Writing on, and about, an island

Posts Tagged ‘Getting published’

3 Things Every Writer Must Say

In Career, Freelance, Writing on January 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

There are a squillion words written on how to be a writer, and how to get published. But the truth is scarily simple – which is why most people don’t realise what it is…

This advice from the incredibly successful Sandra Reynolds (blogger turned cookbook writer) is priceless – whether you want to blog or write a novel.

Sandra says of her success (I’ve bolded the 3 unforgettable things you must communicate):

“I simply wrote about what I knew. As it turned out, the single best thing I ever did was simply being honest with my readers.

This is who I am.

These are my circumstances.

This is what I know.

Any good writer will tell you that every good story starts with those three pillars.”

Thanks to my colleague and friend Allison Tait at Life in a Pink Fibro, for the interview with Sandra on ‘Becoming a Cookbook Writer’ (read it, it’s great).

Writing Freelance Features

In Career, Freelance, Tasmania, Writing on January 23, 2012 at 10:47 am

Want to write a great magazine or newspaper article? What does it take to discover that one unsung idea, pitch the piece to an editor, produce the thing and see it through to published completion?

It’s a hard-to-pin-down process; when I wrote my first published article, about 13 years ago, I stumbled blindly through the whole thing. But despite having written thousands and thousands of published words since, seeing my byline in a publication still gives me a little kick.

Note: Although my focus this year is less on being the messenger (ie. documenting the achievements of others) and more on being the message (creating my own achievements), there’s no doubt that when you come across a great story about someone/something/somewhere else, it’s empowering to be able to tell it.

I’ve just finished two stories about Tasmania – one for House & Garden magazine, and one that has no home as yet (but will likely end up in a national food magazine).

One of these stories I pitched directly to the editor, the other was done ‘on spec’ – purely because my photographer, Nick Watt, and I were entranced with the story and had a couple of days free to shoot it. (Local Tasmanian stylist, Charlotte Bell, below, lent her aesthetic skills for both shoots.)

I do not take the opportunity to write these features for granted: interviewing interesting people, in beautiful locations, while working with some of the most talented people in the business… it certainly beats sitting at a desk all day!

So, I thought I’d do a few posts on the process of freelance writing for magazines, or newspapers, or websites (or whatever takes your fancy). I know instinctively how I do this, but I’ve never put it down in black and white.

I’d like to look at things such as:

  • How to unearth the untold stories around you
  • How to pitch a story to an editor (including how to find the USP – the unique selling point)
  • How to produce the story (interviewing, logistics etc)
  • How to structure and write a story
  • The business side of freelance feature writing

If there’s anything you want to know about writing freelance features, let me know!

A Novel Decision

In Crime & Mystery Writer, Writing on January 20, 2012 at 10:12 am

People will think I’m mad (nothing new there) but, after thinking long and hard, I’ve decided to self-publish my crime novel. There are a variety of reasons for this:

1. I’ve edited and published lots of books for other people, and worked as a book publicist at one time, as well as working in-house at Random and freelance for HarperCollins and Murdoch Books… ie, I know what I’m doing.

2. I have an April deadline I want to meet for plot reasons – going the traditional path will mean I’ll miss this deadline.

3. I’m not publishing a novel to make money – I’m doing it because I want to tell a story. Breaking even would be sufficient!

4. I have a large network of people who I can tap into for assistance and support – creative friends for cover design, for example, and also the media (my colleagues).

5. I’ve recently won a Scarlet Stiletto award for a short crime story, and now’s a smart time to leverage a novel off that.

6. And I have come to the realisation that trying to fit myself into the conventional publishing model was sapping my inspiration and just feeling plain wrong. I just couldn’t get interested in it, it was frustrating me, and I realise it’s one of the reasons why this project has dragged on longer than I wanted it to.

But mainly, this decision is all about cutting out the middle man. I’m over having to give away my power to people who are gatekeepers of contrived conventional processes. Just because I’m told it’s the way to do things, doesn’t make it right or true. Thanks to the magic of technology, I can do things my own way. This is not to denigrate traditional publishing, by any means. Traditional publishing works for many, and it’s an industry I’ve loved working in – but I know it’s not for me when it comes to my book(s).

So, I’ll be selling my book online – both as an ebook and as a physical hard copy. Maybe I’ll sell it through a couple of bookshops (but then maybe not, as I’m not that keen on giving them 40%).

I’m very curious to see how things go.

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