Some tips from the Nan Shepherd Prize team.
We had an incredible number of submissions. It was so hard to whittle it down to a longlist of just sixteen titles and we’re so sorry that you didn’t make the list. The good news is that all your hard work hasn’t been for nothing. If you put together all the information we asked you to and made a book proposal, there are a few things that you can do next:
Continue to work on your book idea and hone your proposal:
Did you run out of time before the submissions deadline? Maybe you sent your submission at the last minute and think it could do with a second look? In the next few weeks we’ll be posting some specific tips on how you can improve your proposal. In the meantime, you can use the resources we’ve already put together to help you. These resources will remain online:
If you are looking to find out what else is out there in the market, read as many nature books as possible. We have a list of authors to read and follow online (here). You can also find out about other prizes (here) and details of festivals around the country (here).
Pitch your writing:
Want to add to your writing CV so that your writing is more attractive to agents and editors? Many writers have made their start by pitching articles on the subject of the book they’d like to write. For example, Amy Liptrot wrote for Caught by the River before being published by Canongate Books and Kerri ní Dochartaigh was first noticed by her agent Kirsty McLachlan when she published an article in The Clearing. We’ve compiled a (non-exhaustive) list here of the many opportunities out there:
Are you happy with your book idea, your pitch and the writing sample you provided? Then you can start submitting to literary agents. Most publishers don’t accept unagented submissions so sending out your book to an agent is the best way to get traditionally published. Most agents will ask for a proposal which is essentially what we asked you to submit to us. Your submission can therefore be adapted to send out to agents. We’ll be posting more resources and tips in the next few weeks about how best you can do this.
We have created a (non-exhaustive) list of UK agents who represent nature writing and some of them have answered our questions as to what they love and what they look out for (here).
Please do make sure you follow the submission guidelines for each agent. Agents won’t read submissions which don’t follow their guidelines, so it is important to make sure to take the time and customise your submissions before querying. Do look at the agency websites to make sure you’re clear on each policy. We’ve included some links below:
Jessica Woollard of David Higham Associates. Here is the agency’s submission policy.
Jenny Brown of Jenny Brown Associates. Here is the agency’s submission policy.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the process even if you weren’t successful this time. We have absolutely loved reading all your entries. We look forward to reading what you’re writing next and can’t wait to see your books hit the shelves!