0

The inside word from Penguin, Random and Panterra

Saturday was the highlight of the Southerland Shire Writers calendar with the Writers Unleashed Festival providing the opportunity to hear from editors from various publishing houses. The event concluded with the Editor panel where we heard from:

  • Heather Curdie, Children’s at Penguin.
  • Beverley Cousins Adult Fiction Random House.
  • Zoe Walton, Children’s at Random House, and
  • James Read YA and Adult, Pantera Press.

Heather highlighted her tips and recommendations for manuscript submissions. She said that first and foremost she comes to a manuscript as a reader, looking to be engaged and entertained. She follows no firm rules and tries to clear her mind of preconceived ideas. But what it must have is;

  • Quality writing
  • A great voice (must be distinctive and original)
  • Great characterisation (characters must come to life on the page)
  • Compelling plot
  • Engaging first few chapters (for children’s books this is so important, they won’t persevere if they are not pulled into the story in the first couple of chapters)
  • A really satisfying conclusion

She’s currently looking for: Contemporary YA with a strong male protagonist & High quality stand alone Junior Fiction, that’s fun and intelligent.

Beverley spoke about what makes a manuscript publishable.

Things that are taken into consideration when looking at a manuscript they like;

  • Balance of the list – do they need more or less historical fiction at that time, do they already have too many rural fiction pieces on the list etc.
  • Profit potential – is the book commercially viable
  • Publishability of the book.

It is a difficult balance because each book is a work of art, but it needs to make a profit. So there is no easy answer.

She looks for Quality;

  • Well written
  • Compelling story
  • Ability to reach a wide audience

For commercial fiction, here is her advice:

  • Plot is key
  • They like a novel that promotes debate
  • The author has a clear idea of what the novel is about and it is something that a large number of people would want to read about.
  • Don’t go overboard describing everything you have researched.
  • Don’t overload with stage management.
  • Don’t over explain characters emotions.
  • Everything on the page should have a reason for being there and drive the story forward.
  • Make sure it is well edited before submitting.

Zoe used examples of books that they have recently published to highlight what they look for.

Starting with her best selling Rangers Apprentice series. She noted that whilst it was not an original concept John brought a really great sense of humour to his writing which kids love. He uses fantasy without magic which is unusual and makes his characters have to work hard for their success.

Next she looked at Alice Miranda. She said it is Jacqueline that makes these books special, she really understands and engages with her fans, and she works really hard for her books.

Lulu Bell was next, of Belinda she said that she really knows her market and knows what appeals to her readers. She is a great example of write what you know. Belinda’s dad is a vet and so is Lulu Bell’s in her stories.

Samuri verses Ninja, Here the title says it all. It is a high concept book with wide appeal.

Moving on to her Young Adult books she said that what makes a story stand out from the crowd is an original voice.

Are You Seeing Me? She couldn’t stop thinking about the characters in the story after she’d read it, which compelled her to acquire it.

 

James said that Pantera are a boutique press and they like to take on debut authors and nurture them, their writing and their careers. They are VERY unique in the publishing industry in that they pride themselves on a fast turnaround time. Getting back to authors within 3 weeks. Yes 3 weeks!!!! But you do need to follow their submission guidelines very closely.

They consider all types of fiction from Young Adult upwards and they are currently looking for commercial womans fiction. Ideally the next The Devil Wears Prada. Their submission guidelines are on their website https://www.panterapress.com.au/submit-your-manuscript

 

 

 

8

Signed, Sealed and so excited!

Finally I can announce my exciting news!

I have been offered and accepted a publishing contract for a five book picture book series with Allen & Unwin. It is a dream come true. I couldn’t be happier and I couldn’t have found a more passionate, consultative or engaged publisher for this series. I am beyond excited. I can’t say much about the series, other than that it is aimed at 1-5 year olds and at this stage we are hoping to release all five books at the same time. I will be able to give you more details closer to the release date.

But for now I have taken down the affirmation poster that has been on the door of my tea cupboard for the last two years!

affirmation poster

Because I have indeed just signed A Great Publishing Deal!  I’m still pinching myself.  I wanted to share my news with all of the friends, old and new, that have supported me along the way. And I wanted to say a huge thank you, particularly to my critique group, Picture This, for your invaluable help and insight, to my family for your belief and support and to my agent Alex Adsett for helping to pull everything together and coach me through a nerve wracking decision process.  Yippeee!!!

 

0

Bringing Characters to Life

On Saturday I attended the 8th annual Shire Writers’ Festival. It was a great event with some truly inspiring speakers.

PM Newton spoke on ‘Writing is Re-writing’. The two take aways for me from this session were:

Make sure any extra characters in the book have a ‘real’ place and know them well. They shouldn’t just be there as devices to move the plot along.

and

In scenes ‘In late and out early,’ Think about what is important in the scene, what is the turning point and keep it tight around that point.

Jaclyn Moriarty spoke on ‘Create that Character.’ She gave us a fascinating insight into Isaac newton’s character. The big take aways were:

Unmask characters gradually, piece by piece, so that the reader gets to know them gradually in the same way that we would get to know someone in real life.

and

Give characters secrets, things that the world doesn’t know about them. Aspects of the characters childhood can really bring authenticity to a character, as can describing a characters bedroom furnishings or house.

Kylie Fornasier spoke on ‘History to the Page.’ The take away from this session, was that historical fiction requires a huge amount of research, but at some point you have to stop reading and start writing. It was also interesting to learn that all libraries can do inter-library loans, so you can get your library to order a book for you from any library in Australia – Good to know, Thanks Kylie!!

1

Writers Unleashed

On Saturday I attended the Writers Unleashed Festival in Sutherland Shire. It was a fantastic festival, providing the opportunity to hear from some very talented writers, including the hilarious James Roy, Suzanne Gervay, Emma Quay and Libby Gleeson.

We also heard from a panel of publishers on what’s hot and what’s not right now in the world of children’s literature. In Middle Grade fiction and in YA it is smart, stand alone fiction, for strong readers, with a unique voice, strong characters and a funny or clever edge that is exciting publishers right now. Particularly contemporary fiction with strong friendship themes, and of course a bit of romance never goes a miss. (Sounds just like my novel!! ;))

What made this festival really special, however, was that I was able to share it with many of my writers group, Picture This, pictured at the festival below. It is wonderful to be a part of such a talented and supportive group!

Picture This at Writers Unleashed

1

My Words in Print

A couple of months ago I received the wonderful news that a short story I had written, Troubled Tess, had been accepted for the October edition of Positive Words magazine. Tempted as I was I didn’t mention it on here, with the world of writing the way it is, speaking publicly about something before it has gone to print is always a very dicey thing to do. However yesterday a bundle of 3 Positive Words magazines arrived on my door step. Whilst I would have loved to have read it cover to cover and stumbled across my story, I couldn’t wait that long so went straight for the index page, and found myself and Tess, on page 14. It was a lovely moment seeing my own words there on the page. I subsequently enjoyed the rest of the magazine. If you’d like a copy, head to http://positivewordsmagazine.wordpress.com/information/