Notes from live event with agent, Camilla Wray

Camilla Wray, originator of PITCH AN AGENT, is the Crime & Thriller agent at the Darley Anderson Literary TV & Film Agency. She studied English Literature and Psychology at Cardiff University, specialising in novel writing and abnormal psychology. In 2003 she co-founded a successful business and worked on this until 2005, when she decided to follow her love of stories. After gaining a distinction from the University of the Arts, she worked for a national newspaper until she joined the Darley Anderson Agency in 2007. The Darley Anderson Agency is an international market leader for commercial crime and thrillers, and represents No.1 bestselling authors such as Lee Child, John Connolly, Martina Cole, Tana French and Tim Weaver.

 

And author, Imran Mahmood (You Don’t Know Me, to be published by Penguin Random House in May)

 

How did they start working together?

Imran sent his book out to five agents and all asked to meet him – he decided to work with Camilla because of her enthusiasm, and passion for his book and writing.

 

*Top Tip – remember to follow the submission guidelines on each agency’s site – don’t give agents a reason to say ‘no’ before reading your work.

 

What is Imran’s book about?

It’s a crime book – with elements of a love story/friendship – Camilla compared it to the podcasts, Serial and Making a Murderer in her pitch letter to publishers.

 

What work did Camilla do with Imran to get the book ready?

Camilla is very ‘hands on’ with authors – she gets involved with the ms. and can polish the structure, voice and linguistic wording. She is able to see the bigger picture and to suggest changes to make it work.

 

How did the submission process go with publishers?

Camilla sent it out to 11 publishers and 10 said no. They felt it was too different and didn’t fit in with the crime genre writing on their lists. However, the eleventh publisher took his time and finally decided to offer. It will be published by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Random House in May.

 

*Top Tips – when sending your book out to agents, remember to use other cultural references – books/movies/music etc. Broaden out your references.

 

Think about how you communicate your book to others – how do you talk about your book. How will your editor talk to your readers about your book?

 

Warn agents if there are spoilers in your synopsis. Camilla likes to read the submissions as a reader – she wants the writing to unfold and to enjoy a pace in the narrative.

 

Play around with the format of your pitch.

 

Include a blurb in your letter/covering email.

 

Make people stop and read your book.  Make the opener really strong.

Write for your Reader

 

Stand out from the competition by making it the best you can. If you’ve done three edits tell the agent. Be proud of that.

 

Give a pitch that the agent can take to the publisher. Mould for pitch and blurb

Do your pitch letter as the email rather than as an attachment.

 

 

 

Competition and top tips for writing Flash Fiction

The Casket of Fictional Delights 2017 Flash Fiction Competition

Flash Fiction offers writers the challenge of creating a masterpiece in miniature. It is enjoyable and addictive to both the reader and the creator.  How do you go about creating the perfect flash fiction?

Work the titlein flash fiction you have a limited number of words, so use your title wisely. Don’t forget the title is not included in your word count!

Break the rulesYou have greater flexibility than you would perhaps have in a traditional short story in terms of language, structure and style.

It’s not a poembut remember, flash fiction still needs to tell a story, it is a form of prose after all.

Our judge Kit De Waal says

I am looking for a whole story that gives me depth and breadth, a beginning, a middle and an end but, just like a novel, not necessarily in that order! I’m looking for a turn in the story, something that propels it forward, maybe something unsettling or surprising but I don’t like gimmicks and tricks, I’m not keen on a rabbit out of the hat. For me, flash fiction has a sense of slow burn, something that will resonate with you long after the last word is read.

We are looking for entries?with a maximum of 300 words (excluding title).

Judge:?Kit De Waal
Closing date:?31st?May 2017

Entry: £5 per flash fiction, £12.50 for 3 or?£20 for 5

Prizes  

  • The winning flash fiction will receive £150.
  • The top three flash fictions will be?published on The Casket of Fictional Delights.
  • The top 10 flash fictions will be?professionally recorded and broadcast in a special audio podcast?on iTunes, SoundCloud, TuneIn and Stitcher, and promoted by The Casket of Fictional Delights.

To enter www.thecasket.co.uk/enter

 

A full set of Rules and Writing Tips are available on the website.

Guest post by Shalini Bhatt: notes on LWC event with Ben Clark

Events and networking are key in the publishing industry.

That’s what I keep hearing, over and over again, anyway. So I jumped at the chance to attend a networking talk with Jacq Burns and Kirsty McLachlan, otherwise known as the London Writers’ Club. They hold an event every month to put writers – with or without memberships – in touch with a different agent who talks about their experiences, personal interests and what they’re currently looking for. I observed a fantastic opportunity for a variety of writers to discuss current trends in the industry and their ideas for books with an industry professional to get feedback and advice; as well as meet new people embarking upon what can be a notoriously lonely endeavour.

A little about this months’ agent: Ben Clark of Lucas Alexander Whitley literary agency (LAW). He claims to be adventurous with food and has a widespread area of interest when it comes to books; so what is he currently looking for? He discussed this, along with what prospective authors should do before sending their manuscripts into the publishing world by submission to agents.

You are all likely to know that a great manuscript should come with a great pitch letter to match – and that’s the key: the pitch letter has to match the manuscript. Make sure you know your story; after all, your prospective agent will be going on to pitch your writing to prospective publishers. If you don’t know your story well enough to sell it, how can they?

Accompanying your matching pitch, Ben also likes to know why. Why are you telling this story? How did you come to the decision to tell it? What has affected you in such a way that makes you want to write this story for other people to read? What is special about you and your story? Sometimes, boasting and bullet points can work; if it’s non-fiction you’re pitching, you have to be able to prove that you are a complete expert in your field, and this could mean listing a selection of the most important achievements and experiences which you may not be able to write in detail about in your letter. For non-fiction you should also supply a breakdown of chapters with your initial idea, and an example of your writing. It may be the case that you have a great idea which he’d love to take on, but your writing might need extra attention: don’t be offended, he will have your best interests at heart!

He has been known to take on a few clients based on a long letter outlining an idea and he looks for a personal approach. If you’ve researched his interests and his clients, addressed the letter specifically to him, and (if it’s true) told him that there are other agents who are interested, he will take your idea on board and try to at least give you some feedback if he can’t take you on. But you have to bear in mind that agents are very busy people and can’t always promise an in depth critique or a quick reply. As a hands on guy with a personal approach, he dislikes the automated reply to submissions, but has to use it because of the quantity of submissions received, so don’t be disheartened.

Ben only takes on one or two fiction clients a year, so what is he looking for? Stories which stand out to him aren’t necessarily ‘new’, but have a fresh approach. He enjoys fiction with an underpinning philosophical ideas and speculative fiction; so what could happen in the future as a result of an event happening now. This doesn’t have to be sci-fi, but can be a contemporary narrative which stemmed from the every day. Don’t feel like you have to follow the current trends; remember that trends come and go, so be original in your telling. He wants to see stories which haven’t been told before, or stories told in a new way.

Naturally, the topic of the London Book Fair arose. The trends he could identify were the continuation of the thriller, narrative non-fiction and books which open worlds. Speculative fiction is on the rise with authors such as Margaret Atwood and Emily St. John Mandel both having released books in this genre. Diversity is also a very current topic. With publishing fighting to diversify, tastes and trends for what will get published will change in line with views. However, publishing is notoriously resilient to change so this progress will be slow moving.

It is worth remembering that Ben is only one agent in a huge pool; he may take a very personal, hands on approach with his chosen clients, but other agents will have their own ways of working. What Ben is looking for will not reflect what other agents you may be pitching to will be looking for.

It is, however important to craft your pitch letters carefully, with each individual agent in mind. Research the company they work for, research their interests and clients. This way, you will know whether or not you will be a fit, and they will see that you are invested in your writing. As a young agent, Ben is keen to have his client list grow, and is therefore willing to travel and do what he needs to do to find new stories to publish. He seeks out gaps in the market for stories he’s passionate about, and, likewise, carefully selects his stories to fit gaps he has found in the current publishing landscape.

He confessed the the is not a huge Twitter fan, so for more information on what he does at LAW, for submission details, or for contact details of the agents at LAW, your best point of call is www.lawagency.co.uk. He can also be reached at ben@lawagency.co.uk.

For more information on the London Writers Club, its membership rates, and its events go to www.londonwritersclub.com

Agent Hattie Grunewald of Blake Friedmann talks to LWC

 

We all miss Carole Blake a lot at Blake Friedmann, and obviously the office is not the same without her. But we know she would have wanted us to pull together to carry on her brilliant legacy. And that’s just what we’re doing.

I am actively looking to grow my list this year. I was so fortunate to work so closely with Carole, and learned a great deal from her mentorship. Under Carole’s watchful eye, my confidence grew and I felt that in 2016 I really started to prove myself. Last year I picked my projects carefully and did well, so this year I feel I have a bit more freedom to take risks and pursue a wider variety of projects that fit my passions.

I am particularly looking for:

Book club books

Less genre fiction and more general fiction

High concept stories

Still love a psychological thriller with a difference, and also love more procedural crime stories (especially with female or diverse leads)

Contemporary stories that feel millennial

Books with characters in their twenties – a Cold Feet for Millennials would be good.

Not interested in period pieces – I’m looking for contemporary settings, or even a bit of speculative fiction along the lines of Station Eleven, Margaret Atwood, The Mandibles, The Power.

I love a blend of genres – something like The Robber Bride which is mainly domestic in setting but with a slightly fantastical twist

Middle grade projects – something adventure-y, or detective-y in particular, or humour

In YA, I’d love a more literary project but looking for anything contemporary. I’m not interested in YA fantasy – the market for that is very hard in the UK, everyone is publishing US-originated fantasy

At Blake Friedmann we’re particularly interested in diverse voices and I’m looking for writers from a range of backgrounds often not well-represented in publishing.

What’s happening at LWC in 2017?

Perfect your concept and pitch workshop – January 26 10.30-4.30pm

First, we road test the concept of your book. This is the number one thing that excites an agent and will have them queuing up to represent you if your writing is good and you can deliver on the concept.

Then we move on to How to pitch your book to literary agents, including an in-depth look at the practical essentials of your pitch package.

This is a full-day workshop in Central London with Kirsty Mclachlan and Jacq Burns.

Novel Concept Refining & Proposal Writing Workshop

London Writers’ Club Live – January 17 – Evening event, 6.30-8.30pm

Meet literary agent, Federica Leonardis of Martin Leonardis Literary Management.

She’ll tell us what is she publishing, what she and her agency looking for and her predictions for what is hot, and what’s not.

January 2017– launch of Write a Bestseller mastermind classes with Jacq Burns.

Develop your book over 6 months with a small, carefully curated group of writers. You’ll be coached and cared for with other writers who are a good fit for you and your genre or subject matter and who are writing at your level.

With clear targets and accountability, practical writing and workshop days, set homework and one-to-one support this is the way to get your book written and out in 2017.

Write a Bestseller retreats return to Sharing Bali in 2017:

How to nail your story – March 2017 http://sharingbali.com/nail-your-story/

How to write a bestselling novel – September 2017

http://sharingbali.com/write-a-bestseller/

Contact laura@londonwritersclub.com for more information.

Diane Lee writes from Write a Bestseller Retreat in Bali

 

 

 

LWC Co-Director has just returned from the annual writers’ retreat in Bali. One writer, Diane Lee,  sent this post:

I’m sitting in my bungalows at Sharing Bali, listening to rain pelt down in fat drops, thunder rumbling in waves across the sky.  The spicy aroma of incense wafts  in through my window. Outside, rice paddies frame the property in e emerald rows. Sharing Bali is the perfect location for writer on retreat.

This my second year on retreat, and as a writer, I consider it to be an important part of my writerly life. No distractions like Facebook, Game of Thrones, recalcitrant children and attention-seeking pets and partners. No having to worry about mundane (but necessary) cooking Just writing, writing and more writing.

The 2017 retreat dates are:

March 24-27, Write your Story Intensive, how to nail your backstory to create a profile that connects and creates visibility. *includes Skype coaching pre-retreat.

September, 7-11, Write a Bestseller – an intensive novel-writing retreat.

Register now to book your place: laura@londonwritersclub.com

More information here. 

Do you need one to one help from an agent?

Writing can be lonely and the process full of doubt.

As a writer it’s easy to make the classic mistakes that hold back your writing and prevent you from creating a good book.

We can help with any part of the process, from first idea to published book.:

  • Developing a strong, workable idea
  • Planning a clear structure and outline for your book
  • Drafting and editing advice
  • Advising on the commercially appeal of your book
  • Advice on approaching agents and publishers
  • Finding the best option for you: Self-publishing OR trade publishing
  • Advising on publishing contracts and deals

Advice from industry experts early on in the process will save you months of your time, angst and even money. Get in touch now.

‘…Incredibly clued up and informative – you completely hit the spot. I feel very excited about my book and have great information to take away. ’

Suzy Greaves, Coach and author. www.thebig-leap.com

We offer:

Telephone mentoring and Face-to-face sessions

Simply fill in this form to tell us what you need help with and we’ll let you know how we can help.

Book now for November’s LWC Live with agent Laura Longrigg

November’s speaker is booked and we are looking forward to welcoming Laura Longrigg of MBA Literary Agents.Book now to get an early seat (£15 in advance). Free for members but do let us know you are coming.
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Laura worked as an editor, mainly in the genre of popular fiction, for HarperCollins, Heinemann and Penguin. She became an agent in 1994, working first with Jennifer Kavanagh and joined MBA just before the millennium.   Her clients’ work covers the whole fiction spectrum, from genre, including romantic comedy and saga, through crime and thrillers, to ‘reading group’ and literary writing.  She also agents some non fiction, but would not be the right agent for science fiction, children’s, poetry or illustrated books.   She founded and administered the Harry Bowling prize for unpublished fiction for many years, and her clients have appeared on the Booker shortlist among many other prestigious prizes, Sunday Times bestseller lists and been made into TV, film and radio.
All best,
Kirsty & Jacq.

Going Live! with LWC member, Sadie Nott

Going Live!

London Writer’s Club member, Sadie Nott, was shortlisted in the York Festival of Writing’s Friday Night Live Competition. This meant she was one of seven writers selected to read 500 words of their work to an audience of around 200 writers, agents and editors and an expert panel.

Public readings are a core part of a writing life, however Sadie had previously only read her work aloud to members of her writing group. Fortunately Arachne Press  held a workshop on ‘Performance for Writers’, led by Liars’ League’s Katy Darby , just two days before Sadie spoke at the conference.  ‘Whist I already had experience of presenting at academic conferences, the workshop taught me several strategies specific to reading fiction out loud,’ says Sadie, ‘For example how to mark up your text to indicate emphasis and emotion and moving your head slightly as if you’re watching Wimbledon during dialogue to help the audience follow who is speaking.’

Sadie read the opening of her recently completed novel, A Ton of Feathers, the coming-of-age story of Zoe who lives in her head where she feels safe, and her bereft, hippy mum who tries to pull her out.

The winner is decided by the loudness of the audience’s claps and the two joint-winners had both written darkly comic novels about murdered spouses. In 2014 the winner of this event wasJoanna Cannon , a writer who went on to publish the bestselling novel The Problem with Goats and Sheep

Sadie says ‘The panel gave constructive comments, the conference itself was a very friendly affair, and, like London Writer’s Club, it provides a great opportunity to meet agents, to find out what they are like in person, and which types of book they are looking for.’

 

Notes from LWC Live with Catherine Cho of Curtis Brown

Following are some brief – and to the point – notes from Tuesday’s LWC Live with agent Catherine Cho of Curtis Brown.

 

3 top tips for getting your work read by Curtis Brown

1/Referral – via a festival/event such as London Writers’ Club

2/Do research on the agent – identify the elements in your book which will appeal to the agent.

3/Submit directly to the agent – not via the portal.

What percentage of submissions gets a ‘call back’?

80% is an immediate no

10% is an ‘almost there’ – great writing but the concept is not quite right.

Of the 10% remaining, 1% of that will have the magical formula of great writing and great concept.

What are the HOT TRENDS?

·         Psychological thrillers – lots of sex and violence with a female lead character

·         Unique concepts – with an unreliable narrator

·         Female driven fiction

·         Cosy novels – crime or comforting to read

·         Ghost stories and love stories are also seen a resurgence

·         BUT no twins or sisters

What’s Reverse Engineering?

 

In computer speak it is taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object.  With books, it’s all about deconstructing a concept to see why it is so successful.

 

How to get your concept across quickly and successfully?

 

1/Describe it in a sentence.

2/Identify the story immediately

3/Clarity

4/Log line? Ensure it works.

 

What is Pitch CB on Twitter?  Check out the hashtag on Twitter – this is your chance to pitch your concept in 140 characters to agents at Curtis Brown.

 

What is Jonny Geller looking for? A love story!

 

What does Catherine Cho bring to agenting?

·         She has worked in law and lobbying so knows there are other ways to do things – this means she can be innovative and constantly improve and look for the new.

·         Legal eye – she has an eye for detail in all agreements.

·         Business mind.

·         Works closely with authors on their novels.

 

 If you’d like to see the full film of the event, do let us know and join the Club here.