Inspiring Women's Adventure
- Wednesday 8 February 2017
‘The Women’s Adventure Expo was founded in 2015 by sisters Tania John and Rebecca Hughes. They wanted to create a platform which empowers women, by celebrating and raising the awareness of female adventure and exploration.’
This is the opening of the WAExpo mission statement on their website. These go-getting, inspiring ladies invited me to go along to one of their more niche events at the Create Centre in Bristol, based around the theme ‘create your own adventure brand’, to talk about writing and publishing.
Rebecca told me there would be women attending my workshop who have perhaps written a book but not published it, or would like to write a book, but need a boost in confidence, tips on what makes good writing, what makes bad writing, and how on earth the publication process works. What do publishers even do with your book once they get it? How does your writing go from Word.doc to paperback? How do you even know what books a publisher is looking for?
I hoped I could answer some of these questions and empower some adventurous ladies to go forth and write, publish and be merry. So, I decided to put together a presentation for an interactive workshop that promised the following:
The workshop will provide a detailed breakdown of the publication process from start to print, discussion about what makes a good adventure book, how to figure out what outdoor adventure publishers are looking for, and practical advice for writing your own book proposal. There will be supporting activities along the way to get the ideas flowing, and time for discussion and reflection.
A selection of very different adventurers attended: some had written a book or books before, some had detailed plans and ideas for books but not written them yet, some write blogs but wanted to develop their thoughts into a book, and some had never written anything before, but were interested to learn how they could begin. I also had the talented Belinda Dixon in attendance, who ran her popular writing and journalism workshop at the expo. I had runners, swimmers, walkers, runners, climbers, cyclists, and yogis in the room. It was cool. Despite my brain being more like cloudy mush due to a very dribbly cold, I was really pleased that the workshop ended up being a two-way, interactive session where I was able to share my knowledge from eight years in editorial work, as well as being challenged with questions and ideas from other viewpoints I’d not considered before.
We brainstormed what we thought made a good adventure book, and all seemed to be in agreement that some key things we enjoy are: humour; detail and description; and real, gritty human emotion and feeling. We also realised that we write best when we are writing about what we know – we shouldn’t copy someone else’s writing that we admire, or try to hype up our stories to sound more epic, it simply won’t be a good as if you just write from your heart. Sounds super cheesy, but it’s true.
We went through how to write a good book proposal, which is the first step when you are approaching a publisher. I compared a book proposal to a CV – a useful analogy I hope – as it’s the first impression of you and your book the publisher will get, and it should show that you have spent significant time, research, and thought on it. Layout is important too; you want the editor looking at your proposal to see all the good bits really quickly and easily, as they’ll no doubt be going through hundreds of them every month.
I won’t outline the publication process here as it’s fairly dry, but I think everyone found it useful to have an overview in the workshop. I know that when I first started out in publishing, I didn’t even know what an editor was, let alone what typesetting is or whether or not anyone actually reads the books.
In summary, a really useful, really stimulating day where I met a lot of strong, motivated women and hopefully gave a little bit back too. It’s a great thing the WAExpo ladies are doing and I was proud to be a part of it. I’m looking forward to receiving some superlative books from some of the adventurers I met in the near future!
VP Editor Camilla Barnard