Our ‘How to Get Published’ conference with the Writers & Artists Yearbook is just two 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’ve been 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 finish up the series with Kate Johnson, agent at Wolf Literary Services. 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 Wolf Literary Services? How did you become involved in events like ‘How to Get Published’?
I’m an agent at Wolf Literary Services, where I represent literary and upmarket fiction, some contemporary, realistic young adult fiction, and a range of nonfiction. The agency is based in New York, so I spend a lot of time there, but I myself am based more regularly in England, which allows me to represent a mix of American and British writers. I also handle the agency’s UK rights.
I am always grateful for an opportunity to meet writers and take some of the mystery out of the publishing process, so I like to say yes to events like “How To Get Published” whenever I can.
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?
I am delighted that there are more opportunities for writers outside of London. I think online resources can be very helpful, but you can’t ask a website follow-up questions, and there’s a bit of nuance and subjectivity in the industry — everyone’s tastes and approaches vary somewhat — so meeting face-to-face can be invaluable. There’s a benefit from my perspective, too: though London is where the publishing wheels primarily turn, writers should come from all over, to reflect a breadth of life experiences, and so it’s refreshing just to hear what’s capturing the attention of writers, and readers, everywhere.
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?
Every author’s publication process is slightly different, from slow build to big splash, but what’s consistent is how there are moments of uncertainly throughout. I imagine every writer has moments of doubt or rejection, and the writing process is rarely linear. It’s useful for other writers to see you can get past the hiccups. It’s also useful for writers to see that the work doesn’t end when you type your novel’s last lines!
What would you say is the top misconception people have about the process of getting published?
I think people imagine the publication process to be a lot quicker than it is. As I type, I’m on a flight home from a book launch in New York for an author (and project) I started representing in, I think, 2013. After much developing, the proposal was submitted at the end of January 2016, the book sold that March, was delivered a year later, and is at last between two spines as of this November. That’s a lot of incubation time for a book, and certainly some timely nonfiction can be crashed out much faster, but generally it’s a minimum of one year between a book deal and an actual physical book.
Can you give us a taster of one of the publishing tips you’ll be sharing on the day?
I’d like authors to know agents and editors aren’t one-size-fits-all. I read plenty of pretty good manuscripts that for various reasons I’m not the right match for, despite their merits. Some of this is merely subjective — the line between love it and like it — so I want authors to know a pass from one agent is usually just that: a pass from one agent (as opposed to, say, total failure). On the flip side, some things will just never be a match for me, and a little research can make a big difference, so I will look forward to giving some advice for effective, targeted querying.
‘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!