With our first anniversary under our belt and our first deal just agreed – all very exciting! – it felt like a good time to reflect on our first year as an agency and the ups and downs that have come with it.
The ups are easy to pinpoint – and, thankfully, numerous! Publishers and authors alike have been welcoming and enthusiastic about our new venture. Almost everyone in the world of children’s/YA publishing is lovely. We’ve met lots of fantastic people as we’ve toured the country – one of the highlights of our year – reaching out to writers’ groups around the UK. Huge thanks to you all for welcoming us so warmly (and providing copious amounts of cake!).
Reading a submission and realizing that it is a gem – that really makes your heart race! Sending a book you love out to publishers and hearing them say they love it too! All these things have happened this year and made both Jo and me very, very glad that we decided to set up Skylark.
But of course there have been frustrations and disappointments. The main one on this list is having to reject submissions. Obviously, it goes with the territory, but nobody likes disappointing people and having to send those rejection emails is never fun – especially when we know well how horrible it is to be rejected.
Sending out a manuscript to publishers and getting those first few rejections before the positive responses come in is terrifying and has given us a new respect for authors who put their work – and themselves – on the line every time they send a manuscript to an agent or publisher. By the time we’ve signed an author and worked closely with them to polish and perfect their story, we are deeply and passionately invested and sharing it with the publishing world is downright scary. It’s lucky that all those commissioning editors are so lovely (see note above) even when they are having to say ‘no’!
Doubtless we will become more thick-skinned as time goes by but I hope we will never lose that capacity for feeling anxious when we send an author’s work out on submission. It reminds us of just how it feels to be a new writer awaiting a response from agents (such as Skylark). It reminds us to be kind. And it makes the joy of finding the right publishing home for an author all the sweeter.
To all the wonderful authors out there who are still looking for the right agent, don’t give up and don’t be nervous about approaching agents – just remember that, ultimately, we are all looking for great stories. And, on that note, keep watching this space because we will be running a new Skylark competition soon!