I stumbled upon Lou’s blog by chance quite some time ago. It will be of interest to all writers, but particularly those writing for children. Among other things, her section on children’s publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts is an extremely useful resource, and is updated regularly. She writes stories, plays and poems, and has contributed several articles to Writing Magazine.
I put a few questions to Lou just before Christmas:
- I have to start with the boring, predictable ones – how did you get into writing, and in particular what motivated you to start your blog?
I’ve always written really throughout my life – in fact, I went out into our office room which is in the garden today looking for something and ended up wading through piles of stuff, years and years of work which never came to anything. A complete waste of time, or a wonderful escape? Probably a bit of both! I started a blog because I thought it would be a good ‘shop window’ for my writing – this was a few years ago in 2010 when I had a few completed books and was starting to take submitting to publishers and agents seriously. I decided straight away that I didn’t want just a chatty blog. I didn’t think I could do it, and also I wanted to create something useful and factual that people could dip into as a resource. The motivation to keep going definitely comes from having a good amount of followers; I’ve had other things which have tailed off because you know you’re only connecting with three people.
- How do you compile your list of publishers and agents? Do you contact them directly or is it just information you’ve picked up along the way?
It was a list I started making for myself using the Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook originally, then using that information to research the various websites. I add to it when people tell me they’ve come across somebody, or from market information in the Writers’ News section of Writing Magazine. And a couple of times a publisher or agent has contacted me to ask me to add or amend their details. I remember reading a book about marketing when I started doing pet portraits, and the writer recommended sharing resources even when it helps your competitors. On his website he had a list of all the other companies that did the same as him, which I thought was pretty brave! I also belong to a very supportive writers’ forum (Talkback) whose members often share markets and I like that sort of writerly comradeship so that’s why I like to share information I find.
- What sort of writing do you enjoy yourself?
I love all sorts of writing really; over the years I’ve written picture books, books for 8-12 year olds, young adult fiction, poetry and non fiction. I haven’t yet succeeded in my aim to have a children’s book published but this year I have had 3 articles published in Writing Magazine and have been commissioned to write a chapter on Social Media for Writers for a writing handbook due to come out next year. My new passion is playwriting as I have joined my local am dram group and discovered that am dram needs script, especially ones they don’t have to pay copyright for! So far I’ve had six sketches performed and am currently in rehearsals for my own panto, Red Riding Hood vs the Three Little Pigs. The pigs are the baddies! I started sending plays and sketches off to competitions too and managed to win one of them: Pint Sized Plays 2013. It was a great feeling so playwriting is definitely an area I’ll be pursuing along with everything else.
- What are your future writing plans or goals?
In the short term, finish the current YA book I’m writing, complete a murder mystery comedy play and write a book about blogging. In the long term the dream is still to get a traditional publishing contract for a children’s book, but I’d also love to get a play or panto accepted by one of the big publishers like Samuel French.
Now you have seen how well Lou handled my tough and insightful grilling, pop over to her blog – where there’s a lot more than a list of publishers!