On 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!
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