Yesterday I went to the Winchester Writers’ Festival. The festival runs for a whole week, but I only could afford to go one day, so I chose the Friday as there were some courses I was interested in.
The course I took was called Pitch Perfect and was all about creating the perfect pitch (the title kind of gave it away). It was a very hands on workshop led by Madeleine Milburn who runs her own literary agency. She had some really good examples of what is a good pitch and what isn’t. She also told us that her agency receives 80-100 pitches a day. That is an insane amount of pitches! She mentioned that of those about 90% are discarded immediately for spelling or grammar mistakes or being overall unprofessional.
Write for the market?
Madeleine kept stressing that as a writer you should always research the market. What is hot right now? What do publishers and agents want to see? I am sorry, but I completely disagree with this advice. If you are going to write a book because you think that particular topic will sell, you are going about it the wrong way. You should write the story you want to write. The market moves on. What is hot today may not be hot anymore in a year’s time when you have finally finished your manuscript. Besides, writing with the express objective of getting published will take the passion and the heart out of your story. Which will make it harder to publish.
Timing is key
The other things she said that did resonate with me was that everything depends on timing. Your book can be amazing, but you just pitch it to the wrong agent at the wrong time. Maybe that agent had a bad day. Maybe they had just received 3 other manuscripts with a similar theme or story. Maybe at that particular moment the market is saturated with stories like yours. Being rejected does not necessarily mean your manuscript sucks. So keep polishing it and persevere. That was the biggest take away from the day: never give up.
One to ones
Part of the Friday package was two appointments with editors or agents of your choice. I had chosen one editor and one agent and had submitted a cover letter, synopsis and first chapters of my book to them. This was for my non-erotic novel (the erotic one is still being edited). I received really great feedback from both the agent and the editor. The editor urged me to get an agent as her publishing company doesn’t deal with writers who don’t have agents but she said she loved my story, my writing style and my protagonist, so that was all very positive. Despite not walking away with a book deal (which hardly ever happens at these events), I feel encouraged and empowered to get my book out there and published.
In conclusion I have to say that I am happy I went. I learnt some things and met great people and received a boost of confidence. Would I go again next year? Maybe. It is always good to meet other writers and to get to talk about your book. It depends on the circumstances.
This post is part of the Summer 100 Sex Blogger Challenge. Check out posts from other participants:
Victoria did a photo shoot and takes us behind the scenes. It looks so much fun (and she is of course gorgeous!). I would love to do something like that.
Lazarus has a good video on his blog about how to avoid STDs. There’s a link to the text only version for those of us who don’t like watching videos (i.e. me!).