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20 Aug 2012

Lessons from WriteOnCon

Last week WriteOnCon started.  The solution for those of us who can never make the major writing conferences or won't be available.  Living in the UK I have a number of problems:

1) Money,
2) I'm never on holiday when these conferences do happen. 
3) There's a bloody annoying ocean in the way. 

It's the same in the UK with the rare writing conferences that do happen.  I'm at work and I have fixed holidays.  So when I heard about WriteOnCon I only soaked in the following:

1) It all happens over the internet so you can attend from home and easily catch up if you miss something.
2) It's free.
3) It's specifically for children's literature from PB to YA.

My reaction?

I signed up, even though I didn't really have a polished and finished WiP but I was interested in the events that were happening and I thought this is a chance to get some insight into querying and look for tips.  Maybe agents would be on and talk about what they're looking for next in YA.  (Please be horror! Please be horror! Please be horror!)

In the end I did end up submitting stuff.  I worked on my first 100 words of Beast Inside to see if I would get a sentence critique by author Gennifer Albin.  It looked like a fantastic opportunity to learn about openings and get a good idea of what will hook a reader in.  I didn't end up getting picked but I took that first step into kicking fears and nerves away by submitting something for people to see and critique. 

That and testing out a query for Beast Inside helped me get through those first steps of submitting stuff on a public forum.  It's such a vulnerable feeling but people were lovely.  I got some great feedback (shout out to Colin and Miss Cole!) that really helped and improved my query.  In the end it wasn't too scary and I'm challenging myself to go for it properly next year.  Bring it on!

My favourite events?

I still wish that the UK had a big writing conference.  But I'm glad that there's WriteOnCon because I got to see all my blogging friends (Cole, Colin, Elodie, Jaime, Emma and Juliana!) taking part as well and I had a chance to take part in something with other YA authors and writers.   

There is something I would have liked to see.  I don't think there were any UK agents attending unless I missed something in the excitement of WriteOnCon.  But if there weren't any UK agents or publishing companies I would have loved to see that just so I can get an idea of who to turn to when I'm ready to query officially.

Did you attend WriteOnCon this year? :)

I won't be here next Monday because Pete found a trip deal from August 27th to the 30th so we'll be staying down south next week and having day trips to London, Windsor, and Oxford.  Photo time! But for the Monday after (3rd September) I'm getting that post on 2.8 hours later up! I was tempted to wait for October but I have tons of ideas for that month to begin with and a blogoversary to prepare for!


  1. Hooray for taking part! It was an amazing opportunity to learn, finished MS or not.

  2. :D As you know I really loved WriteOnCon :D It was fun and I learned a lot. Really. A lot :D
    Hmm did you see the chat with Sarah Davies, you probably already know but her agency has a division in the UK and writers based outside of North America should query Julia

  3. So glad you enjoyed WriteOn con! I loved it. :)

    There are almost no decent UK writing conferences, though I have found three UK writing conferences that've caught my eye:

    York Festival of Writing --
    Winchester Writer's Conference --
    Edinburgh Book Festival has agent 1-to-1s too--

    But I'm in the same situation, money and travel time. :( Though I do have flexible holidays, at least. Fixed holidays sound like a bit of a nightmare.

  4. WriteOnCon was great--and while I had nothing to offer this year, seeing blog friends certainly added to the experience.

    If I recall correctly, Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Lit Agency was there. Sarah moved to the States from the UK in 2007 and runs their US operations from DC. Her colleague, Julia Churchill, runs things in London. So I would have expected Sarah to have a pretty good idea what the state of play is in the UK. Besides that, I'm sure there were US agents present who have clients from outside the US. I think a good theme for next year might be international publishing. Given WriteOnCon's ability to attract writers and publishing professionals from around the world, I think this would provide some interesting insights, and perhaps encourage people outside the US to organize in-person conferences in their own countries.

    That's my 2-cents. :)

    All the best with your WIP, Robin! As I told you in the forum, I don't traditionally read horror, but from your query, I would definitely read your novel.

  5. A fantastic conference! =D I also think it was great for newbies who are just getting ready for querying and critiques. It's nerve racking posting your stuff on a public forum but I think it can be twice as scary reading your stuff out in front of people!

    I knew I must have missed stuff in the excitement! So thanks for the head's up! International publishing would be a great theme next year. I do feel like the UK and other countries are a lot quieter in terms of conferences. Even the ones we do have don't seem as well promoted or talked about.