Tag Archives: Busybird Publishing

Every champion needs help

Champion: Top of Stok Kangri, India. Photo by Kev Howlett

We all want to be a champion in our writing life. We want to be able to articulate the ideas and thoughts in our head and share that with a reader. But any great champion needs support and guidance to get to where they want to go.

Writing is an especially lonesome activity. Unlike something like training for a marathon, where you can measure your progress through your fitness or physical prowess, the only way to know if you are improving or even on the right track, is to get feedback on your work. For many writers, this can be daunting. Some writers even think they don’t need it because their writing is going to evolve into a bestseller. Yes, it’s true.

What kind of help might a writer look for?

Seek Feedback

If you’ve written a novel and no one except you has read it, how do you know if it’s any good? The first step is to have someone read it. This may be paralysing for some but if you really want your work out in the world, many people will read it eventually. You want it to be the best it can be. Feedback at this stage is critical.

Join a Writing Group

One reader’s opinion is great but not well rounded because writing, like any art form is subjective. Being in a writing group with several other writers who can give you valuable, critical feedback is priceless. Some of your group won’t like or get your writing, others will but the aim in this situation is to be able to tell each other what does or doesn’t work and how it might be improved.

Not only will you grow as a writer, you will also learn what a reader looks for in a story. You will also learn how to articulate what does and doesn’t work in a story, which can be translated in your own writing. Hanging out with likeminded people also makes the writing journey much less lonely.

Find a Mentor

You can travel the writing journey on your own but this means that you will make many mistakes that may set you back time and time again. These mistakes may even mean that you never reach your destination.

Every champion has a coach or mentor. Mentors provide guidance, training, inspiration and motivation. Your mentor has walked the journey that you want to follow (if you’ve found the right one), which means they have many lessons to share with you.

What do you need from your guide? You need them to be honest with you about your work and the direction you want to go. You need practical advice on ways to improve your work, how to get into the writing industry and how to keep going when you are ready to give up. This person will teach you, from their own experience, the things you need to know that will fast track you to your destination.

Is there someone you know who can fulfil any of these roles above, someone who will help you get to where you want to go so that you can be a champion? They could be friends, colleagues, someone at the library, a writer’s centre. When you start looking, the right person will show up. If you think our Creative Fellowship might help, check it out here.

Blaise the book chick

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The Genesis of Busybird Publishing – the short story

The Genesis of Busybird Publishing, image by Les Zig

Many people ask me about why the business is called Busybird. I guess it was an organic genesis. Let me try to give you a short version …

When I was a child living in the bush, I spent a lot of time hiding under a blanket watching birds. My favourite bird was the cheeky Willie Wagtail flitting from branch to branch showing off his beautiful blue-black tail feathers in all their fanlike glory, and the little Superb Fairy-wren, so delicate and pretty.

This fascination was further encouraged when my stepfather went to Melbourne and came home with posters of bird species from the Royal Melbourne Zoo. My little brain would attempt to pronounce the Latin names without much success but I learned about what noises the Whipbird made or what region the Welcome Swallow lived in.

Fast forward to adulthood and I began to collect bird trinkets: earrings, necklaces, scarves, ornaments, even a bluebird tattoo. Friends and family started to give me gifts that featured birds. I’m not sure what this fascination is about. It may be that I am an air sign, or I love the idea of the freedom that wings might give me.

In 1998, when I was making handmade cards (using feathers as a design element), it seemed very natural to name a business ‘Busybird’. I wasn’t after the ideal of ‘being busy’ but more so the industriousness of my feathered friends.

In partnership with my husband Kev Howlett, we tackled design and photographic work. The digital landscape was changing rapidly during this time. We got one of the first ‘bubble’ Macs, I learned how to send an email and got my first mobile phone (a red Nokia, no querty keyboard). I still have the same mobile phone number today.

We were fortunate to get a contract with Ford Motor Company digitizing their catalogues and this kept us very busy for almost ten years. But like anything in technology, a company in Sri Lanka out priced us and we lost the contract. At the time were were devastated but it allowed me to go back to school to learn about publishing. I had intended to learn about writing in order to finish my novel but I fell in love with the publishing process.

In 2007, while studying my Diploma in Writing & Editing, I met Les Zigomanis. We immediately found that we worked well together and had similar views about the writing industry. We decided to publish a short story anthology called [untitled] with a couple of the other students.

This was a VERY steep learning summit. This experience made us realize how many mistakes you can make when you don’t have all the knowledge about self-publishing, in terms of time and money.

This experience also made me realize that this is where I wanted to be: bringing books to life. I love the whole process and I love being part of this journey with people. It really can be cathartic, life changing, satisfying, frustrating, fun and rewarding.

Ten years on (we changed the trading name to Busybird Publishing) and we’ve  (the whole Busybird team) now worked with over 200 people to bring their book out into the world, and countless others to improve their writing.

I like to think that we are like a midwife. We’ll hold your hand, wipe your brow and whisper words of encouragement. We’ll also be there when you hold that baby up to the light and bask in the wonder of what you have created because we feel as much pride in the outcome as the creator.

What a blessing to be able to help give something wings and release it out into the universe. Everyone deserves a chance to have their story told, to have a voice. It’ll have different resonance for different people but it’s the value of being able to tell it as much as it being accepted by a reader.

If you’ve been thinking about your story, why not attend my next Life Writing session THIS Saturday.

Blaise, the book chick

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