On Saturday 16th November I travelled down to London with two fellow writers, Antony N Britt and Neil Sehmbhy, for Discovery Day 2 at Foyles in London.
Discovery Day is an event where literary agencies Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh join forces, and let about 250 hopefuls who have been lucky enough to get a free ticket pitch their book to an agent. There were agents for both adults and childrens fiction, I went along to pitch one for the latter. You got 30 seconds to pitch; the agent would read the first page of your book and about 6 minutes of feedback.
I pitched a book aimed at 7-9 year olds, here’s the gist of my pitch…
Petronella Beetletwitch is a story about a fairy, who is considered odd at school as she thinks that humans are interesting creatures and not the scary fairy killers of legend.
Contact with humans is forbidden, but Petronella, or Ella as she prefers to be known befriends Cameron, a human boy and the pair battle to save the fairy kingdom from the evil clutches of Victor, a water pistol loving criminal on the run who is intent on stealing the fairies supply of magic dust.
It’s 27,000 words, aimed at 7-9 year olds and in a style reminiscent of Roald Dahl and Philip Ardagh.
It felt like I’d been waiting for ages when it was finally my turn, but well worth the wait as I got some great feedback from Emma Herdman from the Curtis Brown agency. Emma immediately made me feel at ease and my nerves evaporated as I relaxed into the pitch, and realised agents really are humans too!
My pitch seemed to be spot on, and after reading my first page Emma thought with a bit of tightening up my novel was ready to submit and seemed very keen and supportive of me to do so. It was reassuring to know I haven’t been needlessly banging my head against a brick wall; I really am getting ever closer to my goal of novel publication.
The ‘ask an agent’ lasted for about 10 minutes and also proved to be very useful. Sophie Lambert of the Conville and Walsh agency gave us some insightful information on approaching an agent, and also what might be her own dream book to represent.
The staff at Foyles were also brilliant and very friendly and helpful throughout the day, I don’t envy any of them that day, or the agents for that matter!
All in all, the day was a fantastic experience, not least for the positive feedback for my book. I can thoroughly recommend going to future Discovery Days if the opportunity arises.
The post-pitch much needed calories and refreshment!