Today I’ve got another guest post, this time from Ollie Wright, Assistant Editor at Manchester-based publisher The Red Telephone. If you’re hoping to get a YA (Young Adult) book published, you might want to chat to him…
The Red Telephone was born in 2009. It was the brainchild of Gill James, who runs Bridge House Publishing and is the author of many books herself. I was initially hired to do some admin and PR work, but have since taken on some editing duties for the imprint too.
Our first task was to prep and release The Prophecy, the first volume of Gill’s futuristic YA ‘Peace Child Trilogy‘. Then we decided to expand and bring another author on board. We opened up a competition and were amazed by the standard of the entries we received.
In the end, Gill plumped for Alex Smith’s Calling For Angels as the winning novel. The most remarkable thing about this book was that Alex was only 14 when she completed the first draft. When it reached us, certainly it was a little bit raw, but Gill has a really good eye for talent and it was obvious to her that Alex was a star in the making.
When Gill told me that she thought she had a winner, she did warn me that I might find the novel a bit ‘girly’ – but on reading the book, I have to say, I very quickly realised how impressive it was, even though, as a grizzly old man of 32, I wasn’t quite the target market!
Once we’d agreed that this was the winning novel, it was time to start the editing process and liase with Alex on the cover. I also started setting up interviews for Alex, both online and with print media. The launch night, in Alex’s native Hertfordshire, was a brilliant event, with Gill on hand to represent Red Telephone. Alex fought off her shyness and did a reading, then signed copies of the book for her adoring fans! The reviews were pretty much uniformly excellent and Alex is currently beavering away on more writing projects – although she did have to take a break to fit in her AS Levels this summer.
Part of our remit at the Red Telephone is to try to develop our writers and set them up with as many opportunities as we can. We identified a chance for Alex to join the team of writers for The Guardian‘s new Children’s Books website – she applied, was accepted and has since had author interviews and book reviews published on the site.
With Alex launched, the time is right for us to open a new competition and start the search for another great author to work with. So we’re now hunting for the next Alex Smith, if you like – a writer with real flair, whose work genuinely excites us.
Another recent development is our brand new blog. We opened this as a way of connecting with authors and giving them a chance to showcase their talent by contributing short stories, which we publish online. Alex Smith contributed the first short story and we have since published shorts from Danielle Rose and Marie Godley, both of whom we hope to work with again in the future.
First, second and third – please, please read the guidelines. I hope I’ve made them as clear as possible. Certainly, the vast majority of authors we hear from seem to have no problem with them, but we do get the occasional ‘misunderstanding’.
I once had an argument with an author who had submitted a very brief synopsis of no more than a couple of hundred words, when we request something in the region of 500. He accused me of being ‘pedantic’, whereas my point was, those extra couple of hundred words were his opportunity to really sell his novel to us. Funnily enough, we didn’t end up working together.
We’re not saying that the synopsis has to be exactly 500 words, we’re just saying that the guidelines are there to help you.
Also, do include links to your professional webpages – whether it’s your website, Twitter feed, blog, Facebook page, etc. It’s nice for us to stay in touch, even if we don’t get the chance to work with you at this stage.
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