Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Yesterday I attended my first writing festival which I discovered on one of the many #writingcommunity Facebook groups I am in.
While in attendance I met some great people, including attendees, presenters and publishing personnel.
The theme, which I felt was addressed exceedingly well by all presenters was 'Invest'. More on that soon.
I was excited to meet Georgie Donaghey in person (pictured left - bottom right), who is currently my featured book tour author for her new picture book In The Shadow Of An Elephant (cover below). I was lucky enough to be present at the books' launch at the #CKTFest2019. The book was absolutely amazing and had me in tears. I would highly recommend it. I also got to purchase my very own copy, which I was thrilled about!
Below are some other great titles I purchased at the Festival by presenting authors. Many of which I was lucky enough to have signed along with a few encouraging words offered as well.
The theme this year, was 'Invest', and what became quite evident as a key message from all of these successful authors is that it is exactly what you need to do. The biggest investment: TIME! As in, you actually need to do the writing! With all of the networking, platform development. courses and great information sites on offer, I was reminded that without putting in the actual time to write this won't really work! Seems simple enough right...
Now, aside from the big one above, i'd like to share 5 key messages I took away from the day (in no particular order):
1. Re-write, re-write, re-write!
As jackie French said - we have 7 second to sell our book to people when they pick it up. They have to not want to put it down. We'll achieve this through our writing (our first go usually isn't our best - we can do better!) As I looked at the transformation of first to fourth draft of a section of one of Deborah Abela's books, I was amazed. The end product was so much different to the original and well worth every re-write that was made. Do your re-writes!
2. Get qualified manuscript assessments!
These paid assessments by qualified personnel with the experience to go with it will be worth the money you spend. They will be unbiased and tell you the truth. They are great at letting you know if something is missing and about marketability. Also - consider how many of these you need. Too many opinions may confuse you! I had my first two assessments done on \picture books by Clare Hallifax from Omnibus/Scholastic - the feedback was useful and gave me a good direction for more of those oh-so-useful re-writes!
3. Organise, prioritise and commit!
Know what you need to do to achieve your goals, i.e. work out how much time you need or how many words. Schedule your time where you can and actually do the writing! - How much in one sitting will obviously depend on your schedule at home! You will need to consider where writing is on your priority list, for example Emma Quay said she doesn't Netflix binge because it will cut into her writing/illustrating time too much. Think about your own priorities and work accordingly!
4. Build your career - it's a marathon, not a sprint!
Figure out who you are as a writer. Look at your own experiences, consider what you love about reading and what you'd like to show your readers in turn. Keep learning and refining your craft as you go and use research and your life experiences to know, understand and develop your work. Be patient and commit your time to not only writing but to building your brand as well. Jacqueline Harvey suggests building your brand by having a website and social media and connecting and developing partnerships within the writing community - we will need friends to go through this long, arduous and rewarding process.
5. Publishing Panel - Follow the guidelines, be you, and be collaborative!
A. Put in the effort and follow any submission guidelines that are given - it shows professionalism, makes a great first impression and shows you are serious about your place in the industry (especially after all the hard work it took you to get to this point!).
B. Be you - when you submit a cover letter, make sure you shine through it as well as just listing your achievements (if applicable). When a publisher likes your work they usually have to sell you to the whole team and this will be easier to do if they know about you! You want them to think, 'I'd really like to work with this person.'
C. Be collaborative! Editorial recommendations are how your book is going to reach its' full potential. Everyone in the process is invested in making your book the best it can be, so listen and work collaboratively (particularly if you're ever interested in having a book 2 with them!)
Overall, I found this experience to be one of great value for me as a writer (and occasional drawer). I will endeavour to invest more and use the multitude of great tips on offer from the day. I encourage you to not only use the tips mentioned above but to also attend this great festival and to take up the opportunity for the well-priced manuscript assessments on offer. The #CKTFest2019 was worth every penny!
Thanks Georgie Donaghey and Creative Kids Tales for the amazing experience.
Keep writing and keep connecting!