It’s time to tell new stories


Gangsters’ Wives‘ is a title of a random book by Lee Martin that caught my eye last weekend in Greenwich Market. The title sparked off wonder as to why marital status features so often in books and films to identify a person by their spouse rather than independently. This is no criticism of the author, the story, or the institution of marriage, it’s merely an observation. Combined with Anjali’s experience from her Deep Characterisation workshop at Raindance with Kira Anne Pelican it got me wondering whether it’s time for a change in how we write stories and portray our characters. 

Yin and yang – The “Hero’s Journey” & “The Virgin’s Story”

Storytelling was traditionally taught from a male perspective with Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero’s Journey” pattern in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. This was adapted for writers and screenwriters by Christopher Vogler with his best-selling “The Writer’s Journey“. It’s a valuable read if you are looking for a place to begin learning the art of storytelling.

Kim Hudson, amongst others has been pushing boundaries of The Hero’s Journey with “The Virgin’s Story” encouraging the writing of stories of feminine creative, spiritual and sexual awakening. And, such stories don’t just apply to the female of the species. Yin and yang is an ancient philosophy and whether we like it or not, there is masculine and feminine in all of us, regardless.

Think of the majority of female characters in books and movies. They are often bland or one dimensional. A few memorable books and films come to mind that have pushed the boundaries:

Change Maker – Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

We can count on Virginia Woolf  to have pushed the boundaries. At first blush I’d say Virginia Woolf’s protagonist ‘Orlando’ was well ahead of other characters written in the 1920s and since then for that matter. Orlando seamlessly changes gender and sexuality through different identities between 1588 and 1928. Blurring boundaries of gender, sexuality and time travel – there was a surrealist feel to her writing, as if it was what Andre Breton and the surrealists called automatic writing. I’ve yet to read a book or see a movie since that has matched Virginia’s forward thinking.

Collab Writers has been born to be different; to push boundaries, inspired by what Virginia and others did long ago. Let’s collaborate to not just push but to break down boundaries and rebuild to do away with norms and stereotyping.

Boundary pushing movies

The Women in 1939 was equally groundbreaking with an all female cast and writer based on a 1936 play by Clare Booth Luce.  It was remade in 2008 with an all female cast and directed by Diane English. Sadly, no-one took the idea and developed it further.

The movie “The Wife” focuses on the husband’s role in only name as the story reveals how the wife of a Nobel prize winning author wrote all of her husband’s stories that won him the Nobel prize in Literature.

A call to action to Rethink and Reframe

There are so many new and fresh characters to be written following The Hero’s Journey, The Writer’s Journey, The Virgin’s Story or any other story pattern you wish to develop. Hopefully, this blog will be a call to action to encourage you to rethink the characters and stories you are writing.

To this end, we would like to give a shout out to one of our Collab Writers Founder Members, Tristis Silvan who is busy pushing the boundaries of gender stereotypes and norms through her podcast series. Listen [HERE]

There’s a wealth of writers and filmmakers out there who want to do something new. At each Collab Writers meet up we meet many storytellers and filmmakers looking for stories and collaborators.

It’s time to start again…..

It’s a nice day to start again……you have carte blanche to write the characters you want to read and watch. Let them be every aspect of you that you are too afraid to be. Live vicariously through them and watch them grow.

Collab Writers are as forward thinking as our members. We want to hear your ides for collaboration. If you want to share your ideas, we are happy to consider them and if we think it’s ripe for collaboration we will put out a call for interest in collaboration over the airwaves. This is the way the stories we tell will change. Ping us your ideas for change at

Check out the next Collab Writers Networking Here: The first Thursday of each month.


Writers JourneyVirgins Promise

Buy Writers Journey here                                Buy The Virgin’s Promise here

Cannes Film Festival – 7 reasons for writers to attend

Cannes 2019The annual Cannes Film Festival is the annual melting pot for film financiers, producers, distributors, talent and filmmakers. Tens of thousands descend on the small city of Cannes to celebrate cinema and to do deals.

Writers are often less gregarious than their filmmaking colleagues and tend to shun the glamour and sizzle of Cannes. There are, however, seven reasons writers of all forms of content should check out Cannes Film Festival.

1.Cannes is a good marketing exercise

The hype and glamour of Cannes is used by film companies to raise awareness of their upcoming films. Writers can learn from their filmmaking colleagues about how to use the powerful tools of publicity and marketing to promote their own work.

2.Cannes film market is where the business of film happens

There are two parts to The Cannes Film Festival. First, there is the festival with all of the red carpet screenings, the celebrity interviews and of course the parties. Other than rubber necking and trying to catch a glimpse of a big star, this is of little use to a writer.

The part that really interests me is the film market – the Marche du Film. This is where all the ‘action’ happens: film sellers meet film buyers. The similarities between your local vegetable market and the Marche are surprisingly similar. Sellers lay out their wares. Buyers browse, poke and prod and haggle over the price.

It is here that writers can gauge the market trends of what is selling, what types of topics and genres are in demand and what different territories are looking for.

It was at this year’s Marche that I found out that the once-dynamic Chinese market is crumbling due to the impact of the Chinese/American trade war.

3. Cannes is a great place to become pitch perfect

The Marche itself is gigantic trade show – with over 1,800 exhibitors or sellers vying for the attention of the 6,500+ film distributors from around the world. In such a noisy environment a filmmaker needs to be able to pitch their film in a short and succinct way in order to srtand out form the crowd.

Pitching is the most under-rated and most-ignored skill any writer needs to master.

Raindance holds “Live!Ammunition! Pitching Competition on June 24th. It’s your chance to pitch your story idea to a panel of film industry experts – these are the ones who decide which stories get made into movies and which ones get on TV and into cinemas. Come along and see how others pitch and learn. If you are brave enough, why not have a ‘go’ yourself? Collab Writers did it last year during the film Festival.

Details of Live!Ammunition! and tickets HERE

4. Cannes loves a visual image

Whether a film is being promoted on Netflix, your local cinema or in a film market like Cannes, an important asset that needs to be created is the poster, or campaign image.

A great exercise is to look at movie posters – and book covers – to see which ones stand out and then to try and analyse what it is about them that works: the title, typography and the different design tropes that are used.

One of my favourite movie bloggers, Stephen Follows, has analyzed facial recognition as a poster source with fascinating research that could also be used for character development.

5.Cannes is all about the networking

The creative industry is a people industry. It’s not what you know but who you know. If you want to get your book published, if you want to get an agent, if you want your idea turned into a movie – you need to meet people and earn their respect and trust.

Not every venue has a red carpet but Raindance does have red velvet seats and the cute but perfectly formed Library Club. To get comfortable with meeting people and speaking about your creative passions, try hanging out at networking events like Collab Writers monthly meet-up on the first Thursday of every month, and Raindance Boozin’ N’ Schmoozin on the second Monday of each month. Both are here in London – before the year’s out both will be hosting events across the pond.


6. Cannes is about understanding the commerce

Writers like most filmmakers often have no idea at all about how books and films are sold and distributed.

Books, like films are sold to territories. Each territory has publishers and distributors. Cannes is where you go to meet film distribution companies from all over the world. Each distributor looks for specific films: documentaries, educational, narrative and so on.

The same for authors. The London Book Fair each spring is a must for writers too. Here there are hundreds of publishers looking for new material and agented and self-published writers to learn from.

Try and understand the commercial needs of a publisher and learn to tailor your pitch and presentation to them in order to minimise their financial risk.

That’s exactly what filmmakers do. They learn to de-risk their projects.

7. Cannes deals in genre not drama

Nobody in the film industry buys drama. It’s too general a topic. Are you making a crime, rom-com, sci-fi or children’s movie?

The same might be said for authors too. What exactly is your book about? Can you sum up the genre in one or two words?

This is probably the most challenging thing for a new writer or filmmaker to learn. You simply cannot sell a drama. You need to create a genre. When you have tailored your story to fit a genre, implement some of the pitching and marketing tips I have mentioned above and start to get people talking about your work, then they will send the limos.

Everyone is crying out for content. And you are the content creator.

Happy writing.

Elliot Grove, founder Raindance Film Festival


Your creative apprenticeship – Hyperfocus

hyperfocus.jpgLast week saw the start of a series of Collab Writers blogs on your creative apprenticeship. We began with learning from the greats, Hemingway and Stephen King.

You’ve all heard that old adage:

“If you want to get something done ask a busy person.

In the world we live in, that doesn’t leave many people out. In this blog we want to share with you the life skills we have learnt to get things done. It’s as simple as that, the art of getting stuff done.

What is hyper focusing and why is it worthy of a blog?

As busy bees, like most of you are, we found ourselves with lots of deadlines and very little time to get them done. The art of hyper focusing is learning how to grab spare moments of time and using them to do things quickly. You can start with the following methods:

1.Write key points / creative triggers on a single page / notepad on your phone


3.Grab every moment you can to hyperfocus on the task in hand – including when you are on the go.

How you can learn more about this method?

If you learn through doing then just get started. If you need to read more about this then check out Mind Mapping via Tony Buzan’s excellent books.  This is how Collab’s Jennie Griffiths got addicted to the hyper focus world twenty odd years ago. If you haven’t read them, do. This way of thinking changed Jennie’s life and set her well on the road of hyper focusing that serves her well today.

The Multi Hyphen Method is another excellent book. It reflects the portfolio lifestyle that’s so popular today.

The one pager for creatives

Get it down on paper, it’s as simple as that. There are very few ideas or documents that can’t be summarised into a one (or at most) two pager. This tool can help you at work. And it is a really great tool that can help you as a creative, as a writer or a filmmaker.

Write your ideas in bullet points. You’ve heard of Bullet Journals – they’re all the rage. A bullet journals is the brainchild of a hyper focuser. We’ve been using them since we studied for GCSEs (and trust us that was a long time ago!). They got us through university exams, helped with our kickstarter campaign and have become a daily habit.

How to mind map as a creative

As a creative this is where it gets really fun. Grab your notebook and just write or draw your ideas on paper.

If you prefer tech, use Meind meister online – a tool that helps you create your mind maps.

Let your imagination draw your treasure trove of ideas.

You can have sub mind-maps of practical ways to produce ideas. Once they are committed to paper or an electronic mind map it’s hard to forget them. They will likely bug you until you bring them to life.

Believe it or not, Collab Writers original conception was via a mind map two years ago.  Fortunately, it got written down at the time and then nagged and nagged until it was brought to life last year!

Time and habit 

Remember that there are 24 long hours in every single day, 365 of them in every single year.

We don’t want to hear your moans about having to go to work. There are several waking hours before you go to work. And, you get to choose how to spend them. If you decide to spend them sleeping or working out instead of writing, that’s a choice. You don’t have to. Try mixing it up from time to time. Morning is a great time to get into the creative flow as the mind is rested before the onslaught of the day. As the great 13th century Persian mystic and poet Rumi said:

“The morning breeze has secrets to tell you. Do not go back to sleep.”

The 20 minute slot 

A whole 20 minutes is a dream to the seasoned hyper focuser. It is a huge slice of time when you can actually get a lot done. You can skim read a ten to fifteen page document in that time and pull out what you need to focus on. You can also write a poem, an instalment of a novel or a short screen in a screenplay.

If you are on public transport, you can sketch or jot down characteristics of the person opposite you – they might make a fantastic character for your story.

If you are at home, you can set a timer and just write for twenty minutes. It’s hardly a big commitment and the busiest person can spare that amount of time. If you are caring for children, steal some time whist they are asleep. The dishes and laundry can wait!

The commute

Leaving the best to last, this is the easiest way to steal 20 minutes at the beginning and end of your day. That time when you are on the subway or the train – try to stand or lean or something (or someone) and just write or read.

Those of you turning your noses up at this suggestion remember that that is how Collab Writers wrote the first draft of their collaborative novel, Consequences, on the daily commute, every day for 365 days. It’s surprising what you can do when you put your mind to something and hyper focus.

And, if you’ve no commute, lucky you – you have literally ‘bags of time’ so fill em bags full of ideas, pictures and words.

Go get ’em creative tigers!

Collab Writers Networking at the Library

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives in one of the coolest private members clubs: The Library – situated in the heart of London’s Theatreland. This event is free for Founder Members. Guests just £10.00 Thursday October 3rd 19:00 – 21:00


We are all apprentices – 3 top tips to learning the craft of writing


Last Thursday, Collab Writers held their third meet-up at The Library Club, London. There was excitement, laughter, trepidation, joy, delight and ideas aplenty.

Like previous events, there was magic in the air, as creators of all kinds, from all walks of life opened up to people they had never met before about their passions. I say ‘magic’ because once again exciting, serendipitous collaborations were birthed.

If you could bottle it, that’s the essence of Collab Writers ‘l’eau du Collab Writers’ with a heady, uplifting, joie de vivre about it. We’re pretty sure that if that mix of people had not been in that room on that night, those collaborations may not have happened.

A few people we spoke to were reluctant to call themselves ‘writers’. If you are reading this and feel that way, (imposter syndrome) let’s replace self-doubt (and goodness, we all have it) with reassurance from someone who left us quite a few stories that we are still talking about:

‘”We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master
Ernest Hemingway

If that’s good enough for Ernest, then it’s good enough for Collab Writers! Finding the Hemingway quote, took me back to when I started my apprenticeship.  So how do you make yourself an apprentice?

Read, read and read some more

I for one, started reading every book I possibly could on creative writing.  It’s fair to say that I was probably walking in the shadow of my father who taught himself how to paint whilst also working full time. He didn’t have the time to enrol on an Open University course so he borrowed every book he could from the local library and immersed himself in the art of ‘how to paint’.  At the age of 75, Jeff is now embarking on writing an e-book on how he learnt to paint. (If you’re interested in Jeff’s journey we will interview him on his progress at a later date).

Three top tips on the craft of writing 

  1. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (non-fiction through the guise of fiction)

In “A Moveable Feast“, Hemingway transports you to his world of 1920’s Paris and in taking you along with him on that journey he subtly instills in you what does and doesn’t work when it comes to storytelling, writing and habit. Reading that book is like meeting Hemingway at the bar of the local bistro in Paris for a demi blonde (that’s not a slur, it’s just easier on the eye than “half a lager”) or a Kir Royale if you like your drinks a little fancy. I fell in love with the man and kept going back for more.

One pearl of wisdom that stayed with me was to always end the day’s writing knowing where you’d pick up the next day. That was his way to avoid the dreaded ‘blank page’ or ‘writer’s block’ as we’ve come to call it.

I read his delightful work on Kindle and to this day am desperate to get my hands on an old paper copy to underline and scribble in the margins. Take that as our first book recommendation to ease you gently in to ‘the art of writing’.

2. Stephen King “On Writing”

My second recommendation has to be by the guru of horror, Stephen King. I doubt there are many of us who haven’t read or watched one of his stories. ‘The Shining’ and ‘Carrie’ scare me to this day. He just has what it takes and no doubt a lot of his ideas come from him opening himself up to inspiration. One story he tells in “On Writing” is how he got an idea for one of his books on a long haul flight – he wrote it on a napkin on the plane and then when he got to his hotel room wrote down the skeleton of the story. I’m pretty sure there were bones involved!

In light of some of the conversations I’ve had with Collab Writers members, I particularly like the quote below from “On Writing” which chimes with Hemingway’s Apprentice idea:

“Language does not always have to wear a shirt and tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story…to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all.”
Stephen King

My interpretation of this is that there’s no one size fits all. No two of us are the same. And, that my friends is frankly, exciting. That’s where the magic of collaboration can take your writing and someone else’s to a whole new level.

And, our writing doesn’t have to be perfect. We live in a world where there is too much focus on perfection of how we look, what we say, how we say it. There is a revolution or a renaissance of ‘real’ occurring, as new and different voices are being encouraged to tell their stories without being airbrushed. People want to read real stories and the best of those are authentic, typos and all. Which brings me to number 3:

3. WRITE Your way

So, undo that uptight tie, unbutton the shirt of your imagination and get the bare bones of your words, your story down on a page. Don’t go back and correct your grammar and typos every few minutes. Let the flow of whatever force is within you come out and take shape. Don’t hold yourself back or try to conform. Writing your way is, in the view of Collab Writers, the way to be the Apprentice that Hemingway talks of.

We look forward to reading your stories…..Apprentice!


Every story has a beginning – starting now

The Beginning

The beginning is the most important part of the work”
Plato, The Republic.

If ever there was a time to look to nature for inspiration for creative beginnings, it’s Spring, when buds open and flowers bloom, revealing their true potential. Some blossoms are already blooming, others still in bud, desperate to open up and be seen. Nature, especially Spring is a reflection of the creative potential in all of us.

“Once upon a Time….”

At Collab Writers, we’ve had so many people tell us about their ideas for books or screenplays. The most common challenge of our members is how to start and how to make time to write.

“Creative beginnings are not a dark art. Like seedlings, ideas can be planted.
If watered and tended to they will grow.
When ready to be shared with the world, they will bloom
– Jennie Griffiths, Co-Founder, Collab Writers.

Hang out at your local coffee shop – J.K.Rowling style

If you can’t think of ideas, go outside and earwig the chatter on the table next to you in your local coffee shop (there’s your dialogue – raw and real). If movement is your thing, go ride the tube or a bus (you’ll be surrounded by characters everywhere you look – their physical attributes, style, clothing and habits and traits.) The world we live in is a multitude of walking, talking stories.

Be still and know

Often, silence – quietening your mind can create a flow of ideas. Exercise can have a similar result. Ideas often come when we are in the flow of life.

“If you can dream it, you can do it”
– Walt Disney

If you’ve been procrastinating on the words that follow “Once upon a time” pick up your pen, open your lappie and just write. If you can’t, use the microphone on your mobile device or computer. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It really is that easy.

I bet you’re reading this and thinking, I work 9-5, that’s never going to happen…then I need to cook, be with my family, exercise and then it’s groundhog day, all over again.

You’re not alone, most of us ride the same gravy train. This blog is being written at 10pm after a hard day’s work. Here are some reminders from Dolly Parton’s 9-5:

There’s a better life and you think about it, don’t you”
You’ve got dreams, they’ll never take away.”
– Dolly Parton

Habit maketh man/woman

If it’s routine you need to keep those dreams alive, here’s one I made earlier:

Write – repeat – write – repeat – seven days a week. If you can’t write 6 days out of 7, write one day a week and repeat!

“Energy and persistence conquer all things”
– Benjamin Franklin

Choose to carry on or snooze and lose. Up to you, really! If that doesn’t motivate you, here’s some wisdom from the Godfather of creativity:

“Action is the foundation key to all success”
– Pablo Picasso

If you need an example closer to home, take a leaf out of Collab Writers’ soon to be finished book….we wrote ‘Consequences’ on our commutes, en route to our 9-5s, poetry in motion and we loved every minute of it! We will leave you with a quote from the magician of storytelling, Dr Seuss:

You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.”

I’ve started, so I’ll finish….look out for our next blog on “how to finish” and if we’ve not posted that within the next month, hunt us down and keep us to our word!


Collab Writers Networking at the Library

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives in one of the coolest private members clubs: The Library – situated in the heart of London’s Theatreland. This event is free for Founder Members. Guests just £10.00 Thursday October 3rd 19:00 – 21:00







Mind meet-ups for creatives

Collab Writers NetworkingYou’ve got to admit ‘networking’ conjures up an image of stiff, suited and booted executives working the room. It’s enough to drive fear into the hearts and souls of ‘introverts’ or anyone who wants to chill out after a day’s work. On the other hand, it can be music to the ears of the extrovert who loves speaking to as many people as possible.

My first experience of networking was at the British Embassy in Tokyo. To this day, I remember how uncomfortable I felt. The pack wore smart suits, with clipped, ego driven agendas. What’s worse, there were no trays of Ferrero Rocher to devour!

My friend (a self confessed extrovert), loved every second and boasted of collecting multiple business cards. Embarrassingly for me, I came away with one and convinced myself I was useless at networking. I came to dread it. I now know that one meaningful connection can be just as good, if not more important than ten.

Fast forward twenty years and ‘networking’ has become a somewhat dirty word. Today’s coffee shop based, portfolio careers and innovative side hustles require a different, more relaxed approach to making contacts. I caught up with Collab Writers’ Founder Partner, Elliot Grove of the Raindance Film Festival to ask why.

For starters, ‘networking’ suggests ‘work’ and when it comes to meeting other creatives, chatting and playing writing games together – that ain’t work, it’s pure unadulterated fun! What’s more, the Library club is accessible, relaxed and non-pretentious.”

Still in their infancy, Collab Writers monthly meet-ups have already developed their own unique personality, that go beyond traditional ‘networking.’ Two months in, attendees have already paired up to collaborate on their work. As co-founder Anjali Alford said:

It’s an absolute delight to see that we are bringing people together who might otherwise never meet. We started Collab Writers so creatives could join forces and collaborate, and it’s really happening.”  

Five take-aways from Collab Writers meet-ups

Shared Ideas – The old adage, ‘Two minds are greater than one’ comes into its own at Collab. Ideas shared can multiply and sometimes just voicing an idea out loud can help its formation. Another person’s view or expertise can help to birth or develop it.

Collaborations – At our April event, the writer who can’t draw was talking to a photographer, who was talking to a filmmaker, who was talking to a poet and a screenwriter. The list goes on…

Play time – We take seriously the saying ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Jill too…so we ensure that there is plenty of time to play at our monthly meet-ups.  Watching from the sidelines, creatives practice thinking together and brainstorming ideas.

Support – Our lives are definitely more fulfilled when we help others. And, if we, at Collab spot potential collaborations that might work we will do our best to hook you guys up, to encourage you to collaborate to co-create. If we can be of help, just ask.

Accessibility – Our monthly events are free to Founder Members and £10 if you’re not a Founder member. The Library Club is in central London. We’re hoping to hold events in New York and Canada later this year (and possibly Tokyo).

Poet, Founder Member and self-confessed introvert James Anderson has attended both networking events. We caught up with him after last week’s meet up to ask him how he feels about our community:

“It’s a more positive form of social interaction because you’re all trying to head towards a collective goal. It’s interesting how this diminishes what can sometimes be negative group dynamics if you don’t have that shared intention.”

As of today, the Collab Writers monthly event is being rebranded as a ‘mind meet up for creatives’ with a little play time thrown in.’

In our next blog, read how Collab Writers intend to recreate this ‘meet-up’ environment on-line to take it’s reach beyond London!

Collab Writers Founder Membership Offer

Why sit on the sidelines when you can join this vibrant group of passionate creatives? There’s a host of benefits, PLUS you can get free script and manuscript regisitration courtesy of Raindance. Enjoy our introductory offer while it lasts!



#LBF19 Top Take-aways

London Book FairThe London Book Fair (#LBF) is one of the world’s top book markets. Hundreds of agents, publishers and film producers all chasing the latest and newest manuscripts.

To choose only ten key takeaways is tough. We came away with many ideas. Not surprisingly, we didn’t agree with everything we were told – we do like to disrupt here at Collab Writers.  So, reader beware, some of the take away dishes below contain artistic licence – not everyone likes pineapple on their pizza, nor should we be told that something’s good for us. We want you to decide for yourselves!

1. Buck the trends

Write what you want to write / what you know – let your book feed you. Get into the flow. We all know crime and thrillers are top of the pops  – but do you want to write it? Maybe historical fiction or memoir flexes your writing muscle, or non-fiction. Remember that there is no one size fit’s all. We were hanging out with a retired Mi6 Commander at the fair who is top of the Australian best seller list for his ‘work.’

2.Practice makes perfect

Get words on a page and enter competitions. We have never written as much as when we were writing ‘Consequences’ on our daily commutes. And, the more we wrote, the more we wanted to write. Don’t be afraid to go off piste and write short pieces like flash fiction – these are ‘easy wins’ as we like to call them at Collab. We will be doing a piece on competitions so you can diarise them. We will also be running some competitions of our own to help you get started and practice in a safe space.

3. You can make a living as a writer

We learnt a lot at #LBF19 about this – from applying for grants to appearances at schools / bookshops / events. Did you know you can get paid to take time off to write? You can apply for grants from The Authors Foundation, The Arts Council and Development Agencies. We’re also going to throw in ‘Europe’ whilst we still can. As one of our Collab Writers informed us at the fair, Leonard Cohen got money to pursue his writing career!

4.Remember to READ books in your genre

Whilst your idea might be fabulous because it has yet to be written, and we agree it might be – read what sells as it is an indication of what people want to read. It is also a great way to learn the craft. Whilst you are there, check out the publisher and agent (if they have one) and grab yourself a copy of the Writers & Artists Year Book where you’ll find more detail about what they want.

5.The importance of contacts

Connect with other writers through writing / creative groups like Collab Writers. Not surprisingly, this permeated the conference, lonely writers not knowing where to meet like-minded creatives, screenwriters to turn their book into a movie, illustrators to design their book covers….you can attend your local writer’s group and your very own, Collab Writers. Tell your friends, we have monthly networking events for starters.

6. We all love D.I.Y. so why not edit your own work

You can edit your own work. Consider the voice you are writing in and consistency throughout. Check the pace of your work – don’t give everything away upfront – people will stop reading! Remember to dangle the thread of tension. Overwrite – cut out the flab! And, show don’t tell – your screenwriting contacts can teach you about this.  For your cover design, look at what sells – check your local bookshop for the top books in the genre you are writing in – something completely different might look unprofessional.

7. Publishers have open submission days

That’s right peeps – if you’ve yet to secure an agent, or just don’t want to share your spoils with one, find out when publishers you are interested in have their open submission days. Many now have them. Tailor your submission carefully and follow their guidelines to the letter! If you are submitting the first three chapters submit the first three not the 1st, 5th and 13th. Give them something they want to read in those chapters and if it’s boring – rewrite! Remember to make your synopsis short – a page will suffice.

8. Your audience might want to listen to you

More and more people are listening to stories via audio books, podcasts and spotify. If you like a statistic, that’s 5.9 million in the UK (c11% of the population). This is especially so for men aged 18-35. There are some genres that lend themselves more easily to audio than others. For example, non-fiction and crime are very popular. If you’re signing a contract negotiate your audio rights or better still, self/indie publish and hang onto them!

9. You’re your own best PR

Brand YOU – now this is where we’ve gone off piste (and it’s such fun!) There was an underlying suggestion that whilst self/indie published authors are doing well, they rarely do as well as represented and traditionally published authors. Collar Writers think it’s time to buck this trend – we met dozens at the fair who were making a decent living. No-one, not even your agent you’re paying £2k to a month knows you or your work as well as you do. Have confidence and believe in what you’re writing.

10. Self-publishing isn’t the dirty word (albeit hyphened) it used to be.

The stigma of  the ‘vanity/self publishing’ label is fast becoming invisible ink. A number of publishers at the fair admitted that it demonstrates that you’ve got the metal and the stamina to survive in the book eat book world! So, don’t be put off getting your work out there. And, there is an increase in the popularity of Indie imprints which is good news for Collab Writers who are looking to set up fiction and non-fiction imprints.