I was invited to take part in Loughborough University’s 2nd Literary Salon by Kerry Featherstone, lecturer in English. Industry professionals were invited: Walker Books and the literary agents from DKW, and another author – Maxine Linnell. The subject of the Salon was: Writing YA Fiction. We were each invited to speak, followed by a Q and A session, and, at the end of the evening, there was a Round Table. The audience comprised students, lecturers, authors and anyone in the local area interested in Teen/YA fiction. There was a great turn out and an interested and involved audience, with lots of discussions.
My talk focussed on the realities, good and bad, of being a children’s writer in the modern world, what an average advance might be, royalties, the changes in the publishing industry, and my experiences of being a teen/YA writer. I tried to give a balanced view on how difficult it is to make a living from writing, how a children’s writer today has to wear very many hats, know the industry and know how it works, while not neglecting the most important aspect of being an author: writing a book. I was a little surprised by how many students of creative writing were unaware of the realities of being a children’s writer.
I hope I didn’t put them off wanting to be writers!
The round table discussions focussed on various issues, including age banding in children’s books, the changing reading habits of children and teenagers, and diversity in children’s books. Bali Rai joined the round table and talked about how he and Malorie Blackman have been discussing the lack of diversity in children’s literature for many years, and how little has changed in that time. I’ve blogged about diversity in Teen/YA lit here on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure here and on The Edge Blog here, and for Teen Librarian Monthly here. Reading David Thorpe’s interesting post on yesterday’s blog, made me wonder about the diversity in the ethnicity of the children who had entered the 500 word story writing competition where 118,632 entries were received.
The Literary Salon was a very good event for students who were interested in pursuing a career in writing. They got to meet a publisher, agents and writers, and to put questions to them. It was the kind of event I would have loved to have gone to when I first started writing and knew so little about the publishing world.
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