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Ealing Book Festival guests lift the lid on becoming a published author

Budding authors from all across Ealing had the chance to hear more about turning their dream into a reality at the first ever Ealing Book Festival, during Saturday (13 April 2024) afternoon’s session on how to get published.

The event, in the Eating Room at Pitzhanger Manor, featured Amelia Fairney, general communications director at Penguin Books, and Anne Marie Ryan, editorial director for series fiction at Hachette Kids, and saw them lift the lid on the publishing process, offering help and advice on all the options open to those who’ve written a book but have no idea what to do next.

During the session the pair discussed how to go about getting a literary agent – from how to query agents and what they look for in submissions, through to how they go about selling your work once you do sign with you.

While they were keen to highlight that most large traditional publishers will only accept work through an agent, the talk also covered what to do if you don’t manage to get one.

These alternatives included highlighting the rise of digital first publishing through companies such as Bookouture – who will look at unagented submissions – through to the possibility of self-publishing which, as Anne-Marie pointed out, has in the past produced such best-sellers as Andy Weir’s novel The Martian, which was adapted into a hit movie starring Matt Damon.

The pair explained that this can also be a useful option for those who want to publish a book for other reasons, such as to share with family and friends, or to highlight the success of a business.

It proved to be one of the highlights of a festival which also included talks from the likes of Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera, Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton and legendary children’s author Jacqueline Wilson, as well as the successful Local Authors Showcase, which saw 18 writers from the area pitching their books to a crowd of around 200 people.

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