Another interesting thing that came out of the SYP talk, was that, in order to ‘get noticed’ these days, there are a whole new breed of people to send your work to. There are so many writers out there that it is now as difficult to find an agent as it sis to find a publisher. In previous talks I’ve heard from Philip Pullman that you should pursue both at the same time. Linda Proud was recommending the use of literary consultants and in particular Writer’s Workshop.

The problem with these, is yes, they might like it, and yes they might introduce you to one of their agent contacts, but you are still relying (or should that be trusting) on one person’s opinion – and with a literary consultant you are paying upwards of £500 for that. Furthermore, I’ve looked at some of the sample reviews, and to be honest, it strikes me that good that they are, I’m not convinced that they are any better than some of the critiques you can get at Critique Circle. Actually, the latter being given through line edits is probably more useful. It’s free, or next to free, and you get lots of opinions.

Linda Proud, apparently only considered publishing herself because she had the confidence of already being published. And here we have the validation question. Authors shy away from self-publishing, not just because of the obvious difficulties of promotion and distribution, but because of the need for validation.

It’s true that I think you do need to have to have impartial advice/editing of your work, but I’m not convinced that literary consultants, agents, or publishers are offering any greater validation than anyone else.

Publishers should know what they are talking about but we all knew, particularly now, that they choose their books according to what they can sell easily. Whilst there is some overlap, what sells is not always the same as what is good. Agents therefore, take on authors whose books they think they can place with publishers and literary agents the same with agents.

I don’t think I’ll be sending my 500 quid off to Writer’s Workshop just yet.