Una Rose – Author

Putting the world to write!

My Lords, Ladies, agents and authors – An exception weekend at Winchester

winchesterI am far right in this image listening to Lord Fellows!

I had the pleasure of meeting Lord Julian Fellowes – the highly accomplished writer and Oscar-winning screenwriter of Downtown Abbey, Titanic, Gosford Park – and his lovely wife Lady Emma Fellowes a few days ago. Julian gave a truly magnificent and heartfelt speech to the gathered writers. He encouraged tenacity and for writers not to have an expectation that others (ie agents/editors) to do their job for them. But he did encourage all “to write books that you want to read” and not to be sucked into writing for a particular trend. His own success was largely due to luck and a determination to write about what interested him and not what the market dictated. “Why would anyone want to watch a show about a stuffy country house?” producers had mocked when he suggested Downtown Abbey. How they must be squirming in their seats now it is a global phenomenon! He graciously accepted a copy of my book and today I received a lovely letter from Emma congratulating me – such a lovely gesture from two very busy and important people. Who ever called them snobs is clearly mistaken!

I met them at the Winchester Writers Conference (http://www.writersconference.co.uk), an incredible gathering of authors, agents and publishers, and others from the book world. It was the 14th such event which was the brain child of an incredibly inspiring writer Barbara Large MBE who got a standing ovation as she ended the conference for the very last time as its curator. I met Barbara a few years ago on a course to discover becoming a self published author and how to avoid the pitfalls others make. An agent I had a one-to-one with (David Headley of DHH Literary Agency) said my book cover was one of the best self-published he had ever seen and that the quality of the production was to be congratulated! He also felt it could be a contender for Richard and Judy book club as it takes the reader on a journey into another world. When I reported this news to Barbara, her smile said it all. She shares the highs and lows of all her author family and she will be missed!

At the various breaks in sessions, it was interesting to hear what other delegates were getting in feedback. I heard of no specific deal but lots of encouraging noise. You cannot help but leave Winchester rejuvenated, and they even have agony aunts with shoulders to cry on if you feel the need. It was interesting though to hear agents encouraging authors to self publish. Lorella Belli, founder of the agency of the same name, explained it is a challenging time for agents as authors strike out on their own and so is now branching into helping them do this but with help with promotion, distribution and sales for a share in the profit – it is as if they have shifted allegiances! As Lorella pointed out, the market is almost at the 50:50 ratio of e-books vs printed books, and as most e-books are self published, this is obviously where they are focusing.

Caroline Hardman, literary agent and co-founder of Hardman & Swainson, gave some truly awful yet actual submissions they have received from aspiring authors and gave her 10 golden rules of how not to pitch. I shall add this to my tips for authors section soon, but her biggest pet hate was to hear how your book could be turned into a film – you have been warned!

The most inspiring of all the talks I attended was by a hugely prolific author and grande dame of writing, Veronica Heley, who at 80-years-old was teaching a group half her age the tricks of the trade! Veronica, author of 71 books, advised us all to “get a tribe”. By that she means a following, who will want to be updated and interested in your work and blogs. So if this post has whet your appetite for more, then please do like/forward/follow and comment on my blog. I am also on Facebook and twitter


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