Friday, November 4, 2011

A Fireside Chat with Edeet Ravel

Last night, I joined about twenty people gathered around Edeet Ravel, the first author in the Guelph Public Library's Fireside Chat series.

Born in Israel and raised in Montreal, Edeet now makes Guelph her home. Her background is an impressive one: a PhD in Jewish Studies and a Masters in Creative Writing. Her teaching career spanned twenty years; she taught at McGill, Concordia and John Abbott College.

We were all fascinated by her writing journey. While she has been writing since age twelve, she did not submit her work until her forties. After writing 10,000 Lovers, she spent one hour on the Internet looking for U.K. publishing houses. She addressed twenty different envelopes and enclosed the first five pages of her novel in each one. She did not include a query letter or SASE. One editor responded, asking her to send her novel as an attachment. Two weeks later, the editor made an offer. In the past ten years, Edeet has released ten more books. Many of those books had been written previously; she edited and revamped them after 10,000 Lovers was released.

Edeet shared many tips and tidbits about the world of writing...
  • In Canada, small presses are supported by the Canada Council. They cannot take money from writers, and they are expected to publish seven books a year. 
  • You can send a manuscript to a Canadian publishing house--large and small--without an agent. Edeet does not recommend sending manuscripts to American agents.
  • Edeet relies on her own professional editor. She believes it is important to have get feedback from many readers and to ensure that the final draft is a polished one.
  • You must be excited about your book and want to work on it all the time. If not, give yourself permission to find another topic.
  • Do not be afraid to press Delete. When Edeet rewrote one of her books as Young Adult, only one sentence of the original book survived.
  • Self-published books are expensive and are not eligible for any prizes. Edeet recommends a traditional publisher.
  • Ambition is a big part of making it in the literary world. Publishing houses, especially small ones, expect you to handle your own promotion. How well you do depends upon your energy level, financial investment and motivation.
  • We are now in a male era. Books written by men are doing better than those written by women.
  • Novellas are very popular now.

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