Lindsay Davis Auld is an agent at Writers House and is actively building her list. She represents children’s lit, from board books through YA (see here for more details). She taught fourth grade and worked for Harcourt Children’s Books prior to joining Writers House as Steven Malk’s assistant. She calls two countries home and is open to international clients. (And Ben and Jerry, if you’re reading this, please, make her ice cream flavor idea.)
Thank you, Lindsay, for your time!
You worked at Writers House with Steven Malk a few years ago and launched several successful books before taking time off to move to England and start your family. Now that you’re agenting again, have you changed how you approach your job, or what you look for in a manuscript?
Yes, it’s been quite an adventure. In a lot of ways, though, I’d say that, even though I’ve certainly learned a great deal from having children and spending lots of time in bookstores in England, I think I’ll always look for the same qualities in a manuscript: an authentic voice, characters that feel real, a world that fascinates me, and a story I can’t put down.
What path led you to agenting? Have you always wanted to work in publishing? What would you do if you weren’t agenting?
After college, I taught fourth grade as a member of Teach for America, and I loved reading with my class and trying to find the right book for each child. It made me realize that I’d like to be a part of bringing children’s and YA books into the world. My first job in publishing was at Harcourt Children’s Books. I then joined Writers House as Steven Malk’s assistant, and eventually began building my own list of authors and artists. Steve has always been an amazing mentor, and I feel incredibly lucky to have learned so much from him, and to have now re-joined Writers House.
I have no idea what I’d be doing if I weren’t agenting. Something to do with stories, I would imagine, as I tend to seek out libraries and bookstores wherever I am, just because I like to be around books.
You and I have a similar situation—we sort of live between two countries. Do you work both in the US and in England? Are you open to international clients?
That’s so interesting that you live between two countries too. Yes, I divide my time between the US and the UK, and I receive queries from all over the world. I’m definitely open to international clients.
If you wanted to write a book, and could pick any place in the world to write from, where would it be?
Somewhere warm and near the seaside. I grew up in San Diego and my favorite places always tend to be by the ocean.
What do you do in your down time that has nothing to do with agenting?
I love spending time with my family, running, taking photographs, watching episodes of Stranger Things, playing retro board games and drinking hot chocolate on rainy days.
If you could create your own flavor of ice cream, what would it have in it, and what would you name it?
I’ve always been a fan of s’mores and salted caramel, so maybe a mix of those two. I would imagine that could be a bit sticky though! In terms of a name, perhaps ‘Caramel Campfire’?
(I’m interrupting this interview to bring you all a public service announcement: I’ve been obsessing over this part, and I actually found a recipe for Caramel Campfire S’mores. It’s not ice cream, but I’ll take it for now.)
Do you consider yourself a cat, dog, horse, fish, hamster or pet rock kind of person? Do you like animal protagonists in picture books? What about MG?
I’d say I’m a ‘cat, dog, and horse’ person. I always wanted to have a horse when I was little, but my parents weren’t so into the idea. I did grow up with cats and a dog, though—and I now have a sweet Labrador named Ruby.
In terms of animal protagonists in books, there are so many picture books and middle grade novels with animal protagonists that I love: Olivia, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Owen, Charlotte’s Web, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Redwall, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Tale of Despereaux, Pax and The Incredible Journey are some of my favorites. As with anything, it’s all in the way it’s done, but I’d certainly be happy to receive submissions with animal protagonists.
You are open to picture books through YA. Does that include board books, chapter books, and graphic novels?
Do you have a classic MG novel that speaks to you today?
I’ve always adored middle grade novels, and I would say all the books I loved as a child still speak to me today. I read Anne of Green Gables about a million times growing up, and I’d still happily open up my tattered copy of it and re-enter that world today. There are so many lines from Matilda that still ring true for me, and The Westing Game will always be a favorite.
How do your submissions generally fall out—do you get more PB submissions than MG, or more YA, etc.?
Lately, I’ve received more PB and YA submissions, but I’d be happy to see more MG!
Across all age groups, what do you wish would land in your slush right now?
I’d love to see more illustrated MG submissions, and books from diverse or underrepresented authors. I’m also always looking for a great mystery and I tend to like humorous books that have a bit of a classic feel.
Are you open to submissions? If so, how can people reach you?
Yes! I accept email submissions at: firstname.lastname@example.org Writers can send a query along with the first 10-15 pages of the manuscript. For picture books, the full manuscript or dummy can be included in the email.
Thank you, Lindsay!
For more information, visit Publisher’s Marketplace: https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/LindsayDavisAuld/?_ga=2.161688124.128703747.1541486341-605363630.1537949627