Musical murders!

Ok – I freely admit it – writing a muscial was never something I even remotely thought about when I started out writing! But, well, there’s nothing like a challenge!

This week has seen me finish what might be the last (but probably isn’t) draft of the musical murder mystery for my local operatic society. They’re in the middle of getting a director and it all looks set to take to the stage in Grimsby this autumn!

I must admit, I’m excited! This is a “big” thing, even for me! I may look like a sucessful writer, and I suppose I am in my own field, but having something I’ve written go on stage is still going to be thrilling, even if it is only in Grimsby!

Still, what I expect everyone wants to know is how do you end up getting a break like this?

Well, like in everything, it’s who you know. (yeah, it comes down to networking again – see post below).

A few years ago I was casting for my first murder mystery event locally. I needed some cast and that was how I met two very nice women from the local operatic society. I’ve kept in touch with them both, either through regular meetings when they act for me, or by me trying to find them contacts of their own (as one is trying to break into the professional acting arena and I do sometimes come into contact with people useful for her to meet.) This regular contact and mutual support has led to them asking me if I’d be interested in writing the society a muscial!

Thankfully I don’t have to come up with the music. Instead they’ve given me a list of songs which could be worked into a plot. I’ve ammended a few lyrics and voila. Our very first combined effort.

The question is… what to call it?? That’s still undecided!

Is networking useful for writers?

We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know it’s who you know” and sadly that is true for writing too. How many writer lectures have you been to where the writer was given a “lucky break” by speaking to a friend who knew a producer, publisher or agent? I can think of dozens. It’s a very rare person who get’s an agent from scratch these days – though it is possible!

But is networking a good way of generating contacts or not and where should you go?

Writing conferences and lectures and courses are a great way to meet other writers, but frankly you’re all in the same boat, so unless you happen to meet a lucky writer who has an agent, or develop a relationship with someone who then finds one – it won’t get you very far.

Which means, as well as mixing with unpublished writers you need to be looking further afield.

1) Writer signings

I’m not talking about the famous ones here. If you queue up to get J.K. Rowling to sign a book, she’s hardly going to have the time to give you a contact at bloomsbury!

However – local writers are a different matter altogteher. They generally have shorter queues, are more willing to talk and still interested in helping other new writers “break” into the field as they often had a leg up themselves. Don’t discount them because they aren’t “big”. They’ve still got further then you have (to that illusive first contract) and so they’re still better connected then you!

Make sure you attend any local readings/lectures they have, get to know them and see if they are willing to help you.

2) Business networking

You might think business networking is a ludicrous way to general contacts – but scoff all you like, I’ve been in a business networking group for 2 years now, and in that time I’ve landed a contract to write e-books for a local entrepreneur, been asked to write custom written games for venues and met a publisher who would actually give me the time of day, and probably help me with contacts should I eventually get a book up to publishable standards.

I’ve also met other writers who visit the group who do copywriting – paid work, and also a story writer who writes people’s biographies – again PAID.

So while business networking may seem a bizzare way to set out – think beyond the people in the room to the contacts they may be willing to share with you and give it a go.

3) Tradeshows

Publishers have tradeshows just like any other companies – sometimes you’ll find them all under one roof. Take a walk, browse the stands and if you can, strike up a conversation – you might get on with someone like a house on fire and they might be willing to look at your work!

4) Work your contacts

As well as our immediate friends we all have people we know through social media like twitter and facebook these days – so speak to them.

Obviously you don’t just want to “follow” them and then pitch straight away – an immediate turn off to anyone who’s busy and managed to work their way up their field.

Instead – get to know them. Chat, don’t pitch. Once you have built up that relationship – THEN speak to them about a project.


Your blog or website is THE singular most important thing you need to maintain as an unpublished author. For many new contacts it’s the first thing they’ll take a look at.

It needs to be:
a) Easy to read
b) Professional
c) Clear – with a list of your achievements in the writing field and also what you’re working on.
d) Personal. By this I mean – a photograph. People deal with people. It’s a known fact. Avatars are all very well, but they aren’t you.

What will sell your work in the end isn’t the work itself but you. It’ll be you that will eventually meet with people to pitch your work, so have a personality, be visible and get noticed.

Further reading:

Launch a freelance writing career via Twitter.