When I first started writing kid’s books I was quite frankly, hopeless.
My manuscripts weren’t the right length for the age group. (See this great post here by Jennifer Laughran for a guide on how long your manuscript should be http://literaticat.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/wordcount-dracula.html )
And yes, I was guilty of looking through the yellow pages for publishers (a print copy back then) and sending manuscripts out to anyone with the title, publisher. I soon learnt when I got lovely polite letters from Sport publishers with things like, “You write well, but unfortunately, we don’t publish books for children.
I was living in a remote part of Victoria at the time and the Internet hadn’t been invented yet (strange but true) so I didn’t have access to the fabulous people and resources available today.
Now there are so many resources and networking opportunities available to help you on your path to publishing.
10 Ways Networking Has Helped Me
- CYA Conference 2005 – I came third in the CYA Conference competition with my YA manuscript, Letters to Leonardo and this gave me the confidence to keep revising, and the book was eventually published in 2009.
- 2006 – PWE – Professional Writing and Editing at Victoria UniversityDoing this diploma helped me develop some amazing networks and in fact, one of my teachers, Sherryl Clark launched my YA novel, Letters to Leonardo in 2009.
- SCBWI Conference 2008 – Letters to Leonardo was published as a result of a manuscript assessment by the wonderful Margaret Hamilton at the Conference and meeting Sue Whiting from Walker Books, who later became my editor.
- Met wonderful Lia Keyes online – Lia set up a Facebook network to support people doing NaNoWriMo all over the world. I connected with and made some lifelong author friends from all over the world when I joined this network.
- SCBWI LA Conference 2010 – Helped me make contact with US publishers and agents and develop a wonderful network of international writer friends and colleagues. Also met in person, some of the people I had met through Lia’s network. SCBWI LA was a huge learning curve for me.I learnt so much about international publishing and I met people who have passed on information about publishing opportunities they have heard about. One of the online friends I connected with in LA was Mina Witteman who is a co-organiser of the SCBWI Europolitan Conference and earlier this year, I was invited to Amsterdam to conduct a writing workshop there.
- May Gibbs Fellowship – Thanks to the May Gibbs Literature trust I spent a month in Brisbane working on my YA manuscript, The Tangled Web. I found out about this opportunity through my writing networks, and while I was in Brisbane, I was able to extend these networks even further. I’ve been on a number of very productive writing retreats since with Brisbane writer, Sheryl Gwyther. In fact, Sheryl and her fabulous feedback were instrumental in my receiving my first acceptance from The School Magazine this year for my story, Enter at Own Risk (November Orbit).
- My New Picture Book – I have a new picture book coming out with EK Publishing. This would never have come about if it weren’t for my good friend, Tania McCartney who told me about EK’s fabulous books, and that they were open for submissions. It’s going to be illustrated by the amazing Tracie Grimwood who I met after she illustrated some of my other titles.
- Find a crit buddy or writing group. I found my fabulous crit buddy, Alison Reynolds through a group for Kid’s and YA writers. I also met my fabulous critique group members, Bren MacDibble and Pam Harvey through the same network.
- Networking can create other great networking opportunities. Alison Reynolds and I were talking earlier this year about how hard it is particularly, for new writers, to meet publishers and present work to them. That’s when we had the idea to have a Meet the Publisher Day to bring children’s and YA writers and illustrators and publishers together. KidLitVic2016 Meet the Publishers was born.
- Big Sur Writing Workshop – later this week I’m heading to America to attend the Andrea BrownBig Sur Writing Workshops for picture books, early reader, middle grade & YA fiction, courtesy of the Henry Miller Memorial Library and the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Once again, I wouldn’t have known about this workshop or that applications were open if it hadn’t been for my good writer friend, Lia Keyes. https://bigsurwriting.wordpress.com/
So there are so many great things that networking can do for your career including getting you published, finding out about new publishing opportunities, and finding out about opportunities to hone your craft and make you a better writer. You can also meet some amazing creative people who inspire you and become lifelong friends. These are the people who will support you through the good times and the bad – who will encourage you to keep going when those rejections roll in and who will celebrate your successes.
MORE ABOUT KidLitVic2016 Meet the Publishers
How has networking helped you? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section of this post.