The past week saw the 12th edition of Cork World Book Fest take place. The five day festival celebrates all things reading and writing by holding various workshops, readings, question and answer panels, author visits and so much more. I hadn’t attended the festival before but was intrigued by one event in particular which took place on Saturday morning, April 23rd. When I arrived at Cork City Library I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but there was a room full of aspiring writers of all ages and at various stages of their writing career. I hadn’t realised how lucky I was to be living so near as people had travelled from much further distances to attend. The morning basically consisted of two parts, an agent panel, and secondly an author panel.
The agent panel segment was chaired by Vanessa O’ Loughlin of writing.ie and it gave an informative insight into the world of publishing and agents. Simon Trewin of WME London and Polly Nolan of The Greenhouse Literary Agency were the guests. I had never really delved into the whole aspect of agents and publishers and was naive to how complex book deals can be. The importance of having a good relationship with your agent was one crucial piece of advice which was emphasised throughout. You need to make sure the fit between both parties is right and choosing an agent isn’t something you should rush into. Unfortunately rejection is a part of the process but the general consensus on this was that the awful r word should be banned. They gave an interesting account of some of the most common mistakes people make when submitting work from not checking submission criteria to unbelievably not spell checking their emails. The one piece of advice that stood out for me from this portion of the event was that when you have finished your writing, be it a novel, an essay or a poem, put it in a drawer for six months and then take it out and re-read it. The mistakes will be glaring you in the face, change it, and only then should you submit your work.
The second part of the morning was the highlight for me. Three successful authors including Hazel Gaynor, Alana Kirk and Elizabeth Murray gave an insight into how they became published authors. Each read a section from their work to give a taste of their writing and shared their stories on their route to being published. It was inspiring to hear that there is no one way to being published as each had a different tale on how they got to where they are now. Insider tips were shared with the group also from advice on blogging, your brand, self-publishing and how to build your confidence. The importance of reading and assessing why writing is good was another point that I took from the morning. Analysing and thinking about why a sentence works and observing how others structure their sentences will all contribute to you becoming a better writer yourself. The necessity of finding your own style of writing was also discussed and left me wondering what exactly is my style? I can never quite summarise for people if I am asked what I like writing about because there is no one topic in particular.
I left the event feeling a renewed sense of passion for writing and thoroughly enjoyed the morning. Cork World Book Fest put together a fantastic programme of events and I will certainly be attending again next year having hopefully gotten one step closer to the dream.