huge asset, but it’s also part of the positioning process and a publisher will very often want a change to ensure it’s appealing to the book’s strongest market. I’m in the middle of acquiring a project at the moment, and, not for the first time, I’ll need to sound out the author on whether they’re prepared to change its title – and if they’re not, the book’s success looks much more uncertain. Coming up with the right title can almost be the hardest part of writing the book, but it’s also a useful check. If you can’t work out what it should be called, do you really know what kind of book it is, and who it’s for?’

What is clear then is that titles are incredibly important but perhaps even more important is really understanding what your story is about. That might be the key to finding a title that will stand out from the crowd.

Interested in attending a title workshop for £10? Click here to find out more.




Helsinki Bus Station Theory

(Posted by Sara O’Connor)

I love the idea of this theory, but wonder if it’s true.

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I know that there is such a lot of talent out there, and I feel strongly that very often the reason writers aren’t finding success is down to the ideas they spend their on.

When I read this article, part of me shouted, “Yes!” I can see how following this theory could lead people to that place of originality, to finding the idea that makes everyone sit up and say, “Wow, that’s different!” It just makes sense to me that spending the time – a lot of time – on one thing could change the way you see it so much that your ideas will capture the elusive attention of the masses.

But in the past, I’ve often told people to try new things, to not be stuck in the same genre, the same age range. And I still feel that is true, too. Variety could help you find the thing that really clicks with you.

But what if switching is an easy way out? After all, you loved that area of writing enough to write a whole book in it. I’m so torn.

So, go and read the article and tell me what you think below!

Top Five Reasons To Write In January

Grey days, dark nights, dry January – urgh. This is the month after Christmas festivities that can seem relentless and totally uninspiring as we wait for the days to grow longer and for Spring to send out its tendrils of hope and light.

This should be a really bad time to be writing. Right? Wrong. Here are our top five reasons why January is the writer’s friend.

You’re Skint

You’ve spent all your money on presents and Baileys and pay day is still a long way off. How to entertain yourself? Writing is free. Knuckle down to a first draft and be grateful that there’s no compound interest on a word count.

You Hate Other People

A festive period spent in the company of close family and friends can leave you with a strong desire never to have another conversation with another person ever again. Channel your inner grump and shut yourself away at your desk. If anyone dares to knock on the door and offer you a cup of tea, swear viciously at them for interrupting your creative flow. Dickens never had to put up with this.

Healthy Living Stinks

This is the month when we’re all encouraged to go on diets and visit the gym. Don’t be brainwashed. Sit at your desk, plump up the cushions, buy an extra tin of biscuits and set to on that last chapter. Celery may be calorie negative, but how many authors ever thanked a vegetable on the acknowledgments page?

The Weather’s Foul

Cold snaps are sent for a reason; to keep you at your desk. Mother Nature is encouraging you to write a scene that involves some dramatic pathetic fallacy. Or a short spell of rain.

Short Days

Short winter days can be much more productive than long summer evenings. Summer is notoriously disastrous for creativity and the scourge of productivity. There’s a sudden urge to lounge on a picnic blanket, drinking Pimms. So enjoy these short, barren evenings  when there’s nothing left to do but write by the light of a sputtering candle.

This can also be the month when you put plans into action. You could do worse than apply for a place on the 2016 Book Bound writers retreat. We might even supply a tin of biscuits…

What are your tips for January productivity?