Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The New Writers' Scheme 'Inside Out' Part 1 - The Organiser






One of the special things about the RNA is its New Writers’ Scheme, which is unique among professional writing organisations. Every year it gives aspiring writers a chance for a personal evaluation of their work by an experienced author and has helped many writers achieve publication.



Melanie Hilton is the current NWS organiser, whose job it is to deal with the 250 manuscripts which arrive through her letter box each year.




Melanie can you tell us when and how you took over organising the New Writers' Scheme?


I took over in 2008. The then Chairman, Catherine Jones, caught me after one too many G&Ts.


With 250 members, it must take a lot of organising. Take us through what happens when a NWS manuscript arrives in the post.


I open it, check everything is there, date the receipt postcard, log it in my Typescripts spreadsheet and make a new folder for the author if they haven’t got one already. Then I read the Green Form, the synopsis and any notes the author has sent, look at my Reader spreadsheet (yes, Spreadsheet R Me) and match the typescript with a Reader who is free. I may need to email the Reader first. When I’ve got them matched up I repack the typescript, repair the damage the PO has done to the parcel and address it. My husband does a post office run daily. We had 106 typescripts in August this year which meant volunteer packers had to be called in!





Left - Manuscripts waiting to be repacked and sent to reader.
























Right - Ready for the post.




Can you give us some stats from the 2011 NWS. What sort of novels were most popular?


This year 34.5% were straight contemporary/women’s fiction; 15.5% for various Harlequin Mills & Boon lines; 25% Historical (not including the HMB Historicals); 7% each: crime/adventure/suspense; Rom Com; Speculative (supernatural, fantasy, sci fi, vampires etc); sagas. 4% Young Adult. 3% each Chick Lit; Pocket Novels. <0.5% each literary; inspirational; erotic. As far as the period in which they were written goes: 66% were set in the 21st c; 25% 20thc or earlier and 9% were fantasy, timeshift, scifi etc.


How many NWS members have found a publisher for their books this year?


10 signed contracts. Because of publication dates 7 have opted to enter for the Joan Hessayon Award this year (ie winner to be announced at the 2012 Summer Party) and 3 are deferring until next year.


Have the genres of novels submitted changed over the years?


I only have statistics from when I began running the Scheme, but over those 4 years the relative popularity of genres has remained more or less the same with the exception of a decline in Chick Lit (I suspect that authors are simply calling many of them Contemporary) and a slight upward trend in fantasy. The biggest change has been the arrival of Young Adult last year for the first time.


What advice would you give to a writer wishing to take part in the 2012 NWS?


To get on to the Scheme, read the instructions on the website and apply as soon as you can after the start date! Once you are actually on the Scheme, then – read the Notes and fill out the Green form in full to help both me and the Reader. Sort out your punctuation (especially of speech!) so the Reader can focus on the writing. Try and get it in before August and miss the rush.


Thank you Melanie, for all the work you do for the NWS, it is greatly appreciated.


To find out more about the New Writers' Scheme visit the RNA website at http://www.rna-uk.org/


Information about 2012 membership will appear on the RNA website in mid December.



The New Writers’ Scheme 'Inside Out' Part 2 – Inside the NWS will be posted on 9th December.

23 comments:

Rebecca said...

Fascinating insight into what it's like to be the NWS Organiser. Thank you, Melanie, for all your hard work.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

You do a wonderful job, Melanie, and I would never have been published without the NWS!

scarlet wilson said...

Think you do a wonderful job too Melanie! I'm one of the people up for the Joan Hessayon award this year and couldn't have got published without the New Writers Scheme!

Catherine Miller said...

This is my first year in the NWS and I'm so glad I joined. The help and support of the RNA is priceless.

Jean Fullerton-East End Girl & Author said...

The RNA's NWS is absolutely brilliant and I wouldn't have been published without the help and encouragement of the scheme. So a big thank you Melanie and all the hard working readers.

liz fenwick said...

Melanie - you do a fabulous job - thank you. Kate thank you for the interview which gives us a real insight into the real workings of the scheme....

Hi Scarlett, waving...I'm one of the Joan Hessayson contenders too and I wouldn't be awaiting the publication of my book with the help of the RNA and NWS...

lx

Bluestocking Mum said...

Ditto all the comments, Melanie. You do a wonderful job and I'm so pleased, and grateful to be part of the RNA and NWS

Melanie said...

Blushing here - couldn't do it without the wonderful Readers

Anita Chapman said...

I feel privileged to have been a member of the NWS for two years. Thank you to Melanie and to the reader who read my MS. The RNA is such a wonderful organisation. X

Henriette said...

Thanks, Melanie, for giving us this fascinating insight into the workings of the NWS (and the Kate for posting this series of blogs on the NWS). I knew there was a lot of work involved, but I didn't know quite how much(!). Take a bow, please.

Laura E. James said...

This is my second year and I've had a fantastic time getting to know other NWS members and established authors, all of whom support and encourage. I feel so lucky to have found such generous and accepting friends.
The NWS is simply brilliant.
Thank you to the authors, readers and Melanie for taking the time and effort to nurture us.
Laura E. James.

Evonne Wareham said...

I'm another from the Joan Hessayan ten this year. Melanie is a trojan - getting it all organised and still finding the odd moment to write her own fabulous books!

Monica Fairview said...

I don't how you do it, Melanie, but you manage to keep us all on our toes. Thank you for all the work you do!

Debs Carr said...

Thank you for all your hard work organising the NWS.

I'm so grateful for everything I've learned from my readers' reports.

Nicola Slade said...

I'm another who has cause to thank the NWS and nowadays I love being a reader, it's great to be able to put something back.

Lara Higgins said...

The RNA and NWS, there is nothing else out there that compares. Thank you for all that you do.

Jan Brigden said...

I joined the RNA this year. As well as meeting such lovely, supportive people, I've been to some fabulous events & local chapter meetings and received a thoroughly positive and encouraging critique for my NWS submission. So grateful to be a member. Thanks to all the organisers, NWS, and otherwise. Your hard work is very much appreciated.

Joan Fleming said...

Many thanks, Melanie, to you and our Readers. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity. I've heard some RNA members who were already published when they joined, say they were sorry they hadn't been able to go through the NWS!

Linda Mitchelmore said...

I can endorse what everyone else has said about the NWS......but it is oh, so thrilling, to be a full member at last!

Julie Day said...

My, what a lot of jiffy bags. I agree that is a v useful and helpful service to us new authors. One of these days I wll graduate from it.

Jude said...

The NWS is invaluable and I have learnt so much from being a member of the RNA. Thanks Melanie, and the amazing readers, for all the hardwork you do.

Jane Holland said...

It's the most marvellous service for writers, and hugely worthwhile. Though frankly I don't know how you find time to write such great novels yourself AND administer the NWS on top of all your other responsibilities.

These RNA committee members must all be Superwomen!

Cara Cooper said...

I think I'm right in saying the scheme is unique. Your hard work makes it all work perfectly Melanie - how you keep your cool I'll never know!