Welcome to the second part of Nadine Little‘s blog about her time at Writers and Artists How to Get Published Conference. You can read part one of the blog here and read the second part below the break. We hope you enjoy!
Writers and Artists How to Get Published Conference Part 2
After a tasty lunch where I ate far too much cake, Alison Weir, top-selling female historian in the UK, spoke about her career as a historian and historical novelist. I believe the talk was supposed to be about how to write historical fiction rather than her biography, but fascinating nonetheless (although historical fiction is not a genre I read much in).
And then came what we were really there for—practical tips on how to submit your work from literary agents Thérèse Coen, Imogen Pelham and Tom Witcomb. Unfortunately, the slot was unstructured with the audience yelling out questions generally relevant to their current piece of work. However, there was still information supplied on how to write a good cover letter (treat it like applying for a job, give basic, practical information), synopsis (one page, give away all the twists and the ending, show you have a grasp of your story) and elevator pitch (1-3 sentence hook, keep it simple). An excellent bit of advice was to avoid submitting to agents in March/April as they are busy with the London and Bologna book fairs and in October with the Frankfurt book fair.
The conference ended with networking drinks i.e. everyone clamouring to promote themselves to the agents. I hovered close to Thérèse, trying to trick myself that I was brave enough to speak to her (I wasn’t). She had to rush away to catch an early train and I never got the chance. Que berating pep talk. I forced myself to stand in front of Tom until he noticed me (he was extremely tall). I hadn’t singled him out as the best agent to speak to as he seemed to represent more high-minded science fiction. I babbled about my book and he assured me I could send it on to him. I congratulated myself by stuffing my face with popcorn and olives.
In summary, the most useful part was talking to the agents as it’s a way for them to get to know you. It means your subsequent submission stands out in the giant pile of obscurity. It was also nice to get away from the writing desk to meet other writers.
And I did submit my book to Tom. The wait begins…