Writers Advice Centre

Online Festival for New Authors

A group of debut authors are to create an online festival to share stories from different stages of the writing process, and how to get published.

Diary of a Debut Novelist will run every Wednesday throughout September, beginning on the 2nd at 7.30 p.m., in partnership with the Caledonia Novel Award. Each week, six authors will discuss when and why they started writing, the editing process and the route to finding an agent and securing a publishing deal.

Emma Christie, who is organising the festival, was inspired to create the event after joining a Facebook group formed by debut authors launching their work during the pandemic. Her debut novel The Silent Daughter will be published by Welbeck on 3rd September.

She said: “Finding the debut author group on Facebook has been a total blessing for me. I’ve never actually met any of the members in person but despite that there’s a fantastic sense of community between members. We trust each other. It made me realise we all suffer the same doubts and paranoias—and that it’s okay to talk about them openly. It’s also a group that inspires and encourages members, and a place where our successes are cheered on and celebrated.

“We all share our stories in the group, and I realised these same stories could and should be told to a bigger audience—to inspire, educate, reassure and encourage unpublished writers, and to give readers a deeper insight into the experience of a debut novelist. I’m delighted to be joining forces with the Caledonia Novel Award for this event and hope together we can inspire and encourage aspiring writers not only in Scotland but across the country—and the globe!”

Christie will host the five panel members, Trevor Wood, Louise Fein, Rebecca Ley, Tom Benjamin and Rachel Marks-Jones. The sessions will be pre-recorded on Zoom, then broadcast on the Diary of a Debut Novelist Facebook page, and shared by the Caledonia Novel Award’s social media channels. There will be an opportunity for interaction at the end via a live Q&A between viewers and authors.

One of the participating authors is Philippa East, a psychologist and author of Little White Lies, a suspense novel longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s New Blood Award 2020. Commenting on the festival, she said: “2020 has been a difficult year for all of us, and for authors launching their first books it’s been particularly tricky. Thankfully a group of us have banded together (via Zoom!) to help and support each other as we navigate our way through being a debut author. As part of this, we wanted to share our experiences with the wider community. Between us, we are covering the whole journey to publication, from writing to publicity. I’m so excited to be sharing a panel with my fellow debut authors, whose writing I am in awe of, and we hope these recorded discussions will be of help and inspiration to all the aspiring writers out there.”

Success Stories

Over the past 20 years we have been instrumental in helping writers find their place with publishers, whether directly or indirectly. The following is just a handful of our success stories…

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R Myles (Manuscript Appraisal Service)

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Neil Swinney (Telephone Appraisal Service)

"Sharing our book with Louise Jordan at the Writers’ Advice Centre was one of our most important steps on the road to publication of our book My Mum’s a Bug-Eyed Monster. Without Louise’s advice about story pacing and which publishers to target, our monster mum may still be languishing in the slush swamp!"

Andy Rigden & Jim Landen (Face to Face Meeting)

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Kim White (Home Study Course)

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A Chisambo (Writing Workshop)