Impromptu pep-talks to wannabe writers…

The chaos fromthe London Book Fair last week has only now begun to settle and I can now approach people without attempting to hand out flyers.  It was my second experience at the Fair. Last year’s was spent wide eyed, attempting to hand out CV’s and stalk famous authors. But this year’s experience was quite different and it was strange being on the other side of the stand.

A lot of the people that approached the A&B stand were in fact unpublished authors trying to get their manuscript accepted or even just read. As we’re such a small team, we don’t have the womanpower or time to accept unsolicited manuscripts so we can only take them via a literary agent. It helps filter through the masses of submissions and an agent is more likely to know what we’ll publish. But when an author walks up to the stand, eyes as bright as beacons, clutching a thick folder, and I have to say no, it makes you feel like a bit of an ice queen.

It reminds of me of the stories of J.K.Rowling being refused by every publisher she tried, until one day Barry Cunningham took her on and her life changed forever. It makes me realise how difficult it must be, not only to get published, but to remain positive. While I had to turn away a lot of manuscripts submissions, I went for what I hoped was an encouraging pep-talk about perseverance and hope. I think most of those authors thought I’d had too much sugar, but a small few seemed to take kindly to my encouragement. Although I’m sure the literary agents on the other receiving end might not.

Sophie Robinson, Publishing Assistant

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