Date of Success:
Kay Kerr is a former journalist and community newspaper editor from Brisbane, now living on the Sunshine Coast with her husband and daughter and working as a freelance writer. Kay was writing the first draft of Please Don’t Hug Me, her first book, when she received her own autism-spectrum diagnosis. Please Don’t Hug Me, out with Text Publishing, has been longlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year for Older Readers, and is a CBCA Notable Book for Older Readers. Her second book, Social Queue, is out in late 2021.
WHAT CYA CONFERENCE DID FOR ME
The CYA Competition was the very first time I dipped my toe into the world of books and publishing, when I entered in 2016 with an earlier version of my first novel ‘Please Don’t Hug Me’. After years as a journalist, it was my first attempt at fiction. It didn’t win, but it placed reasonably enough, and garnered positive enough feedback to make me believe it wasn’t a completely outrageous idea to want to have it published.
That motivation and support right at the start was exactly what I needed. I took the incredibly valuable feedback and ran with it, rewriting and chipping away at the manuscript until it started to resemble something like a novel.
I brought it back to CYA in 2017 for an agent session with Danielle Binks, because I knew she was looking for YA fiction and might be interested in the ‘own voices’ element. By the end of the 10-minute session Danielle had given me some excellent pointers, a list of comparable titles to have a look at and (best of all) requested a complete manuscript. I signed with her not long after and had a book deal by the end of the year.
It still feels quite unreal.
I would probably still be trying to work up the nerve to pitch my manuscript if it wasn’t for CYA!