A literary event

 On Monday night, I attended my first event for writers. Literary agent Madeline Buston from the Darley Anderson Agency gave advice on how to secure an agent at a talk set up by the London Writers’ Cafe. It was exciting to be in a room with writers and to meet an agent for the first time. Not only was Madeline human (yes, sometimes we wonder when we get all those rejections!) but she seemed friendly, down-to-earth and genuinely excited about discovering new talent. She was already on my dream agent list and the talk cemented that!

Madeline and her agency focus on commercial fiction and they find exclusive submissions very powerful. UK and US agents do things very differently so check submission guidelines very carefully! UK agents prefer to focus on your writing sample – the first three chapters whereas US agents like the query letter. Madeline read out a few examples of cover letters – they were short and to the point and she said she liked conversational tone. However, other agents like things more formal so this underlines again that one size does not fit all agents.

Madeline like most agents places great importance on the first chapter. This needs to be really strong and make an agent want to read on. She and her agency have dealt with a lot of bestselling authors (Martina Cole and Lee Child among them) so she said they have really thought about what makes a bestseller and they believe it’s all about character. So make yours leap off the page!

At the end of the talk, I plucked up the courage to speak to Madeline personally. I asked if she remembered my submission as her rejection email had mentioned how much she loved the title. She did remember it and again enthused about the title. She said she thought that it had potential and when I explained I was currently revising it quite extensively, she encouraged me to re-submit it to her. Regardless of whether she was just being kind or is really interested, it has spurred me on to polish up my novel and go for it again. I’d love to work with Madeleine and I will definitely send it to her.

Overall, it was definitely worth attending. I got a great insight into the life of an agent and the publishing process and what this particular agent it really looking for. I think it’s also helped my confidence – I sat in a room of writers, and I was one of them! And I talked to a real life agent. Next step – getting one to represent me 🙂

Have you ever attended a literary event?

Victoria

xoxo

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37 thoughts on “A literary event

  1. Thank you for posting this. Seriously I was waiting for this since you teased me. Congrats, girl!

    I was surprised to hear that she asked you to re-submit. Even better that she remembered you. I’m sending writerly encouragement your way 😀

    • Yeah I can imagine how big that would be. I liked the fact this event was small so it wasn’t intimidating and it felt friendly and accessible. I didn’t feel out of place, which I was scared I would!

  2. Bravo for having the conversation!

    I have been to a literary event! I went to a YA writers/readers gathering last summer. All was well and good until they read my name as an author, at which point I wanted to disappear into the floor. I wouldn’t have stood up if my dear friend (also a several-time beta reader of TMD) hadn’t shoved me to a stand. 😉

  3. This is so awesome, Vicky! How wonderful that she encouraged you to re-submit. Make sure you do it. I would even send her a lthank you note for talking with you at the event. It will keep your name in her mind.

    Good luck. I feel good things coming your way.

    Lisa

  4. There must be something there if she asked you to resubmit. It has been my experience that agents/publishers don’t do that if they aren’t interested. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  5. Very cool, Vix!
    Congrats on attending your first event, AND taking (what REALLY IS) a big step and going for a one-on-one conversation with the agent. Good on you!
    Good luck with your editing and polishing.

  6. That is so great, that experience alone seemed to broaden your understanding of the process (seeing it from the agents point of view) and probably gave you a bit more confidence (giving you an idea of what direction to go in). I think the best thing to do, and this is really the best thing in any working venture, is to present yourself naturally. Meaning write letters in a way that you speak normally. This way you don’t have to keep up a pretense and you also can find the agent that works well with you. Well that’s my opinion at least. When it’s time the right agent will appear in the best possible way. That’s how life happens, without us really planning for it, we just have to be prepared. Prepare for great things my friend, as they are most certainly coming your way.

  7. I have never been to a literary event, I would love to go to one though. I have no idea where they are/ when etc. Maybe I should actually pull my finger out and do some research.

    Good luck with the novel, it’s great news that she remembered you! What was the title? :o)

  8. Pingback: Under pressure « Victoria-writes

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