The Saturday before last was my Industry Day with The Literary Consultancy. This is part of the Chapter & Verse mentoring scheme which I began about a year ago.
The industry day gives mentees a chance to gain further insight into the publishing industry and getting published. It was the first one to be held at TLC’s new premises, the Free Word Centre; a gorgeous wordy, booky space – that’s the technical description. The day started with Becky and Caroline from TLC, talking about the scheme and the mentees introducing themselves and their writing.
The first outside visitor was Will Atkins from Macmillan New Writing. MNW was started to keep new fiction alive in a time when it was being strangled because of the heightened risk that new writers present to publishers. MNW take submissions direct from writers and Will talked about how to make an approach. He brought five or six books with him that they had published and the covering letter that each of those writers had sent with their original enquiry. I loved this. There’s information available about the theory of your covering letter but rarely do you have the chance to see the letter that scored the deal! (Coincidentally, if you’re searching for an example, Novel Racers, Fia and Cally, enable you to see just that as part of Cally’s blog tour for her new novel, Heaven Can Wait.)
One of Will Atkins’ authors said that he had spent about fifty hours on the putting together his covering letter. He said he had considered his novel for thousands of hours so it made sense to spend plenty of time on the letter that would go with the manuscript.
After lunch Becky chaired a conversation with Euan Thorneycroft, an agent from AM Heath Literary Agency; Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Editor of Granta Magazine, though recently a senior editor at Jonathan Cape; Will Atkins, see above and Caroline McCarthy, TLC Mentoring Co-ordinator and Literary Scout. After their discussion, it was opened up for questions. Imagine, all that expertise and we could ask anything.
Tomorrow I will condense roughly what was said.