Essex Book Festival: Birth of the Book Live Blog! – Kerry Hudson

Join us as we liveblog the ‘Birth of the Book’ event at Essex Book Festival featuring critically acclaimed author Kerry Hudson, Literary Agent Jo Unwin and Picador Editor Francesca Main.

Scroll down below for the live updates! We begin with Kerry Hudson.

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Almost time to start!

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Join us as author Kerry Hudson kicks us off with the day.

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Our speakers are here and the audience are taking their seats…

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Rob is manning the liveblog for this session as Kate is about to introduce the day.

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Kate is introducing the day and giving some background to the festival itself.

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If you are joining in the discussion on Twitter, use the hashtag #birthofthebook

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Kerry takes to the stage!

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Kerry is discussing how she got her first book published. She’ll be talking about the breakdown and the timing of how it was published.

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She started writing when she was 28. She begun working in the charity sector. One February when she off work sick she began writing.

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If writing is your passion you’ll always return to it.

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Kerry recommends entering writing competitions – the cash prizes can pay for classes and people are looking at your work.

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Start a blog and celebrate any success you might have. There’s always time to write.

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Think about how you want to progress – don’t say you are writing a literary novel if your heart is in sci-fi!

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Take every opportunity – she sent short stories to an agent who was interested. Took a six month sabbatical from work and went to Vietnam.

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Make committed time for your writing. Tell your friends, family etc what you are doing and when you want to finish.

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Make a plan – e.g. 4 x months @1000 words a day. When you’ll have the first draft ready etc.

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On a trip to China, Kerry had her laptop stolen and she lost all her work. Everything had to be re-written from bullet points. She wrote a 1000 words a day to get it back.

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She read ‘Punctation for Dummies’ and Googled How to Edit a Novel to edit her draft.

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Make structural, character based changes and strengthen and tighten up scenes. Read aloud your work to hear what needs fixing.

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After six months of writing, she sent the book off to an agent. Getting an agent is not an easy thing.

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Kerry’s agent was Juliet Pickering and still is. It’s worthwhile meeting a few as it’s a personality ‘thing’ to see if you get along.

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Stick to agency guidelines. Research the agent. Use the trade press to see what books they’ve sold.

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If you have more than one agent interested try to meet them all.

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Ask questions! Be prepared for them to make revisions (often before signing)

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Agents will never ask for a fee.

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In July 2010 – the novel went out on submission. The submission process is a very long process.

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The book went out to ten publishers.

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An editor will read it and if they like it they will show it to colleagues. Then it goes to an editorial meeting.

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Lots of sums takes place – if the numbers don’t work out, the book might not get bought. Publishing is still a business.

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If they like it, an offer will get made!

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Kerry didn’t know how to celebrate the offer so went to see a Ben Affleck film!

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You may meet with the publisher before an offer is made. They asked how autobiographical the book was and if she was prepared to talk about it.

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They’ll ask about influences, what you are reading, what you are writing next. Be prepared!

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You’ve got a book deal! Your agent will have your best interests at heart. Ask questions!

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Read from Pitch to Publication by Carol Blake. A must read and an insight into the business.

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Advances are delivered over four years. On signing and on publication of hardbacks and paperbacks. Advances can either be very large or very small.

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You probably won’t be giving up your day job.

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Build a website. Join Twitter. Best networking source for authors.

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Everyone works in different ways in publishing. Follow their lead.

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Start your next book!

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The PR starts. Get your author photo taken – Kerry paid for hers and it was a great investment.

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There is an author questionnaire about your life – all used to market you to festivals, magazines etc.

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Keep your blog and Twitter up to date.

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Revisions: they are there to make your book better. It’s a very collaborative job and editors are unsung heroes.

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If your editor will allow it – makes your own suggestions to improve it. Stick to the deadline you are given like any other job.

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Editorial notes – usually given a month.

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Cover art – unlikely authors will have much input to the cover. If big chains such as Waterstones like it, they’ll usually go with that cover.

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Proofs go out: go out to reviewers and other authors for blurbs. Bit scary! First time you see it as a proper book.

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Then you have a real book! The book is published! Tony Hogan has been shortlisted for seven prizes. And you get to write another one.

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All started as Kerry was a bit sick one day and wrote 500 words.

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