I spent this evening at Malmaison in Liverpool, in the company of around fifty other women, for the final event on the Marie Claire “How To Get Published” Tour.
On arrival, I was greeted with a glass of sparkling wine and invited to join the other attendees in a small room where canapes were being served. I chatted with two other women, and learned that one writes crime novels and the other is exploring writing as a career option. After half an hour or so of chat and nibbles, we were ushered into the main room for the event, where each seat was adorned with a cotton Marie Claire bag filled with free gifts – Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart New York, August’s edition of Marie Claire, a box of Dermalogica skin care products, a tube of L’Occitane hand cream, and an Inika eye liner – together with an info pack about the Marie Claire ‘Inspire & Mentor’ campaign. I took a seat on the front row, directly opposite Lindsey Kelk.
The panel was made up of
- Lindsey Kelk, author of the I Heart … series and The Single Girl’s To-Do List
- Rowan Lawton, literary agent at Peters Fraser and Dunlop
- Andrea Thompson, features director at Marie Claire
- Sarah Ritherdon, publishing director at HarperCollins
All four speakers were entertaining and very informative, which made the two-hour session fly by very quickly. I didn’t learn a lot, but it was interesting to hear their perspective on different aspects of the publishing world. Lindsey told us about her journey to becoming a best-selling author, Andrea explained how to write for magazines, Rowan advised us on the very good reasons for finding an agent, and how to go about it, and Sarah gave us an insight into her work with agents and authors, and the hundreds of manuscripts that land on her desk.
We were encouraged to ask questions after they had all finished speaking, and I learned a bit more from the answers given to my fellow attendees. I asked a few questions myself – most of the ones I’d planned to ask had been asked by others – and made copious notes. At the end we were invited to buy Lindsey’s latest book, The Single Girl’s To-Do List, which she would then sign. I’d taken my copy with me, and I chatted with her briefly while she signed that. I then remembered that there was a complimentary copy of I ♥ NY in the goodie bag that we’d all received, so I joined the back of the queue and got that signed too. I also took the opportunity to ask Rowan Lawton a question about submission protocol, and chatted briefly with her and Sarah Ritherdon about self-publishing and ebooks.
It was a lovely evening, although it prompted in me a tiny twinge of regret and jealousy, as I wished that I’d been able to attend an event like that in my twenties. I was just starting out on my novel-writing path then, after years of writing short stories or not completing longer ones, and I’m fairly sure that something like this would have pushed me into taking it more seriously. However, I came away feeling inspired and encouraged and more determined than ever to find a good agent to help me secure a proper publishing deal.