Over a hundred aspiring writers attended the first ever Writing Industries Conference held at Loughborough University on Saturday 9th February 2008.Keynote speaker, Stephen Booth, delivered an inspiring and original speech reminding writers of their fundamental right – and that is, to be paid for what they do! Writing is a business, which generates £60 billion as an industry with the average author only earning £16,500. In order for writers to be successful and make a career from writing they must embrace marketing and view their writing as a business. This tone was perhaps a surprise to his audience, but nevertheless a welcomed issue that should be discussed more openly within the industry.
Booth spoke fondly about his childhood and his desire to read from a young age in spite of his family ever owning two books, which he was allowed to read; one being the Bible, the other a book about fortune telling. He went on to talk about his career as a journalist, and later editor and how this gave him a good stead for writing to deadlines and setting goals. He invited his audience to set themselves goals to help them progress through the creative process and ensure that it gets done.
A number of sessions took place during the day and included professionals from across the writing spectrum; Paul Ashton from the BBC’s writersroom, screen writer, Nazrin Choudhury, novelist Nicola Monaghan, children’s story writer, Caroline Pitcher and playwright Kevin Fegan to name but a few.
The most important lessons I learned from the day were the importance of writing a good story. There’s no point using fancy language and worrying about your character profiles if the story is no good!
“Story! Story! Story!” Shouted Graham Joyce, a tutor from Nottingham Trent University. He also said, “Structure is king,” which really stuck in my mind.
Build a portfolio of published work. Use any resources, magazines and books to your avail. No matter how small. Use Myspace or Facebook to connect with people and to help build your profile. Get your name out there, was mentioned on more than one occasion.
To get an agent. I pondered how I would ever do this and luckily enough the girl sitting next to me, politely asked the question.
The best way is to send in two sample chapters, and a letter over laden with flattery (he did make sure no agents were in the room before he said that!)
A synopsis would also help.
Never use fancy paper, coloured pens, highlighters, and no fancy fonts please. Crisp white paper, times new roman font in 12pt, double-spaced, bound with a single rubber band.
Use normal postal mail, unless it specifically asks for emails.
It was fantastic to meet so many like minded individuals who shared my passion for writing, all of us on our journeys on becoming better writers.