Firstly, thanks to Susan Haniford for emailing me a copy of this picture taken on her camera at Caerleon. (and thanks to Les for taking it in the first place!) Moving from left to right, we have Jane, Lynne, some prat in the middle (that'll be me then), Chris and Susan.
One of the messages that came through loud and clear this year at Caerleon for me, is that writers should be constantly looking for new markets. Literary Agent Theresa Chris, (also known as The Fearsome One by Jane Wenham-Jones) gave a talk on the opening night about publishing today and she confirmed that during this recession, publishers are cutting back. Many midlist authors - those who regularly produce a book a year and make a small profit for the publisher, but aren't a risk to Dan Brown on the bestseller lists - have found themselves being dropped by their publishers. As an agent, Theresa dreaded having to ring these authors up and give them the bad news.
Yet she actually found the exercise quite revealing. Many who had been dropped simply turned around and said, "Oh well, never mind ... well I have been working on something completely different so perhaps I may interest a different publisher in that project."
The point Theresa wanted to make was that REAL WRITERS WRITE! If you are a writer, you will be writing SOMETHING. What struck me though was that many of these writers were already looking at writing for a different market anyway. They were experimenting and trying to broaden their markets. The more markets you try to write for, the less of a problem it is if one suddenly dries up.
For the first part of the week, I went along to Lynne Hackles excellent workshops called Writing for Money.
During those workshops she showed us how we can turn any of life's events into prose to sell to magazines. (She even told us how she sold spells to one magazine!). She made a valid point that writers should always buy one new magazine every week to analyse and then ask the question - what can I write for this? It could be an article, a short story, a reader's letter, a tip or even a funny photo. Just turn the pages and ask, "What can I write for this page?"
Over time, you begin to remember which magazines have which slots and so the job of slotting an idea to a particular magazine becomes easier. In the few days that I've been home from Caerleon, I've submitted a short piece and picture to one magazine, a joke to another and a reader's letter to a third - and that's on top of my existing workload of the correspondence course that I'm writing. (4,334 words on that today - phew!)
So go and expand your markets. Make a point of going out a buying a new magazine that you wouldn't normally buy and then analyse it. Ask yourself, "what can I write for this page?" And then write it!