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Writers' & Artists' Blog

Resilience and the Waiting Game

Nikki Garrard_author

It’s been a while since my last blog post here and a lot has happened. After meetings with a commissioning editor at a ‘Big Five’ publisher, my Lucy Cavendish/Mslexia-shortlisted YA novel, Twenty-Nine Locks, seemed to be blessed with a smooth journey to publication. 

I was soon to discover that there are multiple hurdles a novel must clear. As a novice writer, completing a novel in itself was an achievement worthy of celebration. The next learning curve, for me, was using feedback from agents and first readers to redraft a good idea, imperfectly delivered, and enter Twenty-Nine Locks into competitions. Once I’d chosen an agency, The Good Literary Agency (TGLA), my story was assessed by their in-house editor who suggested further improvements. When ready, my agent, Abi Fellows, pitched it to publishers, sent off the manuscript, and then… 

A nail-biting wait.

And then… 

Requests to meet the author.

And then…

Requests for further information.

And then…

More …

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An Eight-Year Journey to Getting an Agent

Author Janelle McCurdy details her eight year journey to getting a literary agent from the age of 16 to 24...

Photo credit is: Dujonna Gift-Simms 2020

The Beginning

It's no surprise that since I was little, I've always loved books. As I got older and read more, I realised whilst I loved Middle Grade and Young Adult books, there weren't many books that had characters that looked like me, a Black girl. So, I wrote stories for myself. Most of them were silly fantasy books that will probably stay on my computer forever. Probably. 

When I was sixteen I decided I wanted to take things seriously. I wanted to be a published author, and so wrote my first official contemporary YA novel to send out to agents. 

I don't need to tell you what a mess that was, and looking back I can only laugh at myself, reading that old manuscript and query letter. Still, I sent it out to agents (after looking at their guidelines and googling what a query letter was!) and believe it or not, I didn't get one …

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Winner Announced! W&A Working-Class Writers' Prize 2020

We're pleased to announce the results of our 2020 W&A Working-Class Writers' Prize 

Firstly, here are our two brilliant runners-up with a few words from our judge Lisa McInerney on why they made the cut. Congratulations to the following writers:

The Half Life of Snails by Philippa Harry Holloway

Lisa: "Philippa’s story was fully-realised. Her writing shows a deft touch, and the synopsis proves she’s got a great concept and the plotting chops to succeed with it."

The Voices of Rats & Birds by Joshua Holton

Lisa: "Josh displays a knack for detail and knowing exactly how much of that detail to deliver to make an intriguing read. I think the concept driving the novel is extremely powerful."

Another big congratulations to our four other shortlisted writers, for whom, Lisa was so impressed, she decided to create another category. Highly Commended places go to Denise Rawls, Hana Fazal, Din Havolli & Lou Kramskoy.

Our runners-up and Highly Commended writers will receive …

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Creating The Yearbook


The creation, collation, editing and publishing of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook every year is a team endeavour.

Six months of intense effort results in 832 print pages, 2 e-book versions, and an online subscription database; running alongside is the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook (480 pages). 

The various stages through which the content travels, is a perfect illustration of the publishing process more generally: how a book in its different formats is produced, managed and delivered to market. The schedule we work to might be slightly swifter than for some books, but I hope this digest of who does what when will provide some insight into the book publishing process.

Preparation: In January each year our editorial team plan the content for the next edition: what’s new (and what’s not). We agree a schedule and budget, consulting colleagues in production and sales well in advance of publication date providing a cover, blurb, catalogue and other copy …

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What Happens When You Put 14 Crime Writers on Lock-down?

I still have the message in my WhatsApp Authors thread:

 What do you guys think about putting together a charity crime anthology?

Like all the best ideas, it was thrown out without any real forethought or belief it would be taken up. I went downstairs to make a cup of tea. When I came back, there were fourteen replies flashing on my phone. They all said the same thing, or variations of it.

 I’m in

Great plan

Let’s do it!!

 And just like that, Afraid of the Light, was born. Of course, we had no way of knowing then it would hit #2 on the Kindle charts on publication day (just pipped to the number one slot by Stephen King) and go on to sell nearly a thousand copies in its first week with all proceeds being donated to the Samaritans.

Nor could we possibly know the world would be in lock-down when we launched it. And although putting out a new book in these circumstances was unusual to say the least (partying on Zoom is most definitely not the …

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