Sunday, July 10, 2011
Impressions from Conference...
What am I doing up at this time on a Sunday?
I'm at the RNA Conference, and having slept the sleep of the dead for six hours, I am now wide awake. In a moment I'll go along to the kitchen and make a cup of tea, but before I do, I wanted to pass on some impressions of this wonderful conference.
On the opening day, we were given some fabulous advice about contracts from agent Lizzy Kremer; a reminder that publishers and authors are equal partners in the contract. That no matter how happy you are to sign, to be published, you need to look for the pitfalls, think about what would happen if the book were not a success or, conversely, if it's a huge success. Does your contract give you a good deal in either case? Can you get your rights back if your book goes out of print? Are you getting a fair deal on eRights? If you're a British author, her advice is to get a copy of the Society of Authors' leaflet on contracts.
We then had a panel of award winning authors, Elizabeth Chadwick, Louise Allen and Jill Mansell talking about their work. The two things that stood out from this were that Louise Allen has the best working titles I've ever heard - Gonad the Barbarian, anyone? - and that they are all extremely hard working.
I saw some amazing book videos in a talk by author and copywriter Lorelei Mathias on book marketing for small pockets; I'm eager to go "viral", but suspect it's never going to happen unless I find myself best friends with a fabulously talented actress and film director. Or learn to draw cute stick men.
My final workshop of the day (we don't sit around here drinking coffee - or anything else - and nattering) was a crime writer's panel consisting of Lesley Cookman, Jean Goodhind and Penny Grubb. An insight into how they work with their series characters.
My own talk on blending humour and emotion went pretty well, and there will be a longish blog on the subject somewhere else later in the year - I'll tell you where and when. I still can't believe that one of my own favourite (and very funny) authors turned up to listen to me. And would have been much more careful talking about my writing methods if I'd realised that one of the editors who works on my books was sitting right up at the top, at the back, where I couldn't see her!
It's been a wonderful couple of days for catching up with old friends, making new ones, reminiscing with Jane Holland about her mother (the legendary Charlotte Lamb) and having a few fan girls moments. I've also met many of the tweeps I know, which was the best fun. Teresa, Jude, Cally... you know who you are!
Today I have a full morning lined up, listening to Fiona Harper - getting emotion on the page, Simon Petherick, the future of fiction publishing, and Janet Gover, where are published authors going now. Then lunch and home.
Conferences are both fun and very hard work, especially the talking, which for authors who spend most of their time alone with their computers is a bit of a shock to the system. But they are incredibly worthwhile and I can't recommend the experience highly enough to the unpublished author. You will meet so many people, all of whom will be happy to share their experience with you, hear so much good advice and make so many friends and see so many fabulous shoes.
It's been an inspirational weekend, a time to recharge the batteries before turning home to wrestle my next book into shape.
PPS If you'd like a copy of my conference handout, please do get in touch and I'll happy to send it to you by email.