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Twitter pitch led to publication of new memoir by Highland publisher Sandstone Press

By Margaret Chrystall

Leonie Charlton.
Leonie Charlton.

In 2018, spotting the chance to potentially land a publishing deal with a tweet in the annual XpoNorth Tweet Pitch, Leonie Charlton set herself that challenge.

And even though she didn’t even have a Twitter account at the time and had never tweeted in her life before, she decided to tweet a ‘pitch’ about the book she was writing at the time.

Fast forward, and that book was Marram, a critically-acclaimed memoir published by Sandstone Press.

As this year’s XpoNorth Tweet Pitch comes round on January 21 – with a masterclass on January 7 for those who want to learn to pitch their work – Leonie says now, looking back: “In my case I was writing the book when I tweeted, so I didn’t pitch the idea, I was actually doing it.

“It was a synopsis in 280-odd characters, and it summed up my trip, the idea around the book, my memoir travelogue.

The tweet read: “Travelling north through the Outer Hebrides with Highland ponies, placing a trail of beads for my dead mother. Exploring inner and outer landscapes of love and loss along drovers’ roads, coffin routes and tidelines. #xponorth ”


Leonie said: “I had done the journey and written the first draft, but I hadn’t approached a publisher – I hadn’t got real at all!

“What I subsequently found out was that Sandstone had seen the tweet.

“I didn’t think anyone in the world had seen the tweet. In order to do it, I was staying with two old school friends up at Scourie and I thought ‘I’m going to set myself this challenge’ – and I didn’t even have a Twitter account and I didn’t know what a tweet was.

“It was my first tweet ever!

“What Sandstone subsequently told me was that they had seen my tweet and had brought it up in a meeting at Sandstone.

“I sent my manuscript to them and when it arrived they were really glad to see it because they recognised it from the tweet.

“It wasn’t that the tweet led me directly to them, but I think – and they think – it definitely played a part.

“Isn’t it interesting how it works?

“There I was thinking my tweet had gone out into the ether and no-one had seen it.”

Sandstone campaigns manager Ceris Jones said: “The book was a success, despite lockdown starting just as we published the hardback!”

For help with that all-important pitch, literary agent Jenny Brown and crime writer Alison Belsham are hosting a ‘how to’ webinar on January 7.

The tweet pitch gives writers from across Scotland the chance to pitch their work to a panel of Scotland’s leading literary agents and publishers and bag a book deal in 280 characters or less and tagging #XpoNorth. The work must be unpublished.

Key publishing sessions from XpoNorth 2021 are on the XpoNorth YouTube channel. Register for the webinar, info on: Tweet Pitch xponorth.co.uk

Leonie on Twitter: @CharltonLeonie

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