Updates from Pippa Roberts

Hi everyone,

First of all I should say that – if you like strawberries, or maybe even if you don’t – you should watch out for my piece in the Guardian Family Section tomorrow. It includes a recipe for strawberry scones, which are a bit biscuity, and totally delicious.

Secondly I thought that all my writer friends might be interested in feedback I just had from Ebury Press, at Random House. I’d sent a proposal and outline for a non-fiction book a few weeks ago. It’s so long since I was working on books (having taken a few years doing other types of writing) that I didn’t know if it was still necessary to include a SAE. I didn’t, because I assumed they would answer by email.

In fact I received a lovely letter, posted at their expense (which was slightly embarrassing!), advising me that most of their books come through literary agents, and that they recommend I look for representation. This is quite a significant shift in the way things are done. At one time many writers represented themselves (and I recognise that some still do). Maybe it is time to start looking for an agent though… It’s so difficult when you write in so many different mediums, because most agents exclude a lot of them. I remember, years ago, when I was young and green (even more than now :D), I got myself two agents, without realising that it wasn’t the way things worked. (I presumed that I’d get a contract when my first book was sold, and that the agent who’d sold it would become my agent at that point.) I do know now that you don’t do that, but still wonder if it would be permissible to have two… both for different kinds of writing. Nobody else ever seems to ask this, but I can’t be the only person to need it.

I’m trying to think very seriously about my career at present. When I believed I was going to die (which I did – and my doctor did – at one point) I felt really angry with myself. Even though I’ve consistently produced work that has been published or performed, I’ve also consistently produced work that has sat in a file, or on the computer, waiting for me to polish it up. Having returned to my life, and knowing that I could still have a few decades ahead, I know I must be less distractable. I’ll still do the odd talk and workshop, but they will be few and far between, as I have been putting far too much energy into them. (I just find it so hard to say no when a group needs what I can give them.)

An agent would be really helpful – and might stop me scattering my energies so widely. It is definitely time to start looking. That letter seemed like the right prompt at the right time…

See you all again soon!