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Writers’ Workshop Conference

Attending a conference with fellow writers is one way of fuelling flagging levels of enthusiasm and/or inspiration. The publishing world (referred to by agents as ‘the jungle’) may be floundering, but the world of Creative Writing Courses and Critiques is flourishing. Quality does not come cheap and, with so much choice, research is key to ensure your money is invested wisely. The Writers’ Workshop Conference on Getting Published was one of the best – and most terrifying – events I have attended in recent years. Appreciation of writing being so subjective, advice from speakers often appears to be contradictory (certainly much of the advice here was in direct opposition to the advice I received at a similar conference in June), but also on offer were one-to-ones with ‘Book Doctors’ (thanks to Jill Foulston who was kind enough to comment that my opening chapter of These Fragile Things left her panting for more) and Slushpile Live,  an  opportunity to pitch to a panel of agents and receive critique – in front of a paying audience. This, too, was a social event with plenty of opportunity to mix and culminating in a drinks party with four authors who balanced on chairs with a glass of wine in hand, telling their success stories.Among the speakers was Carolyn Dawnay of United Artists, an industry veteran, who commented how agents and editors appear to be getting younger and younger – as indeed they did. She compared negociating a book deal to the game of peggarty she used to play with her grandmother: the aim is to get five pegs in a row – the right manuscript, the right editor, the right publishing house, the right author and the right deal – without being blocked by her opponent. She was keen to point out how the odds are stacked against writers, and that six figure deals – increasingly unusual – are not necessarily the best thing for the author. It is no mistake that author Debi Alper recommended that authors need to develop the hind of a rhino.

Best of all was the opportunity to make contacts. This really did feel like a writing community, where members support each other. Go to for details of future events, services, or join the on-line community, Word Cloud.