As a young aspiring novelist, when Hive told me about New Writing North’s Hachette Writing for Children Roadshow event in Sheffield, I was very keen to go along.
I’m currently working on my second novel and all the information I’ve previously learned about publishing has come from writers. The opportunity to hear from and ask questions of an agent and writers further on their journey was very much appreciated. I only found out about the event the day before, so went into it with very little clue what to expect. Given that it took place at Sheffield Hallam University I envisioned a lecture theatre and big crowds. Instead, it was a much smaller affair, allowing far more contact with the speakers.
There were three panels, all of which were incredibly informative. The first was with Chloe Seager, an agent from the Madeline Milburn agency. The panel gave an invaluable overview of what the process of querying agents is like from the agent’s perspective—for example, short, snappy queries are always appreciated because agents sometimes have to wade through 400 in a week. Also, November-December are slower periods, so tend to be good times to submit.
The next panel was with the editorial team at Hachette Children’s Group. Before this event, I had no idea what happens once a book is accepted by an agent and goes on submission to publishing houses, but this panel gave clear information about what the process is like. Industry professionals who really know their stuff will support your book to be the best it can be, and tailor publicity appropriately. It also reassured me that, while publishing is very competitive (for an idea of how much winnowing takes place, publishing houses only get sent about 1% of what agents receive), it’s not as cutthroat as I had been led to believe.
The final panel was made up of previous winners of the Hachette Children’s novel award. It was really interesting to get insights from them too. I missed the sign up for one-to-one but that was possible too.
The event was focused on children’s writing for New Writing North’s related award but they offer plenty of other awards, for both adults and young writers. The deadline for the awards in February each year. There are lots of great things on offer, including grants, mentoring and development opportunities, talent nurturing, even support you to publication.
All-in-all, this was a fantastic event, and I recommend keeping an eye out for anything run by New Writing North and Hachette in the future.
May Norwood is a member of Sheffield Young Writers. She mainly writes fiction, both short stories and novel-length works, and has recently branched out into poetry. Her work often draws from her experiences as a young disabled woman, and she seeks to combat the lack of disabled representation in popular fiction. She also runs a writing blog, mjmnorwood.tumblr.com