Experience Counts!

Elaine Roberts tells us about her first twelve months as a novelist.

Two events in the last twelve months have given me writing experiences I never thought I’d have. the events, Attending The Write Place in Dartford, Kent and joining the Romantic Novelists Associations New Writers Scheme (RNA NWS).

The classes introduced me to, amongst other things, the RNA and to the Curtis Brown Literary Agency’s Discovery Day; both have enabled me to talk to publishers and agents as well as other writers.

My first experience was at the RNA Conference when I managed to secure one to ones with two publishers, Harper Collins and Mira. I have to admit to being very nervous and approached it wondering if I’d be able to form a sentence together, when my time came. However, I was pleasantly surprised that both of the publishers put me at ease and gave me feedback on my work, which included some valuable constructive criticism.

The second opportunity was at the Discovery Day, held at Foyles in London, which I attended with other members of my writing group, and was another nervous experience. I had to give myself a strict talking to before I left the house, but again I was pleasantly surprised at how “normal” and approachable the agents I met are. For the first time I had to give approximately a thirty-second pitch on my novel and hand over my first page for the agent to read, which we then spoke about.

I think it’s important to remember they all want you to succeed, so they offer valuable and worthwhile advice. To anyone who wants to approach writing seriously, I would say attend as many of these events as they can, because it’s about listening, learning and above all else preparing. Offer the professionals the best work you can, even if it doesn’t end up being the best you can actually do, have faith and take their views on board. Before you pitch your novel, practice, practice and more practice. It is expected that you can sum up the main plot of your novel in fifteen words, so know your novel and your characters well before attending, then you will be able to talk about them confidently.          

Through talking to professionals, publishers and agents alike, I believe I have gained confidence and belief in my ability to become a published author.
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6 thoughts on “Experience Counts!

  1. “Practice, practice and more practice” – I absolutely agree, Elaine. I remember at last year’s Curtis Brown event, somebody we knew turned up having done no preparation and they hadn’t made any notes to take in with them. They thought they knew their own work and would sail through. They dried up and made a mess of their opportunity to get feed back that would be useful. And as you say, the editors and agents aren’t as scary as we build ourselves up to believe. These events are great opportunities for us writers.

    • Thanks Elaine, it’s valuable to have the opportunity to mix with experienced writers and they are happy to advise on the way forward. Elaine

  2. You’ve had a busy year, Elaine R, and everything about it seems to have been positive. I too have realised that the writing community is made up of real and nice people who are welcoming and encouraging to those of us following their already trodden path. Good luck.
    Natalie Kleinman

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