Phil: I know, I know. In the last post I teased you with a bit of info on this conference and then only talked about the people we shared a room with. That’s not what you were hoping for, instead, as Ronald Regan once said, “Where’s the beef ?”.
The answer to that is “In the very nice burger I had at lunchtime at the American style dinner near the station.” but that’s not very helpful either, so I’ll try again.
I’m not telling you. You should have paid up and gone yourself. There. Done it.
What ? Not customer friendly enough ? Well, if you’ve kept the receipt for the money you paid to read this, you can have a refund.
However, because I am a kind person, here’s a few titbits.
- First up a short summary of the first session was saw by a nice man from Bloomsbury – no one is buying books any more. The shops don’t stock a back list and no one is making any money. Howard Jacobson bumbles along selling about 15,000 books a year with 60,000 if they bag a really good film deal. Advertising doesn’t work. Publicity doesn’t work. Publishers only bother to keep the authors happy. All the top sellers are by celebrities so if you’re a cute animal from a car insurance advert or Kate Price/Jordan/ Micheal McIntyre then you’re in luck, if not, go away and leave us alone.
- You don’t need a synopsis when submitting fiction. Or you do. Take your pick as we heard both during the day. If it helps, the don’t camp includes Esther Freud and Alexandra Pringle, one a published author who seemed to come through the process remarkably easily (jealous, moi ?), the other a literary agent (with big L). On the do side we have Carole Blake and every article you read on submitting work to agents. You choose basically.
- If the Artisits & Writers yearbook says submit one way and the agent/publishers website says differently, go with the website.
- Basically, there is no right way to get a book published. Every story you hear or read is slightly different. The important thing to remember is that publishing is a business. If you want to write just for the sake of it then your manuscript will forever languish in a drawer, or at best you’ll have to self-publish. If you want to interest a publisher than you have to be commercial, at least a little. Just looking around the room we knew that there were plenty of other people in competition with us. Those looking for people to fill pages can take their pick.
- Cafe Nero do a cracking chocolate crunch biscuit. A sort of rocky road cake with extra chocolate. Just what you need after a hard day learning stuff.
Was it worth it ? Yes. Since our little trip to the big city, our writing has been invigorated. There have been a few changes to the manuscript in the last week thanks to a new-found sense of purpose.
The journey continues.