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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Morgan

2023 at Grindstone Literary

Hello intrepid writers!

You're probably asking yourself the same question every writer is: how do I turn my writing into my career? You know the old advice; work hard, never give up, write a damn good book, do your market research ... yep, it's all true. But there are definitely some gaps in there, and we think they are gaps that Grindstone can fill in.

A quick retrospective: the pitching process

Let me back up slightly. We founded Grindstone way back in 2016 with the goal to help writers improve their work by giving them all feedback. As we grew, we realised that this was really helpful to budding writers in the short fiction competitions, but that if we wanted to have a real, tangible impact on the careers of authors, we needed to turn our attention to the debut novel scene.

Things need to change

Every writer wants to hook an agent, and that much was apparent from the start. But how do you do that when everyone's pitching at the same time, and when pitching is such ... a nightmare. With the advent of Pitch Wars and Pitch Deck and the like, things have certainly began to change. Add in programs like Query Manager and, yeah, the industry is changing. But that still doesn't help a lot of people. And we're not saying that we're going to be able to help everyone, but what we can do is introduce a lot of great work that's flying under the radar to a host of waiting agents, with our stamp of approval!

Our 2022 novel longlist is generating some serious buzz

We just sent out the 2022 longlist to our affiliated agents, and we're already receiving a slew of full MS requests. And dozens of our previous winners and longlisted authors have gone on to find representation and publication as a direct result of what we do here. So, we've made some changes for the 2023 we think you'll like, and to introduce them, let's talk about what we did in 2022, because it was our toughest year yet.

Last year wasn't easy

We started strong, and more entrants than ever requested critical feedback. So much so, that our judging team buckled under the strain and we lost three of our key judges. The volume of work was just too much with the feedback, so we needed to change course and try to keep our heads above water. We came to the extremely difficult decision to not offer feedback anymore. And as soon as we considered this, everything seemed to become very clear. The amount of time we spent providing 200-300 words of feedback (which either wasn't enough to provide aspiring authors with all the guidance we wanted to give, or was pretty much just all praise for those whose work we fell in love with), could be better spent elsewhere.

No feedback in 2023

The decision to push on without the provision of feedback as an option opens up so many more possibilities. As many of you no doubt experienced, the dashboard didn't always like to play ball. We tried feedback via email, but so many got lost or blocked, we had to move to a login set up with accounts so it was all kept safe. This led to so many technical hurdles that all our time went into trying to keep things running, rather than trying to improve. Which is why, without feedback as an option in 2023, we can do all the things we always wanted to, in a way that makes things much easier for you!

Building something special

As you enter this year, you'll notice we've got a very simple, but very special form to make the process much easier, and more secure. You'll be able to add more details about your work to give us (and agents) a better understanding of what we're looking at. We'll also be able to provide discounts and other incentives and rewards for new and returning entrants, giving back in a way we've wanted to for the last few years. We'll also be able to handle and read the entries in a much more efficient way, sorting and storing them for later reference, and to provide to agents at the drop of the hat. We'll even be able to put them into a list that suits specific agents based on their preferred genres and styles. All of which means that for those who make it to the later judging stages, the pitching process may not even be something you need to face. If we think your work is ready for an agent, we'll just give it to them.

They seem to like it ...

We've floated this idea past a few of our closest contacts in the industry, and they seemed to really like it. A lot of success has come out of Grindstone, and we know that giving the agents access to everything we think is good, packaged up neatly for them ... well, that's not going to be a bad thing!

More of the good stuff, too

As well as this new system, we'll be offering the same great service we always do, the same dedication to our authors, and the same high standards of quality we have strived for since we started this whole thing. And for those who want to pursue other routes, like self-publishing, we'll have plenty to offer on that side of things, as well.

For now, get polishing your manuscripts, because the novel prize opens February 1st!

Good luck, everyone, and thanks for sticking with us.

All the best,

The Grindstone Team

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