Writing Life

Giant news!

No three things post today … just one HUGE thing instead. Small! has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2023!

I can’t thank all the amazing booksellers at Waterstones enough for championing Small! from the start – from hosting the launch party to inviting me in for events and letting me scrawl my name inside their copies. I’ve loved every second.

Giant thanks also go to:

  • my brilliant indie publisher, Everything With Words . It’s great to be flying the flag for small (but mighty) presses with this prize
  • Rory Walker, Small’s illustrator. So much of the book’s humour comes from Rory’s wonderfully daft artwork – he brings the words to life in ways I could never have imagined
  • my agent, Lydia Silver, for believing in Small! (even when the big publishers turned it down). It wouldn’t have found a home without her.

Waterstones announces the overall winner on 30th March. Until then, expect me to pop up with my book stamps and signing pen in Waterstones branches everywhere.

Here’s a mini gallery of my signing excursions so far.

Oh, and if you haven’t read Small! yet, do pick up a copy in your local Waterstones. You could even pre-order the sequel, Small Bites Back, too 😀

Practical tips

Announcing your debut

1.Your first book might not be ‘the one’

Always have another project on the go

I thought signing with an agent would make getting published plain sailing. Alas, when the book that bagged my agent didn’t bag a publisher, I learned things don’t always work that way.

Luckily, by the time the rejections came through, I was totally immersed in the new project that became SMALL! So although the ‘no’s were disappointing, I was having enough fun in my new giant world to keep my chin up. That’s the big thing I’d recommend to anyone going on submission: always have another project on the go.

2. There’s probably a long wait ahead

Find a debut community

The next thing I hadn’t realised was how long you have to stay quiet about your book deal once you’ve signed it. (It was about eight months for me, but when telling the world about your book deal is the most exciting thing to have happened to you in the history of the world ever, those months feel like years.)

To handle the wait, find other writers who are waiting, too. I joined a Twitter group for 2022 debuts and it’s been the best place to quietly chat about the ups and downs of the publishing journey.You can see what the group’s up to (when we’re allowed to share news) by following @2022Debut on Twitter and Instagram.

3. Enjoy the moment…when it comes

Seriously, enjoy it

I love telling stories. But that doesn’t mean the rejections that paved the way to publication – whether getting a (constructive) battering in a crit group, a form rejection from an agent or a ‘no’ from a publisher – didn’t sting.

My debut was announced to the world yesterday. And, for now at least I’m allowing myself time to grin widely, skip wildly and check Twitter ever so slightly obsessively (I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and excitement people are showing SMALL! on social media. The kidlit writing community really is the best).

There are tough days in this writing game, but boy are the good days glorious.