Tag Archives: stratford literary festival

The Next Chapter in writing

CakesandTicketCandice: Phil and attended another Stratford Literary Festival event tonight ( I wasn’t on holiday this time) titled – The Book: The Next Chapter.

Obviously we’ve been to a few of these how to get published events over the years, so I said to Phil let’s try something different.  They did also say it included tea and cake which was a bonus.

The event was chaired by Tim Davies from History Press, who we’ve seen before at Lit Festival events.  He was accompanied by Sam Jordison, Journalist and author, and Charlie Warburton from a digital marketing agency with a publishing bent (though he looked like he’d be just as comfortable on the rugby field).  The premise: where are books going now.

Tim opened with a discussion of an article from this weeks Bookseller magazine about the death of the paperback. They discussed about how discounting was affecting the market, how Amazon and their Kindle was having its own impact and that it was a hard world to be a writer or publisher in if you wanted to make money.

Then we got to the nitty gritty of the famous ‘how to get published’ question.  It all came down to things Phil and I have heard before, that its 50% the book and 50% what you have done to promote it and you; be that social media, blogs or even being able to put yourself in front of a camera and talk turkey. Yeah, yeah we know this – we just need to get signed or self published and get a product out there.

However, the more interesting part of the discussion was about using independent publishers.  Now this lot are all going to biased as it’s their bread and butter (Sam is a publisher as well) but they all said ‘independent is best’.  And they backed this up.  Big publishers need to make big bucks to cover their overheads.  People are reluctant to pay for anything this days, Tim and Charlie used the example of apps which are much better received when they are free.  The same goes for books, people struggle to part with a quid to buy a new book.  So bigger entities need the JK Rowlings of the world to shore them up.  And if you fail you get unceremoniously kicked out.  However, a smaller publisher can nurture you, give you time to develop and be happy with a 1000 sales from book number one.

Now. we’ve said before we would love to live off the proceeds of our writing but realistically that’s not going to happen.  In our world its all about being published and appreciated.  So this idea works for us. We are already in talks with a small self publishing company, I think its time to give them a good push and get this ball rolling.

One thing I will add, as an aside, Phil and I dropped the age demographic by at least 20 years.  So when Charlie started talking about html 5, only Phil understood him!

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One for the road?

Candice: This time of year I always like to give a plug for Stratford literary festival organised by a very nice lady called Annie. (Who is actually a published author – jealous me ?)

I have been involved in the festival for two years now, this year through organising sponsorship of one of the talks and a poll.

The poll is all about what book you would take on a journey. It’s a bit like desert island discs but you can only have one book in your case. Now with this I’m in a quandary, as I can’t think of just one book.

A lot people have a book that they go back to time and time again. I’m not a re-reader. Once the book is read I move on to the next and don’t pick it up again. I’m the same with films mainly, I own about four DVDs. It’s funny because I’m not with music, I love going back to music from 10, 20 years ago.

So, I’ve been looking at my bookcase to see which books I’ve actually kept to identify which one I would choose. But then I have another issue, the books I like are all part of a series. So, can I say ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ trilogy, or ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ trilogy? With the ‘Hitchhikers’ it’s actually five books so that’s a real cheek! But they are all real short books so you’d need all five if it’s a long journey.

I think I’m going to give it a try as I think they are great books and deserve some recognition.

Why don’t you vote?

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An unashamed plug for Stratford Literary Festival.

 Candice: Last year Phil and I went to the Stratford Literary Festival and enjoyed a talk from three recently published authors.  I work in Stratford upon avon so was pleased to see that my work has decided to get involved in this year’s festival. Why, because it means I might be able to blag some free tickets!  Seriously, its nice to be involved in something local and give them some support, the same reason I do my best to attend shows or plays that friends of mine are in as if we didnt all experiment in these things the world would be a boring place.

Anyway, work is sponsoring at talk by, and I quote, ‘Python, adventurer, travel writer and all round national treasure, Michael Palin‘.

COOL!  I love the Palin.  Even though he is old enough to be my Dad he has a certain something that isn’t exactly sexy but just makes you love him a little bit.  Girls, you understand.  Even more confusing that one should feel like this as he is often seen dressed as a woman or making a tit out of himself trying to dance like the locals.

Anyway, Michael is not the only one appearing at this month-long event, there are lots of other writers of all styles and other events all about things writing.  Phil and I will be doing our best to pop along to a few events and get some more insight into the hallowed world of writing and publishing.

As part of my conversations with our writing buddy Daisy Waugh I’ve mentioned the festival so I’m hoping she might be able to get involved.  If that’s the case we might get to meet her (not stalk her, promise) which would be extra cool.

If you want more information have a look at their site. http://www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk/

Go one, branch out and give it a try.

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Understanding the publishing model and why luck matters

Phil: After the Literary festival session, while everyone else rushed to have books signed, we had an interesting chat with Gareth Howard about the publishing model. Earlier in the evening, the idea of publishing as a business was touted. It’s an uncomfortable fact for most people gripped with the urge to write that if you want to see your words in print then you need a marketable product. Not just a good book, but a book that will sell.

One way, as we have discussed, is to be famous. If Alexa Chung (a name I picked out randomly from yesterday’s Metro so I assume she/he is famous) writes a book then it’s on the shelves. Pippa Middleton has publishing advances on offer that would allow most of us to give up work. Cynically I suspect that this isn’t because she is the new bard but more to do with having a nice bum at her sister’s wedding.

The other way is to be pushing something people want. Gareth was relating how he had worked in TV commissioning. In that industry, producers wanted certain types of programme and if you had them, you got the money. The same idea works with books. At the moment, even the owner of a pert derriere couldn’t flog a story about a boy wizard or teenage vampire. The world has been there and done that.

“But what do they want ?” I hear you cry. Dunno. And if I did, I’d probably have a go at writing it myself and become fabulously wealthy. That’s the problem.

However, it is also good news. Have you sent your novel off to a thousand agents with only rejection slips to show for it ? Worry no more. It might not be that you can’t write. Maybe you don’t need to spend hours agonising over every single word. Your problem is that you don’t have what they want at this moment in time.

You need to be lucky as well as good. A mediocre written story and agent knows they have a home for will be more readily accepted than a super one that’s unfashionable. OK, so you might start a new fashion but very few business people are going to bet on that. Far easier to tell your boss you’ve hauled something out of the slush pile, especially if it is headed “by Selena Gomez” (apparently the most searched for celebrity online. No, I don’t know who she is either. Presumably that’s why people turn to Google).

Which brings me to back to us. We are trying to sell a love story with a background firmly set in the recession. The funny stuff that goes on in the background revolves around a quango being closed down. That makes it topical – and if the double dip recession goes triple dip, we’re still in with a shot – yet hopefully with a story that transcends time. All we need is a bit of luck. Mind you, I bought a lottery ticket that evening and didn’t get a single number…

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