04 January 2019

Anna Davis answers your writing and publishing questions

CBC published authors
by Katie Smart Events, Writing Tips

It is a brand new year and we are encouraging writers to take stock of their writing habits and goals for the year (take a look at our New Year’s writing resolutions blog where our tutors and published alumni share their writing goals for 2019). If your goal for this year is to submit your novel to agents or to finally start to writing the novel you always talk don’t miss the return of #AskAnna next week.

Our MD Anna Davis will be taking to Twitter on Wednesday (January 9th) between 11 am and 12 noon to answer your burning questions about writing and publishing – from advising on how best to approach literary agents to discussing the current book market. To submit your question to Anna simply use the #AskAnna and tag us @cbcreative on Wednesday morning, be sure to ask your question in good time so that Anna can answer you within the hour of this Twitter Q&A.

Below we have gathered some of our favourite questions (and answers) from the last #AskAnna. We hope that this inspires you…

Q: Laura Gomez @LauraGomezBooks
What are some recent literary fiction titles you’ve enjoyed or think have done really well? And do you think of litfic as a genre, or more of a writing style?

Anna: On my holiday I read The Water Cure (Sophie Mackintosh) and Less (Andrew Sean Greer). I liked both, though they’re very different. I’m much looking forward to Sally Rooney’s  Normal People, having loved Conversations with Friends. Literary fiction is partly just high-end fiction which is published in literary rather than commercial imprints –  but it can also be experimental in style/form and is sometimes less plot-driven than commercial fiction needs to be.

Q: Dez Sargeant-Blair @stilldez
There seems to be a focus on the lack of diversity in children’s publishing regarding POC (people of colour) authors as well as the main characters of books for children.  Do you see this as being a consideration as agents develop their author/illustrator lists?

Anna: Yes I do. The proportion of books written by people of colour or featuring black/Asian/ethnic minority characters does not fairly represent the population. It’s very important that we find and publish exciting new books by writers of colour and that kids are able to read books with main characters of their own ethnicity so that they can feel the world of books is one which is relevant and open to them.

Q: N S Ford‏ @nsfordwriter 
When I submit a novel to agents, will they look at my blog and tweets?

Anna: They might do if you want them to, and if you mention your blog and twitter handle in your approach letter. But primarily they’ll be looking at your novel. A great social media presence can be the icing on the cake – but the book is the cake.

Q: Caroline Icke @carolineicke
If you’re writing a potential series, should you mention this when querying agents with the first book? Should it go in the synopsis or query letter?

Anna: Firstly, the book needs to stand alone even if it’s part of a series – and you should pitch that first book hard in your query letter. But do also indicate in the letter that you have plans to potentially develop it as a series without getting into too much detail about the books that are to follow.

Q: Jamesy Cottar @jamesy_cottar
I would like to #AskAnna what kind of query letter she responds well to. I thought writing my first novel would be the hard part, but now I don’t know whether to highlight characters, plot or themes to hook an agent.

Anna: Keep your letter short and focused. Just three paragraphs: 1. A short pitch for the book – barely more than an elevator pitch with what’s at the heart of the book; 2. A bit about you – keep it relevant; 3. Why you’re targeting this particular agent. We have lots more about this in our Edit & Pitch Your Novel online course.

Q: Elizabeth MacKinney @Elizabe62668090
I’m thinking of self-publishing one of my novels. Will this have a negative effect on my chances of later being traditionally published? Using a different novel, of course.

Anna: No, not at all. But I would advise you get a strategy in place to make sure you can promote and sell your book well. If you achieve great sales it will be a big plus when you approach agents/publihers with a future project. If it doesn’t sell well, then simply don’t mention it in future pitches.

Q: Pushpinder Kaur‏ @pushpwrites 
How to move past creative blocks? Esp due to self-doubt

Anna: Keep writing – every day if you can. Use prompts, notebooks etc to find your way in. Look for supportive writing peers on our courses such as Starting to Write Your Novel and Write to the End of Your Novel – and/or in local writing groups – and of course on social media in the friendlier places.

Q: David Edgardo @DavidEdgardoM
What is the most fulfilling aspect being part of Curtis Brown Creative?

Anna: I LOVE it when writers tell us they have found our courses inspiring/helpful/enjoyable. It’s obviously great to find talented writers who then get publishing deals and say that we helped with that – but actually the publishing thing isn’t everything.

If you enjoy #AskAnna be sure to check out our #WriteCBC Twitter competition: On the first Thursday of every month we share a writing tip and writing task from a different special guest on our blog and on Twitter. You can respond in a tweet using the hashtag #WriteCBC and tagging us @cbcreative. The next #WriteCBC writing competition will take place on February 7th. You can find out more about how to take part here.

There’s plenty of invaluable pieces of writing advice and industry inside knowledge from Anna on our six-week online novel writing courses

Starting to Write Your Novel – starting 16th January September (sign up by 14th January)

Write to the End of Your Novel  – starting 17th January (sign up by 14th January)

Edit & Pitch Your Novel  – starting 24th January (sign up by 21st January)

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