Friday, 11 March 2011

Every day in every way…

…we are getting stronger.  After the first Brit Writers’ Awards cluster group meeting yesterday, I am pretty sure each participant feels like singing it out loud.   And what is so fantastic, is that we are growing enough in confidence to sing it out loud.  More importantly, talk out loud—and confidently—about the books we have been working hard to perfect in order to give publishers what they really want.

We have now reached the crucial editing stage (yes, most of our books have been edited, tweaked, and re-edited, but we are now looking at editing by some of the best in the business and definitely “in the know”). Confidentiality agreements in the interest of all parties I am afraid prevents us naming names at this stage.  So sorry.  

We all believe (because, as a writer, you just have to believe.  And how great is it that the Brit Writers’ Awards have backed up that belief?) that we have written something worthy of being taken on by a publisher.  As most authors know though, writing is a solitary occupation where self-doubt can fester.  Eventually you have to urge the idea you have nurtured and fretted over until it has grown into a fully-fledged book gently out of the nest in hopes it might fly.  With submission, however, comes many a rejection, which, as hard as you try not to let it, chips away at your confidence. Speaking in public then, the aim being to give a concise, punchy and riveting presentation to a…OMG!...publishing team…  Well, put it this way, I would rather jump out of a plane.  And I know.  I’ve done it!

Here’s the thing though, we are terribly nervous (of course we are), but sliding under the table not being an option in public, we bite the bullet and launch into our spiel.  Just as with our pitches and synopses, it soon becomes clear that each and every person is there because they have written something original and a little bit, dare I say, unique!?  It soon also becomes clear that we need to untie our tongues and sell it.  What becomes abundantly clear is, wait for it…how to! 

There will be many a child wondering whether their writer mummy/daddy has gone completely gaga this weekend as said mummy or daddy hisses, shhhhhh, I’m myself.  Many a pet dog rolling its eyes.   But we will do it, because BWA have shown us the way.

Thank you Imran, Zareen and Joanna for another superbly organised, totally inspiring meeting.  Thanks also to Naomi, our in-group radio presenter, for organising the podcasts, and to Georgina for the social media expertise.  We simply couldn’t do it without you.     

See you in two weeks time, when we meet again.  Oh, dear, is that someone else I hear launching into song?

Just to close and for Lilly, who may not have seen the links fellow-participant Eiry has kindly posted, here is Spencer Ratcliff’s latest radio interview with Ian Wyatt of BBC Radio Essex.  Spencer (also a BWA Publishing Programme participant) divides his time between Australia and the UK and has spent most of his life working as a journalist. His novel THE VOICES OF CRABTREE LANE is set in an Essex country village in 1958, still reeling from the aftermath of war. The action hinges around the moment when the community's halcyon days of innocence come to a tragic end when popular boy, little Johnny Button, disappears while walking his dog.

Spencer's fourth interview – 1:51 into the programme well worth a listen:


  1. What a stalwart we have in you Leanne! You write so eloquently on behalf of the BWA publishing programme, mentors and participants. I wholeheartedly agree with your comments and would like to pick up on a word, if I may. I read a response on another forum where I had made reference to the word 'unique'. A prompt reply advised that me that since my writing had been described as such, that this was probably a cloaked brush-off. I'm pleased that I didn't take the advice too seriously now that my concept is being piloted in a school as a language resource tool for a term, with more schools to follow. The potential was picked up by Imran and Zareen at the outset and they will enjoy all that the school has planned, without doubt. So will the children, staff, my illustrator, Matthew, and I.

    It's good follow the group's progress and to catch up at our meetings.

  2. Well, well done you! Of course, it was apparent that your idea would be immensely appealing to its target audience, children. To read is to learn. Yours fits the bill for younger children perfectly.

    “Unique Selling Point” is used generally now in the pub world (as in something different), I am reliably informed by an agent.

  3. Sorry, Eiry, just to clarify. A USP is something that is very much sought in a book, according to the agent, a publisher I’ve spoken with (and several editor friends). Also, if your work was described as such, then the agent(?? ) who responded did so personally, ergo, must have thought your work had merit. It is almost impossible for agents to respond to every enquiry on a personal basis, as most writers understand.

  4. The response was in a forum, sadly, Leanne. That, with the responder knowing nothing other than the the difficulties I had encountered and outlined involving the medium of rhythm and rhyme.

  5. Shooting from the hip then? As I've said once before, it's good to share information. That's the whole point of forums, surely? Not so good to comment conclusively without knowing the facts. Awful to be critical, as some people sometimes can be.