How did you get a publishing deal?
A couple of months ago I managed to get a publishing deal and since then I can't count the amount of times I've been asked how I managed to secure a publishing deal, so I thought I'd write a little blog post dedicated to explaining how I got a deal with Hashtag Blak. I hope it's useful.
Firstly, I'm always entering writing competitions on this website https://creativewritingink.co.uk/writing-competitions/, so if you're not already entering writing competitions look out for websites like this, I enjoy using them because it helps me to write in different styles such as, poetry, children's fiction, flash fiction etc. It's also great for practising; keeping to deadlines, receiving feedback and dealing with rejections. Since, I've been entering competitions, I've been waiting for something aimed at YA writers to come up. So, I was ecstatic when I saw the competition for a Black British YA writer pop up, it was like it was made for me. So, I followed the guidelines which was to submit my first three chapters, an author bio (which was a lot harder than I anticipated, but a really nice opportunity for you to celebrate you and your specific writing talents - if you're serious about writing, try preparing one of these in advance) and an outline of my novel.
Once I had submitted, I sat back and prepared myself to hear from Hashtag Blak within the next 4 weeks. At most, I was preparing myself for a rejection and hoping for some useful feedback ( A rejection means you at least tried and someone read your work).
A week later, I received an email requesting the rest of the book (which I hadn't properly written yet). DISCLAIMER: I do not advise this next step! So, not wanting to miss an opportunity to get my writing in front of this amazing publishing house I asked them if I could have a week to proofread the rest of my book and then I spent 7 days - writing, editing, proofreading a further 20+ chapters. This was not easy and did not help to produce my best work and I really, really would not advise it -especially if you are working full-time, have a toddler and you are trying to keep your relationship.
Buttttt, the risk paid off and a few days later the ladies at Hashtag called to offer me a publishing deal! Now, at first I didn't believe what I was hearing - I genuinely just thought I was going to get some feedback and some helpful next steps. I couldn't believe my luck, the confusion probably showed on my face - I was on a zoom call with these two amazing ladies (Abiola and Helen) and I was just kind of listening to what they were saying but not really taking it in. The whole time they were talking I was thinking - this can't be serious! They must have me confused with someone else, there is absolutely no way that they liked my story! I still feel like this now!
I got off the phone and had a moment to let it all sink in. This was followed was lots of screaming on the phone to my mum, signing of contracts, celebrations and a surreal feeling that still hasn't gone away. I can't thank the ladies at Hashtag Blak enough for believing in Being Amani and offering me this amazing opportunity.
So, if you are serious about getting published traditionally, get your work out there, any work, anywhere anyway find competitions and opportunities here :
Things I would have done next if I hadn't received a deal with Hashtag Blak:
Sent my MS to a couple of Beta Readers - you can find these on fiver / instagram /twitter
Researched YA agents and tried to network with them before submitting to any more publishers.
Looked for similar opportunities - here are some upcoming opportunities for Black writers - https://www.bookclubbish.com/call-for-black-authors/
Spent some time away from my MS and then went back in for editing.
Read YA books to see what is currently being published - follow some Bookstagram accounts to see what books people are recommending.
Looked at some of my favourite YA books to see who published them and visited their websites to see if they were accepting submissions.
Some information about Hashtag Blak.
Hashtag Blak is an imprint of award winning publishing house Hashtag Press. The publishing house is ran by three amazing women Abiola Bello, Helen Lewis and Luisa Maria, they aim to publish and give a platform to under - represented voices. Visit the website to find out more www.hashtagblak.co.uk