Monday, 21 May 2012

The Sydney Writers' Festival 2012

Fantastic venue - near Sydney Harbour Bridge
The SWF is over for another year.  The highlight of the festival for aspiring writers was the So You Think You Can Write forum, which was held on Thursday (the same as last year), a working day, in the hopes of keeping the numbers down on this most popular of talks.  

What happens is, ten aspiring writers are randomly plucked from the audience to deliver their three minute pitch to a panel of three judges from the publishing industry.  The judges, well, judge.  A very important event for learning what’s happening in the publishing industry and what they are looking to publish.  Indeed, what could be more important for an unpublished author to learn?
The Green Room: where invited writers chill out

The good news is:  fantasy fiction is in!  It was the flavour of last year, too.  Strange then that I haven’t had mainstream publishers ringing on my phone.  The bad news is:  short stories are out.  Apparently, Australians simply don’t buy collections of short stories; they don’t sell.  Too bad, because my next project will be a novella or a short story. 

For established publishers, a collection of short stories may be uneconomical to print, but I reckon they’re the best introduction for unpublished writers via epubs - short in length, easy to read, quick to produce, and sell online at a low retail price.  Nobody is going to pay a lot to read an unknown author, but if the blurb seriously catches the reader’s interest and the price is negligible, then people may take a chance on a purchase.

Long queues (sigh)
The winner of the So You Think You Can Write forum was an erotic novel along the lines of Fifty Shades of Grey - an ebook penned by unknown author EL James that is currently selling like hotcakes, if you didn't already know.  Sadly, the judges confessed they didn’t understand why vegetables were found scattered about the bedroom. 

Allow me to enlighten you.  In the days of old Arabia, when women were confined to harems, it was common practice to cut up all vegetables before serving them to the women.  If that isn’t enough of a clue, there was a trial in the NSW Supreme Court several years ago where a man murdered his wife for having sexual relations with a cucumber.  Yes, this happened in modern day Sydney.  Which just goes to show you that even a humble vegetable can lead to murder. 
View of the whole SWF shebang

As more than one author at the festival said - Michael Robotham, Isobelle Carmody, Scott Westerfeld - it’s the true bits in fiction that readers find unbelievable.

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