Writing can be a lonely pursuit, especially novel writing, where it seems all agent and publisher doors can seem impenetrable. To pass through can mean an almost superhuman effort, producing excellent work mixed with incredible luck. No published writer achieves it on their own and the smart and serious writer will equip themselves as best they can. This can mean having someone assess a manuscript, work on development of it, and editing. I was very fortunate to learn that Virginia was looking to help Australian writers get published. She helped me develop two novel-length manuscripts, and her attention to detail, her understanding of what my intentions were, her belief in me and my work, and her warm professionalism were welcome ballast as I tried to get my first book published. Virginia’s efforts mean that now I am with my dream publisher – Allen & Unwin, and in the hands of my dream person there, Jane Palfreyman. I can’t recommend Virginia enough to anyone looking to improve their work and in their efforts to be a published author.
Virginia’s mentoring was vital to the ultimate publication of my work. Her insights were helpful at every stage of the process – from big-picture thinking on narrative structure and focus, through to line-by-line editorial feedback at final draft. She is an expert editorial ‘curator’ and a godsend for a first-time author.
When I contacted Virginia I thought I was ready to approach publishers, but she challenged me to think more about the structure of my book. We developed a book proposal that included a detailed chapter outline and two complete chapters. Virginia’s editing of those chapters was strong but was extremely necessary for publishers to appreciate how my manuscript could be turned into a published book. We worked very well together and she provided the exact balance of constructive criticism and creative support to help me realise the messages in my own story.