Of course there are no foregone conclusions in this unpredictable and sometimes unfathomable world you’ve chosen to work – especially since you are up against some stiff competition from entries by your fellow Scoobies. Also, your story has already had a whole bunch of rejections from agents, so that you are very close to consigning it to the Bottom Drawer of Not-Likely-To-Be-Published Doom. But, nothing ventured, as they say ...
And I’m so glad I did – venture to enter that is. Because since that moment, back in October last year, of sticking my ten words* up on the competition board, events have taken a completely unexpected but brilliant turn.
Your story has already had a whole bunch of rejections from agents, so that you are very close to consigning it to the Bottom Drawer of Not-Likely-To-Be-Published Doom....
They started with the news that Barry Cunningham, Publisher and Managing Director of Chicken House Publishing Ltd – and ‘the man who discovered JK Rowling’ – had picked my entry as the winner and would read 2,000 words of my story – an historical middle grade adventure – and give me feedback on it.
After the conference, the fab folk at SCBWI ‘head office’ put me in touch with Barry and we agreed I would send him my favourite bit from the middle of my story. I also, rather cheekily, sent him a synopsis so he’d know how it all fitted together. I was delighted that I was going to receive some comments and perhaps some advice back from him; but I was over the moon when he contacted me after reading it and said he’d like to read the whole thing.
After some last-minute polishing, I sent my manuscript off to him in late November and spent a nail-biting few weeks waiting to hear.
|Waiting to hear about the manuscript|
We writers must always keep the faith. If you love your story, never give up on it, no matter what.
But that all changed when after an initial chat round a ginormous old table in a room which looked suspiciously like Dumbledore’s study, Barry told me they’d like to publish my story. If I’d been over the moon before, I was now heading on warp drive into another galaxy entirely – especially when the offer came through from Barry the next day for a two-book deal!
Four months later, one set of edits down and a meeting with the lovely ladies from the Chicken House publicity team completed, I still haven’t quite beamed back down to earth.
|Bonfire Night in Lewes, Sussex, commemorates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot|
But, two things from my travels through space I do know to be true:
1) We writers must always keep the faith. If you love your story, never give up on it, no matter what.
2) Embrace your inner Scooby! I have been a member of this great organisation ever since I started on the road to writing for children back in 2009. Through the fantastic events it organises and the resources it provides, and with the help of the many friends I have made since becoming a member, I have received a whole bunch of encouragement, support, advice – and, quite unexpectedly, and with a bit of help from Barry and the Chicken House crew, I have won my very own version of Charlie Bucket’s shiny golden ticket.
Thank you SCBWI and may you live long and prosper!
*And the lucky ten words were: ‘Boy must join Gunpowder Plot to save father from hanging.’
Alison Smith works as a freelance PR and communications professional for part of her week. For the rest of it she is to be found in the guise of her alter ego, Ally Sherrick, conjuring up and scribbling down ideas for middle grade and picture book stories. Black Powder, her debut historical novel for readers of 10+, will be published by Chicken House in August 2016.
Alison is also the joint volunteer organiser, with Cath Jones, of the SCBWI Masterclass Series.