OPEN SUBMISSIONS AND AMAZING WORLDS

It has taken two months of intense and thoughtful reading to read and carefully consider the well over 500 submissions we received to our call out for manuscripts.  And it has been a really fascinating experience for so many reasons.

Firstly, to see themes and ideas that appear through so many books from authors in hugely different and separate parts of the world.  I wonder why this is?  Is it that people are trying to write things similar to books that they have read and love, or similar to books that are selling well.  I have read advice to aspirant writers that you should see what is working in the market place and try to write alongside that.  Based on my past two months I now know that that is very very bad advice.

Secondly, writers all over the world are looking at ways to create engaging, interesting, original and compelling stories for young readers.  Sometimes those stories are so universal in their handling of their story that I feel concerned that something is being missed and the missing thing is taste and flavour.  I do believe as human beings we are all very similar.  We care about fundamentally the same things – love, friendship, family, independence … the list could go on and on BUT (and this is a big but) we come at all these things with such distinct cultural knowledge and that should neither be ignored or made to be an excuse for certain types of behaviour and attitude that may be challenging.   How do we navigate that literary tight rope …  its tough but we have to as writers, publishers and readers.  We want to see ourselves in books, we don’t want to see a neutered version of people but we also don’t want to feel that we are being pigeon-holed.

Thirdly, magic.  The world is full of magic.  Books are full of magic.  Life is full of magic.  The act of writing a book is pure magic and the act of reading one and having life transformed by that book is also magic.  But magic isn’t a get out of jail free card.  Things should not just happen purely because magic exists.  Even magic is logical and has to make sense.  One action has to lead logically on to another.  A crazy mayhem packed plot may not be magic it may just be confusing.

 

Writing tip #5

Making your dialogue sound natural is always a problem.  Read it aloud to yourself, or even better get someone to read it aloud to you.  You soon hear what works and what doesn’t.

It is also important to avoid having your characters talk about things that have happened in the book.  Dialogue should drive the plot forward not rehash what we have already read.   Remember that all dialogue has to work in helping keep the pace, explore character and reveal important information.

 

 

Writing tip #4

When writing historical fiction carry your research lightly.  We the reader do not need to know every tiny detail of making a dress in 1840 when your character is a dressmaker, or skinning a rabbit when your character is a poacher.  It is great that you have researched and know exactly how these things are done but for us it may be a bit boring to have too much detail.

Get the voice right and consistent.  Ye Olde English can be pretty trying to read but the odd word used here and there can place a character very firmly in a time and place which is not here and now.  Read books written at the time your novel is set in to get a sense of language.

Look at old photos, paintings and other source material for details that can help your book feel time specific.  How did a hospital look in 1917? There are pictures to help.  What was London like in 1925? There are pictures there to help.  Best not to guess or think it was like today but with horses.

Calling all authors … open submission details

In my new role as Editor-at-Large at Pushkin Press I am delighted to be working on an initiative to encourage authors to send me their unpublished works of fiction.  I will consider the first 20 pages and a synopsis and there is a twenty four hour period from 00.01am  in the early hours to 23.59pm on the 20th June 2016.   I am looking for originality, strong characters, emotional impact and compellingly readable books for young readers 8+.  Please see the Press Release that went out this week.  If you are looking for tips on how to write a great synopsis this is a good place to start https://janefriedman.com/novel-synopsis/

Pushkin Press Announces Open Submission Initiative

Following the appointment of Sarah Odedina as Editor-at-Large for their children’s imprint, Pushkin Press is thrilled to announce the Pushkin Press Open Submission Initiative. Both Pushkin and Odedina believe whole-heartedly in encouraging new talent and this initiative will provide unpublished writers with a golden opportunity to have their work seen by a leading figure in the literary world.

Authors are invited to submit the first 20 pages and a synopsis of their novel, which will then be read by Odedina. Submissions will be open for full length novels for readers 8+.

Odedina previously launched and ran Bonnier imprint Hot Key Books, and before that she was Editor-in-Chief for children’s books at Bloomsbury, where she oversaw publication of the Harry Potter series as well as publishing Neil Gaiman, Louis Sachar, Celia Rees and Chris Priestley.

She said: ‘It takes a lot of energy and courage to finish a book and authors must find the process of getting published daunting. Pushkin Press are very positive about talking directly with authors and we hope that our Open Submissions Initiative will help us build bridges with the writing community and lead to some exciting books being published.’

Adam Freudenheim, Publisher at Pushkin Press, said: ‘Until now, Pushkin Children’s has focussed on previously published books, contemporary and classic, from all over the world. Sarah’s appointment is part of building and extending the Children’s list, and this open submissions initiative is one innovative way we hope to reach out to and discover up-and-coming writers.’

The 24 hour submission period will take place on the 20th June from 00.00 to 23.59, to coincide with the announcement of the 2016 Carnegie Medal, the UK’s most prestigious book prize for fiction for young readers.

Submissions should be sent to books@pushkinpress.com with the subject line ‘SARAH ODEDINA OPEN SUBMISSION MATERIAL’.