#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

Review – Rich & Rare A collection of Australian stories, poetry & artwork

Well, it’s been a while since I updated & there’s been a lot happening behind the scenes – but more on that later 🙂 Today I’m reviewing “Rich & Rare” – another from the Ford Street Publishing stable. I was … Continue reading

Anaiah Press Launch – Join in the Celebrations!

Hello all, As most of you know, #Nestpitch is all about spreading news, helping promote opportunities and offering help and guidance wherever and whenever possible. Today I can share wonderful news and with it wonderful opportunities for writers across many … Continue reading

ScoreCards – Results


funny bunny 3Hello all,

And here we are, first day of May… I swear it was Christmas just last week?

I hope everyone liked my graphs and charts 🙂 And now, for the every last stage of #Nestpitch 2014 –– the results of the Scorecards. But before I move on to them, let me quickly remind you that this blog will continue to post updates on other #pitching  comps, hold interviews with authors, writers, editors, agents and publishers and generally keep everyone up-to-date on the comings and goings of the fun and funny world of writing, so don’t abandon us!

OK, on to the Scorecard results.

The ten reserve pitches were all re-read by the slushies and myself & scored out of 50, with a max. score of 20 for the pitch and 30 for the first 300* words.  Those scores were then added up and divided by 8 to give an average.  The top three average scores are listed below, in no specific order. with the title, the category / genre and their pitch… pssst! Agents! — look below, there might be something you like 🙂

The three top pitches are not in any particular order and in fact, two of the pitches got the exact same score and the third was only one point difference.

Title: The Mark of the Wielder

Genre: YA Fantasy

Word-Count: 68,000

Pitch: Spurred on to avenge her friend’s death, eighteen year old Journey Stanton seeks to massacre the Wielders. Her only problem- she just became one.

Title: Dandelion Wishes

Genre: Picture Book

Word Count: 599

Pitch: 4 year-old Gia and her mother marvel in the changing seasons from their hilltop, until dandelion wishes disappear, and with them Gia’s sense of magic. She finds it again in her first experience of snow.

Title: ZANNA AND THE ELEPHANT

Genre: Picture Book

Word count: 555 words

Pitch: Clashing parents aren’t fun. But Zanna has more pressing problems: How to dispose of the growing elephant in her house? Will Zanna’s tricks be enough, or will everything collapse with a big Crash-Bang?

Can I say I’m thrilled two PB’s got through to be featured! And I have to admit, they were two of my favourites — Congrats to all three Authors; here’s hoping an agent sees your pitches and asked for more 🙂

And now for the other seven (7) pitches — in no particular order, will be listed as I believe it’s important to acknowledge good work.

Title: MAGE OF CLIFFPORT ; Cat/Genre: Adult Fantasy ; Word-Count: 93,000 words

Title: KNEE BITERS ; Cat/Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy ; Word-Count: 81,000 words

Title: THE POINT ; Cat/Genre: (A) Women’s Fiction; Word-Count: 89,000

Title: THUNDER BORN ; Cat/Genre: Young Adult Fantasy ; Word Count: 92,000

Title: THE UNBELIEVABLE MISADVENTURES OF AVERY MANN ; Cat/Genre: MG Contemporary Fantasy; Word-Count: 69,000

Title: BUTTERFLY GIRL ; Cat/Genre: Upper MG / Magical Realism ; Word-Count: 44,000

Title: XO ; Cat/Genre:  Adult Contemporary ; Word-Count: 89,000

Yes it’s a short post, but the last one was on the longish side so  it all balances out in the end. Now show your love and make a comment on the featureddancingSuper natural pitches; and if you’re one of the pitch-ee’s — do this >>>>

Seriously, congrats on a great job and honestly, you’ll see from the scorecards/comments that a lot of the final decisions came down to subjectiveness 🙂

Best of luck guys! I hope the scorecards and feedback will help you identify which areas are working well and which could do with a little sharpening.

And now, please excuse my indulgence in some shameless self-promotion:
19991The Nestpitch blog up for BEST BLOG Site 2014 (Australia) & there’s also a Peoples Choice Award.   Voting is open to everyone worldwide & is anonymousso I’ll never know if you voted or not (but if you do, thank you, I know some of you have already voted, & this is greatly appreciated).  If you can spare a  minute and would like to vote, here’s the link:

http://www.writerscentre.com.au/community/best-australian-blogs-comp/peoples-choice/

 

 

 

Stats & Trends — NestPitch 2014

tumblr_mzd9dpX6nH1shf8zxo1_500Hello All,

As we round up to the end of the month, it’s time to share some stats with you all. (everyone loves stats as much as me right?It’s OK, I’ve done all the work for you.

**Note:I will be sending out Scorecards to the 10-reserves & posting the results of those scorecards in two days. I decided to split the scorecards and stats when I realised how much space the stats would need.

So down to the Fun Facts & Figures.

We had around 220 submissions, of which almost 200 were accepted. (Several did not meet the guidelines, remember people Submission 101- follow the guidelines). The final submissions were made up of:

24 % = Picture Books / 11 % = MG  /  33% = YA  /  8 % = NA  /  24% = Adult30. Tawny-bellied hermit

Of those submitted the following % were selected by the Bloggers to feature on their blogs (as a number not a %):

PB = 4 / MG = 10 /YA = 31 / NA = 10 / Adult = 17

The first thing you might notice is that, while the % of Picture Book submissions was high, the number selected was quite low.  Without going into a great deal of detail, what I can say is we all saw so much potential in so many of the PB’s but many simply weren’t submission ready.  The other thing I find interesting is how many NA’s were selected in comparison to the number submitted.  As you can see, NA submissions made up 8% of the total but the number selected equalled that of MG.  More on NA further down – some interesting trends 🙂

Because I know everyone likes pretty pictures, here’s a chart which will better explain the above:

Agent Requests turned

The above compares the number of category manuscripts selected by the Bloggers (blue) with the number of requests from Agents (violet).  As you can clearly see, while YA was both selected and requested the most, the difference between selected and requested is smallest between the NA & Adult categories. Below we compare, submitted, selected & requested:

Chart 2 turned

As you can clearly see the pale blue, (NA= pale blue), in the first column shows it was the least submitted category, followed by MG. The third column shows the difference in the number submitted and the number selected by the bloggers.  Again, NA stands out.  While the physical number is low, the % of selected by blogger compared to submitted by pitch-ee, blows all the other’s out of the water.  Further down you may see why this is.

Now, before I go further, we have to take out the variable of solid writing.  If  the writing wasn’t solid, the pitch would not have been selected.  We must also take out the possibility of a pitch chosen based on Category alone, i.e. to make up the numbers.  When it comes to category diversity, first must always come quality of writing, followed by category diversity.  The reason I’m qualifying this is, further down as there appear to be some obvious trends that might explain the above graph.

The next graph looks at across the board category (excluding PB).  What we are looking for is, regardless of category, what are the agents genre choices.

Chart3 turnedAs you can see, the most popular choices by the agents were clearly fantasy or fantasy mix. By mix I mean, Historical-Fantasy, Fantasy-Romance, etc.  Contemporary, Romance, Adventure, Mystery/Thriller and WF also were quite popular.

However, what the above chart doesn’t take into account is the numerous requests for the same pitch.  And of course we need to keep in mind that the agents who took part in NestPitch have their own preferences, even so, with ten agents from nine agencies, the cross-section of agent WishList was well catered for.

Below I have included all 98 requests from agents, including multiple agents requesting the same pitch. As you can see, fantasy and contemporary were the most popular pitches.  And Fantasy-mix was quite healthy too as was Romance-mix.  In fact, Romance-mix was much more popular than straight Romance, this may be something to keep in mind; Romance + (something else such as say mystery or adventure) = larger interest pool.  Naturally, the below is a small selection and we can neither dismiss a genre (e.g. Romance) nor a category.  Also, NEVER write to “meet the trend” because, let’s face it, by the time you’re done fashion/taste may have changed.

Chart4 turned

Now lets look more closely at each category (excluding PB’s) and what’s trending. MG submission break down; largest portion of MG submissions were in the Fantasy genre, though contemporary was close second:

Chart6 turned

YA submission break down; largest portion of YA submissions were in the Fantasy genre, though, as with MG, contemporary was second:

Chart YA Turned

NA submission break down;  while  the largest portion of NA submissions were in the Romance/Romance-mix genre’s, I have to say, with a HUGE smile on my face, that more than ½ of the submissions were not Romance Genre based.

I say this with a smile because this goes to prove two things.  New Adult IS A CATEGORY – accept it folks! And non NA Romance novels are being written and requested by agents… and this is why I feel there was such a strong request % for NA in NestPitch – because they were not all romance.  Don’t get me wrong, romance is great, but diversity is always what we strive for 🙂

NA Chart turned

Adult submission break down; largest portion of Adult submissions were in the Fantasy genre, though barely, with Contemporary, Women’s Fiction and Fantasy-Mix all following close behind – and yes I know Fantasy-Mix is still Fantasy 🙂

Adult Chart turned

And finally, I have a breakdown of the pages requested by the agents as a table showing what was the most common request size. What I find interesting here is the peaks and dips. Most agents requested at least 25-pages + Synopsis with around the same number of requests for 50- pages as there were for 15-pages.

98 turned

I hope everyone had fun playing along with Nestpitch 2014, remember come back in a few days time to see which pitches made the reserves – and you are welcome to give feedback/leave comments.

So until then, Ciao-Ciao for now 🙂

And now, please excuse my indulgence in some shameless self-promotion:

BottyShake_randomgoodstuff The Nestpitch blog up for BEST BLOG Site 2014 (Australia) & there’s also a Peoples Choice Award.   Voting is open to everyone worldwide & is anonymousso I’ll never know if you voted or not (but if you do, thank you, I know some of you have already voted, & this is greatly appreciated).  If you can spare a  minute and would like to vote, here’s the link:

http://www.writerscentre.com.au/community/best-australian-blogs-comp/peoples-choice/