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Editor's tastes sour books

I am a children's author. I write for the teenage market; two of my books have been nominated for awards and one was on the Carnegie list.

After an 18-month gap, I am now trying to re-enter the fiction market. The response my agent has just received from a major children's publisher is illuminating, and I think raises some worrying issues.

The editor praises my "slick style" and the "page-turning" quality of my work. She freely admits that the book "stood out a mile from other submissions", but it has been turned down because I am not "fresh off the starting block".

As a secondary English teacher, I, like many other colleagues, have listened to pupils stumbling their way through badly written and badly plotted novels whose only merit seems to lie in the luridness of the cover, or the nose-bleeding amount paid in advances to the writer.

If you, like me, have asked yourself how on earth some of this "fast-food fiction" ever got published, now you know.

Carol Hedges

51 Coldharbour Lane

Harpenden, Hertfordshire

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