#Nestpitch2016, David Bowie, Alan Rickman & other news

Hello all & welcome to 2016!images

I know it’s been a while since I posted & I apologise for that, between a memorial, anniversary, 11 immediate family birthdays, Christmas & New Year, I’ve been run off my feet.

First things first.

animated-saint-nicholas-image-0124St.  Nicholas Day Workshop for PB & MG authors.

To my complete surprise, shock actually, not a single person sent in their first 150 words for the workshop – Yup – Not kidding!

Given:

a)      feedback is crucial for improvement

b)      there were two successful authors (in those categories) willing and able to offer feedback, authors who make a living out of their craft full-time.

c)      the *pitch period* was just around the corner

d)     and… although it was not advertised given it was going to be a bonus surprise, a well established, successful, award-winning publishing house editor, with more than 30 years experience in PB & MG, was also going to offer feedback… with the potential of actually requesting full manuscripts…

I am quite disappointed that no aspiring author in the PB/MG category thought a workshop might be of some value. But there it is – or rather could have been!

Anyway, moving right along.Wonderwoman Bunny

– And on the same wavelength. #Nestpitch 2016.

Again another apology – I have success stories to post for #Nestpitch2015, however, for the reasons above, plus the authors who have been successful are currently extremely busy, there has been no time to ‘chat’ and let everyone know the good news – I promise this will come soon!

As for #Nestpitch 2016, I have made a decision and it has not been an easy one. After much consideration and deliberation I have decided to NOT run #Nestpitch2016
The main reason for this year Easter falls early, with Good Friday being March 25th.
Given 2-3 other pitching comps will be running either just before, during or just after this time period, and given the issues we had in 2015 with submission cross-over (and lost submissions), I feel that this is too much to ask from author’s, agents and from those of us behind the scenes.
I am planning to still run Post-it-Forward with Rhiann Wynn-Nolet (assuming people are interested) in early March as I feel this will help authors prepare for other pitching comps. 

uncle-fester#Nestpitch is NOT dead, but rather in hiatus & will return in 2017 !
The lack of interest in the December workshop & the availability of some of my #Nestpitch Team Members contributed to my decision; however I also have a personal reason. 
After A LOT of thinking and re-thinking, I have decided to self publish my WF. This has not been an easy decision, especially given the number of agents who requested partials or fulls. However, because of the the subject matter & the genre & category, there were only about 25-30 agents who best matched my MS. I sent out (in total) 23 submissions. From those sent I received requests for seven partials and  five fulls. Three of the fulls resulted in R&Rs, however those R&Rs did not result in offers. I knew if I did not get an agent offer by September 2015, the novel would not have a hope of being printed before the end of 2017. If you read point (iii) below you’ll understand why 2017 was the latest I wanted this story to be published.

I decided to try a handful of smaller publishers directly. I sent my MS to 7 and got an offer from a small publishing house. I was thrilled. But then something else happened. I’d seen/heard/read of several of my author friends who’d signed with smaller publishers… only to have the publishing house close. I am a supporter of small press – BIG TIME – but it concerned me nevertheless. And as it turned out, I too felt the sting of a small publisher fail – not for this MS but for another piece.giphy (2)

Just as I was in negotiations to sign, a small press contacted me – one who’d accepted a short story of mine  (for an anthology) in Nov 2014. First they said it was to be printed in early 2015, then mid 2015, then late 2015… then in October 2015 I was advised the anthology was cancelled.

I considered this and what if the same thing happened to my novel? So I decided to go it alone – even as I knew this was perhaps the toughest, bravest and likely silliest course of action – even so, it felt *right for me.

Some of you know of this novel. Some of you have been BETAs for me. Those who don’t, I have made this decision because of the above and also because:
(i) I believe in the novel, the storyline & my skills
(ii) I have had enough encouragement and positive feedback from various agents to know that I am not kidding myself
(iii) Because of the subject matter (which, while mostly set in modern-day Melbourne Australia, also deals with the Russian Revolution & the murders of the Romanov’s – and the 100 year anniversary of their executions is July 2017), I believe now and this coming year, is the time to strike with this particular novel.

tumblr_n6pu3mpAd81qzx3jto5_1280I have employed the services of Kate Foster & Lauren McKellar as editors. Kate & Lauren are authors in their own right and well established editors with a bank of authors they have worked with. Kate will edit it first in Jan-2016 and then Lauren in April 2016. I elected to have two editors because I feel the more eyes the better. In fact, I have already employed the services of two editors in the past. One with just the beginning of my MS and another to do a general read-through – I believe in professional eyes!

Between Edit#1 & #2 I will be re-reading and asking a few of my BETAs to re-read, and then again after Lauren is done, May will be spent re-reading. I have also employed the services of an awesome Melbourne Illustrator, with amazing talent and a wonderful reputation as an illustrator, for the cover – Sunshine Herbert

I have purposely chosen an all Australian team, this was important to me, not only because of spelling/grammar/colloquial terminology, but also because these ladies will better conceptualise my images and therefore either offer better suggestions or make greater improvements. Plus, I do think it’s important to support local people wherever possible -we are a large country in mass and volume but small in numbers & we need to support each other.

I am planning to have the novel ready for a launch date in 29th September 2016 and images (5)instead of #Nestpitch2016, this year I will run a series of “my path to self publishing” blogs where I will discuss everything from BETAs, to covers, to marketing, costs, to preparing for failure as well as success. I have been given permission from Kate, Lauren & Sunshine to discuss fees in generalities (every job is different after all). The figures will be very strong guides and will offer excellent potential cost markers for those of you looking to follow the same route. I will also be posting links to their sites as well as sites for other professionals I have used and/or would be happy to recommend, both in Australia and the US.
I will begin the SERIES in Feb-2016 and will be as honest as I possibly can about time frames, financial costs, marketing strategies, editing and other services and so forth.

I am doing this because I feel:

(i) many people are turning to Self Publishing with unrealistic expectations

(ii) no real idea what the process is

(iii) not enough structure/planning

(iv) have a lack of professional people at their dispossal – rather than scammers

(v) no realistic concept of time-frames/time management

For example, I met with an aspiring author in September-2015 who was finishing her first novel. She intended to self publish it; and wanted it out before Christmas. As that stage only one BETA had read it and her *close friend was going to edit it. (Close friend is not and has never been an editor of any kind)

She had no marketing strategy, had never heard of Netgalley, or Smashwords, intended to use stock-standard free-clip-art for her front cover and wasn’t even sure what an ISBN was or why she needed one.

As for a marketing campaign and professional reviewers, she had no idea she needed to create a marketing strategy, saying “Doesn’t Amazon market it for me?” or who/what professional reviewers were and why they need to be sent pre-copies of a novel at least 3 months in advance.

getoveritI listened with interest and then proceeded to burst her bubble, while offering advice, connections, links etc. to people and sites that could/would help her. This is what got me thinking about writing a regular “my path to self publishing” blog post update – all the way up to and including the launch party.

For this reason, after this blog has been posted, and as of Feb 2016, I will be changing the name of this site. #Nestpitch is NOT dead, but rather in hiatus, even so, this blog has become so much more than the sum of one pitching comp. It has become a place to workshop, to read interviews with agents, authors, editors, to read reviews… and now it will be the place where I place my soul up to the Self Publishing God’s and hope I’m not too humbled into submission 😉

The new name eludes me for now. I’m attempting to be clever (because there are few tumblr_inline_mq7vu1fLsQ1qz4rgpthings I am more vain about than my mind – truth!), but given I named my first cat Blackie (she was all black) and thought it was very clever, this new name could take a while. OK I was nine at the time, so perhaps that makes Blackie seem more witty – still if anyone has any suggestions – bring ‘em on!

And before I go, a quick note to remember David Bowie & Alan Rickman.

images (6)I had planned on posting this blog days ago, but those two deaths images (7)have had an impact on me; as I know they have had on so many, many of us, and I needed time to let their losses sink in…& be accepted by both my brain and my heart.

Farewell boys, I never knew you yet I loved you both! Messrs Rickman and Bowie were so much more than Snape & Ziggy, yet for many, these are the images which first form of these two wondrous talents. 

Will we remember Ziggy Stardust & likely the oldest and coolest Emo ever – ALWAYS – RIP fella’s

 

St. Nicholas Day Workshop Submission Now Open !

Hello all & a special hello to all the Picture Book & Middle Grade author’s out there – because it’s time to send in your first 150 for the workshop! If you follow my blog then you’ll know what I’m … Continue reading

St. Nicholas Day 1st 150 Workshop (for PB & MG authors)

Hello all,  As promised I have something special lined up for those of you who are Picture Book and/or Middle Grade authors. I’m calling it St. Nicholas Day 1st 150 Workshop. Many of you will know of the Post-it-Forward pitching … Continue reading

Unmask The Agent results for #Nestpitch2015

stig-unmasked-oHi all,

And it’s that time – Unmask The Agent results for #Nestpitch2015!

Well, I guess I made the clues a little TOO cryptic this year because no one that entered got the entire 12-agents matched correctly.

All together there were 16 people who entered this year’s Unmask the Agent round, and, as there was no clear winner, per the rules, I generated a random selection (OK, I gave each entry a number and draw them out of a hat – yeah technical ha!) anyway… the winner of the $20 Amazon Gift Voucher was an Aussie! Congrats to DB Munro because you’re the winner of the Amazon Voucher.

I have already sent the winner an email & I’m sure the voucher will come in handy as winter sets in here in Australia – nothing better than curling up with a good book – right!

writer-moments1#Nestpitch2015

Over the next week or so I will be working out the stats (‘cos I love stats and I know many of you do also), showing, by category & genre, what was submitted, what was selected by the Mentors, and what was requested by the Agents.

As I tweeted recently, the #Nestpitch blog has rolled over the 25,000 hits mark. For me it was a big milestone, especially given the blog was started in late Jan-2014. As a thank-you, on May 31st I will be randomly selecting one person from those who submitted to #Nestpitch2015, and giving away ANOTHER $20 Amazon Voucher. And again the winner will be notified via email and announced on this blog.

I hope to see you ‘all popping in frequently of the coming weeks and months as we close off Nestpitch for 2015. We will keep you ‘all updated on the progress of those authors who had requests and of course, we will also run our semi-regular segment Five Minutes With…

Additionally, I am planning of running a workshop for PG & MG authors in early December – more details to come closer to the date.

For now, thank you for being part of Nestpitch, for supporting this blog and comp and a big thank you to all the Mentors, Slushies and Agents involved, because let’s face it, without their support, there would be no comps like #Nestpitch.

giphyAnd speaking of comps, don’t forget that Query Kombat is about to start. The fun starts on May 21st. Our very own Mentor SC is one of the hosts! For more info, go to: http://michelle4laughs.blogspot.com.au/

Best of luck with that one if you’re planning on entering, and even if you’re not, go over to Michelle’s blog and check it out. There are dozens and dozens of interviews with agents and some many helpful tips that it’s a blog you should be following.

#Nestpitch 2015 & St. Nicholas Day

19991Hi All!

Following on from my last post I wanted to talk a little today about the changes I’m planning for #Nestpitch 2015

The first is the Mentor/Team System.

In 2014 we had some AWESOME submissions however, and this is not the case for all submissions, there were several agents who, on requesting pages and query letters, were left a little disappointed that the quality/voice/lack of grammatical errors (etc.) did not translate beyond page one, two or three. Others failed in the query letter stage. While the pages may have been good, the query did not “grip” and QL’s are (sadly) part of the process. As I say, this was not the case for the majority of submissions, however, there were enough such comments to have me look at how I can improve on the submission process.

So this got me thinking. The basic process WILL remain the same, that is to say, the concept of Easter Nests & Secret Bunny Agents will remain, however the selection process will be MUCH TOUGHER – not because I’m cruel! but to get the very best submissions before agents.

snoopyeasterMentor Teams:

In 2015 there will be MENTOR TEAMS made up of a Team Leader (Mentor) and his/her Slush Bilbies (2-3 readers). Each Team will work separately but will also working with the other Teams, & select their top picks.

Selection Process:

The initial steps will remain. 35-word pitch & first 300 words but instead of the Mentors picking & featuring eight (8) submissions, the Mentors will pick “between 5-8” (plus two alternates) and of those, they will request both the Query Letter & either the first chapter or the first 2500-words. The query WILL NOT be featured but will form part of the Mentor Selection Process. The Teams, who will pick a name (e.g #TeamWinnerWinnerChickenDinner) and then read their picked queries, pitches & first chapter. They will have 3 weeks to read through, request more, send revised notes & request a revised version (the author has 5 days to reply) or reject completely. After 4-weeks each Team will feature their picks on their blogs.

The final number per Team is yet to be decided but will not be less than five or more than eight per Team. Every member of the Team will feature the selected submissions. For example #TeamWinnerWinnerChickenDinner will feature their author’s pitches + first 300-words on each Team Members Blog(although the Agent bidding will only happen on the Team Leaders Blog)

This way each author benefits 3 ways:

(i)                 More exposure

(ii)               Feedback which will benefit them in their pitch, the query letter & page requests.

(iii)             Enough time (after sending any revised pages back) to work through any repeating issues in their MS before agent requests come through.

tumblr_mfnljv4qMl1qiwqjeo2_400From The Slush-Pile:

Additional to the above, I will select my own “saved from the slush-pile” submissions. This could be as few as one or as many as five or six and is utterly at my own discretion. Basically, if I feel very strongly about certain submissions that were not picked by the Mentors, I will give these a second chance. The process will be the same. For example, if there are three I feel should be featured, all three will need to send their query letters & first chapter at which point I will read, revise, reject and request… and then make my selection.

Regardless of if there is one or more, these will form part of the Agent Round also. Essentially I’ll be looking for hidden gems that need a little bit more polishing.

Cuteness overloaded#PitchBootCamp:

In 2014 I ran a short bootcamp for 35-word pitches with the awesome Rhiann Wynn-Nolet. It was an opportunity to sharpen your pitches with feedback from Rhiann & myself as well as an open forum for others to comment & participate. I can tell you that many who were involved considered this an excellent way to prefect their pitches, not just for #Nestpitch but for other pitches.

Assuming Rhiann is available, I do intend to run this again; stay tuned.

Feedback:

As with #Nestpitch2014, I will be offering feedback to those who just missed out as I think it’s important for people who were “just about there” to know this. Sometimes the reasoning can be as simple as what else has been selected, or Agent Wish-Lists or Mentor preferences, other times it might be issues with grammar or a poor query letter that lets down the submission. This is what (I feel) author’s need to know.

cuddle bunnie kitten 1PictureBooks:

I adore Picture Books and that is why I featured them in #Nestpitch2014 however, sadly, although we had a lot submitted, very few were submission ready and none got requests. For this reason, I am unsure if we will be accepting PB’s for #Nestpitch 2015. My heart says yes so I’ll let you know in 2015.

However, all is not lost for PB’s.

Although I don’t have the time this year (too many things on before the end of 2014), I intend to run an online workshop December 6th 2015 for PB’s. Why this date? Simple, its St. Nicholas day & for those of you who know me, know I just LOVE LOVE LOVE traditions. (in fact it’s actually where the more modern tradition of Christmas Stocking filling comes from).1092157-Clipart-St-Nicholas-Day-Greeting-Over-A-Shoe-With-Goodies-Royalty-Free-Vector-Illustration

In the area of Croatia I come from there still remains the tradition of gifts for children on St. Nicholas day. In fact, for a very long time, right up until the 1950s or 1960s, that was the day children got presents while Christmas day was for family, feasts, religion etc.

On December 5th eve, children take their best pair of shoes and polish and polish and polish them. When the shoes are shiny clean they are left on the front porch, or covered stoop (remembering this is winter and where I come from if its not snowing in December it is surely raining!) Then St. Nicholas comes along and leaves something in each shoe depending on the quality of the polish and the behaviour of the child in the past year.

(i)                 Super good children, basically angels, get something special, chocolate

(ii)               really good children get a toy

(iii)             good children get fruit (oranges in winter were considered a treat)

(iv)             Naughty children get a lump of coal

(v)               Very naughty children get either onions or garlic shoved into their shoes. For many months after, each time they go to wear the shoes, the smell reminds them to be better next year.

2369d799254b142e6f62b73033ca79e8FYI traditionally St. Nicholas travelled with the Devil. St. Nicholas gave the gifts & the Devil left the coal & onions!

While we’ll ignore the coal and the garlic, in 2015 I’ll b running a PB workshop. Sometime in November 2015 I’ll be asking for PB submissions. Then, from December 6th to Christmas Eve, each day I feature the pitch plus first 100-words of various PB’s. Clearly I can only accept 18 submissions so it will be first come first serve I’m afraid.

From December 6th people will come along and leave a “gift” along with a short sentence as to why they chose an orange rather than chocolate. The 18 PB authors featured will be required to each leave a comment on at least 3 submissions between Dec 6th & 24th, & will also need to help “spread the word” for others to come along and “play St. Nicholas” thereby ensuring everyone gets feedback.

On Dec 25th the top 3-5 (PB’s that got the best presents) will be re-featured on the #Nestpitch blog. There is more to it, but basically that’s it. The idea is to help PB writers sharpen their own work while also getting feedback from the general public. Unlike a #pitchcomp this is not about agents asking for requests (although if an agent does contact me I promise to pass on the requests!), it’s about a forum for PB authors.

I’ve posted this early as I’d very much like feedback from you’all on the planned changes

and of course any suggestions would also be very welcome.

Drafy Nest Pich Logo last stage