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So you think you’re a writer

It’s like the old saying: Sixteen and never been kissed. In this case it’s writing but never been published. Sure, we may have had something small published here or there. And maybe even a few dollars came our way, but essentially our work is still not on the shelves via a traditional publisher with the potential of making a real living as an author.

What do we do about it?

Some of us shrug and decide it is the way it will always be. Some will self publish via ebook or print on demand. Both of these unfortunately will almost always never make you money. They’re sometimes costly, and often no better than just an advertisement that your friends and family will see, as well as the odd enthusiast, and the people who wait for books to be for free when you are promoting.

Others that want to get into the industry will go to writing conferences. And although that is great, and good for getting to know other writers, as well as authors that either have made it or are trying to make it, it still probably won’t get you over the line to becoming a published author. In my hometown, Australia, Melbourne, this is especially the case.

What else to do?

There are other options. And they involve writing conferences – but only the ones that allow you the chance to pitch your work to multiple agents/editors/publishers. That’s what you want. That’s what you need. That’s really your only way in. Anything else and it’s like trying to grab warm air with your hands from the heater and put it into your pockets for later (or cool air if you’re in summer somewhere like me).

At these conferences there will be many authors and other writerly people that are giving talks, and you will dutifully listen and possibly write some of it down to apply to your work later once your mind returns to normal following the mass of information glogging up your head. And all this is great, but the real part starts on the following day when you are able to pitch your work to the agents/editors/publishers. This is where it will be decided if you at least have a concept they might be interested in. That’s right, might, is the operative word. Just because they listen to your pitch, ask a few questions, and then find out there could be a story there they potentially might be interested in, it does not mean they WILL like it. In fact, once they have read the first sentence, or if you’re really lucky; the first page, they will probably decide they do not like the way you write, or your story, or something else turned them off. It needs to tick many many boxes before they say YES. Regardless, it’s still the best chance you have!

I attended Thriller Fest last week and luckily had six agents and two publisher/editor people ask me to send them my manuscript. It was a great day full of great people. Made some new friends, although most will only be online friends because I live in Melbourne and they live in and around the US. I also got some good information from the people attending and talking, and realised a few things about my own writing, writing style, and my pitch.

That’s another thing, usually at the good conferences they will teach you how and what to pitch, as well allow you to practice on someone with experience.

At the end of July 2015, I will be attending Writers Digest. It’s very similar to Thriller Fest (some of the agents will attend both). I’ll meet more good people and hopefully have more agents that will say yes.

Lastly, I will leave you with my one pager, which was also basically my pitch with some adlibbing (improvisation).

Before I do, why did I choose the title?

Well, when I was in the US last time I met with an established author, who was introduced to me by a friend. He was drunk and obnoxious, so yeah, good times. His first words were: “So you want to be a writer?”

I think if you write, you are a writer. Whether it be for fun, for blogging, or to make money. Being a published writer, is another thing again.

For the next ten minutes he was condescending and rude. His first name was Brad, but that’s not much to go on. Regardless, what I would like to ask of every one of you who eventually become published, please treat the up-and-coming writers with just a little respect and remember what it was like for you when you were still trying to make it.

Here’s my one pager. Hopefully it will help some of you:

Author: Mat Clarke

Title: Mad Gun

Genre: Psychological Thriller.

Thumbnail: An unstable professional killer begins seeing things that aren’t there and develops problems with wet-work, and the law.

Synopsis: The US Federal Government has stopped training new agents. They instead lease them from a central company and insert them into each agency and into specific roles depending on their training. During a botched mission, Tingrin, watches on as his team is killed. He blames himself, and his superior (Julie) also blames him. Tingrin drinks to forget and creates a fantasy world in his mind where his colleagues, who were also his friends, are safe. Julie has not forgotten, and so when Tingrin is finally let go from the agency, she is free to hunt him down and take her revenge. By this stage Tingrin has created a second imaginary world so that he can punish himself further. He has taken on a kill for money persona, despising himself each time he murders for money. As his unstable mind begins to unravel, and Julie attacks him, what is real and imagined collide.

About the Author: Mat has completed two other separate novels, one of which is also being currently pitched. A selection of short stories, and non-fiction, which are currently online. Selected editing was undertaken by Suraya Dewing, of, The Story Mint. His short story work has been published with The Story Mint and the Melbourne Writers’ Group Anthologies. He runs a writing group in Melbourne where they meet and talk writing, as well as write and read out their work. His trade was pre-press with printing companies for 20 years within a desktop publishing role.

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