Monday, 2 August 2010

Inspire and Mentor with Marie Claire

A couple of week's back I made my way up to 'That London' and attended the super glam offices of Marie Claire for a 'How to get Published' Seminar.  I didn't think I'd be dissapoined and I wasn't in the slightest.

After the free champers and canape's on the balcany overlooking fab views of London we all congregated into a well air conditioned room.  There in our seats we were greeted by a very well received goody bag of beauty products, Harriet's new book I Remember You (which she so kindly signed after), Marie Claire mag and a Jaeger purse.  Once we'd gotten over the excitment of the free stuff we stopped talking and paid attention.  This is a little break down of how it went:

Talk by Harriet Evans – Author

Harriets top 10 tips for getting your novel published

1. Work for it. Be serious.
2. Treat it like a separate job.
3. Think about your pitch to agents. Be able to say what its about. Don’t waffle in your letter because they don’t always read them.
4. Peak interest. Look like a commodity
5. Don’t expect it to change your life
6. Be prepared to rewrite it all
7. Get people to read and comment on your work
8. Read loads and loads and loads
9. Find writers you like and aim your work towards their agents. Find out who they are.
10. Do it for yourself and others second.

Talk by Jonathan Lloyd – CEO, Curtis Brown

Why are literary agents essential?

The publishing world is a jungle and there are very few retailers left; WH Smiths, supermarkets, amazon. This caused independent retailers to suffer.

There used to be 20 publishers you could offer a book to but now they are all under one cheque book. There is comfort in being represented by a company with power.

Most publishers don’t take unsolicited manuscripts.

Publishers will take work more seriously if from an agent than direct from yourself.

How to get an agent

Do your homework, know where to address your letter to. Learn the differences between various agencies through their websites.

Personalize your approach to an agent rather than sending the same letter to each agency.

Talk by Kate Espiner – Publishing Director, Harper Collins (works in the fiction department)

There are 6 commissioning editors publishing new authors.

They don’t take unsolicited work hence the need for an agent

Different mediums:
  1. Digital publishing
  2. Online publishing
  3. Self publishing

  • Read read read
  • Write write write
  • Edit edit edit

 Talk by Carla Bevan – Associate Editor, Marie Claire

  • The Blogosphere is a great place to start.  “Blogging is a great way to hone your craft” says Carla.
  • Send a link to your blog and she will visit
  • Features editor – you should contact them to get articles published.
  • Start at building a portfolio with local newspapers and online mags before you try more famous publications
  • Tesco mag has a massive readership.

 Q & A

1. ‘The Help’ was rejected and is now doing well, discuss

Harriet admits as a publisher she rejected ‘Chocolat’, The Island and Labyrinth. She says she wasn’t the right publisher for those books at that time. "It happens but someone else will love your book and turn it into a best seller." says Harriet.

2. After 6 years Harriet became a full time writer. 'How did you make that transition from working at the day job to working as a writer full time?'

Once she was given a deal Harriet informed her boss and went to 4 days a week. She didn’t tell people the reason and noone even noticed. Holidays and weekends were spent working on the novel. This soon turned into a 3 day week in the office until eventually she was financially stable enough not to work. Harriet admits that she misses the office environment.

She puts a positive spin on the bad things in life like not having a boyfriend (a spin that was well needed!)

3. Do you agree that you need to be a celebrity to get published these days?

Harriet understands the celeb culture in writing these days but wholeheartedly believes that what it always comes down to is the quality.

Hope that was of some help to those of you (namely newbie writers) who need a bit of advice.  It really helped me and made me feel better about my work and those dreaded R's.


  1. Thanks, Lily - really useful.

  2. Great stuff, Lily - thanks for sharing! x

  3. great stuff, i was meant to go to the leeds one but wasn't able to so you've been a big helpx

  4. No worries, glad to be of help x

  5. Thanks for that great report, it's so useful. I wish I'd been there, it sounds like it was fun as well as interesting.

  6. This is a great summary, thanks

  7. Really good breakdown there - some great tips :o) I do agree that blogging is a great way to hone your writing skills, but I think it's a lot easier for 'slebs to get published than the rest of us 'normal' people!

  8. No worries, glad your finding it useful. I hope they have another one next year cuz I would go again.

  9. This is great Lily - thank you for posting it.


  10. Sounds like a great seminar. What great speakers. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    I wouldn't mind coming with you next year ;)

    warm wishes

  11. No worries - thanks for stopping by :)