Tag Archives: writing competitions

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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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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