On 24 June, I attended the third Dublin Writers’ Conference. I left it feeling inspired, invigorated and with lots of new like-minded writers to connect with on social media. Having already attended the first conference I knew what to expect but, in my absence last year due to family commitments, the conference has grown substantially – word of mouth is a wonderful thing!
In attendance, were writers from all over Ireland as well as further afield with many from England, Scotland and America. The mix was electric. To give you a flavour of the day, I’ve included snippets from some of the speakers:
Tara Sparling gave a presentation on what you should do and, perhaps even more importantly, what you should not do to promote your book. Readers, she told us, are firstly enticed by a professional cover, then a great blurb and finally your book. They hate to be told what to do – so it appears that if you tell them to “buy my book” or “check out my book” – more often than not, they’ll rebel and do the opposite!
Laurence O’Bryan told us that the most important thing was to believe in your book. In this ever-changing world, he recommends you should research your chosen genre: the latest books, authors, blogs etc. By the time your book is ready to reach its readership you will have worked hard to prepare it for delivery – writing, researching and editing until it’s perfect. The reader expects nothing less and it is their Amazon reviews that will sell your novel. Laurence suggests sending out advance review copies, aiming to receive at least 10 reviews a month, with the ultimate goal of receiving more than 100 positive reviews.
Patricia Gibney brought us on her writing journey. When life dealt a number of harsh blows, she told us, it was creativity that helped her through the dark times. She shared a few tips: Don’t procrastinate. Writing is hard work, but just sit and write. Push past the self-doubt, keep negativity at bay and overcome rejections which are the bane of all writers. Patricia advised that passion should appear in all of your writing and the key to success was to persevere, be patient and while you’re waiting use the time to perfect your craft.
Jane Thornley began by telling us that what sells is a great story, a great cover and that
box sets are a gold mine – three books to be precise. Similar to Laurence, Jane felt it was very important to be aware of what is going on in the wider world. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse so that you know your audience. This information is vital from a marketing perspective where even something as simple as the connotations your book title might conjure up, at any given time, could have a positive or negative impact on your sales.
Paul Feldstein from The Feldstein Agency told the audience that you should write for self fulfillment. When you’re novel is ready, he advised reading agents submission guidelines and following them to the letter. He also recommended reading the latest copies of the Writers and Artists Year Book and Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents.
Conor Kostick gave us a crash course from the Finishing Your Novel course that he runs in the Irish Writers Centre and that many of us have already attended. There were many nuggets of information he imparted including how important it is to nail your point of view to ensure your reader has a seamless, immersive experience. He recommends grinding your research into dust to sprinkle through your novel. And when setting your scene, don’t be cinematic – instead use psychological adjectives, i.e. the mountain soars or the mountain looms – depending on the mood …
Louise Phillips, who also teaches at the Irish Writers Centre, opened by telling us:
To just turn up every day. To commit. To write. Writing 500 words each day will soon produce a novel. We were brought through various writing techniques she has used including Road Maps, Organic Writing and Mind Maps which are all useful at the three different stages of the novel. Part 1: where you set-up, establish and create your world. Part 2: the murky middle – full of self doubts – where she suggests you build a bridge to the next part if you’re stuck. And finally, Part 3: the resolution where, by now, your characters should have evolved. One of the most important things to remember, in order to engage your reader, is to make your characters real – as real as your family and friends.
Ken Athcity arrived on stage and we, the audience, watched first-hand as writers pitched their stories to the Los Angeles based movie producer who has created 30 major movie and TV productions and is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures (the Oscars). Ken’s feedback gave us all food for thought as we watched to see what worked, what didn’t work and what may have a chance to make it on the big screen.
The Dublin Writers’ Conference has become the annual must attend event, offering writers at all stages an opportunity to engage with some of the best in the industry. What better way to hone your craft while also having an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals from all over the globe.
You could ask for nothing more …
Dublin is the UNESCO City of Literature:
The city of Swift, Joyce, Beckett, Yeats, Wilde, Synge & Shaw as well as the modern masters: Edna O’Brien, Roddy Doyle, Colum McCann and a dozen others.
Full conference details available here