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Week three already! This week I reached 11% funded thanks to some lovely friends and one or two people I’ve never met who are taken with the idea of In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes. I got some promotional postcards made and started carefully compiling the blanket email I’m going to send out to everyone in my adress book. I gave some of the postcards out on the school run, swallowing the embarassment of approaching people, and got three more pledges.

On Saturday, I was one of the organisers of Write by the Beach, a writers conference in Brighton at the truly gorgeous Angel House. We had 56 delegates and lots of speakers from the industry. It was a great success and I’ve been on a high ever since. In my duties as a co-organiser over the last few months, I have come to realise that if you ask people nicely for something they are almost always happy to oblige, and if they can’t, or don’t want to, the worst that can happen is that they say no. We had authors and agents, literary consultants and publishers all delighted to be a part of our little conference. We even finished off with a tasting event organised by Brighton Gin (it was a brilliant and delicious way to end the day!) I put one of my promotional postcards in each of the goodie bags in the hope that some of the delegates might be cajoled into pledging. I spoke to anyone who would listen about crowdfunding my book. There was a lot of interest. Perhaps with an eye on their own projects, a lot of people wanted to know how to go about crowdfunding and why it was different from vanity publishing. (The difference is that you have to submit to Unbound for consideration and then when you are fully funded your book is given the editorial attention of a traditional publisher.) Not that there is anything wrong with self-publishing. In one of the panel sessions sucessful authors Kate Harrison and Sarah Rayner talked about wanting to publish self help books but having to go it alone when they couldn’t find anyone to publish them. Kate’s book was about the 5:2 Diet (when no-one else had written anything about it) and Sarah’s was about Making Friends With Anxiety. Over-eating and anxiety are common author ailments, all that sitting alone typing all day long, fear, rejection, thoughts of inadequacy. Both books were incredibly sucessful and not just with writers! I was greatly inspired by the go for it attitude of both writers and the incredible success they achieved.

At the end of the day I also felt that I may have been a little harsh about agents and publishers in this diary. Those that attended Write by the Beach as speakers were helpful and approachable, all committed to their love of books and the search for great writing. The trouble is they have to make money or go bust and to do that in this climate you have to publish books that have more chance of selling ie. crime and celebrity endorsements. I do still think that there is some room for other forms, that the future of the publishing industry actually depends on there being some room for other forms, otherwise it is in danger of becoming very homogenized and boring. I didn’t speak to one person at the conference who didn’t like short stories. In fact, since I have been writing them, I’ve only met a couple of people who have turned their nose up, yet short stories are still considered unpopular. Please help me prove that this isn’t the case, pledge to my new collection on Unbound. I will be very grateful – did I mention there will be a launch party?

Write by the beach team

Special mentions to the Write by the Beach team Bridget Whelan, Laura Wilkinson, Sue Teddern, Kate Harrison and Araminta Hall, it was a pleasure working with you.

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