Sunday, 29 March 2015

My Day at the Writing Conference - Part 1...

I'm finally recovered enough to share my review of Saturday's writing conference. Yes, it was busy, and it was a few hours before the 'buzz' faded; probably the best way to describe it is a low level of background adrenalin that lasted beyond the conference, but didn't make dinner time. By 8 pm I was yawning- despite telling myself it was a bit too early for bed...

(In the U.K the clocks also had to be put forward an hour, so my Sunday lie-in didn't help any!)

Where to begin? I'll do this in two parts because the day covered so many subjects, but even so they will only be snippets from each session.

Generally I've paraphrased, but where I've used quote marks that's exactly what was said by the named person.

On arrival delegates received a Writing East Midlands (WEM) cotton goody bag- WEM had organised the event and had support from a number of other organisations, ALCS, The Writers' Guild, Writing Magazine, the Arts Council and others.

Each bag contained a variety of literary related promotional flyers, a neat little booklet detailing all of this year's Arvon writing courses, a copy of the April issue of Writing Magazine and a book- my bag had a copy of Sue Moorcroft's 'All That Mullarkey'. Another writer friend had a poetry book in her bag, so it was pot-luck what you received.

The keynote speakers were both brilliant, Maureen Duffy, and Kerry Young. And I was fortunate to attend a few of the panels that Maureen Duffy was taking part in and sharing her considerable experience from her long writing career.

Onto the panels: I started with Finding Your Place in the Writing Community. Each panel only had 45 minutes in total, so it was more about the writing community that various social media sources can provide. The editor of Writing Magazine, Jonathan Telfer, emphasised that writers should be themselves, and don't be " a spam monkey". He suggested that a 10 to 1 strategy was useful; for every ten constructive posts, have one sales pitch.

While Aly Stoneman (Poetry Editor at LeftLion Magazine) suggested once a year take an overnight trip to another festival, or a workshop, as it helps expand your network, and also find out what's happening elsewhere, or what magazine/publishing opportunities there may be. Join writing organisations, and support other writers who in turn may support you.

After a 30 minute break- more coffee, tea, fruit juices, and biscuits, we moved on to the next session...

I went to, Myth Busting- Self-Publishing Be Damned: Maureen Duffy shared her experiences of the changing attitudes of publishing that she herself has experienced, and has, with the help of her agent, self-published. She emphasised the importance of a good cover design. To sum up she said you need to "dedicate yourself to it to make it work."

Author of the romantic-comedy 'No-one Ever Has Sex on Tuesday',Tracy Bloom, explained how even having an agent doesn't guarantee success, despite foreign rights selling well, a decision made by Tesco in 2012 not to stock new authors, made self-publishing viable for the book- which went on to sell 200,000 copies. But she did emphasise that a book does need to be good enough - to "have a level of quality."

Key points: covers need to stand out when they are a THUMNAIL size; blurb- snappy, catches the attention and leaps out, as you only have seconds to capture the readers attention. Book bloggers, you could send individual emails to individual bloggers. Don't forget local media, as they want local stories, so give them a local hook.

And "is it the right thing for you.'

There was a lot more from the other panel members, but at the end of the session Maureen Duffy mentioned that books should be accessible for the visually impaired too. E-books need to be produced in the e-pub3 format to be easily convertible for those with visual impairment, but at the moment producers like Amazon and others do not yet use it, so readers have a limited choice of books available.

Then it was time for lunch; to eat and absorb the first half of the day...

I'll post part 2 in a couple of days, which covers the panels on earning a living as a writer, and why having an agent is important...





12 comments:

Helen Baggott said...

Sounds like if was an interesting and entertaining time, Carol.

Carolb said...

I certainly discovered a few things I didn't know or hadn't thought about before, Helen. And it's always fun to get a lot of writers together. :-)

Patsy said...

Thanks for the report, Carol. Does sound as though it was good and I can understand you being tired - concentrating can do that.

Carolb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolb said...

It was worth attending, and I'll certainly go again if I can.

You don't realise how much mental energy you're using up while you're sat in a chair listening. :-)

Stuart Lennon said...

Phew...sounds like hard work! Thanks for the report. If you would go again, then it must have been worthwhile.

Carolb said...

It's so enjoyable that you don't realise how much mental energy you're using, Stuart. :-)

I'd received details of what the day's programme was, a couple of days before, so knew what I wanted to attend. So once I arrived and picked up my name badge it was just a case of checking the location of the rooms I needed to be in, on the display map- they were all on one floor.

We also had a break between each slot, so there was time to browse the book stall, get a drink etc.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Sounds a great day, Carol - informative and interesting. Don't you just love these writing conferences?

Maria said...

Sounds like a good informative day Carol. I'm looking forward to part 2 now.

Carolb said...

If you get the opportunity to go to a well organised, and wide ranging conference or event, you will find it very helpful, Stuart.

Not only do you get to meet lots of other writers, but you learn from the agents and other professionals that attend events such as this.

Carolb said...

It was a very good day, Rosemary. I got to say hello to writer acquaintances that I only see perhaps once or twice a year, so it's good to catch up.

Plus the opportunity to hear from agents, publishers and other literary organisations, makes them so worthwhile- and fun. :)

Carolb said...

It was, Maria. I need to get my notes out and get on with part 2. :)