Festival of Writing 2017

Sun, Apr 16 2017 01:08am IST 1
Benjamin86
Benjamin86
71 Posts
Daniel - yes 20% discount if you book before 3pm Monday. You have to enter the code FOW on your booking form. I have just done this and he discount is indeed applied.

Well, I've jumped in at the deep end and booked a place, chosen my workshops and one to ones. I am really looking forward to attending and finally speaking to people about what has unti now been a project that solely exists in my mind and about 30k words on my laptop. It's my aim to finish my first draft in time for the festival, which means writing an average of 500 words per day until then, as well as working a full time job and being 50% responsible for looking after my 2 and a half year old son! You guys are my witnesses and I expect you to ask me how that went when I meet you in September hahah.......
Sun, Apr 16 2017 01:14pm IST 2
danielaubrey13
danielaubrey13
210 Posts
@Benjamin86 - Thanks for the tip. Because of that I've made my sums add up, and have booked for the Saturday and the Sunday!! From what everyone has said on here, and from the posts I read on Debi's blog, two days at the very least looks like the way to get the most out of this. But £395 was just that bit too much.

Is it sci-fi that you're writing by the way? If it is, I'll no doubt see you at the industry panel on the Saturday, and I'll be sure to ask how it's gone with getting your draft done! :-)

Thanks everyone for your opinions and advice. I look forward to meeting some of you there.
Sun, Apr 16 2017 01:35pm IST 3
Sparepen
Sparepen
139 Posts
So, I just booked a place on FOW 2017 from Friday night to Sunday. I went to the very first festival, after trying my hand at writing for the first time. It was a steep learning curve and I loved every minute. As a new writer, I went to the festival with my eyes open to the fact that my wrirting wasn't really that good.

I booked to see an agent and a book doctor for my 1-2-1 slots and got some really honest feedback. And it's what I needed. I went away with a list of things I could do to improve and not just from the 1-2-1 slots. I remember sitting in one of Debi's workshops and having a 'lightbulb' moment, which has changed the landscape of my writing and helped shape my style into something I'm proud of. And I've not stopped learning.

I haven't been back since becasue I haven't had the pennies. This year, though I know my writing has improved, I can't wait to get feedback and attend the workshops. Even if the 1-2-1 agents I've chosen hate my work, at least I can ask why and go from there.

I'm not the most social person when it comes to crowds or meeting new people, but I found everyone I encountered at the FOW friendly and honest. To be surrounded by a group of like-minded people is an experience I can't wait to repeat.


Sun, Apr 16 2017 02:40pm IST 4
crumpets
crumpets
12 Posts
I went for the first time last year and it was genuinely life-changing. Whilst the workshops were a mixed bag, the ones that were very good really made up for it - Julie Cohen, CM Taylor and Jeremy Sheldon stood out for me. I still really regret not going to Debi's (I desperatly needed a nap and some Lucozade before my 1:1).

I didn't go to FoW for the workshops, though. The 1:1s were the big draw for me. I know some people had mixed experiences (I know of at least two people whose agents hadn't read their submissions - and they weren't booked at the last minute, either), but mine were really informative and one asked for the full manuscript once I had completed it. What FoW made me do is really focus on the market and, in particular, genre. Since then, I've ditched the manuscript I took there last September and started working on something that I have a good feeling about.

If I could go again this year I would, but sadly have a family wedding. I'm hoping to get a ticket just for the Friday but waiting to hear whether this is possible.

This might be a bit controversial, but to anyone going for the first time I would recommend not drinking. The weekend is exhausting. I ended up skipping a couple of workshops and talks to take some time out - and I only had a couple of glasses of wine! I personally can't imagine doing all that and nursing a hangover. But then again I've never been able to handle my booze...
Mon, Apr 17 2017 10:18am IST 5
Lulu
Lulu
17 Posts
I've decided to bite the bullet and go for the weekend, I am completely new to writing and other than knowing I love doing it, i know virtually nothing about the industry and figure I have nothing to lose! My question is, do I have the option to change my choice of 1 to 1's nearer the time? I don't know who any of these people are and hope to do more research before the event but I have to book and make my selections today. . .
Thank you for any advice you can give me
Mon, Apr 17 2017 10:58am IST 6
Squidge
Squidge
2176 Posts
Lulu - there's not a lot of option to change your 1-2-1's. Sometimes they have to be changed (I've had my book doctor/agent cancel for the weekend, but WW let those affected know as early as they could) and by then, the choice of remaining slots was a bit limited.

If you are fairly new to writing, you may want to mix things up a bit - pick a book doctor and an agent, cos they tend to give you different kinds of advice. In my experience of past festivals, agents will look at the commerciality of the piece you submit (in new writers that tends to be lower as you learn the craft, but there have been exceptions!) as well as giving general feedback; the book doctors will look more at the technical aspects of your writing. Debi Alper, Julie Cohen, and Andrew Willie are all very good book doctors I've seen. Other authors are often listed as book doctors too, and cloudies have had good feedback from them.

If you want to try any agents, best do your homework - look for someone who represents what you're writing for a start! This can be a little hit and miss though, as - for eg - I met a children's fiction agent, but didn't realise they don't handle fantasy, which is what I write. Still got excellent feedback though...

Does that help any?
Mon, Apr 17 2017 11:02am IST 7
RichardB
RichardB
1136 Posts
Your choice of workshops is just to give them an idea of numbers, and once you get there you're free to go to any you like, but as far as I know the one-to-ones are firm appointments. The only advice I can give you about them is that, if you're at the beginning of your writing journey, you're likely to get more help out of seeing book doctors than agents. And if you want names, you could do a lot worse than the two who post regularly here on the Cloud, Debi Alper and/or Emma Darwin. Both are experienced editors and creative writing teachers. They don't come any more encouraging and supportive than Debi, or wiser and more knowledgeable than Emma. (Oh dear. I didn't mean that Debi isn't wise, or that Emma isn't supportive...)

I'd also advise you to get stuck in here at the Word Cloud. Read, post, participate, and you'll pick up a fair bit of knowledge. Otherwise going to York might feel a bit like jumping in at the deep end.
Mon, Apr 17 2017 11:36am IST 8
Seagreen
Seagreen
2142 Posts
Is it possible to contact WW, ask them if you can pay (and get the discount) but choose the 1-2-1s after you've had a chance to see who's who?
Mon, Apr 17 2017 11:56am IST 9
Lulu
Lulu
17 Posts
Thanks Squidge & richardB
Tue, Apr 18 2017 11:29am IST 10
Jennifer
Jennifer
145 Posts
Seagreen, There is a list of who's who for the 1-2-1s on the Writer's Workshop website. The page has short little blurbs about each person available for 1-2-1s, but should give you enough of an idea to book your meetings. I hope this helps! http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/FoW17-Agent-Author-1-2-1-Meetings.html

On another note, I have attended the last two FoW, both for the full weekend. The first FoW I attended as a complete newbie. I learned more about writing and the industry in one weekend than I had after years of reading about the craft/business on my own. Has every workshop been amazing? No. But most have been helpful. Has every 1-2-1 contact given me positive, constructive criticism that has made my writing better? No. But most have been very helpful.

I'm still not a published author, but who knows, maybe my 3rd time at FoW will be the charm. Smile I hope to see you all there!
Sun, Apr 23 2017 12:28pm IST 11
MosquitoFB6
MosquitoFB6
182 Posts
Would there be any point to turning up even if you've got no material to present? I've got tons of writing done as some of you know, but it's all electronic as I don't have a printer. Therefore, I'd be empty-handed for the duration of the event.

Also, as I'm currently a rank pauper, I can't afford to go this year but, should I manage it next year, where's good for accommodation and whatnot?
Sun, Apr 23 2017 12:36pm IST 12
Hil
Hil
1022 Posts

Mozzie, it's not essential (though it might be helpful as a back-up) to take printed work, as your 1-2-1 book doctors and agents usually print it out - you can submit it by email in advance.

Accommodation on the campus and all food is included in the price. It's basic student rooms, but adequate.

Sun, Apr 23 2017 01:53pm IST 13
Julie C
Julie C
183 Posts
Just thought I'd add my own thoughts, having been to the last two FOWs. I absolutely love this festival for so many reasons, but the top two are the opportunity to learn so much from so many experts in one short space of time, and the cameraderie and generosity of so many other writers, which gives it a great atmosphere. Given that accommodation and all meals are included, I actually think it is a good investment - and we should absolutely invest in ourselves as writers.

The first time I went, I was slightly in awe because I didn't know anyone, but immediately struck up a conversation with a couple of other writers and after that the community feeling just carried me through the weekend. The Friday night competitions were fun and entertaining (as a spectator rather than a participant). On advice from others at the Gala Dinner, I signed up for the Self Editing Course which was excellent. This meant that at the second FOW, I knew more people and it was great to meet the SE online friends in person.

It is quite difficult deciding between the workshops, but there are so many people dipping in and out for their 10 minute 1:1 sessions that if you decide it isn't for you, you can easily leave and try a different one, with no-one being any the wiser. Most of those I've been to have been so engaging and interactive, sometimes setting 5 or 10 minute tasks. A particular shout out to my favourites: Julie Cohen, Shelley Harris, Kathryn Taussig, Jenny Ashcroft, Andrew Wille, CM Taylor and Debi Alper.

The key note sessions are usually by a new or established published author, sometimes with their agent or publisher. These are so motivating, especially last year's by Jo Cannon and Callie Taylor. It proves others have been through the same doubts and frustrations and have succeeded.

I have mixed feelings about the Panel sessions e.g. the Future of Publishing. Some of the agents are very engaging, but sadly others come across as rather patronising and in denial about indie publishing. Hannah Todd from Bookouture and David Gaughran also added an interesting dimension. In 2015 the audience could put questions to the Panel, but in 2016 we couldn't, which was disappointing.

This mix of attitudes among agents does carry through to the 1:1s, but they are only human and some are much better than others at giving helpful advice even if the concept of your work doesn't float their boat. I have found book doctors extremely encouraging and their constructive criticism helped me to analyse my own writing from different perspectives, which is priceless.

Oops I seem to have gone on a bit! Sorry... but I would encourage anyone to go and give it a try, preferably at least the Saturday and Sunday if possible. Hope to see you there this year!
Sun, Apr 23 2017 02:39pm IST 14
Debi
Debi
7339 Posts
Mozzie - Book Doctors and agents will have printed copies of submissions for the 1-1s. I always annotate my copy and give it back to people, along with the summary sheet. (Not everyone does this though.) It's certainly not essential to have printed copies though, very occasionally, your work might not have arrived in advance so it doesn't hurt to have a printed copy just in case. Hopefully, it won't be needed.

As Hil has said, accommodation and food are included in the price. Julie - don't apologise! I'm sure it's very useful for new people to get this kind of detailed feedback from people who have been before.
Thu, Jun 8 2017 09:25am IST 15
Lin
Lin
15 Posts
I was a newbie at the last festival. I mixed and mingled very easily among the people there, and found my feet quickly. I had some interesting chats, and met some fantastic, ethusiastic, like-minded individuals. There were a lot of fantasy sci-fi lovers, but also a good number of other aspiring authors preferring a great mix of genre's, and all at different levels in their writing career.

I was positively brimming with ideas afterwards, and came away feeling that the money was sooo well spent. The valuable advice, the inspiration, the milling with everyone, was just the right balance. I had no idea what to expect, and no metric stick to measure by, so I just went to York expecting nothing, and got a whole host of great, supportive, innovative and useful information about everything in the publishing world, in just that one event.

I am booked for the September Writing Festival in York, and really looking forward to getting stuck in. The thing is, I'm going without pre-conceptions, or wish-list. I'm going to approach the whole event just as I did the previous one. I am prepared to gather as much information as I possibly can, and learn from everyone and everything available.

We are all sponges, and we need that input as creatives. I am so happy to endorse this kind of event. I have to travel far to get to one, but I know that the cost of my travel, and the cost of these events themselves are worth every penny, and worth all of my time. I hope you can get the message you all want. I know I will!
Mon, Jun 26 2017 12:53pm IST 16
Lisa
Lisa
5 Posts
Hello everyone! My first post, woohoo! I've booked to go on Sunday and it will be the first time I've been. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Anything I should think about taking with me? Should I take copies of the full manuscript or just copies of the first three chapters with a synopsis? For anyone who has been before, what did you take with you? Thanks!
Wed, Jun 28 2017 04:02pm IST 17
Jennifer
Jennifer
145 Posts
Hello, Lisa! Be sure to follow the specs laid out in the Festival of Writing instructions for what to send early for your book doctor / agent one-to-ones. You can always bring an extra copy or two of the first few chapters and your synopsis, but I have found that if someone wants to see more of your work, they will probably ask you to email it to them. I'm sure others will chime in, but there's my two cents worth. Other than that, come ready to learn and have fun!
Thu, Jun 29 2017 08:59am IST 18
Philippa
Philippa
1583 Posts
HI Lisa,

I echo what Jennifer said. Your agent / book doctor should have the chapter and synopsis that we're asked to submit to them (via WW) in advance, but worth taking a paper copies yourself, for example in case you want to scribble notes on it udinr gyour one-to-ones, or in case (erg) the agent hasn't got / brought their copy.

Good to have the MS electronically, ready to forward via email if you get requests for this, but no need to bring the whole print out.
Thu, Jun 29 2017 08:17pm IST 19
Lisa
Lisa
5 Posts
Hi Jennifer and Philippa! Thank you for the advice. Maybe I'll see you there!
Thu, Jul 6 2017 12:52am IST 20
Benjamin86
Benjamin86
71 Posts
How is everyone doing with their agent submission packages? Guessing it's time to start preparing them and then editing them over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over......... If you haven't already.

Needless to say, I am still as excited as when I booked the tickets back in April! Three damn months ago! Just two to go...


Thu, Jul 6 2017 09:13am IST 21
Philippa
Philippa
1583 Posts
Hi Benjamin,

Yes, polish, scrub polish, nip, tuck, polish etc.... AND we have to included s synopsis this year. Heavens.

Good luck everyone.

ps Who's planning to enter the 1st chapter / 500 words comp?
Thu, Jul 6 2017 10:36am IST 22
Benjamin86
Benjamin86
71 Posts
Yeah I'm going to enter both of those. Might as well - especially as the agent submission package is including the first chapter anyway.
Thu, Jul 6 2017 12:29pm IST 23
Philippa
Philippa
1583 Posts
Agreed.
Fri, Jul 7 2017 08:29pm IST 24
Sparepen
Sparepen
139 Posts
I've booked for the full weekend, except the Friday mini course. Can anyone advise me what time is best to arrive on the Friday? I'm looking at booking my train tickets and I'm feeling pretty stupid.. I'm guessing I'll have to register and locate my accomodation then mingle and such. Any advice would be greatly appricated.
Sat, Jul 8 2017 01:52pm IST 25
Philippa
Philippa
1583 Posts
Hi Sparepen,

good question, and thanks for the reminder about booking a train!

I think I arrived at about 2.00pm last time? It's nice to have time to wander round, get settled into your room and say hello to a few people before the evening dinner etc.

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