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Around the Web
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What do agents really want? A unique voice, storytelling ability, likeable characters and believable dialogue, says Danuta Kean.

Yesterday I taught my first Guardian Masterclass of the year on how to pitch your book. A question students always ask is: what exactly do agents want? It is easier to answer than you might think. Of course everyone in publishing would say ‘voice’, by which they mean the character and personality of the writing. Agents want a voice that is unique, fresh and engaging. If you remain unclear what that means, the best way to understand is to read, read and read contemporary books.

Around the Web
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Today, authors have an amazing advantage. Not only are there millions of bloggers whose collective audience is larger and more engaged than that of the traditional press, there are also millions of consumers who are one click away from sharing your work with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Power to the people!

If you can make it easy for people to share and get excited about your book, you won’t need to spend big bucks or hope you make the list of some old newspaper that no-one really reads anymore.

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Is it easy to approach big name publishers with your passion project? Nope. The attitude of big publishers with a brand name has not changed a bit in decades. But their clout over what gets published is eroding fast, all thanks to the new publisher in town. You!

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In 2010, 28% of publishers reported skills gaps in their current workforce. Skillset brought together a panel of industry experts from publishing, TV, film and computer games at the London Book Fair to debate the issue and understand what can be learnt from other industries. Can we fill the skills gap and avoid a ‘Talent Time Bomb’?

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There are, of course, many very good editors out there. But how many of you recognize this characterization of The Acquisitions Editor by Joe Konrath on his blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing?

To me, this highlights not so much the complacency of editors, but the attitude of the publishing industry generally to electronic rights and the fair sharing of royalties.

It’s no wonder self-publishing is on an upward trend.