While the focus was on publishing children's books, there was still a lot of advice that applies to everyone.
I came back with pages and pages of notes. Some of the tips include:
- Different publishers have different personalities, they are looking for different things. A rejection from a publisher could be that you've submitted to the wrong publisher. Do your research as submitting to the right publisher will increase your chances of getting published.
- Write the story you want to write rather than following trends in writing. If the story you want to write is on trend, still write it. Don't write a story that is on trend because you think it will be published. There is always room for a great story regardless of trends.
- Every story needs a hook. There are a lot of sweet stories written that don't have a hook. They don't get picked up.
- Publishing is a business. They need to know how they are going to sell your book.
- Publishers are happy to see multiple manuscripts at once, just not too many! They want to know you have more than one story in you.
- Find your writing DNA - if writing romance is your thing, then write it. Don't force writing a different genre because you think you should.
- Don't be disheartened by closed doors, keep going to find an open one
- Spend a lot of time on the opening of the manuscript
This is just a short summary of my notes.
Along with listing to panels of publishers, I also had the opportunity for a three minute pitch to a publisher. Some of the tips I have for these pitches are:
- Write your pitch before the event, don't make it up on the spot
- Time your pitch and make sure it is shorter than your time. When I practiced my pitch it was 1.5 minutes
- Leave plenty of time for questions and discussion with the publisher
- Take a relevant prop. I took a Rubik's cube as that is what my book was about. It helped to break the ice with the publisher and gave something to talk about, it also helped me feel less nervous
I really hope they run this event again next year. There were so many amazing people there and I learned so much from the publishers who were generous with their time and advice. The weekend also gave me renewed confidence in writing and submitting to publishers.
Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne with her two sons and pet blue tongue lizard. During the day she works as business manager in the family business.