Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2018

When in Bali …

Selamat siang! Good afternoon from Ubud.

It’s takes a few days to acclimatise to Bali after arriving from Melbourne. The heat, humidity and hustle ambushed me the moment I stepped off the plane. The only way to deal with it is to go with the flow.

For years I’ve been looking longingly at the Ubud Writers Festival program, telling myself that one day I’ll go. As with many things that have happened for me this year, the universe conspired and here I am. As a way of really immersing myself, I put my name down as a volunteer.

The festival, now in its fifteenth year, opened with a prayer to Ganesh (remover of obstacles – pictured above) and Saraswati (goddess of wisdom), followed by Balinese dancing. By then I was starting to feel in the flow of how things work here in Ubud.

Isobel in action

I was very happy to be put on the ‘workshop’ team, which meant that yesterday I sat in on a three-hour workshop with Isobelle Carmody at a glorious resort on the river, looking over rice fields.

My biggest take away from the workshop (a reminder) is that as creatives we need to separate the creative process from the ‘business’ of writing, which is the publishing and marketing. Second take away was if YOU are bored with your writing, your reader will be, too. This means that you need to do something different.

Aside from the fantastic workshop, I asked for a tour of the venue, which is now on my list for possible writing retreats in 2019. I was happy to share a car back down the mountain because I had to take a motorbike to get there and I thought I was going to die!

Ubud really is a special place. The people are beautiful inside and out and very hospitable. The food is spectacular (don’t try to detox) and the location inspires creativity.

When I return I’ll write a full review but right now I’m off the find a ride up the mountain to my next workshop called Hidden Histories.


Event Review – Breaking the Code: from published to best-selling author

Breaking the Code: from published to best-selling author

Last weekend, Les Zig and I were part of this two-day festival held at the Belgian Beer Café at Southbank in Melbourne. The venue was very apt for writerly activity and the program was jam-packed with great topics for anyone wanting to learn about writing and publishing.

Best-selling author is the thing we are all chasing. Or is it? Simply being published could be what many authors would be happy with and that was the topic of many of the discussions at Breaking the Code last weekend.

The brain-child of Mat Clarke and Suraya Dewing, Breaking the Code was a mammoth task. It’s hard to pull off a program like this for the first time. Of course, there were some teething problems and the venue wasn’t perfect (aside from the beer) but overall, I think it was a success.

Of course, our session From Writer to Reader was well received because we were giving an overview of the writing to publishing process. We always aim to educate people on the pitfalls, not because we want to depress people but because we want them to be well armed with knowledge to prevent wasted time and money. There were great questions from the audience and a real attitude for sharing ideas and knowledge in the room.

There were two standout sessions that I think really gave a great perspective on promoting your book. The first was a session with Clare Dea, author of The One Breast Goddess. Clare is a specialist in speaking, so this enhanced her presentation but her overarching message was to be authentic. Own your story. When you think about this in terms of your book you might be totally confused. ‘Of course, I’ll “own” my story because I wrote it!’ But this isn’t what she’s talking about. Clare means that when it comes to promoting your book, you are the brand. This means that you don’t offer your book out to the reader and think that it’s so great that the writing will do the work of getting the book to that elusive best-seller status.

A book isn’t a book until someone reads it. So while you MUST make sure it’s well written, and that the publishing produces a great product, that is only the start of the journey. You need to then become a person who is willing to get in front of people and “own” who you are and tell everyone about your book.

The other stand out for me was Ander Louis from Up and Up Media. Andrew liked to compare the music industry to publishing. There were two things that Andrew said that really resonated with me. One was that it’s cool to call yourself an indie publisher rather than self-publisher (just like in the music industry, it’s cool to call yourself an indie musician).  And just like in the music industry, as an indie artist, it takes time to gather a following. You have to do the local pubs before you make it to bigger venues. Translating this to books is helpful in looking at ways to get in front of readers.

There was a wealth of knowledge in the room at Breaking the Code and I came away with some new things to try. I hope they run it again next year. Like anything, it takes a few years to get a following and this format is no exception.

Blaise the book chick.

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