Tag Archives: short story

The Business of Writing

The creative output of writing is very satisfying. It might be fraught with challenges but once completed, the writing project has substance to it that can then be shared with the world. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a poem, novel, memoir or self-help book, there will be a place for it to live.

What many don’t realise is that this is just the start of the book journey. Once the thing is written, it’s time for the writer to take off the creative coat and put on the business coat. There’s no way to avoid it no matter which way you publish. Even if you’re lucky enough to land a traditional publishing deal, you will still have to be involved in the promotion and marketing of the book.

The Art of Self-promotion – and how to teach it to your authors with Karen Andrews, Angela Meyer & Blaise van Hecke (photo by Les Zigomanis).

Last week I attended the Independent Publishing Conference at the Wheeler Centre and immersed myself in all things books and publishing. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve been doing this, there’s always something new to learn and the industry is changing constantly due to changes in technology. I was also part of a panel called ‘The art of self-promotion – and how to teach it to your authors.’ I don’t pretend to know everything about promotion but I know more than some. I also learned a lot from the many other sessions throughout the two days.

Here are my top three take-aways:

  1. Metadata is king – make sure that your book has as much data attached to it as possible. This starts with your ISBN registration and can be added to through TitlePage (you need to be a member of the Australian Publishers Association) and the data required if you are using print on demand. Ensure that you add as much information as possible including a cover image, author bio and reviews if you have any.

Why is data important? It helps with discoverability online as well as by bookstores and libraries if a customer asks about your book.

  1. Audio books are popular – thanks to platforms like Audible they are becoming more accessible and consumers love them. This has created another income stream for the book. Many traditional publishers are starting to include them in the contract of a book along with the print book and ebook. Companies such as Bolinda create audiobooks but at this stage they are not cheap to produce. This won’t stay like this for long as people realise that this is a gap in the market and solutions are created.
  2. Marketing is tricky – this remains the hardest part of the book journey (just like marketing any business is hard) but thanks to social media, there are many new opportunities out there. There is a definite gap in the market here, which is a great opportunity for people to fill. The best way to get your book out there is by word of mouth and book reviews are vital for this. Check out bookbloggersaustralia.com.au for opportunities to have your book reviewed, and check out Goodreads to set up your own author page and ask people to review your book.

There were of course many more great things that I learned at the conference but these three things are really important to have in place for the success of a book. I highly recommend you attend the conference next year to learn more.

As a writer, you may not like the business of writing. But you know what? If you don’t get down to working on it, your book will not get into the hands of your readers and it may as well sit in a box in obscurity.

Blaise the bookchick

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From little things …

[untitled] issues 1–7
[untitled] issues 1–7
Last Saturday we launched issue seven of [untitled] to a crowd of about fifty people. Not bad for a bleak wintery day in Melbourne. When I stood in front of the room to talk about the back-story of this little anthology, it hit me that we have been doing a pretty special thing. The night before came the news of AS Patric winning the Miles Franklin and I thought, we published him in issue two. Then when I looked at the back covers of each edition, I realised that many of the contributors are now well on their way to an established writing career.

Of course, our little anthology hasn’t been the making of any careers but it has given a little exposure and I would hope some confidence to each person. This writing gig is a tough one. Toughest of all is getting past the gatekeepers who tell us if we are worthy of passing through. Strange when you think about it because writing is subjective, so how can any of the gatekeepers really know what is going to be successful? It’s an educated guess, not a guarantee. Yes, you need to be able to write but I know many good writers who don’t get picked up. Are they not quirky enough? Don’t hang out with the right people? What they write about isn’t on topic?

You could go crazy trying to work it out. This is why we started [untitled] back in 2009: to offer writers a place for simply good stories. They don’t have to be on topic, they don’t have to be literary, being selected isn’t based on who you know.

We had grand plans when we started. Oh how naïve we were! It was going to be a quarterly magazine and was going to take over the literary world! The printing was paid for on my credit card. It soon became biannual when we realised how much reading was involved. By the third year it became an annual as we found it sucked all our resources dry and cost so much to produce – this last issue has taken two and a half years to get out, but some personal issues contributed to that.

There have been times when we’ve wanted to pack it all in. It’s so much work for very little return BUT what about those writers? Each issue probably costs us money BUT what about the writing? Do we do it for arts sake? I think probably yes. As each issue has been close to completion, we’ve said it will be the last. But then it’s here and it looks pretty and there are stories in there and look at the faces of those writers who have been trying to get published.

When we started out many people didn’t think it would last and that we didn’t know what we were doing (that’s true) but we persevered and learned so much and many people have given up their time without pay to make it happen. As the years rolled on, people started to respect what we’ve been doing. It’s indicative of the whole writing industry. You have to pay your dues, show the world that rejections won’t stop you.

While many other journals and writing magazines close shop, we’re still here. Call it stubbornness, whatever. Over seven years, we’ve published seven issues of this little pocketbook and given voice to about sixty writers. It might not have changed the literary landscape but we’ve watered this little seed and it has grown into something that we are proud of.

Blaise, the book chick

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