For those of you who haven't guessed, or didn't know, my books are not traditionally published. In summary, this means that I have paid a publisher to produce them, the publisher has not paid me.
It's been a life-long dream of mine to become a professional Children's Author and for me, this means being traditionally published. In order to do that you have to have an agent. Agents get, on average, 10-40 submissions every week. It's hugely competitive.
When Jarred Dreams was doing well in that first competition, I was really hopeful that I would win the prize of being published with Bloomsbury. When that didn't happen and I found myself back in the 'slush pile', fighting for agent attention, I decided to self-publish the book and worked hard for sales and recognition.
It made enough money for me to go on to self-publish EATS and then Thirteenth Wish, but with all three books I have tried to get agent representation and failed.
When I wrote my fourth book, unlike the others, I knew I wasn't going to self-publish it. Like all things, self-publishing has its limitations, the biggest one being distribution. I have no regrets and I'm proud of everything I have achieved. To be able to hold my books in my hands has made me extremely happy. To hear what readers think, and to go into schools, well... that's been incredible.
But with book 4 I was on Mission Agent! I entered it into all the competitions I could find that I was eligible for and submitted it to several agents. I then signed up to the SPARK scheme with Write Mentor and was lucky to get Emma Barton-Smith.
Emma is wonderful, my SCBWI friends are fantastic, my critique group members (KXC: Annie, Nicky, Zena, Az, Sue and Sarah / Brixton: Asha & Priscilla) are the best, as are my St Albans writing group (particularly Anne, Jonnie and Sally). I've had great support from Librarians, Teachers, Heads, Course Tutors, Literary Festival people, Storytellers and lots of others in this wonderful network of Children's Literature, but none of them can launch me into the world of traditional publishing.
There was no interest from agents or the competitions. I either had nice rejections or heard nothing and then Mslexia happened and EVERYTHING changed. I expected a similar experience to Jarred Dreams, where being a finalist fizzled out into nothingness, but this has been a whirlwind.
Part of the prize of being in the final five was going to a Show Case event at Hachette offices with lots of other writing competition finalists. Here I met many agents and editors and people who were genuinely interested in me and my writing. I was no longer bogged down in the slush pile, they were interested in me!
What then followed was a surreal experience of having to turn down two other offers of agent representation, but I just knew that Laura was the right choice for me. Imagine having a choice!
Laura and I met up again yesterday (which coincided with my 13 year Wedding Anniversary) and had a few pictures taken at the gorgeous book filled offices at David Higham in Oxford Circus. We chatted for over an hour and it was heaven.
I feel so lucky and totally get those heartfelt agent thank yous I jealously read in the back of books. It's finally my turn!
Final Note: If you look closely at the photo you will see that I am wearing my Persist necklace. I bought it when I started on my serious agent mission with Darna's Sky, as a reminder to myself to celebrate 'keeping going'. And look - Persistence Pays!
WATCH THIS SPACE - I'VE GOT LAURA ON-SIDE NOW, ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN!
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