Monday 15 July 2013

Guest Blog - Writer Events Q&A with Imran Siddiq

While doing the Writer Events Q&A with Susi Holliday the Winchester Writers Conference was mentioned, and I realised that another writing friend had attended as well. This led me to consider that there was more yet information to tap from other authors about writers events, so I have decided to turn the Writers Events Q&A into a series of Guest Blog posts from a variety of authors across the globe.

Imran Siddiq is the self-published author of the YA Sci-Fi novel ‘Disconnect’.

It is available in both paperback and ebook, and is the first part in the ‘Divided Worlds’ trilogy. (I have both versions, because it’s such a good book!)
The sequels, Disassemble and Disrupt are due for dual release on July 29 2013.

Imran is a fast paced, well disciplined writer, who is a fountain of knowledge, and he clearly shows in his detailed response to my Q&A. Enjoy.

What was your first writing event? (writing group, writers conference, book fair etc.)

The Festival of Writing organised by the Writers’ Workshop in March 2011. It was a three day event held in York (UK) and although the weather had a remnant of winter lingering in the air, it was an amazing place to be. Anxiety and apprehension over what to expect were in my mind for the 2 hour journey, but it would become the best £500 I spent in a long time.

Did you go alone?

Indeed I did. Prior to this my only venture with Social Media was Facebook, and all my friends were non writers. It wasn’t until after this event I joined Twitter and found new friends that adore writing. I had no idea of what kind of people would be there, and that caused me to feel apprehensive.

When I went again in September 2012, I gave a lift to a fellow writer and met up with dozen(s) of new friends, and those from 2011. Many are the closest that I’ll make in my lifetime.

When you went did you go with a specific plan in mind, or focus? did you structure the day, or did you just go and see?

My plan was to learn about the process, because I knew little of the agent/publisher relationship, and hadn’t paid much attention to the rules of writing. What a mistake.

At the time of booking, I’d arranged to have 2 x one-to-one’s with Literary Agents and to attend 8 workshops in total relating to Sci Fi, Children’s Writing, Editing, Plotting, Characters, and Voice. I just picked what sounded good to attend to at the time.

What I gained was beyond what you’ll get from a blog, Youtube video, or a book. It was first-hand experience that bore holes into my mind.

Now, I know what to expect from workshops and whose to attend to based on comments from other attendees.  Also, just because I’ve been to an editing workshop, it won’t stop me going to another hosted by someone else. Getting another take on an area that you know well is key. Writing, methods and opinions are subjective and obtaining a broad range of advice is essential.

Can you go to a writers conference without a specific focus? Can you just go and look?

ure you can, but when you weigh up the cost, travel time, away from family/home, I think it’s good to research what the festival/conference is all about. Will it satisfy you?

I won’t go to a high-costing event that doesn’t offer face time with an agent. I want their opinion of my work.

I will go to a low-cost event that doesn’t offer face time with agents as long as the workshops appeal.

I will travel 100+ miles to an event that has speakers/workshops relating to my area of writing; Young Adult.

I won’t book an event 1 mile away if it’s about Crime Thriller, because that’s not my subject.

Some events provide videos of what happens, so have a look, or just ask someone who’s attended in the past.

What did you gain from it personally?

Feedback. Friends. A Road Map.

Before the event, I thought that I was the only one who had issues with commas, prepositions, show not tell, editing, how many times can you use ‘said’, POV, head hopping, hooks, cliffhangers, prologues, how to write a synopsis, what the covering letter, oh my gawd… deep breaths…

I was not alone.

I am not alone.

We all go through the same issues at some point. The event provided solutions, ideas, methods, and most of all the light at the end of the tunnel.

Have you ever redrafted or edited but felt a little unsure if you’re changing it into a beast? Imagine the insight you gain when an agent tells you what to change, add, develop, or reduce. And when you take that advice on board you see all of your work in a different way. A better way.

And as the for the Road Map. I knew what I had to do to create a better novel.

Everyday I learn a little more.

Have you ever gone on a writing retreat? If so, what are your thoughts/experience?

Not yet, and I probably won’t due to costs.

For someone starting out, or wanting to go to one and not being sure, what advice would you give?

Even if you only go to one event a year - do it! Experience the thrill of other writers, young and old, new and veterans, and see the same passion that sometimes keeps you up at night.

Gain from others. Seek out new information. Make you own mind up of whether you will listen, but at least have the relevant details provided. Do you know how frustrating it is to get a rejection letter from an agent with no feedback? Counter that by going to an event. The agent, no matter how much they hate it, will tell you why. Use it.

Writing events aren’t cheap. Some range from £50 going into the £500+ and some even more.

The Festival of Writing 2013 will be by 9th event in 3 years. I haven’t been on holiday since 2010 because I don’t have sufficient money, but seeing friends, visiting new places, and talking about what I love.

It’s worth it.


Thank you Imran for sharing so much information with us.


  1. Thanks Imaran and Miranda for this helpful post. someday, I hope to make it to a writers conference. :)
    ~Becky Fyfe

  2. Great post, again, and so good to know we're not alone as writers. FB, Twitter has been a godsend for writerly friends!