Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Penny Legg in Manchester

Manchester has changed a bit in the nine or so years since I was last there. It was not cold for a start as it was the last time I was there, although I had been led to believe it would be and had packed accordingly. There were a lot more people in the streets than I remembered, the tram lines are slowly inching across the city and there is a smart, and very comfortable, new hotel, The City Inn, just a stones throw from the railway station.

Why was I there? Well, it was conference time at The Writers Bureau and I joined several of my tutor colleagues in a pilgrimage 'up north' to the company's city centre offices. I flew up on Flybe from Southampton, which I have to say, was a great way to get from A to B. No stress, no hassle and a much shorter travelling time than if I had gone by train.

I have been tutoring for The Writers Bureau since August, so am a new face on the scene. I was curious about the set up and there was a lot for me to take in. The meeting covered all kinds of things, from the latest happenings in the company to problems caused by the postal disruption. Some of my colleagues were busy filming for a forthcoming YouTube short, and had tales of multiple takes, caused by buses outside in the street going past just at the wrong moment!

Later, after the business of the day, we met up in the hotel restaurant for an excellent meal and a good gossip. Perfect!

It was great to put faces to names, to learn about the company in more depth, to network and to feel I 'belonged'. My profile will shortly be going on to the tutor listing on The Writers Bureau website. I am sure that my students will like this. It is always reassuring to know that the person teaching them actually knows a bit about the job!

Simon Whaley has posted a photo of us on his blog. If you peer really hard, you will see me!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Penny Legg at the Bournemouth Literary Festival

The 5th Bournemouth Literary Festival has seen another successful series of events, with workshops, discussions and book signings galore to keep everyone happy.

At the Wessex Hotel last night a panel, David Hay, Pam Fudge and Janine Pulford, discussed aspects of getting into print for a capacity audience. I chaired the discussion and I was delighted with the dedication to the evening shown by the panellists and by the interest of those who turned out to hear what the panellists had to say.

David Hay published his novel, The Fundamentalist, through Authorhouse. He told the audience that this was a bit like going to the 'Specsavers' of publishing. He paid a lot of money for his book to be published, the publisher set the price and he was left to market his book himself.

Pam Fudge has been published by mainstream publishers but still has to do a lot of her own marketing. She does not have to pay to be published and receives an advance on sales.

Janine Pulford had to set up her own publishing company to bring her novel, Aggracore, to the the reading public, after it was rejected by mainstream publishers.

The discussion ranged over the topics of editing manuscripts and the importance of proof reading, the question of marketing (all the writers had been shocked on discovering how much of the marketing of their books was left to themselves to do) and how to go about it, the financial side of publication with its costs and potential earnings, publishing outside the print media on blogs and e-zines, a brief look at copyright and finished with tips for those in the audience who were aspiring to write a book.

'Keep writing and submitting. If you do not, you will not get published,' said Pam.

'Spend a lot of time on the blurb for the cover,' said David.

'Join a creative writing group and accept constructive criticism on your work,' said Janine.

Questions from the audience asked David about his overall experience with Authorhouse, asked Pam what the average word length for a first novel should be and asked the panel if a newspaper advertisement was a cost effective way of marketing. The value of joining writing associations and societies, such as The Society of Authors, The Romantic Novelists Association or The Society of Women Writers and Journalists, came up. It was felt that these groups lent credibility to the writer, in addition to the practical benefits membership offered.

In all, it was an interesting evening, which I hope was of use to those who attended.