If you love writing and have a story you’d love to pitch to literary agents, then you need to join us at the National Creative Writing Graduate Fair.
As you may already know, we are hosting the second Creative Writing Graduate Fair at MMU, in partnership with The Writing School. The fair takes place on Friday 4th November and will run from 8.30am until 5.45pm.
We’ve gathered some more tips for you before you attend the fair, to ensure that you are fully prepared for the day. These tips come from the agents themselves who attended the fair last year. Their comments below cover the following topics:
- How to prepare your book for an agent
- What the agents are looking for in a book or piece of creative writing
- What the agents don’t want to see
- Tips on how to get published
- How to give a great pitch
What are the agents looking for?
I would love to find books that are literary or upmarket commercial genres and, apart from beautiful writing, a really great book [with] great characters.
I’m looking for something in poetry that is completely unexpected, which breaks every rule that has ever been mentioned in a creative writing class, and which makes me think ‘I didn’t think that that was possible in poetry’.
I’m looking for a story, and a voice, and a clear sense that somebody has got an acute perception of the world and a means of conveying it.
What do the agents NOT want to see?
One of my bug bears is people waking up at the very beginning of a novel. Also don’t describe the sky as gunmetal grey.
We’re not looking for work that relies too squarely on genre and work in which the author doesn’t have a definite confident voice.
I think the pitfalls would be writing something that is perhaps too clichéd or too overworked in the genre. I think being aware of the market and what’s popular is always a good thing for new writers.
I think the biggest mistake people make when they want to get published is rushing into it too quickly…Try not to be impatient, spend the time, put the hours into your craft.
What is their top tip?
My top tip for a creative writing graduate looking to get published would be to really hone their first draft as much as they absolutely can, get as many people to read it as possible and just do the simple things like spell check everything, make sure you’ve read it again before you’re submitting to agents.
When people are pitching, I think if people can sum up their book in two or three sentences, or even just one sentence, that shows me that they really know what their story is. I think it’s good to know that you’ve read in your genre and that you can compare yourself to other people in that area.Top tip – you need to just read incredibly widely, so read in the genre that you want to write but also read across the genres.
Make the most of the opportunities you have. Keep going. Most people aren’t published because they stop trying.
Top tip for a new creative writing graduate: spend the same amount of time publishing and marketing the book that you did writing it.
Tickets are on sale until Sunday 16th October – you can buy them from here
The full interviews with the agents in 2015 can be found below for those who are interested to hear more!