Our MD Anna Davis – a published author and former literary agent – gives out lots of practical advice to students of our creative writing courses, but yesterday she took to Twitter to answer as many questions on writing and publishing as she could in an hour. We thought we’d share a few of them here in the blog – but you can also see more of them if you look on Twitter under the hashtag #AskAnna …
Q: Strugglingwriter @PhilSpeculates
Hi Anna, has Game of Thrones done for dystopian dark fantasy what Twilight did for vampire-related novels? i.e. saturated the market so agents are averse to it?
Anna: I think there is a strong market for dark fantasy. I wouldn’t recommend using the word ‘dystopian’ – but if you steer away from the labels people are bored of and make sure your story is fresh, there’s no problem here.
Q: Jane L Gibson @JaneLGibsonBook
Hi Anna. Any ideas which genre is showing signs as being the leading genre this year in new book releases?
Anna: Various genres are doing well: return of horror, of ghost stories, of grounded sci-fi, of ‘issue-led’ commercial women’s, of luscious historical, of uplifting human stories.
Q: Kelly O’Connor @mskellyo
Which demographics are buying books? How do you see the market for historical fiction in the style of Philippa Gregory?
Anna: Middle-aged women are by FAR the biggest book buyers. Historical fiction is doing v well at the moment but especially if a bit magical/gothic etc – as in The Miniaturist or The Essex Serpent or The Mermaid & Mrs Hancock – strange stories in historical settings.
Q: Janice C @JaniceAnitaC
How important is it to liken your book to others as part of your pitch?
Anna: I think not crucial. It can be good to find ‘comparison’ books if you can – recently published, successful but not SO massive that you’re setting yourself up for a fall in comparison … But the MOST important thing is to pitch your story.
Q: bingequeen @thr4sam
Is it ok to change point-of-view while in the same scene? The book is in 3rd person POV and both characters have a lot to lose.
Anna: I’d say it’s usually best to stick to one pov for a scene (and not to have more povs in your story than it needs). You CAN move back and forth between two in a scene, but do it in a way which is coherent and not confusing/dizzying for the reader.
Q: Brooke Newman @Jamaicanhist
How can a debut author of psychological suspense/thrillers stand out in a saturated–yet still vibrant–market? Are agents/editors looking for strong female protagonists, diverse characters & an original plot or juicy hooks & twists (or all of the above)?
Anna: It does need to be ALL of those, I’d say. But also try not to fall back on plot devices that have been heavily used lately – eg characters who can’t remember what happened because they were drunk, had an injury, alzheimers etc – look for a fresh new take…
To get more of Anna’s advice on writing and pitching a novel, join one of our three six-week online novel-writing courses: Starting to Write Your Novel, Write to the End of Your Novel , and Edit & Pitch Your Novel (which starts next week!)
You can also apply to one of our longer (selective entry) courses – currently our 3-month online novel-writing course, our 3-month London-based novel-writing course (one scholarship place available on that one), and our 3-month online Writing YA and Children’s Fiction course