AFCC 2018 was a bit of a whirlwind experience for me. For one, with work commitments that I could not break, I got to Singapore only on the day that the festival was to begin. So, sleep-deprived but fuelled by adrenalin, I arrived at the National Library Board after the keynote had begun. Exhaustion took its toll on me, though, so on days two and three, I was barely able to attend any sessions. Despite that, AFCC 2018 was wonderful, full of new ideas, energy and the urge to create more.
I began AFCC 2018 with a session conducted by Australian author Pamela Rushby on making the perfect pitch. I hear so many stories about authors meeting editors and publishers at lit fests and then signing contracts for books. Learning how to pitch would definitely be useful.
For me, there were two big takeaways. One, I discovered again how essential the word count of your novel is. It helps publishers determine whether the work you are pitching suits their publishing programme at all. This is something I did know, somewhere at the back of my mind, but having it brought to my attention again was important.
Secondly, Pamela Rushby gave all of us a simple but effective way of taking things forward. Hand your visiting card over, sure, but at the back of the card, put down the name of the novel you’ve just pitched. That creates better recall!
After that was a lovely talk by Sarah Mounsey and Fleur Vella-Chang. Both of them come across as such lively, warm people! The session was particularly useful to me because of how organised it was. As a writer, how does one begin school visits? What can we offer to schools that is unique and allows us to publicise our books while not being pure marketing propaganda? And from the point of view of the school, what do teachers have to gain from an author visit?
Sarah Mounsey is a writer and a teacher-librarian, so she was able to provide multiple perspectives. Fleur Vella-Chang, a children’s author, spoke about her transition from unpaid school visits to a stage where she recognises her worth and expects to get paid for it.
School visits aren’t really a huge thing yet in India for the most part, but they’re just coming into Singapore too, so hearing about how to get in and work was inspiring. Authors’ work does not have to be gratis if it is promotional! The important idea here is to be clear about how children will gain from your visit, and communicate that effectively through your website. That’s something to work on for me!
After that, I had a pop-up reading, as Denise Tan of Closetful of Books calls it. But more of that in a separate post, when I talk about all the evening events and about SABA 2018.
The next event on my agenda was the launch of Srividhya Venkat’s latest book, The Clever Tailor, published by Karadi Tales. Last year, I attended the launch of her book Pickle Mania (Tota Books); this year it was the next one. I love the way she engages the audience! From wearing a saafa to finishing with a quiz, she has the audience involved at each stage. At the end of the day, the festival bookstore, Closetful of Books, had no copies of The Clever Tailor left, and that speaks for itself!
That was day one of AFCC 2018, followed by the evening event, Celebrating our Stars. That’s for a subsequent post!