Tuesday, 3 November 2015

LUCKY SPIDER - by Sharon Tregenza

There’s more than one way to get your children’s novel published  - I went the competition route with my first book "Tarantula Tide".

I saw the advert for Floris Book’s Kelpies prize while I was already half way through a children’s book set in the Shetland Islands. Perfect, I thought. I can finish this in three weeks, I thought.

On the final day I worked non stop from six in the morning - all through that night - and up until five the next day to complete it.

The last post (no email submissions, then) was collected at 5:15. I dropped the ms through the postbox dead on 5:00. I drove home, collapsed and slept for 14 hours straight

I was shortlisted!

The three finalists were invited to the award ceremony at the Floris Books marquee at the Edinburgh Literary Festival.

Wandering around the beautiful city of Edinburgh that day wasn’t the pleasurable experience it should have been. I was worried.

A group of friends and relatives had travelled to support me, including my elderly mother who’d come all the way from Penzance in Cornwall. What if I didn’t win? All that effort and expense could end in nothing more than an awkward journey back home.

I won!

Vivian French presented me with a giant cheque for £2,000 and I made a short wobbly-lipped speech.

We celebrated that night. We do know how to celebrate!

Early the next morning, I had a meeting at the offices of Floris Books for some editing advice, the contract signing and another cheque for the advance. I got to see the book cover too. I loved it.

A few short weeks later "Tarantula Tide" was published.

As I’d graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Trinity St Davids the previous year, they kindly hosted the launch.

The next few weeks were a whirl of school visits and talks. I even found myself holding a real tarantula at Edinburgh Zoo. An experience far less terrifying than I’d imagined.

"Tarantula Tide" also went on to win the Heart of Hawick Prize the following year.

It may not be for everyone, but I recommend the competition route as a way of getting a first book published. It’s been an enjoyable experience for me.

There are several good debut children’s book competitions now. Here are the details for the Kelpies Award: http://www.florisbooks.co.uk/kelpiesprize

Website: www.sharontregenza.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sharontregenzabooks
Twitter: @SharonTregenza


Sue Purkiss said...

Thank you for such a cheery post on a dull November morning!

Emma Barnes said...

Congratulations, Sharon! Though hearing about your mammoth session before getting it posted - well, I'm off to get a cup of coffee!

Pippa Goodhart said...

Lovely story! My first book was also written for a competition, the now defunct Kathleen Fidler Award. It didn't win ... but it did go on to get published and shortlisted for the Smarties Prize. I agree with you, Sharon. Competitions are a brilliant way for new authors to get seriously read, and maybe even published. Congratulations!

Penny Dolan said...

Such a pleasing story (and book, no doubt!)and you look so happy in the photographs, Sharon.

Ann Turnbull said...

Congratulations, Sharon! And well done for seizing the moment - you could so easily have thought you didn't have time. That's a terrific cover too.

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Sharon Tregenza said...

Thank you for the lovely comments everyone.