In January 2015, Francesca Haig shared her experience of the publishing world, with helpful details and advice about publishing, literary agents, and publicity.
Francesca’s The Fire Sermon, a post-apocalyptic novel with elements of fantasy and science fiction, will be published in February 2015 (by HarperVoyager in the UK; Simon & Schuster in Canada), with two sequels to follow. The film rights have been purchased by DreamWorks, and translation rights to the series have been sold in more than twenty-five countries. Francesca’s poetry is widely published in anthologies and literary journals in both Australia and the UK, and has won various prizes. Her first collection, Bodies of Water, was published in 2006 (Five Islands Press) and was Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Award for the best first book of poetry in Australia. In 2010, she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship.
At the talk, Francesca stressed that what counts above all is the writing itself, not becoming obsessed with the latest publishing trends or with dreaming of finding the perfect agent. Francesca gave out lots of useful tips, based on her own experience. Do your research so that you find the right agent, one whose vision of the novel is aligned with yours. Before you send your work out, make sure it is as polished as you can make it. Once you’ve done this, get on with something different. Don’t twitter-stalk your agent or go crazy. Don’t make unreasonable demands. In all dealings with the publishing world, be polite, patient and professional. Don’t expect to make a lot of money. Do it because you love doing it. Above all, make sure your write a really good book. Being a Creative Writing student at the University of Chester is useful because of the feedback you get on your coursework from your peers and tutors.
Francesca also talked about the advantages and disadvantages of the self‑publishing revolution – if you’re prepared to put in the work, then go for it! But remember that you will not have the input of an editorial team or the support of a big publishing house.
Francesca also ran a poetry workshop, helping students to turn a run-of-the mill draft poem into a striking, original one.