I’ve been looking through my ideas file for the next thing I want to work on, and found something I want to share with you, especially if you are an unpublished writer feeling like it’s never going to happen.
It’s from 2010, the early days of Facebook and it mattered to me so much, I screenshot the thread and saved it.
Kathryn Evans would like to feel a little more positive about the possibility of ever getting a book deal but, shall instead, be grateful for what she’s got. Honest.
I hope the lovely people who replied don’t mind me sharing their responses, here are a few of them – I’ve redacted their names just in case!
Group ‘grrrr’ much appreciated and thanks guys……it was something Cxx said about 3 out of 300 subs from agents being accepted by an editor last year… from agents…..I know the talent level out there is phenomenal – which IS great for children’s literature but, but, but….
The book I spent 19 months writing has had 7 rejections to date so I can sympathise Kathryn. Every reason under the sun given from – it’s got a boy as the main protagonist (God forbid!) to – it’s too issue driven and not my usual light comedy. It does start to get me down sometimes but as you say, it’s important to be grateful for the royalties that keep my affloat while I’m waiting! Keep smiling. 🙂
I wish I could make you feel better but I can’t, except perhaps to say, I’m sure it will happen and I love Shem and when it does happen I want a signed copy and an interview for my blog and an invite to the book publication party and… well, here’s a virtual hug in the mean time (( xx ))
You’ll get there, Kathryn! It’s just taking longer for everyone’s manuscripts to find a home. So many editors have lost their jobs that it’s making them gun shy. But they still need books to publish… 🙂
You will get there. You ARE getting there. Me too and we shall each have our books in stores at the same time! I shall see your titles and you shall see mine. We shall each have little endcaps. Pact? Intend it, baby!
oh I know i can’t say anything knowledgeable about publishing (except there are some mad ones out there because Dylan and Mouse hasn’t been published yet) but….as soon as it happens, I’ll be first in the queue at Waterstones!!xx
Kathy. “Hi!” Just logged on for the first time today. The editor Cxx is referring to is, I believe, J-H-W and I’ve no reason to doubt her if she claims that she only went for 3 out of the 300 agency-submitted manuscripts… but if every editor chooses a different 3 out of 300, what’s to say that one of your manuscripts won’t be one of them? You have talent. You have an agent and you have perseverance. A winning combination, I reckon.
oh but i think your writing does stand out. it’s just a matter of finding the right editor … i think getting that yes isn’t like a love-in, the editor has to fall head over heels for all the right reasons. i know people who are disappointed with their writing life because they are taken on for the wrong reasons (eg commercial ideas, exploitable). i have to say though that i felt exactly like you did last year.
I shall print these comments off and stick them to the inside of my brain x
I did print them off, and they kept me going until the right manuscript, and my super agent, Sophie Hicks, cracked it.
More of Me was published in 2016, my next novel comes out early next year – I’m still not supposed to talk about it but it won’t hurt to tell you that Shem, one of the characters mentioned above, lives again – different story, same boy. Nothing is ever wasted – which is why I’m going back through my old files and why you, if you are still trying to break through, should keep going.
Lean on your friends, join a writer’s group, if you’re a children’s book writer or illustrator join SCBWI, try and bump over the disappointments and revel in the highs. I’ve said it so many times but if you are a writer, you have no choice so you might as well get on with it and try and enjoy the ride. Your pals will help. They really will.
In which I nearly miss the most exciting event of my writing life.
Last year I was invited to take part in Edinburgh International Book Festival. I was very over excited – it was my first major event as a published author and I had a hard job believing I was actual there….
In my actual life.
Jo Cotterill held my hand and we put on a pretty good show. We laughed a lot. AND THEN…
You’d think I’d have calmed down a bit after a year wouldn’t you? Well…non. I was even more excited because I knew how much fun I was going to have. I had two events planned, and it was my turn to hold the hand of a new girl – a real honour that was too because I loved Penny Joelson’s unusual debut, I Have No Secrets. But firstly…firstly I was on a panel discussing gender in books and toys, hosted by South East Scotland SCWBI co-ordinators Sarah Broadley and Anita Gallo. And on the panel with me….
JONATHAN STROUD AND DAVID LEVITHAN.
I nearly wee’d myself when I found out.
I am so not cool, but it’s true.
I devoured Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood series and David Levithan wrote one of my all time EVER favorite books, Everyday. And I was on a panel. With them both.
The big day arrived – I had a comfortable six hours between arriving in Scotland and going on stage. So comfortable I planned to see Tanya Landman and Laura Dockrill’s event before my own. I arrived at the airport super early, paranoid, as ever, about being late, and checked in my bag (too big for the cabin because it’s full of ridiculous petticoats) – then I settled down with a cup of tea and my laptop and wondered if it’s okay to take a picture of the large number of armed police eating cake in Costa.
I wrote a bit, tweeted a bit and then looked up at the departures board. I blinked. I couldn’t be reading the board right. My flight was delayed by three hours. THREE HOURS. I hurried to the harassed looking woman on the desk – could I get on a different flight? No – because I’d checked in a bag.
Oh My Actual….AAAARGH!!!!
Three hours. I had no choice, I had to calm down and wait- it still left me a cushion of three hours. We’d be boarding at 2.55. It would be fine. I rang the wonderful Roxburghe Hotel where the fabulous James organised a meet and greet taxi for me. I let the festival know I was running late but I would be there. I repeated, it would be fine. Fine. 2.55 came….and went. With no further information at all. The tiny airport was crammed with people from other delayed flights. I returned to the harassed airport staff to ask what was happening with my flight. The woman looked at me like I’d spat in her tea and said,
“It’s been delayed.”
“I know that, but can you give me any idea when it will be taking off, I have a really important event I need to get to.”
“No. I can’t.”
“Just roughly? Please? I need to let people know if I’m not going to make it.”
I was nearly crying by this point, and trying very hard to keep my cool. She poked a few buttons other computer –
“There’s been an electrical storm, the plane has diverted, it should be here in the next 30 minutes.”
That had to do, I sat down and waited. And waited. Half an hour came and
My plane eventually arrived and so did I, in Edinburgh, with 5 minutes to spare.
I threw on my frock and raced across the road to the festival. I’d missed Tanya and Laura’s event, I had no time to curl my hair or iron my dress but I’d made it. The event had sold out, the audience were fantastic, the night was one of the high points of my author life – to think I could have missed it…
Edinburgh Book Festival lived up to it’s reputation in my heart for being a little corner of book heaven. I met up with pals, both writers and not writers; hugged the wonderful Book Witch ( if you don’t follow her blog – you should, it’s brill); had breakfast with Juno Dawson, opposite Eddie Redmayne’s gorgeous little girl (and her Mum and Dad, also gorgeous); I met readers.
The festival sold out of my books; I spent more than I should on other people’s books; I fan-girled a bit (a lot); I went to a drop in workshop run by Jonathan Stroud where Christopher Edge and I invented a brilliant game of Snakes and Ladders called:
How to Make It Big in Books.
(Rights still available)
And finally, I had my picture taken by the amazing Chris Close.
Genuinely, there is no happier place for a writer and a reader than Edinburgh International Book Festival. If I don’t get invited as a writer next year, I’ll be going as a reader 🙂
Kathryn Evans is the author of More of Me, winner of the 2016 Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award, nominated for the Carnegie medal and winner of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2017
Sometimes, when you start on a journey, there are certain dreams that seem ridiculously beyond your reach but you dream them anyway because they just keep you going. And sometimes, ridiculously, no matter how far beyond your reach they seem, those dreams can come true.
The Society of Children’s Book writers and Illustrators is an organisation I’ve belonged to for years. Through SCBWI workshops and critique groups I’ve learned my craft, and as a volunteer I’ve grown a hugely supportive network of friends and colleagues.
SCBWI members are a mix of published and unpublished writers all on a journey to produce the best work they can and I think that shows in the standard of entries for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. It’s a peer-given award to traditionally published writers and illustrators , recognising great books from 15 regions around the world.
Here are the shortlisted titles for the UK and Ireland in 2017 – I’ve read and loved them all – anyone of them would be a worthy winner. In fact, if you’ve gaps in your To Be Read pile, take them as recommendations.
Patrice Lawrence – Orange Boy
A gritty urban thriller with a powerful family drama at its heart – Winner of the Waterstones Prize for Older Children, Shortlisted for The Costa Prize.
Peter Bunzle – Cogheart
A steampunk tale of ambition, pursuit and revenge – The Guardian. Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award.
‘A thrilling YA sci-fi adventure reminiscent of Hunger Games and Star Wars … a fantastic page-turner with great characters in Kyle and Sky’ Booktrust
A gutsy adventure-packed tale of the Guy Fawkes story told from 12 year old Tom’s point of view as he struggles to save his father in a world that’s against him.
In intense psychological thriller selected for the Zoella book Club and a really brilliant page turner.
And in case there is still space on your bookshelf, here are some previous winners…
Teri Terry – Mind Games
A complex and futuristic thriller that, even at a hefty 433 pages, will leave you wanting more…another stunning example of Teri Terry doing what she does best (The School Librarian)
Teri has won so many awards I can’t even list them all.
Claire Furniss – The Year of The Rat
Beautifully written and emotionally charged debut about love, loss and families. Would appeal to fans of Annabel Pitcher. (The Bookseller)
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase, Longlisted for the Cilip Carnegie Medal
And the 2017 winner…
Well… More of Me by Kathryn Evans
Dreams really can come true if you just don’t give up.
I feel like I should have a little birthday tea. One year ago today, my first book was born. After more than 15 years of trying, I became an actual, real life published author. My debut YA novel More of Me was released by Usborne to U.K. readers.
The birth was celebrated by many of my amazing friends. The tribute below was lead by Candy Gourlay and Amanda Lillywhite, who encouraged enormous numbers of people to do this to their faces and post it all over facebook and twitter.
I was so moved by this, it’s amazing, don’t you think? And then very many of them turned out for my launch parties – the first hosted by Daunt Books, the second, by Waterstones. You can see loads of pictures here but this is one of my favourites, because it sums up all the support, kindness and squidging I’ve had along the way:
I think it’s traditional to talk about the highs and lows of having a first bookbaby- and at some point I will be doing a post on that for SCBWI’s Words and Pictures – I’ll link to it when it comes out. But not here. Here, in the spirit of new motherhood, I’m going to celebrate my book’s first birthday by inviting a few pregnant friends over…I think I may be taking this metaphor a bit too far…Basically, I’m going to celebrate my book’s birthday with the
Joy of New Books!
During this last year, I teamed up with four other SCBWI debut authors, my fellow Lost and Founders, and they all have new books out this year. I’ve read one of them, Olivia Levez, The Circus, and loved it. Sue Wallman’s See How They Lie, Patrice Lawrence’s Indigo Donut and Eugene Lambert’s Into The No Zone, I couldn’t quite get my hands on yet but I will! I will! I’m so happy for them, they give me hope! I’m still writing my book 2 ( slacker).
I also want to mention Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart – this book was Usborne’s lead debut in 2016 and made a huge and deserved splash. It’s middle grade with a strong story, wonderful characters and a gorgeous steampunk feel to it. If you haven’t read it, do – I can’t wait for the follow up, MoonLocket, out in May..need to get working on my dress ups for that event…
Fellow Slushpiler Teri Terry has a new series launching in May this year, Contagion – I’ve not read it yet but she is consistently good, I loved Book of Lies released this year and I can’t wait for this creepy looking series!
I am also desperate to read Candy Gourlay’s new book but I don’t know when that’s going to happen – come on Candy, you have readers waiting!! ( I keep nagging int he hope she’ll give me a sneaky peak…sigh…)
I’ve just realised I could go on forever with this list…especially as I want to give a heads up to some brilliant SCBWI authors who have recently been signed to an agent or publishing house and I know are going to produce amazing books: Em Lynas, Sheila Averbach and Lucy Van Smit get on with it gang, I await new treats!
There are so many more, it’s going to be another exciting year for books and hoorah for that. Now it’s nearly time for cake, but first I must say:
Heaps if you were involved in More of Me winning, being nominated for, or long listed or shortlisted for an award. I am beyond grateful. And a bit stunned to be honest.
A ton if you read and reviewed More of Me, or just read and loved it or read and didn’t like it but didn’t slay me in a review – or if you did slay me in a review you did it for the betterment of book kind.
A gazillion times if you were involved in anyway in spreading More of Me’s wings worldwide, I love seeing all the foreign editions and hearing from readers all over the world.
Mahoosively if you’re a school or library that’s invited me to talk to your children.
Endlessly for encouraging, handholding and being generally fabulous.
How to Make the Most of A Book Tour Stop by Kathryn Evans
Liverpool: home of The Beatles; city of friendliness and unity and latest tour stop for the Lost and Founders! And my goodness did we pack a lot in.
I met up with the rest of the team, and after surviving a road crossing that might give me nightmares for years, we celebrated Orangeboy author Patrice Lawrence’s amazing Costa shortlisting before heading out to a lovely event at Write Blend, a gorgeous independent book and coffee shop run by the hugely energetic and charismatic team of Bob Stone and Sally-Anne Tapia-Bowes. The audience were warm, friendly and interested and there was a teen identical twin in the audience which made Sign of Oneauthor ( and identical twin) Eugene Lambert, very happy!
After the event we had a lovely catch up over a late dinner and more celebrating – well, there was Sue Wallman’s Zoella selection for Lying about Last Summerto toast, and we’d never raised a glass to Olivia Levez’ starred Kirkus review for The Island, or the Carnegie nominations and EdBookFest prize for More of Me …we had a lot of celebrating to catch up on!
The following day we had two school events organised by Sally-Anne and Bob. First stop, the amazing Alsop High School – boy the energy of those 300 year 8’s! The interactive element of my creativity talk was very enthusiastically engaged in…luckily Sue and Olivia were happy to help with the tidying up afterwards.
We had time to chat with some of the children as we signed books afterwards and they were great. Also, there was cake, Sally-Anne knows the way to an author’s heart is through a buttercream filling…yum.
In the afternoon we headed to Merchant Taylors’ Girl’s School for a literary lunch with some of their Year Eleven’s. It was such a special session – Year Eleven’s are so often caught up in pre-exam work that they miss out on author visits, and these girls were so interesting and interested, I’d have loved a bit more time to chat with them all.
Next we had a panel discussion with Years Eight and Nine. They were utterly delightful and we had plenty of time afterwards to sign the books they were very keen to buy. Olivia and I felt a bit like rockstars as they pressed forward with books for signing – it was a wonderful way to round off our Liverpool tour stop.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself it’s not all a dream.