Finding an agent and publisher

This is the final blog post in a series of three about my road to publication.

In my last post, I shared how I came up with the idea of Quark’s Academy.  In 2015 I had the opportunity to pitch my story to agent Alex Adsett at the CYA Conference. I was delighted when Alex invited me to send her the full manuscript. A few months later, I heard from Alex and one of her lovely team members, Maddie Rothwell. AAPS were keen on Quark’s Academy, however the story still needed some development. So – off I went to work more on Quark’s. I was incredibly lucky to have the wonderful editorial feedback from Maddie along the way. (below Alex, me and Maddie).

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I had booked in to attend the 2016 CYA Conference – the same conference that I had pitched Quark’s Academy to Alex a year earlier. A few days before the conference, Maddie called me to say AAPS would like to take me on (hooray!). At the conference, I signed the contract and officially joined APPS. Now I had an agent!

signing-the-contract
I also happened to win first place in the early reader’s category for a different story – Vikings Behaving Badly – it was a truly great day (as you can see from the width of my smile above).

Being represented by AAPS has been completely amazing. Writers tend to focus on the craft of storytelling and all that comes with it. Having someone who barracks for you and who is so knowledgeable that they can handle the many details that is part of publishing a book, has been simply incredible. I’m so grateful Alex and Maddie believed in me and my work from the beginning.

A couple of months after signing with AAPS, I had an offer for Quark’s Academy from Hachette Australia. I signed up with Hachette and started working with the wonderful editor Kate Stevens. (Below me and Kate). Working with Kate has been fantastic. Kate’s editorial feedback, guidance and support has helped develop Quark’s Academy to make it the best story it can be! Kate and I also share a love of cats – the perfect author/editor match.

kate-and-catherine

Quark’s Academy is due for release in August 2017.

I also have a picture book being published with Hachette in April 2018! It’s called Something for Fleur. More on this one soon!!

You can read the first two posts in this series of three here:

 

 

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Coming up with the idea for Quark’s Academy

Quark’s Academy will be my first published book!

The idea for Quark’s Academy first came to me when doing an astronomy course at the Sydney Observatory. It was taught by a charismatic, enthusiastic and clever professor called Paul Payne. Each week I attended class at the Observatory (which is such an amazing place) and more and more I thought about the fascinating world of science. It was during class that I had the first spark of an idea for Quark’s Academy. (The Sydney Observatory below)

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(Image credit: The Sydney Observatory)

A little later, I cat-sat for friends while they were away. My house guest was a beautiful British Shorthair with lots of attitude named Sir Reginald. I just knew he had to be a character in the story.

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And so I had the theme of science and a huge cat. I also knew I wanted go-getter characters who were bold, smart and had a sense of adventure.

I wrote the first draft of Quark’s Academy over about the space of a year. I then took it to my writing group to workshop and refine the story.

In July 2015, an opportunity came up to pitch story ideas to publishers and agents at the CYA Conference. For anyone who is an aspiring writer and doesn’t know about CYA, you should definitely check it out. It’s an incredibly well-organised event where you can meet and listen to industry experts, enter a great writing competition and be around other writers.

Keen to test out the waters and see what others thought about Quark’s Academy, I decided to book in for pitch sessions with various publishers and agents.

I would  have five minutes to ‘sell’ my story. This was a challenge that terrified and excited me – so of course I had to do it. On the morning of the conference I rehearsed my pitch several more times, and soon it was my turn to deliver it…

In my next post, I’m going to share how I secured an agent and found a publisher for Quark’s Academy.

If you would like to read about how I started writing for children, check out my first post: Writing for Children: getting started and writing groups.

 

Writing for Children: getting started and writing groups

In August this year, my first children’s book: Quark’s Academy will be published with Hachette. Quark’s Academy is a junior-fiction story about three science whizz-kids.

You can read the first two chapters in Hachette’s 2017 SNEAK PEEKS! Just ask your local bookstore for a copy!
SP COVER
Over a series of blog posts, I’m sharing how I went from deciding to write for children to finding a publisher.

Writing for children:

I’ve always been a keen writer and someone who enjoys creating stories. Children’s books especially interest me because of the long-lasting impact they can have on a person, and the way they share so many truths in such creative and wonderous ways.

The decision to start writing for children was an easy one. I just needed to figure out how!

Writing courses

Several years ago, I found a course through the Australian Writer’s Centre called ‘Writing for Children and Young Adults’, it was just what I was looking for. The course was informative, interactive and what gave me the confidence to keep going. I started to write more and not long after joined a picture book writing group at the NSW Writer’s Centre.

Writing groups

Being in a writing group would mean having my work discussed and critiqued regularly – which sounded terrifying! It would also require me to give feedback to other writers – also terrifying!
However, I decided to give it try and was thrilled to meet many other aspiring writers who shared my passion for children’s books. It was a wonderfully supportive environment and where I learned so much about the complex craft of writing for children and the industry.

After a couple of years in the picture book group, I decided I also wanted to write chapter books. So, I started another writing group called Down the Rabbit Hole. It was in this group that I started working on Quark’s Academy.

I wholeheartedly believe being in a writing group has enabled me to find a publisher. Why? because I think every writer needs a support network. People who will give you honest feedback, encourage you every step of the way and who ultimately help you to become a better writer. It’s also handy to have people who will eat biscuits and drink tea with you and never tire of endless talk of books, writing and publishing.

My writing group picture below:

Down the Rabbit Hole

 

Coming up with the idea for Quark’s Academy

… In my next post, I’m going to share how I came up with the idea for Quark’s Academy.