So anyway, while sitting around all day and listening to established authors speak, I feel like I learned a lot of stuff. And because it is within my nature to forget said 'stuff' if it doesn't get written down, I thought I would document my findings here for future reference.
Read on for some festival writing ideas and thoughts....
Do what makes your heart sing.
The morning kicked off with a keynote speech by very successful commercial women's fiction author, Tricia Stringer.
Tricia spoke about her own writing journey, which began quite a few years ago and like most people's journey's, was a pretty difficult road.
Her mantra throughout her career, taken from a mentor, was 'Do what makes your heart sing'.
I really love that advice,
So early on in her career, Tricia had two children's books coming out, until the small publisher distributing them went bust.
At this point, she said she decided 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger', so she kept pursuing her writing goals.
She got a string of rejections for her adult fiction and in the end she decided to self-publish.
Tricia said that there was a point where she felt she might give up. But she made a choice, and decided to take a leap of faith and try even harder. And she did.
Eventually she was picked up by a publisher, and now that publishing house has actually bought her three self-published novels and is re-releasing them.
Tricia left us with a nice quote, which I really liked:
Everyone wants to be on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it.
She also mentioned that she made a decision to become a full time writer when she couldn't really financially afford it, yet she did it anyway. And ended up living in her car just to survive!
When asked what advice they could give to other writers they came up with this treasure trove:
Choice. (As in, make a decision to work hard and do this! Don't wishy washy about!)
Don't self-sabotage. (Meaning, don't apologize for yourself or your work. Don't put your work down. If you say it is shit then why would anyone ever be bothered to look at it?)
During a different panel a speaker said something that really resonated with me:
Don't make excuses for your work. It will fall or stand on its own.
Jennifer Mills also said that she felt persistence is even more important than talent.
A book deal is not the end of the road. It is the beginning.
And they all agreed that:
Professionalism is really valued by people in the industry. It is a huge part of wanting to work with you. Be professionally respectful all the time. Don't be a jerk to anybody. Don't burn your bridges.
Victoria Purman also said:
Don't be oblivious to the marketplace. If you like Sci-fi set on Mars about werewolves and unicorns by all means write it. But if someone tells you there's no marketplace for it, don't a be jerk about it.
Big W is a mammoth seller in Australia. Go and see what is popular, the kind of stories and book covers they want. See what is in the marketplace and do your research.
Royce Kurmelovs said:
If a publisher asks what makes you unique or special, and you have an answer for them, then you are probably on the right track.
And finally, they all strongly agreed the most important thing of all is:
Don't be a dick.