Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Pitch Perfect - My Day at the Write By the Beach Conference


On Saturday, I attended the Write By the Beach Conference, run by The Beach Hut Writing Academy. It's the third year I've been to this event, with writing chum, Tracy Fells, and I've enjoyed each one, so I thought I'd give you a little taster of what the day was like.

Rather than have us wait around on cold station platforms (as snow had been forecast) my lovely husband offered us a door to door taxi service. How could we refuse! After picking up writer, Liz Eeles, we were chauffeured to the Friends Meeting House in Brighton, where the conference was to be held. Arriving early (and worried there might not be any coffee served until the break) we popped into the nearby Lanes Coffee House, conveniently situated opposite, for a quick cup.



It was the first year the conference had been held in the Friend's Meeting House but, with its high ceilings and spacious meeting room, it proved to be a good choice. The previous two conferences had been held in a lovely townhouse on the Hove seafront, but it had been rather a squeeze to fit everyone in. This venue fitted the bill perfectly.

The lovely Kate Harrison and Laura Wilkinson were our hosts for the day and they did a brilliant job, welcoming people and making sure everything ran smoothly. After saying a quick hello to fellow RNA writing friends, Merryn Allingham, Deirdre Palmer and Sue Griffin, we took our seats for our first speaker. It was Julie Cohen and her talk was Plotting With Post-it Notes. Although I've heard Julie speak on this subject before, she is so engaging that I didn't care and was soon sticking Post-Its into my book with the best of them! It was billed as a fun, interactive workshop and it certainly was. 

The next session I went to was run by Kate Harrison and it was called Pitch Clinic: 7 steps to make your book irresistible. Well, making my book irresistible is pretty important to me at the moment, as I'm at the agent subbing stage, so I was hanging on to Kate's every word! Thankfully, by the end of the session, I realised that I'd already done most of the things Kate had recommended. Just as well, seeing as my submission was already with one of the agents I was seeing later that afternoon.


After a coffee, it was back to the meeting room for a panel talk, where agents from Janklow and Nesbit, Conville and Walsh, DHH Literary Agency, The Bent Agency and David Higham Associates were going to be telling us what was needed to catch their eye with a standout submission. It was really interesting to get an insight into the workings of the different agencies: how many clients they took on through events like this one and how many from the slush pile; what they didn't want to see in a covering letter and what the next trend might be - 'uplit' apparently. 

It was then time for lunch (a delicious Indian buffet) and a chance to have a chat with other writers (although I have to admit my appetite had rather left me as I knew my agent pitch was coming up).

But, before the pitch session, I had another talk to go to. This time, it was Erin Kelly talking about the history of the psychological thriller. For me, it was the highlight of the conference as it was relevant to my writing. In Erin's view, Jane Eyre was the first psychological thriller - she may well be right.

As my pitch session was in the middle of the next talk (a choice of either Erinna Mettler's 'Short Stories' or Bridget Whelan's 'Memoirs') I took time out to calm my nerves and look at the book table. I then joined the others outside the room where the pitches were taking place. Strict timekeeping was kept by the ringing of a bell, reminding me of parents' evening, and you could almost feel the nervous energy from those waiting.


Thankfully, the agent I'd chosen to see was absolutely lovely and soon put me at my ease. She'd made notes on things she wanted to discuss about the three chapters and gave me a couple of pointers. Then she told me how much she'd liked what she'd read and asked if I'd send her the rest. I couldn't have been happier. It was also a relief to be told that my covering letter had hit the mark.

Having done my pitch, I could now relax and enjoy the tea break where drinks were accompanied by a choice of the most delicious tray bake cakes I've seen (or tasted). What a treat. The final session was an author panel talk about different types of publishing then, before we knew it, the day had ended and we were on our way home, tired but buzzing from all the information we'd absorbed. 

I really hope the Write By the Beach conference returns next year. If it does, I will definitely be there.

37 comments:

  1. Great job, Wendy! Well done on braving the pitch! AND getting a full request. How exciting - all the very best of luck. Will look forward to hearing about the next step of your journey :) Sam x

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    1. You can’t imagine how nervous I was, Sam!

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  2. Great post. I wish we had some of these events 'oop' north. I'm certainly not aware of any.
    Good luck with your submission - fingers crossed

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    1. They are so informative and a great place to meet and talk to other writers. It’s a shame there’s nothing near you.

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  3. Congratulations, Wendy. I'm delighted that your pitch went so well for you. Me - I'd have been terrified. The rest of the day sounds to have been extremely interesting and worthwhile as well. I'm fascinated by the idea of Jane Eyre's having been the first psychological novel. One question: what on earth is 'uplit'?

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    1. An optimistic novel with kindness st it’s core (such as Eleanor Oliphant).

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    2. I was about to ask that question, Wendy but Susanna beat me to it! Thanks for clarifying. I enjoyed this post (Julie Cohen is such a fabulous speaker) and am glad your pitch went well.

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  4. It sounds a lovely day and well done on the pitch. Good luck with the next stage.

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  5. Sounds like a really interesting event.

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  6. What an interesting event it must have been, and in wonderful Brighton. Good luck with your book, Wendy.

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  7. Sounds lovely, Wendy. Good luck with the book xx

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  8. Well done, Wendy and keeping everything crossed that your novel is snapped up xx

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    1. I’m under no illusions - but it would certainly be nice 😊

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  9. It was a good day out. Trotters crossed you hear back from the agent, Wendy :)

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    1. Glad you decided to com3 with me in the end 😀

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  10. Well done with the agent, Wendy, and very good luck with the novel.

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    1. It’s all a learning curve, Frances. Thank you.

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  11. Sounds like a fabulous day! Hope it pays off.
    Hx

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  12. I feel as though I was there, there's so much detail in this post! Thanks for explaining uplit: goodness knows we could all do with a bit more kindness at the moment. I like the sound of post-it plotting. I don't know how I'd manage without my yellow stickies.

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    1. I micro-manage my life with Post-it’s!

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  13. Sounds like a good day all round, and fingers crossed for positive news from the agent.

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  14. Sounds like a great day! Best of luck with the agent, Wendy.

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  15. What a wonderful day and so interesting to read all about it. Wishing you great success with the agent, Wendy - it sounds so hopeful XXX

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    1. Thanks, Joanna. At the very least it’s verification that my submission is fine,

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  16. That sounds a brilliant day out, Wendy - especially receiving such a positive result from the agent! Here's hoping...

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    1. Hoping... I seem to do a lot of that, Rosemary!

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  17. Sounds like a great day, Wendy! Wish I could have been there! (maybe next time..!). Good luck with placing your novel. I'm sure it's only a matter of time!

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