Thank You Stay At Home Literary Festival
I am writing this blog only moments after clicking ‘send’ on the scariest email I’ve ever writing – a submission of my book to a publisher. Well, actually, I lie, in retrospect it wasn’t that scary. I thought it was going to be, but I’m feeling oddly zen about the whole thing. Partly because putting the submission email together was actually quite simple – the guidelines made it very clear what to include, so there was no ambiguity there. But mostly, because I know that, odds are, nothing will come of it. An assistant at the publisher (Avon Books for anyone else wanting to submit) will take a glance at the email, perhaps read the blurb I sent over, and that will be that. In 12 weeks, which is how long they estimate they’ll take to respond, I’ll probably get a polite email telling me ‘thanks for submitting, but we’re not interested’.
Upsetting as it will be to get a rejection (and I am working firmly on the basis that I’ll be rejected), I don’t think it will cripple me. Because what I realised when I was considering submitting my book, was that if I am rejected, I’ll be in exactly the same place I am now. Only, I’ll have that positive glow of knowing I took a punt. And for me, and my journey to build my confidence as a writing, taking a punt, sharing my work, being brave and reaching out, is a HUGE win. So no matter what happens between now and that 12-week window, I am proud of myself for taking the chance.
So how did I even come to know about the open submission at Avon? That was through the wonder of the recently held Stay at Home Literary Festival. An event one of my writing group comrades alerted me to, and an event I now regret not participating more in. It was a virtual writing festival, covering everything you could think of in relation to becoming an author.
With all the recent lockdown hubbub, Stay at Home Fest was a wonderful way to connect with other writers, and find inspiration and motivation during a somewhat daunting time. (Although, I have to say, I’ve been feeling oddly motivated since quarantine began – is that just me?)
Sadly I only really started getting involved as the event was winding down (I’d been too busy with work before that) but even so, the insights I gleaned from the limited number of sessions I was able to attend was amazing. And the calibre of guests was fantastic. During several of the sessions it suddenly dawned on me that I was listening to authors whose books were sat on my shelves or waiting to be read on kindle. Hearing from so many people who’d ‘done it’ was a great source of encouragement to me.
As was the fact that no one seemed to agree on how it ‘should’ be done. There were a few themes, but generally, the consensus was that people should write however they want to, write the stories that they want to read, and pretty much ignore what everyone else said.
In summary, I loved it. And without the impetus of Stay at Home Fest, I never would have made that submission to a publisher – not only would I have never found out that open submissions were happening, but I’d never have felt confident enough to do it. So, thank you to everyone involved in organising and running the event – and if by some miracle I do get a book deal from my submission, there’s a dedication of thanks in there for you all.