Review of the year

A few times this year I’ve mentioned things I’ve been about to do, but not followed up with the results, so here’s my review of what I’ve been up to in 2019.

This year I…

Submitted my novel to 11 agents. Of those there are 2 I’m still waiting to hear from. The rest either politely declined or didn’t reply.

This year I…

Came 2nd in a local pitching competition. One of the judges was very keen to work with me. On closer inspection I decided it wasn’t for me. She runs a consultancy / publishing company that provides various services for self publishing (editing, proofing, cover atr, marketing etc). However, these services would cost me (they are a business, after all), and as I want to pursue the traditional publishing route, it didn’t align with my goals.

So, while it was nice to come 2nd (always the bridesmaid!) and have someone so enthusiastic about my work, it didn’t accomplish much else. Oh – except that it didn’t cost me anything and it did give me the opportunity to pitch my novel in front of an audience, which was what I wanted to get out of the experience.

This year I…

Applied for Writementor.

What is it?

Specific to writers of children’s and Young Adult books, a number of authors volunteer to mentor an as yet unpublished writer over the summer; either working on the whole MS or their submission package. Successful mentees then get to take part in an ‘agents showcase’.

I was shortlisted by 2 mentors (you get to submit to 3), but unfortunately didn’t get to be their final choice. (Once again; always the bridesmaid!)

This year I…

Took part in a pitching workshop.

This was in preparation for the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Agent’s Party (which I’ll mention in a bit.)

It was a 2 hour workshop in London, which for me also meant 3 hours travel each way.

Was it worthwhile? Yes… and no.

It was a great opportunity to receive advice and guidance from people with experience in the pitching process. It was also good to meet other SCBWI members and practice pitching to them (and learning from listening to theirs too).

But it was a long way to go for it. If you live nearby, then yes, definitely value for money and worthwhile. While I don’t regret having taken part, I wouldn’t do it again.

This year I…

Attended the SCBWI Agents Party.

An author event specific to SCBWI members. The first part of the evening involved 2 panel discussions by agents. In the second half of the evening, those agents were set up at tables around the room and everybody had the opportunity to pitch to at least 2 of them.

Again, this was in London and involved long hours of travel and a hotel for me. This time I thought that worthwhile. A number of people expressed surprise at how far I’d come, but I figure that if you’re serious about something, you put in the mileage when it matters.

However, I noticed that it’s a different kind of event depending on your proximity. If you live closer, you’re more likely to go out of curiosity; some people didn’t want to pitch, just to observe or network.

What do you get out of pitching like this?

As far as I can tell, from the agent’s angle it costs very little to say, ‘sure, send in your submission.’ From your point of view, it may get you a little higher up the slush pile as you can say, ‘Oh, I met you at x event,’ but ultimately it still comes down to your submission package. (Unless you have the best pitch ever and a glowing personailty, but even – hopefully – that won’t help if your writing sucks.)

So, yes. Worthwhile, but once (for me) is enough. I want an agent before the next one, and if it hasn’t worked this time, why would it work next time?

This year I…

Had a 121 with an agent.

This is an opportunity that crops up at festivals and conferences. Again, great if you can afford the travel and the tickets. This opportunity arose through Writementor, who hosted an online conference this year, with workshops, talks etc all online. Fantastic for those people who can’t make it to the real world events.

Yes, it costs money, but not a fortune. The agent received the first 20 pages of my MS ahead of time and I then had a 10 minute skype session with her to talk about it. It was incredibly useful. I got great feedback, with really positive comments on my writing, and I don’t feel that there would have been any reason or point in her being anything but homest, which is immensely cheering.

I have since submitted formally to her and she requested the whole MS, but I haven’t heard anything further. Sod’s law now dictates that I’ll get a rejection in the next 48 hours, but even so, I’d hope that given the connection so far, I’d get a solid reason as to why.

(Well, I’ll let you know on that one anyhow).

And finally, this year I…

Went on a writing retreat!

It’s one of those things I’d wanted to do ever since I learned it was a thing!

It was great. No matter how much I’d worried about justifying the expense. How guilty I felt in leaving my husband to sort out the kids for a week. It was worth it. (Besides, he’d balanced that out with a ski trip!) It was worth it for that week of clear headspace to just think about writing and to forge bonds with other writers. If you get the chance – just do it.

That’s it from me on the blog for this year. Have a fantastic Christmas and all the best for the New Year 🙂

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10 Responses to Review of the year

  1. You’ll make a beautiful bride someday. It’ll happen.

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  2. Juneta says:

    What a great year for you. Forward Ho… Happy Holidays going into 2020 and an even more productive year with a few dreams coming true I hope for you!

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  3. Some opportunities to do things that now you know were or were not worth it. Next year will be even better.
    Merry Christmas!

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  4. Loni Townsend says:

    Sorry you ended up always the bridesmaid, but woot for getting to do all the stuff and determining the value for yourself! Man, that writing retreat sounds awesome. Maybe I’ll hint to my husband that I want to do that sometime.

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  5. emaginette says:

    I think you accomplished a lot in 2019. Next year will be even better.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  6. Victoria Marie Lees says:

    Seriously, Angela, this is wonderful news! Bravo to you for submitting, attending, pitching, and otherwise moving forward in your writing career. May you be blessed with much success in 2020! http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com/

    Like

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