Writers Victoria Publishing Intensive: Insights into the Publishing Process
A publisher, a literary agent, an ePublishing guru, and a media expert walk into a room.
No, seriously. All these people walked into a room at The Wheeler Centre this weekend for the Writers Victoria Publishing Intensive. If you’re looking for some quick insights into the publishing process, here are some of the key things I learned over the past days:
The Publisher – Donna Ward
Donna is the Publisher at Inkerman & Blunt, and had plenty of great advice regarding when and where to go with traditional publishing. As a group, we shared where we were currently at with our manuscripts, and then Donna provided some thoughts on potential publishers, and the layout of the industry.
Key point: Publishing is a partnership. If your book gets published traditionally, the publisher’s marketing department will schedule several weeks of promotion, and they’ll expect you to be a partner in getting your book out there. Interviews, festival appearances, and media pieces will be part of the gig. We’re all in this together, after all.
The Agent – Jacinta Di Mase
Jacinta has spent over 20 years in the publishing world, and this shone through in her colourful session. Before the course, Jacinta invited us to send in a synopsis for review. The wonderful thing I discovered was that my view of a synopsis (a straight telling of my manuscript’s storyline) was very different from what Jacinta was after. This led to an excellent insight around what she was looking for in a synopsis:
- The manuscript title.
- A strapline (25 words that say what’s at the heart of your manuscript).
- A short synopsis – top line details only. The synopsis needs to quickly convey why the agent should read on. Make it hard to say no!
- A short bio saying why you’re the the best person to tell this story. Make this bio specific to the manuscript you’re submitting.
We also did an exercise to pull out interconnected themes between our manuscripts. It looked a little something like this:
Dozens of manuscript themes in post-it form at the @Writers_Vic Publishing Intensive. Great session, @Jacinta_DiMase! pic.twitter.com/LRaohw069k
— I H Laking (@IHLaking) September 26, 2015
Key point: Find your cornerstone moment. You need to hook the agent or publisher into your submission, and the easiest way to do that is to find your cornerstone moment. When did everything change for you? For me, things changed when I was listening to a piece of music, and I started to piece together years of travelling experience into a story that I had to tell. Your cornerstone is your angle – the thing that makes you stick out, and hooks the reader in.
The ePublishing Guru – Euan Mitchell
Euan has loads of experience in ePublishing, and even though I’ve been in the self-publishing game for some time now, I still got plenty out of his session. It was helpful to hear about the Small Press Network, which has a lot of options for publishing if you’re having trouble with larger publishers.
It was fantastic to hear from someone else who’s been in self-publishing for a while, and it’s one of those things where you don’t realise how far you’ve come until you’re chatting with others at the start of the self-publishing journey.
Key Point: Consider your options. There are lots of options in the modern world for people looking to break into the literary scene. Euan recommended being careful with your digital rights, since digital royalties are so lucrative. This thought alone was worth the price of admission!
The Media Expert – Erina Reddan
Erina was superb. With her wealth of experience in media and public relations, her session was one of the rare times when you feel you’re in the hands of someone who knows media backwards – and it made for a highly engaging experience. Erina took us through the process of creating a pitch – looking for the angle, the background, and the catchy quote that will make for a great story. There was a lot of workshopping, which I personally found invaluable.
Key Point: You need to MAP your points. Break down any interview into maps – Making a point, Anchoring it with concrete details, then letting people know your Perspective. You need to think through what you’re saying or you may not get your message across when you’re being interviewed.
I’m so glad that I went to the publishing intensive. The industry experts provided excellent insights into different parts of the publishing industry, but the bottom line is this: it’s hard to get published, and you need to take your fate as a writer into your own hands. Dream big, don’t get discouraged, and find a way through the publishing machine. Find the people who can support you on your journey, and don’t be precious about your work – there are a lot of great authors out there.
Above all, you need to stay humble on the publishing journey. People in the publishing industry are looking for great material, you just have to find a way to make it impossible for them to say no.
Now it’s time for me to take my next step in the publishing journey. Wish me luck!
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