Women, Submissions and Self-Publishing

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For six years Kelli Russell Agodon worked as a co-editor and chief for a literary magazine.  In her piece for Medium, SUBMIT LIKE A MAN published May 2015, she writes about what she learned during that time, and what she knows about how men and women submit their work from consideration.

If I had to make one general statement about what I most learned at the press as an editor, the big revelation was that men and women submit their work differently.

More here – While aware of the generalisations being made, Agodon cannot ignore the overall trends between men and women.  When a rejection letter is sent to a man with the following, ‘We would like to see more of your work,’ a man will tend to actually send more of their work. She puts it done to

When the same rejection letter is sent to a women, she will generally wait 3 to 6 months before resubmitting, if at all.  She puts it done to

She puts it done to the classic problem of women over thinking things, reading too much into the words, not wanting to seem pushy or being happy to settle for an ‘almost.’

I am guilty of this too.  If I am really honest with myself, it is my fear of utter rejection that drove me towards self publishing my work instead of subjecting it to the ridicule of rejection I was certain it would have recieved.

This is stupid I know, as rejection letters are vital to improvement as a writer, self reflection and challening ourselves to work harder and go beyond what we thought.

It seems I am not the only one.

I a survey published by the GUARDIAN in March 2015, it seems self-publishing allows women the chance to circumnavigate their fear of rejections and break the book industry’s glass ceiling.  The number of women selling best sellers through self-publishing is almost twice that of men.

“More and more female writers are seeing success in self-publishing,” said Monique Duarte, chief executive of FicShelf, which released the results to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March. “It’s a level playing field.”

While men are still dominating traditional publishing it is the ladies who seem to be making self-publishing work for them.

While mainstream publisher are known for playing it safe, it is the self-publishing market that is allowing female writers to step out of these preconceived norms and break the template of what women should be writing about.

AMANDA HOCKING has made millions selling her novels online through self Publishing.

Motivating Yourself, Being kind to yourself

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The following are quotes I found in the first draft of the manuscript I’m currently writing.  The draft has been sitting in a folding on my computer for a few years.

 I am going through it for the first time during NaNoWriMo to see if there is anything there I can use.

It is hilarious to see all the funny things I’ve written to myself, and I’m also proud of how kind I have been to myself.

‘There are a lot of things to sort out, but don’t worry Meg, it will get better – It all comes together in the end.’

‘What the fuck is this?’

‘I really don’t think this is working!!”

Ha! Editing is hilarious.

7 Blogging Tips

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1. There is no single ‘way’ to make your blog work.  Distrust anyone who tries to sell you precise blogging dogma.  While there are proven habits to help make your blog successful, many bloggers have made their blogs work using a number of different methods.

And there are always exceptions to every rule. Some people might recommend you make money from advertising while the successful blog ZEN HABITS swear by an advertisement free space.

2. The people who blog about the same topic as you are your friends not your competition.  Like minded blogs can help each other in many ways. Enter the blogging community with caution and care – Don’t trash the joint when you come in.

Similar blogs have similar audiences that can be shared without being stolen. When you begin a blog on travel for instance, make friends with other travel writers and reach out when they write about something you are interested in.

Share more content than you write, and support those in your community.

3. Not every idea is a good one – But you won’t know until you try it out.  Even good ideas can turn out to be wrong for you in a few months time.

4. It should hurt to hit publish.  Otherwise, push yourself until you are not even sure you should be posting it – Then do it!  Lazy bloggers make lazy blogs.  I have a few posts that still make me think, ‘Should I take those down?’  These posts are my most controversial or honest, and my most popular.

5. Blogging is hard.  Blogging takes more time than you realise, requires dedication, persistence and tends to happen late at night.  Progress on your blog will normally happen right at the moment you are considering giving up.

6. Don’t push to gain the wrong readers.  When it comes to building a blogging audience, aim for the right readers, even if it means your audience grows slowly.  Numbers don’t matter if they are the wrong readers for you.

7. Don’t talk about yourself all the time.  Talk about what you can offer others.  Don’t be crazy and rant unless you have the answer underneath.

 

 

The Problems with Writers Festivals

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The sceptic in me thinks Writers Festivals are about trying to make money.  It seems to be the big push during festival event time, buying tickets to events and then buying books afterwards.

But I can’t believe it is all about publicity and selling books.

They can also be about wankery, elitism, fame and sometimes literature.

The problems with Writers Festivals are that the panels are rarely about what you think they are about.  There is a lot of loose interpretation when it comes to panel headlines, and then what is actually discussed.

No one is actually handing out advice about writing, or speaking to the audience like they are writers too.  Mostly, Writers Festival audiences are made up of writers, looking for help, tips inspiration and guidance.

Also, writers always seem to want to do readings from their book – which breaks up the flow of conversation.

Writers festivals are about talking and socialising and being amoung people – not reading out loud to people who have either read your book and therefore don’t need to hear it again, or haven’t read your book and therefore don’t want the whole thing ruined. .

So why do I keep going?  Because THE BENEFITS OF WRITERS FESTIVALS always outweigh the negative

I found myself in Melbourne looking around at the audience and realised that I was in a room full of colleagues.  Colleagues is not really a word that writers use very often as it is a solitary career path.  But here we all were, having worked remotely for the last year, we had all come home to the festival to work together for a few weeks.

And work we did.

 

Finding Metaphorical Space to Write

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There is a big difference between having a desk to write in, and having enough mental space to allow yourself to write.  I used to think that all I needed was an office of my own, and then the books will just flow out of me onto the office floor.

When my partner and I moved into a four bedroom house on the South Coast, I got my very first office.  I brought a secondhand desk, found a chair on the street and wrote notes to myself to stick all over the wall.  I stuck a post it to the door that read ‘Book Factory – Keep out!’ and lined the walls with bookshelves and folders.  I was certain I had everything I needed.

When I did finally get my own space to write, I was astounded at how little work I did when I sat there.  I would sit at my desk for hours wasting time and getting frustrated.

What was missing was space in my head to let ideas flow.  I was so full of worry, frustration, writing anxiety, fear of failure, fear of success, and pressure that it was impossible to get any creative words from my head.

Here is how I now manage to find a little metaphorical space in my head to let the creativity flow. Continue reading

How to Prepare for and Nail an Interview

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Being able to interview people is a skill.  Luckily it is a skill that, with practice, becomes almost second nature.  There is so much information to be found in people if you only knew how to ask.

It is important for writers to be able to interview people well.  Interviews are a wonderful way to get your foot in the publishing / magazine / journal door.  They are also a good way to extract information from experts and research certain topics for your fiction writing.  There is so much information to be found in people if you only knew how to ask.

Below is a list from the INTERVIEWING PANEL at the National Writers Conference, 2015, combined with advice from a number of websites and blogs and a few tips and tricks from Susannah Fraser, our Manuscrapped in-house interviewer.

Before the Interview

  • Give your subjects options and be respectful of their time let them choose what works best for them.
  • Expect the booking and pursuing of an interview subject to be time-consuming.
  • It helps having a publication behind you when you approach subjects for interviews.
  • Once you have found a subject that you wish to interview, approach their publicist.  ‘Publicists are generally good to deal with.’
  • Refer a friend. It’s not out of the question to ask your interview subject to refer a friend for an interview.  Subjects will often know someone interesting you can interview next.
  • Choosing person to interview – ask your editor first.  90% of the work will be tracking these people down.
  • Think of what an interviewee might have to offer on a larger topic.  Don’t be afraid to include news and currents events, to get their reaction to the world.  It is a wonderful way of getting an insight into how your subject views the world.  What could they teach readers, about a larger story?

Continue reading

Benefits of a Writers Festival; Why you should go

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It’s almost Writers Festival season.  The Sydney Writers Festival Program just came out in the newspaper and it’s time to start planning interstate trips to see your much-loved authors of romantic comedy.  But

But you made such an effort last year… It seems like you only just paid off the debt of buying all those brand new books!

Writers festivals can sometimes be intense, expensive, overcrowded exclusive events.  Locations are hard to get to no matter how many shuttle buses are organised.  The crowds are exhausting to manage and standing in line can leave you bored.  The coffee is expensive and you always end up with nowhere to sit, wishing you were at home reading the Saturday Paper.

So why should you go?  Why should Emerging Writers keep going to Writers Festivals, year after year?  What is the point and what are the benefits?

Here are our top reasons to keep heading to Writers Festivals, even if you don’t feel 100% up for it this year. Continue reading

The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton

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THE SECRET KEEPER by Kate Morton

I first stumbled upon Kate Morton in the book pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.  The article was about Australia’s most sought after writer at the moment – and how I probably hadn’t heard of her.  It was right.  I hadn’t heard of her.

At the time, THE SECRET KEEPER was about to be released, and I figured I owed it to myself to get a copy, I owed it to Australia!  That was the first time I read The Secret Keeper.

Now three years later, I am reading it again.

The Blurb Copy

During a picnic at her family’s farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking crime, a crime that challenges everything she knows about her adored mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel and her sisters are meeting at the farm to celebrate Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this is her last chance to discover the truth about that long-ago day, Laurel searches for answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

As Laurel refuses to let her mother pass without sharing her secret of what really happened on that day, the reader is transported back to London during World War II when Dorothy, Laurels mother was a young woman.  The tale is adventurous and thrilling, but I feel like I cannot really put too much here without spoiling the whole thing.  All I will say is that the ending is gut wrenching!

This book has one of the most well written literary openings of any book I have read, comparable to the hot air balloon scene from Ian McEwan’s ENDURING LOVE.

From there it reads like a historical drama-slash- family mystery investigation-slash-war romance.  I hate to use the cliche, but it really does have it all.  At the heart of Morton’s stories are hidden family secrets set against vast sweeping sagas.  A genre she has single-handedly revived in such a way as to make it her own.

The emerging writer, writing, readingThe first time I read this book, it completely consumed me.  I powered through the novel at a crazy pace.  The second time around, knowing what I know about the ending, I’m seeing a completely different story.

The second reading is incredibly interesting.  I’m looking back at every thread of the story, knowing they are all leading together.  It’s really beautifully written.

The Secret Keeper is an easy (addictive) read, a book you can quickly pick up and put down.  It’s hard to compare it to other writing, as it so unique.  It reminds me of so many stories and novels I have read, but at the same time, has a unique voice I haven’t heard before.

KATE MORTON

THE SECRET KEEPER was published in 2012 by Allen & Unwin in Australia.  It is Morton’s fourth novel.  It’s a big book, at nearly 600 pages, but you don’t feel the story going slowly in any way.  It’s just heavy in your arms, late at night as you find you won’t put it down.

Reading this book as an Emerging Writer, I often felt a little sick. It’s the kind of book that is soooo good, you know you could never write.  Reading this book on a bad day could be detrimental to your writing practice.  On a good day it could bring hope that Australian lady writers from Queensland are making it big right around the world.  It could go either way.

When THE SECRET KEEPER was released in 2012 it was very well received.  I remember seeing whole stands in bookstores devoted to the fourth Morton installment (not that her books are related in any way).  The marketing behind The Secret Keeper was huge, and for good reason.  Publishers knew they had a winning book and they wanted to share the love.

Kate Morton has been working hard for a long time.  When people say, it takes 10 years to become an overnight success, they are talking about writers like Morton.  “It’s been a long, hard struggle to get to this point” SMH  Kate Morton now earns Million dollar advances for her books.  But it wasn’t always the case.

Kate Morton originally wanted to become an actress.  Instead, she earned herself first-class honors for her English Literature degree at the University of Queensland, during which time she wrote two full-length manuscripts (which are unpublished).  Mortons first book was rejected by publishers, as was her second.

The third book, that would become the 2006 novel The Shifting Fog (The House at Riverton), was set aside after she had her first child, and it was during this time that her agent received an offer for the half published piece.  She finished it in a month and the book was a success.  Since then she has released a novel approximately every two and a half years.

good fiction books to read, good books, book blogs, books, book reviews, book review blogs, good fiction books, kate morton, the lake house, the lake house reviewAs an Emerging Writer, Kate Morton’s work has not only taught me about plotting, character development and tone, her career has reminded me to keep pursuing a writing career, even when it feels impossible.  As long as I am getting improving with every effort, then I am not wasting my time.

THE LAKE HOUSE was released in October 2015. It is Kate Morton’s Fifth novel – I am leaving my office now to go and buy it – Goodbye.

This House of Grief, Helen Garner

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THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF by Helen Garner.  True Australian Crime.  Recommended for 18 and over.  (Not recommended for pregnant women.)

helen garner review, this house of grief review, reviews, meghan brewster reviews, book reviews, australian writers reviewed, Australian literature review, aussie writers, book review, book reviews, book review blogsThis House of Grief is the story of a murder trial.  The book is a detailed observation of the trial of a father accused of drowning his three sons on Father’s Day.  The high-profile trial that took place in Melbourne followed the accused Robert Farquharson of drowning his three sons by driving their car into a dam and then fleeing the scene.

After a six-year break in publishing Helen Garnder is back.  I purchased my copy of THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF at the Sydney Writers Festival, after Helen Garner gave an incredible address at the Recital Hall.  It’s signed.  And I love it.

The book covers almost seven years in which the court case became HELEN GARNER‘s obsession.  She was in the courtroom every day of Farquharson’s trial and subsequent retrial, along with countless journalists and the families of both the accused and his former wife.

Garner not only documents the presentation of the evidence and the intimacy of proceedings but allows her own perception and experience to colour the telling.  Her observations are so accurate it is exciting.  Intimate and mundane, addictive and gripping.

Her ability to read people and dissect their mannerisms, body language and presence makes this book stunning.  She is an observer of the purest form, seeking out both sides of the argument, wanted to extract the truth.

THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF was published in 2014 by TEXT PUBLISHING and is Garner’s fifth work of non-fiction.

I finished the whole book in just a week, crying in public and taking it into the bathroom with me because I simply couldn’t put it down.  A week to read, quite quick really.  The question that hangs over the entire telling is the most complicated of all, did he do it?

As an emerging writer, I think the first thing you need to know about Helen Garner is that she does not have a website, she isn’t on Facebook or Instagram and she doesn’t appear to use Twitter.   She does not engage in social media at all, and yet her work and her following speak for themselves.

Sitting in the Angel Place recital hall, to a full crowd of intrigued and excited fans, Helen Gardner was an incredible force.  Her words held us all, as we leant forward, craning for more.

She is an incredible writer.  Her description and observations of people leave me in awe, with beautiful metaphors such as…

…as Morrissey took Farquharson by the hand drew him into the bombed-out rubble of the story, aiming a hose at every smoking point of doubt, my heart softened again towards the awkward, unhappy figure on the stand.

When This House os Grief was released it was shortlisted for seven writing awards in Australia, winning the Ned Kelly Awards for Crime writing for Best True Crime.

Helen Garner’s work has taught me appreciate clarity, brevity and truth.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS review of Helen Garner’s This House of Grief.

Helen Garner PODCAST from the 2015 Sydney Writers Festival, How We Write About Darkness.

Favourite Books for 2015

So here is a list of the top five books I read in 2015.  These books were not all published in 2015, it’s just when I happened to find them.  I am now adding these novels to my Christmas shopping lists for others, recommending them to friends and lending them to family.

helen garner review, this house of grief review, reviews, meghan brewster reviews, book reviews, australian writers reviewed, Australian literature review, aussie writers, book review, book reviews, book review blogsTHIS HOUSE OF GRIEF

Helen Garner follows the Australian murder trial of Robert Farquharson where he was charged with drowning his three sons on Fathers Day.  Over seven years, she witness and documented this intimate and tragic court case.  THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF is as powerful as it is crisp and clear, as much about the Australian legal system as it is about the psychology of grief and the bonds of family.  Her ability to read people and dissect their mannerisms, body language and presense makes this book stunning.  Garner is an observer of the purest form, seeking out both sides of the argument, wanting to extract the truth.

James Bradley, Clade cover, clade james bradelyCLADE

As I continue to read novels more critically and learn how to articulate my responses to them, I find it easier to review books I didn’t like.  I enjoyed reading CLADE so much that to review and critic it was difficult.  Set within the changing world of a warming planet, the story spans three generations, beginning in the near future and ending with long arm of story reaching into the galaxy.  It is a gentle, literary science fiction novel.  I feel gushy, stupid and just want to tell everyone, I loved it!

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I have read and loved all of Kate Morton’s novels.  She is a literary power house, one of Australia’s most successful writers. Currently taking in million dollar advances for her books, she is being compared to Collen McCullough as Australia’s successful export.  THE LAKE HOUSE hit the best-seller list as soon as it was released.  When I was reading The Lake House in public, people openly asked if they could borrow the book when I was done.

The novel begins in 1933, with the mysterious disappearance of a young boy at a midsummer party.  The unsolved tragedy drives the family from their home and into separate worlds.  Seventy years later, Sadie Sparrow retreats to her grandfather’s cottage in Cornwall and stumbles upon an abandoned house.  When I was reading The Lake House in public, people openly asked if they could borrow the book when I was done.

proust 2HOW PROUST CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE

This book was defiantly my funniest, most challenging read of the year.  The starting point of HOW PROUST CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE is that a great novel can be nothing less than life-transforming. This is an unusual claim: our education system while stressing that novels are highly worthwhile, rarely investigates why this is so.

When asked what this book is actually about, there is no clear answer.  It is about everything, and it is about Proust.  Although Proust was rarely happy himself, Alain de Botton delves into the writing, life and times of Proust to bring humour and insight into the benefits he might bring to our lives.

Amazing babes, amazing babes book, emerging writer, emerging writers, reviews, australian books, aussie book reviewsAMAZING BABES

AMAZING BABES is a celebration of innovative, brave and world-changing women.  It is a beautifully illustrated children’s picture book that inspires little girls and boys alike.  Each page features an incredible woman from history, focusing on their achievements bravery, intellect, creativity and spunk.  When I first read this book I felt a little tingle run down my spine.  It’s a really inspiring book, for grown-ups as much as little people.