Posted in Books, drugs, friendship, Getting published, In Ecstasy, writing

A New Publication Date

I had a quick chat with my publisher about the ‘second manuscript’- at the moment titled ‘In Ecstasy’. Originally its release was scheduled for around about September next year, but I was hoping we might be able to move it up the school calendar to say, I don’t know, about July? Seemed to be a good time to release a book about the dissolution of friendship and drugs.

Before I could make my suggestion she told me they had scheduled ‘In Ecstasy’ for- wait for it- an April release! Woo hoo! Even better, thought I, much earlier in the school year, settled in after the start of Term 1, looking for a new and interesting and dynamic book and then along comes ‘In Ecstasy’. Brilliant, I looked at the pile of teetering manuscript that is the second book. And then I realised I’d need to start WORKING on it!! Ahh yes, that’s how it’s done. It comes home from the editor (covered in both red pen and lead pencil) and then the re-writing occurs!

So that’s where it’s at now. I’ve almost finished the structural edit- almost, and then back to Janet for further tweaking (or replace that word with slashing)!

Yeeah haaaa!

Posted in Books, Getting published, writing

Forget Ego- You’re a Published Writer!

The signed contract! It is a thing of beauty, and something you imagined, longed for, knew one day would happen, and unbelievably here you are now with it in your hands. Of course, as a first time novelist you accept whatever the conditions- as long as they meet acceptable standards- which you can access from the ASA website.

The road to publication begins. You meet your new bestfriend (editor) and enter a new phase of work . We’ll look at all that later. For now we’re jumping ahead to after the launch, your baby’s in the book shops, and now it’s being read by people you don’t even know!

Did you ever think about that? Maybe you considered friends, colleagues, acquaintances reading your book, people who might murmur encouragingly, or avoid eye-contact altogether. But what about strangers? And that other breed of person you’ll just begin to familiarise yourself with. The critic.

Some writers say “I pay no attention at all to reviews- whether they’re good or bad.” How? I ask you that? How is anyone able to pay no attention. For then we can’t accept all the good things. All the wonderful reviews about how well crafted your story is, the tremendous impact it has, how it MUST be COMPULSORY reading. We’d have to ignore the comments from highly intelligent people, who are, like you, on the cutting edge of Australian literature- who really know where the pulse is. Disregard their opinion? I think not!

 Sure, we can happily ignore the nasty ramblings of the failed writer-turned critic, who can only criticise what the book isn’t instead of what it is. Who are so far jammed up their own ivory tower they wouldn’t know what current reading trends are. Who attack even the writer- with such nastiness one has to ask- do I know you? Have I offended you in some way? Maybe I slept with your partner once?

But here’s another interesting thing- a friend of mine once pointed out that I could quote word for word the more negative comments and only summarise the positive ones! So there- the bad reviews stick with you a lot longer and hit a lot harder than the positive ones (cause yeah- that’s what you thought too!!) How do you handle it then? Take pleasure in the fact it’s your title that graces the bookshelves. You have achieved a nigh-on difficult task. To become an author. And remember you can’t please all the people all the time. And those you can’t please are obviously morons anyway!

And don’t forget the mail you receive from readers. Those readers who take the time to thank you for the story. THAT is the best review any writer can have!

Posted in Getting published, writing

So you want to be a published writer?

As mentioned previously the road to publication (as we know) is tricky- but possible. Don’t you just stare, mouth agape at the report in the literary pages telling of the fourteen year old who has signed a three book deal with an advance of a million dollars?? A million dollars!!! What the…?

Let’s get real-these are the stats (and I know YOU’RE the one who’ll defy them!):

-getting published is harder than making the Olympic team

– an advance is between $500 and $5000 for a first book deal


-the average first time novelist will sell between 3000 and 5000 copies of their novel.

Now is the time to ask yourself this:

Why do I want to be a published writer? If it’s to make millions- I say go for it, but be prepared that the road is looooong before you get the kind of acknowledge you may crave- if you’re really unlucky you could be like Van Gogh  or Bon Scott- rich after death. At least your relatives will be happy!

If it’s to see your work in print, to admire it upon the shelves of a bookstore, to receive emails from readers telling you its the best book they’ve ever read- then you won’t be disappointed in the slightest. For me, that has made the whole process worthwhile (of course I wouldn’t sneeze at the big bucks either!!!)

If it’s because you HAVE to write, you can’t go a day without acknowledging someone’s personality trait, or a story they’ve told you or how well you could describe that setting then what are you doing wasting your time reading this? You should be writing damnit! We write because we have to. We want to see our work in print because the nature of writer is that of storyteller. We want others to read our stories. It’s a form of pass it forward. We love to share the stories that touch us. And as writers we think all the stories we create are worth sharing and very touching!!

Publication is validation. It means that the time we spend tapping it out on the keyboard isn’t wasted. That the neglect of our children and laundry, and general state of cleanliness is for a worthwhile cause. We are not poor deluded souls with inflated ideas of grandeur (most of us!) because when we are given a contract to sign it means someone else is acknowledging what we thought all along. Our stories are worth hearing!

 Which leads into the next post- critics and reviews!! (and poor old ego!)

Posted in Books, Getting published, writing

Getting published in Australia

I wanted to put in a piece about the world of publishing because I think that is what first started me as a blog-reader (apart from the research I did for Destroying Avalon). I wanted to read about Aussies who’d got a deal, recently, in Australia. I wanted to know WHAT to do, HOW to do it and what was the likelihood of success?

Let’s wind the clock back…..

It’s 1997, I finish my first manuscript (about 45 000 words YA Lit) and looked into getting published.

To my horror I discovered MOST publishing houses won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. To have a solicited manuscript you must have a publishing history, or an agent. To get an agent you must have a publishing history or a contract. To get a contract you must have a publishing house accept your manuscript. Most publishing houses won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts…..

Looks futile doesn’t it? But read that first sentence again- it says MOST. There still are publishing houses who will read your manuscript, you need to get online and carefully read their submission guidelines and prepare yourself for rejection. (I know YOU think you’re different- you’re the one who’ll defy statistics and get plucked from that first slush pile and given a three book deal. And you SHOULD think that way- because DETERMINATION is the key to the publisher’s door!!!)

Anyway, send off the first three chapters (or whatever they ask for), synopsis, covering letter- check out Miss Snark’s blog if you need some direction in what NOT to put in a query letter!!! If you get a rejection letter keep it in a file so you can laugh at it later when you’re richer than JK, but remember this- if the publisher takes the time to address you personally (instead of the standard proforma) take encouragement from that. Not all rejection letters are bad. Some (and it’s not often) come with a bit of critique- know this- you got that little bit closer.

The other way in is to win a competition! Enter everything you can (afford to)- short stories, essays etc. Not only do you stand the chance of winning, and learning to write to a deadline, but you can also create a publication record too. Contact your State Literature Centre and join a local writer’s group. That way you get notified of upcoming competitions and Writer’s groups often offer mentorships and workshops. If you’re serious, take on anything you can that will give you an insight into what’s going on in Australian literature and how to be a part of it.

 In most states there is an award for an unpublished manuscript with the prize being money (handy??) and publication (the golden snitch!!) In WA it is the TAG Hungerford Award – which was just won by Alice Nelson. Of course if you’re still under 35 there is the Australian Vogel Prize – this country’s richest award for an unpublished manuscript- and you don’t even have to win to make publication. Some of the runners up have gone onto successful literary careers. Also if you get noticed you can be invited to join a workshop (I think they still run that- it’s a Masterclass). It’s all acknowledgement and development of you as a writer.

Join the Australian Society of Authors (you don’t have to be published) and enter their Mentorship program. Look up Varuna and see what they’ve got to offer writers at the moment. But know this. Publishers DO want new work, exciting writing, fresh talent, it still is possible to crack into the world. If you keep refining your craft, and keep writing, and keep submitting you will get the acknowledgement you deserve. Be prepared to toughen up, accept criticism, be open-minded- maybe this story isn’t very good, or that suggestion might make it better. But whatever you do persevere.

Someone once said to me “writing is 1% insipiration and 99% perspiration!”