Finding an Agent – Discovery Day 2016

Author photo - Helen J RolfeOn Saturday 27th February I took the train to London to attend Discovery Day 2016, an event held at Foyles bookshop where attendees had the opportunity to pitch their work to Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh Literary Agents.

For any writer, the chance to meet agents face to face is an invaluable opportunity and as I walked to Charing Cross Road I was excited, if a little nervous.

We had been given allocated time slots for pitching but it was still an hour queueing on the stairs to get to the top of Foyles and the gallery where agents were waiting for us. This was a nice time, however, to meet other writers and talk about our work. It helped to calm the nerves!

Foyles

 

Once I reached the gallery and an agent was free I was lucky enough to pitch to the lovely Jess Whitlum-Cooper who works at Curtis Brown with Felicity Blunt. Jess read my first page and then I was given thirty seconds to pitch my novel before we discussed my work.

Following the pitch appointment we were also able to ask general questions about agents, writing and publishing, with another literary agent in a Surgery Session, and here were the top tips for writing a cover letter to go with your submission:

  • Provide a very concise description of what your book is about
  • Identify who potential readers are
  • Name similar authors
  • Talk about your own writing experience
  • Let the agent know what inspired you to write this particular book

I found the experience of Discovery Day extremely positive and a lot of fun. Jess showed a lot of enthusiasm for my novel which was a real boost and whether or not I end up securing an agent this time round, Discovery Day did a lot for my confidence and belief in my writing. It also really showed me that not only do I want to find an agent to represent me, but I want to find the right agent. I think the right fit is so important because an agent/author relationship is a long-term commitment from both sides.

So for now, it’s on with the submissions and the next book!

Helen J Rolfe

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What Rosie Found Next - bookcover - KDP versiontft front cover with quoteHandle Me with Care final front cover - for KDP

 

 

 

 

 

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A Year Without Pyjamas…

trifectaAnd what a busy year it has been!

February 24th 2015 signified my official launch as a published author when my debut novel, The Friendship Tree, was released. Since then, my writing life has become even busier and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

I left the I.T. world in 2003 and began writing articles for Women’s Health & Fitness magazines and part of what kept my momentum was my routine of setting an alarm, having a shower, getting dressed, and eating breakfast before starting the day. I’d ensure I was at my desk well before 9 a.m. and I know it helped me to think of freelancing as a real job, even though I was working from home. I seem to have kept the same habit since I began writing fiction in 2011, and I think I work better when I’m up and ready to face the world, even if it’s the fictitious world I’m creating. Mind you, maybe I’ll think differently when my kids are old enough to walk themselves to school!

Author photo - Helen J RolfeSoon after I wrote The Friendship Tree, I planned and began Handle Me with Care and I went on to publish this title in June 2015, followed five months later by What Rosie Found Next. I enjoyed writing each of these books, going through the editing process, deciding on cover design and plotting the next story. I also love connecting with readers, authors and anyone else on social media. It can be lonely working away on a draft or editing, and when I hear from other writers, or perhaps readers in other countries who have enjoyed my novels, it really makes my day. I’ve had some lovely messages from readers in Toronto, Connecticut and Australia and it always gives me a buzz to know people overseas can read my books.

Book five is well underway now and I’m hoping to have the first draft finished within the next month… and then the hard work starts! I also hope to have some plans to publish book four very soon, and I will be sure to post my updates on Social Media as soon as I can.

So for now, Happy Reading!

Helen J Rolfe x

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No Agent? You Can Still Approach Some Publishers…

The Write Romantics recently read a very useful article on the AuthorsPublish site, called 22 Romance Publishers That Accept Submissions Without an Agent. You can read it here. It’s so useful, we thought we’d print the names again, and also add a few others that we’ve come across.

Accent Press 

Crooked Cat

Bookouture

Harlequin

Many famous romance writers, including Mercedes Lackey, Nora Roberts, and Christopher Rice got their start at Harlequin. Their submission process is very user friendly.

Blue Tulip Publishing

Blue Tulip Publishing is a digital publisher with a number of imprints focused on targeting different readerships. Most of the books they publish are romance novels but some of their imprints are open to genre fiction without romance.

Silkwords

SilkWords is an online romance and erotica publisher with a focus on a choose-your-own-adventure format. Authors receive an advance.

Bold Strokes

Bold Strokes Books publishes only LGBTQ books. Which means that its books feature characters that are Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans, and Queer. They publish general and genre fiction, with an emphasis on romance. They have great print distribution.

Boroughs Publishing Group

Boroughs Publishing Group is an e-publisher that focuses on publishing romance novels, novellas, and short stories. They are three years old and seem to be off to a good start.

Calderwood Books

Calderwood Books is an eBook publisher, with print on demand versions available for some books. They have been around since 2007. They publish a wide variety of genres, including romance, but are not interested in erotica.

BelleBooks/BelleBridge

A successful independent print publisher of genre books, including romance novels.

Avon Impulse

Avon Romance is a romance imprint of HarperCollins. Avon Impulse is their digital first imprint and they publish primarily new authors. If a book is successful, Avon publishes a print edition of it. They have an excellent marketing team.

Beau Coup Publishing

Beau Coup Publishing is primarily an ebook publisher, but they also publish print editions (through CreateSpace). They publish a wide range of books. Although most books they publish are in the romance or erotica genre, they are also interested in work outside of those genres.

Anaiah Press

A new Christian publisher interested in publishing Christian romance novels.

Evernight Publishing

Evernight is an ebook publisher of romance and erotica novels that is currently open to submissions from writers. They also publish print versions of some books. A number of the books they have published have been on the Amazon Bestseller list.

Joffe Books

Joffe Books is a new independent publisher based out of London. They were founded in 2013. They focus on publishing new eBooks and making classic books and short stories available electronically. They publish most genres, including romance.

Omnific Publishing

Omnific Publishing is romance publishing company that publishes digital and print books. They started out small in 2009 but have grown in size and reputation since then. Simon & Schuster is now their distributor.

Beachwalk Press

They largely publish romantic eBooks, but some of their books have been released in print as well. Most of the books they publish are on the sensual side. They are open to romances in all sub-genres except for young adult romances.

Endeavor Press

A large UK based eBook publisher that publishes a wide variety of genres including romance.

Amira Press

Amira Press started out as a small ePublisher of romance and erotica and has grown considerably over the years. They have sold a lot of eBooks and now even have some print editions.

Clean Reads

Formerly known as Astrea Press, they focus on publishing a number of genres, including “clean” romance.

Crimson Romance

Crimson Romance is an imprint of a much larger publishing company. They focus on publishing a wide variety of offbeat romance novels.

The Wild Rose Press

The Wild Rose Press is an established small press that publishes full length manuscripts, primarily in the romance genre.

Adams Media

A large publisher with a large digital first romance imprint.

Solstice Publishing

Solstice is a mid sized publishing house based out of the United States that publishes eBooks. They have published over 200 authors and have started to buy small publishing houses.

Jupiter Garden Press

A small multi-genre publisher with a romance imprint.

We’d love to hear if you know of any others!

 

 

Where the Dickens is it? Finding your writing ‘happy place’.

Dickens Bleak HouseTomorrow marks Charles Dickens’ 204th birthday. He’s a definite hero of mine, his stories are timeless and I have to admit to finding the current series of Dickensian a little bit addictive. All those fabulous characters in one story, what’s not to love?

Dickens would often seek a writing retreat and his holiday home in Broadstairs, Bleak House (although it was called Fort House during Dickens’ tenure), proved the perfect place to write. He finished the Pickwick Papers there and also wrote parts of dickens_studyNicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield and Barnaby Rudge during his stays at the house. It was christened Bleak House in later years, as it also provided the inspiration for the home of John Jarndyce in the novel of the same name.

Dickens clearly needed a picturesque view and some degree of tranquillity to find his writing mojo. In an article published in 1851, entitled ‘Our English Watering-Place’, he wrote about the need to escape the noise, dust and crowds of the ‘great metropolis’, which he deemed disturbing and distracting in all respects. Broadstairs, as he put it, provided ‘a quiet sea beach’, which became a ‘blessed spot’. And the result of finding his writing happy place was this:

‘Half awake and half asleep this idle morning in our sunny window on the edge of chalk-cliff in the old fashioned watering-place to which we are a faithful resorter, we feel a lazy inclination to sketch its picture’.

Dickens writing retreat LimsaThe ‘lazy inclination’ Dickens describes was perhaps his inspiration to sit in that study, by the sunny window, and write those classics that still resonate today. In later years, however, Dickens found the street musicians in Broadstairs bothered him too much, so he moved on to holiday in Dover and then Folkestone, where the sea remained on his doorstep, but perhaps there were less of the distractions and disturbances which clearly impacted so negatively on his creativity.

I’d love to hear if you have a writing retreat of your own, which takes you away from the distractions and disturbances of everyday life, or even one you dream of heading to, when you get that massive advance we all wish for and money becomes no object! Maybe it’s a mountain view or resting with your laptop on a Dickens WildAcres writing retreathammock overlooking the Med. Or perhaps like my writing place, it’s a garden room with a view of the countryside in Kent, which Dickens himself might have recognised. In truth I can write with a laptop perched on my knee and the TV blaring in the background, whilst my husband and four children do their very best to distract and disturb, if I have to. But, sometimes, I just need to escape to my garden room to restore my writing mojo, and that lazy inclination, too.

Wherever it is, I hope you all find your ideal retreat somewhere – happy writing!

Jo Bartlett

(Published by Accent Press, So Vain Books, DC Thomson and Ulverscroft)

 

You can find out more about Bleak House at the link below, as well as links to the other writing retreats pictured above:

http://www.bleakhousebroadstairs.co.uk/index.html

http://www.wildacreswriters.com/writers-retreat.html

http://www.limnisa.com/#!programme-2016/c1re9