Event report

Conference 2009: Anita Burgh: ‘Publishers, Presentation, Synopsis and You ’

Report published 19 July 2009

Event took place on 19 July 2009 - read event entry »

Author Anita Burgh

Anita Burgh

Despite being dyslexic, Anita has produced 23 novels, both contemporary and historical and has at times produced five or six thousand words a day. This woman knows what she is talking about! She began by saying: “The moment you think what you write is brilliant is the time to give up!”

Her inspirational talk included the following tips with regard to submitting work to an agent.

  • Don’t be too humble about your writing - publishers and agents need you.
  • Buy Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and The Writers’ Handbook.
  • Agents have websites in order to attract writers. Check what they want before you submit work to them.
  • Don’t submit a book until you’ve finished it.
  • Write a professional covering letter to a named person. Don’t be too familiar—this person doesn’t know you.
  • Address them as ‘Dear Caroline Sheldon’ rather than ‘Dear Caroline.’
  • Don’t include a list of friends who have read your book and say it’s the best thing they’ve ever read.
  • Ensure that your manuscript looks clean, tidy and professional.
  • Include a title page giving your contact details and the word count.
  • Double space your work on one side of white A4 paper. Use wide margins so that an editor can make notes.
  • Number the pages. Include your name and the title of the novel in the header.
  • Don’t leave additional gaps between paragraphs unless you are indicating a change of scene.
  • Don’t staple the pages or use plastic folders or ring binders.
  • Include return postage if you want the manuscript sent back to you.

Anita said a good blurb will attract immediate attention. She suggested that we write a 24-word blurb for the book we were currently working on, so that it was easy to answer the question: “What is your book about?”

Her advice was to think about the function of a synopsis before we started to panic about it. She said that most agents will read the sample chapters first and then read the synopsis afterwards to see if the story is viable (and that it has a beginning, middle and end!).

The synopsis should be written in the third person even if the book is written in the first person. It should be single spaced and no longer than two pages - depending on the requirements of the agent you are submitting to.

Anita’s final tip was to keep your rejection slips and hang them in the loo.

Report by Sue Johnson

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