Last night I attended Marie Claire magazine's Inspire and Mentor event on how to be published. I knew it had an amazing panel: Lindsey Kelk; Sarah Ritherdon; Rowan Lawton and Kasey Davis. I knew it was in a nice hotel in Edinburgh, and I knew I wanted to take along copies of my pitches and opening three chapters.

What I didn't know was what to wear  . . .especially since we were in the middle of a heat wave. I decided to go shopping with my toddler son before I dropped him off at his aunty's house. Two hours later, we'd both had lunch; I had a new Damsel in a Dress dress and my little boy had a toy toolbox - result!

But once I reached home I decided my dress wasn't really right for the event. It was too dressy . . . and it had long sleeves. So instead I opted for a cap sleeve blue dress and my highest heels. Totally impractical for cobbles but they made me happy :)

Dropping into our office, to collect my pitches and pages, disaster struck! The documents wouldn't open. I had to set off empty-handed.

Perhaps it was just as well they didn'tprint as Rowan Lawton, the agent, proceeded to tell us about her most memorable submissions and they involved nice paper and specially shoe-shaped cakes, not a sunburnt Scottish women clutching a bundle of A4 sheets. . . I can just tell I'm going to be searching the internet for suitable agent-seducing gifts!

There were lots of great tips from the panel including (but definitely not limited to!):
* use your contacts. All of them. Not just your current contacts. Trawl your address book and your memory for anyone with any connection to publishers and/or agents. This came from Lindsey Kelk, author of the I heart series. (I heart her amazing red hair and her insightful but entertaining novels.)
* make your submission stand out from the other 79 that will arrive that week. (That's where the cake and nice paper came in.)
* Practise (your writing) Platform (try to get an audience or reputation for writing) Pray (ok I made that one up but there is a lot of competition so it might help!) Party (or as they more professionally called it - network). So there we go: Practise; Platform; Pray; Party
And one final tip - just from me - and just for me: stop the OCD editing. Nicola Morgan's 'How to be Published' book mentions this approach to editing and I'm definitely guilty. Enough of the red pen already. It's time for the cake eating and sending.



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