I Get By With a Little Help From my Friends

Posted by Sara Grant

As writers we battle with our computers for thousands of lonely hours – sweating over plot and wrestling characters. We read and revise and move words and punctuation around on the page until we can see no room for improvement.

               But we aren’t the best judge of our own work. Sometime we are too critical. We let our inner critic or a fear of failure keep our precious manuscripts forever in a state of flux – or worse yet hidden away. And we read the story we think we put on the page. We know what we intended to create and puzzle why others can’t follow our sometimes random ramblings

               I’ve never written a novel that didn’t need – as John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote – a little help from my friends. I’m lucky to have a wonderful agent and editors who offer advice, feedback and support. Also I’ve been in writers’ groups for nearly 20 years. That routine of giving and receiving feedback from like-minded writers has always been an invaluable part of my creation process.

      Book Bound started as four friends who were also authors and editors gathering to write together. At first we planned writers’ weekends with regimented writing schedules. It was a great motivator to work alongside amazing writers/editors like Karen Ball, Sara O’Connor and Jasmine Richards and feel encouraged to create. And, yes, we left plenty of time for good food and drink, wacky excursions and late night chats.

               These weekends evolved to include more opportunities to learn from one another. We’d brainstorm solutions if one of us was having plot problems. We’d shared our mistakes and successes. We eventually suggested topics and took turns leading discussions. I would walk away from these weekends inspired – and with thousands of words written.

               There’s magic in gathering with people who are as passionate about writing and children’s literature as you are. There’s power in sharing your ideas, getting feedback and learning from one another.

               We hope to find a small group of writers who are willing to join us for a weekend of inspiration, collaboration and camaraderie. And if you can’t make it to Book Bound, we hope you’ll find a group of passionate and dedicated writers and organize your own writers’ retreat.

               I’ve done more than get by with help from my friends. These weekends have helped me achieve my dream of becoming a published writer. I couldn’t have done it without their encouragement, advice and friendship.

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Everyone’s An Expert – Karen Ball

Posted by Karen Ball

Several years ago, when I first attempted to write a Young Adult novel, I distinctly remember sitting propped up in bed with my laptop. (Where I’m sat right now, writing this.) I Googled ‘How to write a YA novel’ and a link came up to an author blog. That author was writing exhaustively and at what looked like an exhausting rate, all about the process of being a children’s and YA author. Her advice was crucial, but this was about the only resource I could find online.

How things have changed. Now, a hopeful author, poking their nose out of the front door, will find a queue of professionals lined up on their front path, offering to help for money. From publishers to agents, freelance editors and consultancy services, everyone suddenly wants to offer their advice.

The one question a savvy author might ask is, ‘Why?’ Why now, all of a sudden? It’s a good question to ask.

The world of publishing has changed, but you probably don’t need me to tell you that. Once upon a time, authors clamoured for publication, publishers chose books they felt passionate about, sent them out into the world, and readers gratefully lapped them up. All very orbital. Authors and readers circled the publisher like stars around a planet. Everyone knew and understood where they were in the galaxy.

Then, other things started happening. Self-publishing became a genuine path to success for some – some! – authors. Fan fiction became a compelling commercial prospect. Someone invented an iPad and another person invented a Kindle. Ebook sales took off and no one really knew how earnings should be split from this new avenue of sales. Everyone trembled in the face of what had happened to the music industry, with illegal downloads decimating the legitimate market. Large online book retailers started muscling in on the publishing action. Intellectual Property became hot news. (If you don’t know what IP is, it’s what you own in the novel you’ve written – the idea. An idea that can be sold around the world.) In short, the world changed rapidly around publishers. They were no longer at the beating heart of the industry and it was time for them to change, too.

The publishing industry realised that it can no longer stand on a pedestal, handing out books that a grateful readership might want to read. It’s now much more 360 degree than that. There should be a collaboration with both authors and readers. This means no longer having websites that are little more than selling tools. It means actively engaging with writing talent, because otherwise that writing talent might go somewhere else or just publish themselves. And it means exploring new avenues of publishing. It also means that industry professionals are choosing to share with writers like you the benefit of their wisdom and experience. Happy days!

So, if you’re going to allow someone to help you with your children’s or YA novel, why choose Book Bound? We’ve spent the best part of two years preparing for this retreat. We’ve chosen a stunning and inspiring location. We have put together a series of workshops that will give you a comprehensive strategy, moving forwards. We’ve drawn together a panel of agents who every author should want to meet.

Most of all, from our own writing endeavours we know what it’s like to dream of being Book Bound. Sometimes feeling lost and confused, not always knowing what the right course of action is. We understand that. Yet, we’ve all had experience as commissioning editors, which means we also understand the industry.

If you’re looking for support from people who’ve sweated over their own first drafts, you can come to us. If you’re looking for industry knowledge and experience, you can also come to us.

We can’t wait to meet you!

Karen