As part of the Author HQ strand of events at the London Book Fair today, I was pleased to see that Crime and Thrillers were given a genre panel.
Chaired by Justine Solomons of BytetheBook.com, the panel consisted of agent Oli Munson, Sarah Hodgson of Harper Collins and Journalist and reviewer Jake Kerridge.
It was a very informative panel and clearly all were essentially looking for similar things in new authors and books – something that grips them, a great style and a good voice. This was described by Jake Kerridge as something of a ‘speed-dating’ technique which he agreed with the rest of the panel as being those first few pages where there really has to be something to like or love to keep the interest going.
Harper Collins, via its KillerReads site, is currently open to submissions direct from authors with a view to possible ebook publishing, but that window closes on Sunday evening, so it’s time to get those manuscripts up to scratch.
A.M. Heath (the agency where Oli is based) are running a Criminal Lines writing competition – so there’s another opportunity there. He described self-publishing as ‘fantastic’ when it goes well for an author, but did add that, by not exploring the traditional route, authors are potentially missing out on valuable expert feedback on their work.
Author David Jackson’s most recent novel ‘Cry Baby’ was mentioned – following a three book traditional publishing deal, Jackson’s fourth book was something of a departure in theme and tone, despite featuring the same series character. Amazon’s White Glove programme was chosen by author and agent (Oli Munson) for that book, which has gone on to sell over 98,000 copies to date so, as Oli Munson stated at the event, it does go to show that the great gift that self-publishing can offer authors is choice.
As far as submissions go, it was clear that A.M. Heath require the whole package – everything has to be good – the book itself, and the all important query letter – it has to be professional.
Sarah Hodgson added that she never wants to see an email or letter headed ‘Dear Editor’.
Festivals (Harrogate, Crimefest et al) were cited as being excellent both in terms of discovering new reads but, for new writers, the networking between and after the panel sessions is undoubtably the best value part. Oli Munson stated that one of his current authors he met at Harrogate and another at Crimefest – so, perhaps the early hours at the bar are work after all for all concerned (I speak as one who has experienced those bleary-eyed nights in the past).
From Oli Munson; Enter the Criminal Lines competition. Keep writing. Finishing a novel is a pretty incredible achievement.
From Sarah; Enter the KillerReads submission before Sunday.
From Jake; Be yourself in your writing, be different. He then quoted something that he recalled Margaret Atwood saying, that you should surprise every ten pages and shock every twenty pages.