In today’s blog post, Cornerstones alum Rob Tye tells us about his magical mentoring experience and how it helped him secure agent representation for his middle-grade novel. Congratulations, Rob!
Last week, I heard the magical words, ‘I’d love to represent you’. It was amazing to hear, especially from the wonderful agent Jo Williamson of Antony Harwood. I’m trying to stay grounded as there’s a long way to go, however gaining an agent is a big step toward publication, so I’m thrilled.
How did this incredible event happen? It’s been a bumpy road, filled with rejections amid glimmers of hope. I’m patient and optimistic, but there are only so many times you can hear ‘no’ without getting disheartened. I learnt more with every book and short story I wrote, but as we rarely get feedback from busy agents, understanding where to improve was challenging.
That’s where Cornerstones came in. I first used them for an Editorial Report on a thriller. The feedback was insightful, but difficult to hear. I had no training, no degree in creative writing, and the mistakes were plentiful. I rewrote and tried again. Better, lots of effort, but room for improvement. Importantly, I never gave up trying other genres, including travel articles.
Success crept in. I started winning short story competitions, both creative and non-fiction, including New Travel Writer of the Year from BGTW. Agents started giving positive feedback and I had some requests for full manuscripts, but nothing further.
Encouraged by success in a ghost story competition, I turned to children’s middle-grade and found I not only loved it, but it was the best I’d ever written. After being longlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award, I went back to Cornerstones. This time, I decided to invest in my future by engaging their mentoring services. Mentoring is more in-depth, with detailed video calls analysing and facilitating writers to improve. My brilliant mentor also reviewed the dreaded synopsis and cover letter. It can be challenging and requires an openness to critique, but I found the process very helpful.
After several rewrites, my manuscript Dragon Blood was ready for submission to a select few agencies. Despite the challenging times, it gained positive early feedback. Then came the call from Jo. I’m still smiling.
I believe in the writer’s journey, no matter how tough the experience and how steep the learning curve. It has helped me discover a passion for writing children’s adventures and I can’t wait to see where the journey leads.
Rob Tye lives in a crumbling cottage in the New Forest and his head is full of dragons. Find him on Twitter at @robtye8.