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...