Date posted: 29th November 2017 / Interviews
Our ‘How to Get Published’ conference with the Writers & Artists Yearbook is just four days away. Returning to Plymouth University for a second year, this event offers a day of publishing tips from industry insiders including publishers, agents, editors and writers – an unmissable event if you’re looking to take the next step with your writing and seeking publication.
In the run up to the event, we’ll be interviewing the speakers to give you a taste of the insider information they’ll be sharing and just why they think you should attend this year’s event. We continue the series with Alysoun Owen, Editor of The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook . Read our interview with her below and find out how you can get your tickets to the event.
Can you tell us about your role at Writers & Artists? How did you become involved in events like ‘How to Get Published’?
I have been the Editor of both the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook for the last six editions which are published annually in July. Most of our readers buy the print editions, but e-book versions and an online listings directory are also available. On our website, we also provide regular free advice, news and support from authors, agents and publishing industry professionals.
As Editor, I keep an eye on what’s going on across the publishing world and wider media industries, and use this knowledge to inform the new articles I commission for the Yearbooks each year from authors, agents and other experts. It’s in my role as Yearbook Editor, which I combine with running a publishing consultancy, combined with my 20-plus years of working in publishing, that allows me to chair and talk at events such as How to Get Published. It’s one way of helping to make the Yearbooks even better, so that we reflect the needs of our readers fully.
Publishing has traditionally been seen as ‘London based’. We’re noticing more events and opportunities based around the process of getting published are happening outside of London. What would you say is the major benefit of attending such events for writers based in the South West as compared to say online resources on the subject?
Yes, that’s right and it’s something we see when updating the Yearbooks each year: a larger number of smaller, indie publishers emerging outside the capital; new competitions being established; a diverse range of literary festivals being set-up. We’re also passionate about taking Writers & Artists and our experts around the country. In the last year alone, we’ve taken part in events in Sheffield, Burnley, York, Letchworth, Winchester, Manchester, Bath as well as London.
Print, online and other resources are all helpful of course, but we know that writers want to meet other writers, to learn, discuss and feel part of a group that understands what they are going through. It’s about community and hearing advice – from our speakers and also the other delegates – straight from the horse’s mouth. Direct dialogue and conversation is so important as we understand that writing can be a lonely pursuit, at times!
Why do you think it’s important to have writers talking about their own pathways and careers at events like How to Get Published – what it is that they offer that is different from editors and agents?
I like to tell all as yet un-published authors that every famous, successful writer was once in their shoes. It means authors are best-placed to tell other would-be writers how they made it. It’s about learning through example and direct experience. Agents and publishers can advise on the professional aspects and on how they work with authors, but it’s one remove from what it actually feels like to find time to write, to put a submission together and send off your manuscript. It is also about hope and encouragement: hearing other people’s success stories is the perfect encouragement you need to continue writing.
What would you say is the top misconception people have about the process of getting published?
It’s common knowledge that getting an agent can be a long and time-consuming process. It’s not unusual for an agent to receive over 100 unsolicited submissions each week, so the odds are stacked against the new author. It’s tough. Once an agent bites and an author is signed, there is a misconception that that’s the end of the submission process and that publication is assured. But that’s not true. Agents will take on an author’s whose work they think is deserving of publication however publishing editors may not agree! It’s the agent’s job to ‘sell’ the concept to a publishing house and this might take many months or even years; in fact it might be an author’s second or third script that actually gets published. Getting your agent is really the beginning . . .
Can you give us a taster of one of the publishing tips you’ll be sharing on the day?
Always be professional and treat your writing and your approach to submission, focussed and business-like. Follow the guidelines that agents and publishers provide on their website and take advice from the articles in the Yearbooks. If you want to self-publish, understand what it is you need to do to create a professional looking book in addition to writing and editing the text. Know how to get help when you need it.
‘How to Get Published’ takes place on Saturday 2nd December 8.30 am – 4 pm at Plymouth University in the ‘Plymouth’ lecture theatre (Portland Square Building).
Tickets to the event are available here. (Don’t forget to use discount code LITWORKS30, our £30 discount for you at the check out). See you there!