Festival Success: A guest post from Deborah Install on how our Friday Night Live comp put her on the path to a six figure book deal.

I’d been to the Festival twice before, but this year (2013) was the first year I would be taking something I really believed I could market. So when I received an email saying I’d been selected to read out on Friday night I was over the moon. Determined to not let the opportunity go to waste, I practiced reading out loud and thought through my elevator pitch.

As I sat waiting for my turn to read I felt nervous, naturally, but as soon as I stood up all the nerves went away. I was facing a warm audience who all understood what it was like to be a writer, and, though I didn’t know it at that moment, the audience also included agent Jenny Savill, who approached after Friday Night Live was over and with whom I signed one week later.

At the time of writing the agency has so far sold my debut – A Robot in the Garden ­– to German publisher Fischer Verlage for six figures, so I find myself in a situation about which every writer dreams. I can’t stress enough how instrumental was the role of the Festival of Writing in making this happen. Without the things I’d learned from previous Festivals, without the experience of one-to-ones helping to develop my experience of the industry, and of course without the Festival’s decision to choose me to read out, I would not have met Jenny, nor produced this novel.

The Festival of Writing offers writers a wealth of learning through workshops and one-to-ones, but the benefits of the Festival as a whole should not be underestimated. Yes, go for these things, and prepare well, but in York you have a golden opportunity to present yourself to serious bigwigs as a serious talent. So talk about your work. Smile. Get to know people. That’s networking, and it doesn’t get better than at the Festival of Writing.

Photo of Deborah Install

Deborah Install has been writing fiction since childhood, submitting her first book to a publisher at the age of eight. Though ‘Sammy the Squirrel’ never saw the light of day the love of writing persisted, leading to a number of jobs, including web journalism at university and her most recent role as copywriter at a design and marketing agency. This role morphed into maternity leave, which turned out to be more closely associated with writing than expected. Deborah’s debut novel – A Robot in the Garden – came about whilst caring for her new baby.

Update: Transworld are now set to Publish A Robot In The Garden, A Debut Novel By Deborah Install http://www.booktrade.info/i.php/27084-54289

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  • This is really cool. I remember that robot!

  • Beverley Rigden

    Well done Deborah and thanks for the inspiring story. It certainly makes me want to sign up for York again this year. You prove how perseverance and using the tools to improve writing year on year only makes for a more confident writer. The Writers’ Festival has proved to be a ladder to success for you. Wonder who will be next?

  • Adewale Sobowale

    I have a novel which I want published.