As you all know I can’t resist a good festival so I of course went to the Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre run by Cat Sparks. A good time was had by all. My main take-aways from the day are listed below. Enjoy.
- Garth Nix is so brilliant and so talented that he sold his first short story at the age of 19 to a magazine he didn’t even submit to. No I don’t feel like elaborating on that story because the specialness might decrease and I prefer to keep him godlike in my mind.
- Garth Nix states that there are no dead manuscripts. A manuscript might not sell simply because it does not fit with the appeal of the time, in another five years it might suddenly be in. Don’t ever throw away manuscripts, resubmit, recycle, repurpose them.
- Garth Nix said that I could sit in the same sunny spot as him. I died and the ran away. Totes kept my cool…
- Initially thought that he would live out his days as a poet in poetry excellence of the most poety kind. Turns out he unfortunately needed to have written more than six poems to do this.
- If you win a cheque, don’t lose it, the organisers of whatever competition or award you won it for will be pissed off that they have to rewrite it.
- Authors get rejected all of the time. Don’t let rejection deter you because even if you have one success that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a nasty rejection lurking around the corner.
- Submit your manuscripts typed. Publishing houses don’t generally accept ones hand written in an exercise book that you have illustrated yourself.
- Always be brave and keep on persevering. Never let your own fear or ego hold you back.
- Kate Forsyth signed a copy of Impossible Quest 3 for my niece. I am now the favouritist aunt ever.
- Internal logic is key to ensuring that your work is believable and accepted by the reader.
- Marianne de Pierres says she doesn’t know how she feels about a lot of issues hence her characters have different views and she allows them to sort through bigger picture issues. Her works are explorations not morality messages.
- Write to you personality style. That being style, genre/subgenre, length, strength of message etc. You have to write your novel not somebody else’s.
- Stephanie Lai starts with a human/scientific problem and then develops the story around that.
- Stephanie Lai leans towards short stories because she loves quick immediate communication and gratification.
- Stephanie Lai says to keep the science real but the world fun and fantastical.
- Isobelle Carmody crowd funded her book before crowd funding was a thing. That’s how cool she is. She sold shares in her first book for $30 each and agreed to give the money back should she ever be published.
- Isobelle Carmody has never been rejected. She humbly claims that it is because she takes so long to write her books that publishers are too scared to say no lest she never write another one or takes even longer next time.
- Bruce McCabe starts with real life problems being explored in scientific labs today, then moves out twenty years and explores what will be happening with those issues and advances.
- Bruce McCabe feels that trying to box Science Fiction into a narrow definition isn’t productive. That there is a whole spectrum of sci fi ranging from hard to soft and they’re all equally valid.
- Okay, I am so spun out by what she said to me personally that I cannot even remember what she said on her panels. It would have been insightful too because she always says really good stuff. Pamela Freeman told me that she had read my ebook What Happens in Book Club… and had laughed so hard that she had to read bits to her husband. I nearly died in fangirling overload. I’m not confident that I am actually awake and this isn’t some extended dream. If I truly am awake… GO ME!
Now the bit that you really want, WHAT DID THE PUBLISHERS SAY THEY WANTED?!?
They are looking for sci fi. Middle Grade and YA. Make sure you read their submission guidelines or Tehani Wessley will cry. You don’t want to make her cry do you?
They like anthologies. Love them! So write an awesome short story. Just don’t be sexist, and violent for the sake of shocking rather than for the sake of the story, otherwise Liz Gryzb will cry. You don’t want to make her cry either, do you?
Just quietly, I did pitch to one of the owners the idea of making a The Voice / Literary Pitching crossover show. They weren’t down with it, so if you have any great ideas like that, don’t pitch those to them. Russell Far rather kindly pointed out that although spinning chairs would be fun, they don’t actually see the person pitching as it is, only their words. Good point Russell, good point. However, if there are any TV execs out there who like my idea I am prepared to except my millions of dollars now.
Their rep was so warm and wonderful that I think everyone wants to now submit every manuscript to them. Seriously, he was lovely and so caring. He was the Rick Martin of the Panel because he had such passion. The rep in attendance likes Romance so I think we’re all switching just to work with him.
Genre fiction with a very clear audience in mind. So none of that boundary hopping, all over the place, wishy washy stuff. Keep it tight, keep it focused, keep it commercially appealing.
Wouldn’t mind seeing a bit of Epic Fantasy. But please don’t use humour in your submissions, or guilt trips over the fact that your family will starve if they don’t pick up your manuscript. They don’t like that.
Submit through the UK website
Hope to see you at the next festival.