I have some writing news (or, skip this and read about my trip to Betty’s, if you prefer!).
You may remember, back in June, I wrote about the Kate Nash Literary Agency Book Camp opportunity. (Only I called it ‘boot camp’ – doh! Have now amended it)
The Agency was looking for 5 or 6 potential ‘mentees’ and you had to send in 20,000 words of your unfinished novel, a synopsis and a covering letter. The deadline was 1st July and I urged you to make haste, if you wanted to apply.
I submitted my work and…well, they didn’t pick 5 or 6 in the end, they picked 17 and I am one of them. Eek.
So now, amazingly, I have an agent. (But no novel yet!). I seem to have done things a bit back-to-front.
This is the press release that went out yesterday and appeared on The Bookseller website:
Kate Nash Agency launches writer mentorship programme
Kate Nash Literary Agency has launched #BookCamp, a new mentorship programme designed to accelerate the careers of promising new* writers.
Seventeen authors have been selected by the agency to be mentored, writing across many genres from literary to commercial fiction.
Over a six-month period writers will be working, with individual editorial help from an agent, to complete their novels. At the same time the agency is offering a series of workshops and seminars on masterclass level practical creative writing topics and also on the practical business of being a new author.
Nash said: “This is a huge investment for a small company but sat where we are in prime place not just to spot but nurture new talent, we thought we should offer more of that nurturing and help shape writer’s work from an earlier stage. We’ve surprised ourselves by wanting to offer representation to 17 writers but we were bowled over by the talent.”
The list of successful applicants features Jon Barton, Christopher Byford, Annabel Campbell, Radostina Christova, Joanne Clague, Adam Cook, Louise Davidson and Kate Galley.
Also joining the programme are Nicola Jones, Imogen Martin, Katie McDermott , Samantha Pennington, Tony O’Reilly, Georgia Summers, Laura Sweeney, Kathryn Whitfield and Helen Yendall.
In all, 335 writers applied to #BookCamp, sending in the first 20,000 words of their novels-in-progress for evaluation.
Agency director Justin Nash said: “It’s been a glorious summer of reading. The overall quality of work submitted was extremely high meaning we had some tough decisions but also I think that lockdown has provided many aspiring authors valuable time to work on their craft.”
* I’m .. ahem, not quite a ‘new’ writer (and am slightly worried that I might be the oldest mentee in the group!) but I AM new to the novel-writing/getting published game! It’s exciting but also a bit scary. I foresee a lot of hard work ahead and, of course, no guarantee of a published novel at the end of it! Wish me luck!
Oh and if you’re wondering why a writer might need an agent – and what they actually do – Simon Whaley (who, incidentally, is also agented by Kate Nash!) has written a great article about it (‘Agent Attraction’) here.
And, in other news, last week I went up North for a few days and visited one of the famous Betty tea rooms (in Harrogate. Established in 1919! Other Betty tea shops are available).
It was an extra-special outing because we had my mum with us and it was just about the first ‘eatery’ any of us had been to since lockdown started. After a bit of a nervous start – and a short queue outside – we were IN and it was lovely!
The waitresses had visors on, bless ‘em but it still didn’t stop their cheeky chatter:
ME: (as we paid our bill): It was the first time for all of us.
WAITRESS: Ooh, I love a Betty’s virgin, me!*
ME: Ah, but we’re not virgins any more.
WAITRESS: NOOOO! You’ve all popped your cherry!
(* don’t suppose that was their usual banter in 1919!)
The afternoon tea was fabulous and instead of their usual 18 tables in the section we were in, they only had SEVEN. So, lots of lovely social-distancing going on (unlike the village pub we went to the next night, whose ingenious ‘one-way-system’ ensured that everyone, whether they were just propping up the bar, eating, or going to the loo, had to go past everyone else and have the most ‘contact’ possible. Aaagh!).
Have you ventured out into the world much lately?
Great news re Kate Nash. So wish I’d entered now….. Good luck. It’s about time you blossomed into a best selling novelist. Don’t forget the rest of us when you’re famous.
Thanks, Linda! If that day ever comes.. no, I won’t forget you! (oh you have such faith in me!)
This is such good news! Well done Helen. All the best – I’m sure you’ll be a model ‘mentee’. Hoorah!
Thanks, Ninette! Now you know why I needed that photo the other day! I noticed that one of the other mentees had proper professional photos taken, at a stately home! Eek. I might need to up my game a bit…!
Helen that’s AMAZING news!!! So happy for you, so well deserved. Now you just have to sit down and write that novel! 😉
Thanks, Philippa! I have written about 60k of it but who knows, once I start working with the agent, he may suggest I change some of it?! So perhaps I’m not as far ahead as I thought. Anyway, time will tell!
60K is a nice big chunk, you’re well on the way! Savour this lovely moment. 🙂
Helen-I am so pleased for you. I look forward to coming to your book launch (remember those?) when your novel gets published. Congratulations-its great to hear such lovely news.
Thanks, Barbara. It might be a long time coming..! And talking of book launches, I do feel sorry for authors who’ve had books launched during lockdown and have had to do everything ‘virtually’.
Well done, Helen. You’re an inspiration! Really pleased for you. Best get writing!
I’ve been to the Betty’s in York before, but not the Harrogate one. Last time I was there the world road cycling championships were on and it looked a bit crowded…
Thanks, Kathleen. Yes, you wouldn’t want to go when it’s crowded. Apparently, they usually have a pianist playing upstairs, for people having afternoon tea but because of Covid, he’s not there at the moment (suppose it wouldn’t be the same if he had to sit there in a visor!)
Congratulations, Helen! So pleased for you and can’t wait to read the novel.
Thank you, Patricia!
Huge congrats, Helen. Sounds like it will be an incredible experience. Also, yum, that cake looks lovely.
Thank you, Nicola. I am very excited about it all, yes. (and a bit nervous!)
That’s fantastic news, Helen. Well done. looking forward to reading the book!
Thanks Sandy! Don’t hold your breath.. might be a while yet!
Well done Helen. You must be so pleased. Have your feet touched the ground yet?
Thanks, Margaret. No, it still hasn’t quite sunk in, I must admit!
Congratulations on becoming a protege ([lease imagine the accents are in place). I look forward to hearing all about it as the scheme progresses. As for Betty’s, queuing is normal there, but to have only seven tables must have been bliss. Whenever I’ve been there it’s been VERY cosy. I’m not going anywhere I don’t have to, yet, although I did venture to Kirby Hall (National Trust) for a walk around the grounds. I even ventured to buy an ice-cream.
Hi Julia and thank you. Yes, I’ve ventured to just one NT property (and only outside) too since lockdown. It all still feels a bit scary out there, doesn’t it? It was lovely to have lots of space around us in Betty’s and they gave us a lovely window/corner seat so we could look out at sunny Harrogate and people-watch, while we ate and drank. All very civilised!
Fab news about Book Camp, Helen! Congratulations! Couldn’t happen to a nicer person. I hope you will be allowed to keep us all updated as the process unfolds, as it sounds extremely interesting. Very best wishes as you celebrate. Delicious memories of visiting Betty’s some years ago when in Harrogate for a family wedding. However, as we were broke and had three small children, we bought our pastries ‘to go’ and ate them on a park bench across the road. I seem to recall us all sitting in a row, munching eclairs from paper bags…
Aw, thank you Eirin, that’s very kind. At least you went! (to Betty’s) and it was clearly a memorable experience!
Congratulations, and lots of luck, Helen! Excellent news.
Thank you, Penny!
Great news, Helen! So excited for you – very, very, well done! Alll good wishes Kate Hogan