One reason for attending the Write by the Beach annual conference in Brighton is that the sun always shines! This year the event, organised by the Beach Hut Writing Academy, ran over a glorious April weekend and attracted writers of all genres. The 2-day programme attracted me in particular because it covered both fiction and non-fiction (including a workshop on autobiography and memoir) as well as drama/scriptwriting. I’ve been to several of the big annual writing conferences and can highly recommend them for a new writer getting their work out into the world, but they do often heavily focus on novels. The key note speaker for Write by the Beach was Sue Teddern, a long-established writer of TV and Radio Dramas (she’s even written for The Archers!). This was a funny and enjoyable journey through Teddern’s writing career, with many stories of what it’s like to write for these mediums.
The two days were packed with talks, workshops and panel sessions all held in the inspiring Regency venue of Angel House overlooking Brighton’s promenade. The speakers included best-selling novelists Julie Cohen and Cally Taylor, both giving inspiring and motivational talks. Everything was onsite including lunch and coffee/tea break sessions, which are perfect opportunities to chat with other writers and the speakers too. Everyone mingles at Write by the Beach and once again I met several new friends and swapped contact details.
For me a key part of the conference package were the pitch sessions. I booked the whole weekend and had two opportunities to pitch my work. Each day there were literary agents, editors from several publishing houses (digital and traditional print) along with experts on scriptwriting. You get a 10 minute slot to pitch your WIP and the organisers do they best to match you with your preferred agent/editor etc. Another plus is that the pitch events are timed to follow the afternoon panel sessions. If you’re meeting an agent then the panel question and answer session is the perfect opportunity to check out your choice! You can pick-up some top tips on what agents are looking for in a submission and a potential client. You also learn their pet hates and what not to put in a cover letter (some of these were hilarious).
I finished this year’s Write by the Beach with a big smile, having met a bunch of new writing friends and caught up with others. I also went home inspired to write more drama and non-fiction. Even better I left knowing that I had two agents interested in seeing my crime novel. In my opinion Write by the Beach is great value for money and with its mix of genres and speakers fast becoming one of the must-attend events of the writing calendar. It is also organised, run and chaired entirely by professional writers. This means the organisers know and understand the challenges new writers face along with the pressures of that life/work/writing balance. And of course the sun always shines in Brighton.