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Guest post: A writer’s first year by S C Ransom

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S. C. Ransom, author of Small Blue Thing writes a guest post for our blog:

Exactly a year ago today, on the 18th November 2009, I sat at my computer, took a deep breath, and pressed “send”.

The email was addressed to Kate Wilson, a contact of a colleague, who I had been told would be happy to give me a view on whether the book I had written for my daughter’s 12th birthday was anywhere near publishable. I had already submitted to one agent but not yet heard anything. By return, I got a nice response from Kate approving the Suzanne Vega reference in the title. That was was encouraging. Then on the 20th (I keep a note of these things!) I got an email back asking for the full manuscript and suggesting that we meet up.

Hugely excited, I sent off the vast file and sat back to wait. And wait. And then wait some more. I didn’t want to approach any more agents as I was hoping that Kate (who hadn’t even started up Nosy Crow at this point) would give me an ‘in’ which might short-circuit the slushpile. But Kate was busy (very busy, I discovered later), and I heard nothing more for a while. I got a rejection from the first agent. It seemed that my novel was destined to be a family affair, not an international bestseller.

In the New Year, I gave Kate a gentle prompt, and – hurrah! – we finally arranged to have that coffee. We met in Café Valerie near Sloane Square on the 12th January. Sizing each other up, we decided we liked what we saw, and by the end of the meeting I had an offer for the book which was to be Nosy Crow’s launch publication. On the 27th January, I met with Kate and Camilla at the Nosy Crow “North London Office” – the Wellcome Trust Cafe on Euston Road – and signed a contract for not just Small Blue Thing, but for a trilogy of books. (The photograph is of Kate and me, with Kate signing the contract.)

My feet haven’t touched the ground since!

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4 Responses to “Guest post: A writer’s first year by S C Ransom”

  • As an aspiring writer I find this very interesting and encouraging, and thanks for sharing about the rejection from the agent. I am sure that will encourage lots of writers! I love the Suzanne Vega reference and the extract I read on the website was great. I am really looking forward to reading it in its entirety!

  • Hi, this is a very inspirational article for me to read.
    I too have a children’s fantasy manuscript sitting within my computer and although I have not actually sent it off to any publishing houses, it is not through lack of trying! i just keep hitting a brick wall! And for me vanity press is just not an option. When came across Sue the other day on twitter, talking about her books being published I rather boldly asked her how she managed it…..and so she pointed me in this direction.
    I would be so grateful if someone would just take a look at it and give me some feedback.
    Jean Glen

  • Hello, Jean.

    If you are sure that your novel is for children under the age of 12 (S C Ransom’s book is really at the top end of the age-range for us and our focus is generally younger), you could send your manuscript to us as an electronic submission (look at the contact us tab on the website for guidelines) and if it’s right for us, or if we see that it could become right for us with some editorial work we can give you some feedback. If it isn’t, we can’t really give feedback, and you’d just get a rejection: we have to concentrate our (limited) time and energy on doing the best we can for the authors we have committed to publish. We get hundreds of submissions a week, and could easily spend all our time providing critiques, but that’s not really an option.

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