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Posted by Tom, September 9, 2014

What to expect from the Nosy Crow Conference – a guest post by Alastair Horne

The Nosy Crow Conference is almost here! Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Children’s Publishing (But Were Afraid to Ask) is taking place this Saturday, September 13, at the Saint Bride Foundation in London. Our first conference was live-tweeted by Alastair Horne (@pressfuturist), who’ll be back to do the same this time – and here’s his review of last year’s event.

Last year’s Nosy Crow conference was an enjoyable mix of advice and inspiration. One of the many highlights was Guardian columnist Lucy Mangan’s opening talk about what books had meant to her as a child. Reading had taught her that she was not alone, had legitimised her feelings, and given her insights into other people’s thoughts; it had even taught how to experience emotions. If any writers in the audience had entertained any doubts about the value of what they were involved in, they were surely blown away by Mangan’s passionate assertion that reading teaches children how to be human.

The following panel session with three Nosy Crow editors offered insights into how a smaller publisher finds authors to work with – through agents, submissions, and sometimes even Twitter – and how to get their attention – the first paragraph of the covering letter is key – and also emphasised the fact that publishing still remains a business: nothing can be done if the financials don’t add up.

Hilary Delamere’s session on agents explored their role as gatekeeper, guide, partner, and cheerleader for authors, before three writers shared advice from their journey to unpublished wannabe to first-time published author: how they found the time to write – one wrote her first book on her Blackberry on her daily commute – and the importance of editing.

The afternoon sessions began with a pair of complementary talks on building your brand as an author. Tracey Corderoy shared some tips from the author appearances that have helped make her such a popular children’s writer, with thirty books published in the past three years. An attitude of “say yes now, and work out how to do it later” had clearly contributed not only to her own rising profile, but to the clear enjoyment of the many children whose schools and libraries she regularly visited. Her visits not only brought a little colour into children’s sometimes grey lives, but also enabled her to get feedback from an often disarmingly honest audience. Jon Reed then offered some advice on building your brand as an author through social media, suggesting that the work has to begin well before you have a book deal, and that automating as much of the process as possible can help you find the time to do all this.

Melissa Cox, Children’s book buyer at Waterstones, shared some of the secrets of what makes a book stand out amongst the six thousand new titles she sees every year – smart storytelling, and a strong jacket play a large part. Nosy Crow MD Kate Wilson then finished off a fascinating day with some thoughts on the changing role of the publisher, and how new technologies are bringing publishers and authors into closer contact with their authors.

With some of last year’s inspirational speakers returning – Tracey Corderoy and Hilary Delamere among them – and new names including the Bookseller’s children’s editor Charlotte Eyre and author Jeff Norton, I’m certainly looking forward to this year’s conference on September 13th.

You can read the full programme for this year’s conference here. There are a very small number of tickets remaining – if you’d like to come, you can buy yours below.