Successful French PB writer seeks English agent - help?

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Jan 21, 2009
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Er, this is a bit complicated. I'll try to be brief.

A friend of mine (in homage to Andy Stanton I'll call her Mungo Bubbles) is a French-speaking writer of picture books for children aged 3+. Her work has been translated into 11 languages, and she's a bestselling author in her category.


- she has no agent at all,
- her work has never been published in English, and
- surprise surprise, she has the contract from hell.

Her (French) publishers are not interested in finding English-language publishers for her; they say, no doubt truthfully, that the market is saturated. She, on the other hand, would really like to give it a try, if only to maximise her pitifully meagre royalties.

Now, Mungo doesn't speak that much English, so she has asked me to look into English language agents and publishers for her. She was very enamoured of my translation of one of her books, and now wants to "adopt" me as her translator for English. I, however, am not in any sense A Translator, and have no publishing history whatsoever.

Needless to say, the first thing we need to do is take her contract to a good lawyer and find out just what she can and can't do without her publisher. But having done that, and assuming that Mungo has the right to seek an agent abroad at least for previously unpublished work, what's next?

- Ms Bubbles is a bestselling author already, so finding a good agent should be easy, right? Right?
- Should I query agents on her behalf?
- Should I present myself as her translator, or should I present my translation as a "sample"?
- Can she expect to keep her illustrator, with whom she already has a well-established working relationship?
- Further down the line, how do royalties normally work when there's a translator involved?
- I'm overlooking something important, aren't I?
- Er, help?


Super Member
Apr 12, 2007
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I have absolutely no idea how to answer any of these questions....

I do have two suggestions, however (besides contacting a good lawyer, of course):

1) Post this question on Jennifer Laughran's Ask the Agent thread. Since she is an agent, she might have some experience with this situation.

find the thread here: Jennifer Laughran

2) The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is an international organization. Your friend should be able to contact representatives in France who could give her some guidance.

that website is here:

I do not believe most agents would be willing to take queries from someone who is only representing the author. But I could be wrong about that, so don't get discouraged until you've researched further.


Apr 9, 2008
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You might want to try Verla Kay's, too. I'd ask if there are any French-speaking agents that anyone knows about. This would solve the language barrier issue.

If you were really having difficulty, you could try looking at French Canadian authors and see who reps them. Good luck!

Elizabeth George's book Write Away