Tag Archives: novel

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.

August Falling – Book Review

August Falling by Les Zig

It’s a great privilege to see the development of a story. I first read this book when it was called ‘House of Cards’, which seemed a very apt title when I read it but I’m guessing was changed due to the US television series of the same name. Titles can be so hard to get right, and you really need to look at what else is in the market so that people don’t have preconceived ideas about your book, or that you don’t get mixed up in someone else’s promotion. I will admit that I didn’t love the new title at first, but it has grown on me and the original title is a cliched phrase.

I love the simplicity of the cover and while the colour isn’t what I would have chosen, again it has grown on me. It lends itself well to the great visual promotions that I have started to see on Instagram from the publisher, Pantera Press.

So the cover and the title get my tick of approval but why am I mentioning them at all? The first impressions of a book are very important and can be the difference in getting it into a reader’s hand. Because I have seen this story in development, I love observing how everything has come together into a tight package. I can see that the author, Les Zig, and the production team behind him, have worked hard to bring it all together in a considered and strategic way.

What about the story? In essence, the story itself hasn’t changed dramatically from the first draft that I read because Les knows structure. He knows what his story is about and where to take it. This is always very evident in early drafts and I suspect that he wouldn’t have people read it until he thought it was ready for feedback. The difference between the draft and final product is a story with layers that is tight, easy to read and character driven. Everything that the characters say and do have a purpose that drives the story forward.

August Falling is about a man finding his way in the world after a disastrous relationship. Nothing new there and it would be easy for the author to throw him into another relationship that ends in true love. What we get is not a love story but the journey of August who has never really trusted himself or the world he lives in and this has been amplified by his last relationship. Every time August apologises, you feel like banging him on the head. He’s socially awkward and not confident about where he fits in his life, so when he sees an attractive woman in a café he never believes that she might give him a second glance.

Enter gorgeous Julie and you expect that this will lead to a love story and you’ll be annoyed with the author for telling you otherwise. From the moment they hook up, you’re barracking for them to be together and live happily ever after (that’s the romantic in me), while quietly berating August for being so awkward and to get his shit together.

Enter ‘the secret’. Okay this is a classic, keep-the-lovers-apart technique in storytelling because we all know, once they really get together, the story is over. The thing is ‘the secret’ might be a deal breaker and that this is not a classic love story. This is where August really needs to get his shit together and decide who he is and what he stands for. He needs to learn to trust. Can he do it? You need to read the book to find out.

August Falling is the perfect book for discussion. I can see readers talking about it in book groups because there are talking points for all the characters and not only the August and Julie relationship but the relationships between minor characters as well.

If you’re in Melbourne, why not go along to the book launch this Sunday at 2pm, Buck Milligans, 217 High Street, Northcote.

Blaise the book chick