How to Get A Book Review

There is one very simple way of getting your book reviewed.  It is so obvious that lots of people actually overlook it, searching for more complicated and intricate ways of sneaking a book review from an unlikely suspect.  Ask.

The first three book reviews I received for my book arrived in my email because I had asked for them.

Unless you are a major author with the backing of a big publisher, you are probably going to struggle to get a review in mainstream media.  this also means that the people who are going to be reviewing you book will be doing it for free in their spare time.

So be kind, and gentle and give your reviewer sometime.

The best way to try and get a book review is to ask for one.  There are many people who read you book who would not think to give the book a review online.  So ask them, perhaps at the end of the book if you feel so bold. Continue reading

Australian Book Reviews

Emerging writer, emerging writers festival, what is an emerging writer, young writer, your writers, australian writers blog

Feature image from MANUSCRAPPED

My Year of Critical Thinking: Why I am going to review Australian books.

I have known for a long time that I’m not a book reviewer.  My lack of formal education on the subject of books and reviewing was my first clue.  Having never wanted to review books before, nor sought out Book Reviewing as a profession, I was almost convinced.  It wasn’t until I realised I had no previous experience on the matter nor had I tried in any way to learn about book reviewing that I knew; I was / will never be a Book Reviewer.

But when has that ever stopped anyone from verbalising their opinions on things they know nothing about?  The internet is a testament to the under skilled / under qualified making it big by saying it loud.  All you really need these days is a debit card and a basic understanding of html.  <sarcasm>Everyone deserves to have their say about everything</sarcasm>

This year I have decided that there is no way forward for me if not through the marsh like swamps of the book review world.  I must start critically reading and thoughtfully reflecting on the books I consume.  I must start seriously learning from those around me.  I do it not for the glory, but for the expansion and mental exercise of my brain muscle.

I am burning through books at the moment, consuming them as quickly as I can before moving on; thinking that this would teach me something simply by osmosis (Ok so part of that is actually true, by reading a lot, I am getting much better)!

Everyone tells you, writers should read a lot.  I have been reading, but I have not been reading critically.  I want to actually think about books, and stories, and writing, and authors, and where books are placed within a writers’ life and career.

I want to really look at the vocabulary within a book, at what that book can teach me about stories and literature.  How was that book received when it was first released?  And how is it seen now?

How to Review a Book?

I really know nothing about book reviews.  I love to read them, but have never really pulled them apart before either!  (Ohhhh curse my sluggish-post-university-Netflix-saturated-mind!)  The Book Pages are the first part of the paper I read.  It is my favourite part of the paper on the weekend.  I love adding new titles to the ‘must read’ note in my phone, now so long it spikes adrenaline within me just opening the tab.

How does one review a book?  Do I have to spoil the ending?  Do I have to tell you everything that happens?  If so, how much information is too much?  I don’t want to drop too many spoilers but what is a spoiler?  Is telling you the book is crap the biggest spoiler of all?  I have so much to learn.

I will do a little research and get back to you….

Here is what my reviews will look like…

I am going to review books from the perspective of an Emerging Writer, by pulling them apart the same way any Emerging Writer would (should).  I am going to look at the whole book.  I want to know what that book could teach an Emerging Writer.  I am going to look at how that book fits with in the writer’s career and the story, if there is one, about how it was published.

THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF, by Helen Garner

THE LAKE HOUSE, by Kate Morton

THE WORLD WITHOUT US, by Mireille Juchau

RUSH OH! by Shirley Barrett

BURIAL RITES, by Hannah Kent

BREATH by Tim Winton

THE THORN BIRDS by Colleen McCullough

CLADE, by James Bradley

 

 

To have your Australian fiction novel REVIEWED, inquire here.

 

Your first rejection?

emerging writers, emerging writers festival, meghan brewster, Ebooks, ebooks online, book, gift ideas, buy books online, download ebook, how to publish a book, self publishing, how to publish an ebook, self publishing ebooks, meghan brewster

Feature image from MANUSCRAPPED

By Jacob Henwood.

What changes after your first rejection?

Lots of stuff. It is harrowing. It is literally one of the hardest literary things you are ever going to experience. It is like eating carob, but it never ends.   Everything you ever submit ever again gets automatically rejected. Forever. You just get the one go.

No-one ever tells you that until it’s too late.

No.  It is not like eating carob at all. It’s fine. It’s better than fine. It’s really good!

There are lots of reasons why it is good: you can learn about your writing; you get to practice the submission process; and you get the chance to make it better.

I got some fantastic feedback from people who felt absolutely no obligation to make me feel better about myself and in all likelihood were not involved in my upbringing. Maybe they were; the process was anonymous.

The best part though was that the moment the submission went through a wall collapsed. Not a real one. Submitting stories does not compromise the structural integrity of buildings. Imagine if it did. That would be bad. Luckily, it was a metaphorical wall. I had never noticed it before, but when it was gone a lot of things started to make sense.

What I realised as I stood amongst the debris was that it really didn’t matter if I got rejected. Lots of writers have been rejected. That isn’t news. It doesn’t matter to me and my writing. It will change my writing, because everything should change my writing.

It doesn’t mean that the story I am trying to tell isn’t a story worth telling. It means that I haven’t conveyed that yet.  Perhaps I don’t have the skills, or the experience to do that yet. No biggie. I’ll keep going. I will learn, redraft, and submit again.  I will probably be rejected again. When that happens, I will keep going.

There is a question that you should ask yourself. Why do you write? I write because I love the process, and I love books, and I love telling stories. I cannot think of anything that I would rather do with my time. When I look at that story now, I can see very clearly that I gnawed at the story instead of polishing it. That is a good thing, because now I get to make it better. I get to go back to what I love doing, and make it tighter, and make it cleaner, and make it with the best words with which I am able. Words are the wizard’s bananas, and writing them is the complete opposite of eating carob.

What is Holding You Back?

emerging writers, emerging writers festival, meghan brewster, Ebooks, ebooks online, book, gift ideas, buy books online, download ebook, how to publish a book, self publishing, how to publish an ebook, self publishing ebooks,

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”  ― C. JoyBell C.

A Fear of Success.

Have you ever heard of this?  Apparently I have it.  I was sitting around last night doing a funny test online, when I suddenly found out that I have a fear of Success.  The following is my result.

Your Result:

Fear of Success

You’re fairly confident in your abilities, but you balk at the pressure of maintaining success once you have it. You know that your achievements will breed higher expectations, and you worry that you won’t be able to meet them. You may even be experiencing what psychologists call impostor syndrome, the fear that those around you will discover you’re not really as talented or competent as they think. People who fear success often credit their achievements to circumstances rather than to their talent and other assets. The key for these people is to accept responsibility for their accomplishments.

 It turns out a fear of success is more complicated and difficult to cure than a fear of failure.

Being a failure is easy.  When you fail, everyone is nice to you, even if they think you’re stupid.  Failing is comfortable.  Your life will not change in any way if you try something new and fail.  When you fail, everything will stays the same.  Everyone rallies around the person who can’t get his or her shit together.  When you are successful, people watch you, wait for you to trip up, scrutinize your spelling and no one will worry about you.  Successful people essentially get left out of the community circle.  Successful people are the ones who are called upon to help others, give advice, money, information, time, services for free…

I have these ideas about success that I have just made up -Pooof! – From nowhere!  Yes, I defiantly have a fear of Success, as you can see.  I made all of that up.  I don’t know what it is like to be successful and I won’t know until I get over this stupid little fear I have.  I am worried about I know nothing about.  A fear of success is far worse than a fear of failure.

‘Procrastination is the fear of success.’ Chinese fortune cookie

These are the Fears

I will have to out-do my success with more success?  Once you get successful you need to remain that success, right?  Of course – So if this next project works, then I am going to have to come up with another better project after that or I’ll be just like Harper Lee and everyone will think my more famous and more consistently successful friend wrote my dam book for me.

Successful people are exposed, criticized? Successful people are often in the public eye or being recognised for great things they have done.  Successful people are the ones that everyone else wants to bring down.   You have done it yourself.  I have.  I have looked at a successful person and been certain that I would have made a far better outfit choice or I would have stood differently. ‘How did she pick that dress I’m mean really?

Success will transform me into someone else?  My friends wont like me anymore because I will be different.  I am scared of becoming someone else – My partner fell in love with me when I was a very unorganized, slightly alcoholic, Art School student who never finished any paintings.  He loves me for who I am right now – Not who I will be when I am successful…Ekk

When there is any kind of change, there is always a fear of loosing who you are and what you have.  Instead os thinking as a change as a moving away from yourself, try to think of a change as you gaining more of yourself.  Image you are adding onto your personality, your skills, your achievements – not away from who you are.  You will still be the same person, just with new skills.

The truth is that being successful is probably easier than you think – For starters, you will have more money (If you haven’t picked it up already, I am talking about ‘Career Success’ not relationships or family crap)

If you can get by with not much money, as you have been so so long (as a writer I am guessing)  then think of how easy it will become once you start getting paid more or get publishing in heaps of journals.  J.K Rowling said it very well in her interview with Oprah.  Once she became a successful writer, she realised that she could throw money are her writing problems.  It was a relief for her to realise that she did not have to put up with writing at her kitchen table amidst the noise and mess of her home life.

So what can you do?

The Cure to A Fear of Success – Oprah –

Many of my clients find this simple exercise helpful: Think of a recent success—say, a new account that you won. Now make a list of the skills and qualities you drew on to win it—determination, intelligence, creativity, charm.… (If you’re struggling, ask a friend for help; others can often see your assets more clearly than you can.) Make this exercise a habit each time something goes well at work. Once you begin to see your strengths in action every day, you will recognize that you are, in fact, well-equipped to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead.

If none of that works – Just remember that you are only brave when you are doing something that scares the shit out of you.  Life is too short for first world problems …

Is there such a thing as an Emerging Writer?

what is an emerging writer?, Emerging writers

what is an emerging writer?, Emerging writersThere is no such thing as an Emerging Writer – You are either born a writer or you’re not.’

The other day while I was discussing my website with a group of people, I was confronted by this harsh and elitist response.  ‘Wow…’ I thought as I listened to the strangest rant I have ever heard in my life, ‘Do people really believe this?’

To say that you are born a writer completely negates everyones ability to grow, change, learn and evolve.  As an ex high school teacher I cannot believe in this kind of twisted fatalistic dogma.  To believe that we cannot learn to be a writer (well) is scary and weird.

To Emerge: to develop, unfold, to come forth, arrive, turn up.

I do agree with people who state that some children are better build, physically, to play different sports, but that does not mean that every tall child ‘is born’ a basketball player.  Children who enjoy reading at a young age will probably have a better vocabulary and a heightened sense of grammar structures, which will most likely mean that they do well in English – but that is about it.

Of course there is such a thing as an Emerging Writer, with the same truth as there are apprentice plumbers, pre pubescent teenagers, crawling infants who can’t yet walk and journalists applying for newspaper cadetships.  To say that we are born a complete sum of our eventual parts is horrifying to say the least and is an elitist approach to words, which by their nature, consistency and rules are meant to be inclusive, shared and experienced by as many people possible.

I believe I am an Emerging Writer.  I am certainly not a professional writer and I don’t expect to be treated like one.  I am also not not a writer either.  I am in a half way place, and it helps to have a name for it.  I wont be an Emerging Writer for ever, as emerging, by definition indicates a motion forward, but for the moment, it’s a great place to be.

Don’t let anyone tell you, ‘You are either born a writer or you aren’t’.

Bit your thumb at them and walk away.

 

 

IMG_0493Meghan Brewster is a Blogger, Freelance writer and general spinner of Fiction. She is the founder and editor of The Emerging Writers Diary, as well as Itp & Me, a website dedicated to managing the rare platelet disorder, ITP. To find out more about Meghan Brewster follow this link.  By making purchases through links on this website you are helping to support a young emerging writer. Thank you.

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Criticism; And what to do with it

Receiving criticism, emerging writers diary, writingCriticism.  I always knew it was coming.  Every writer, every writing book and everyone tried to prepare me for it.  I have been writing full time for about a year now.  I have been posting content on this, and another site regularly for a long time.  Mostly I have received quite positive feedback, but nothing could prepare me for the wave of nausea and doubt that puled the floor from under me, when I posted an particular article a little while ago.

Over the last year I have learnt a great deal and have loved watching my skills progress – slowly but surely.  I am proud of how far I have come and I am excited for the future… But when I received messages like this one – I had to wonder ‘What the hell was I doing?’ 

Nothing can prepare you for the first time you put your work out there and you receive a barrage of negative, or should I say ‘constructive criticism’.  Logically you know how to handle it, but emotionally and physically, you can’t help reacting.

Receiving Criticism, emerging writers, The emerging writers diary

From Reddit

You might be thinking this comment is is not that bad.  Well, there was a lot more than this. This comment was the best of it.

What is the worst part in all of this, is that they are right!  I am wondering if I am just not good enough to be a writer.

So what do you do with Criticism?
  1. Receiving Critcism, emerging writers, the emerging writers diaryFirstly you need to make two columns on a blank piece of paper, for sorting out your criticism into two categories
  2. Title those two categories as follows – Bullshit Hater Nonsense – & – Helpful Tips Just Worded Badly

After the initial shock, or receiving criticism, start to sort through it.  Which catagory does it fall into?  It is just Bullshit Hater Nonsense?  Or is there a Helpful Tip in there that has just been worded very badly?  Either it is wrong – and you can fuck them off – or it is right and you have the chance to learn, change and improve.

Because of the messages I received about my grammar, I went straight to the shops and brought the little Green Grammar Book and started to read it.  Wow, I still have so much to learn about writing, but that’s ok.

Why Criticism is Great!

Having your writing criticised is the best thing that can happen to you.  It means you’re a writer.  Every writing student will go through this at one point or another.  It is a right of passage through to the other side – Professional writing.  

  1. You are brave enough to put your writing out there.
  2. You are working as a writer.
  3. People are engaged enough in reading your work to respond to it.
  4. You are engaged enough with your audience to hear any criticisms.
  5. You have the chance to learn something fantastic from it.
  6. You have the chance to reaffirm your writing style and your voice.
  7. You are more advanced than every other person claiming to be a writer that has never shared a single word.
  8. You might not know everything on earth – Who Cares!!

I have since gone back and read over all of the other criticisms I received.  I read them over and over again until they did not have any power anymore.  Some where helpful and I have learned from them.  Others I have already forgotten.

If you have got any great words of encouragement to emerging writers we would love to here from you.

 

 

IMG_0493Meghan Brewster is a Blogger, Freelance writer and general spinner of Fiction. She is the founder and editor of The Emerging Writers Diary, as well as Itp & Me, a website dedicated to managing the rare platelet disorder, ITP. To learn more about Meghan Brewster follow this link. By making purchases through links on this website you are helping to support a young emerging writer. Thank you.

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7 Responses you might need as an Emerging Writer

The Emerging Writer, Writing, Defences

The Emerging Writer, Writing, Defenses Starting out as a writer can be really hard.  As you start to tell people what you are up to all day, there can be a number of different responses; not all of them good.

I have starting being a lot more open about my work as a writer.  I am now proud to say ‘work’ even though it is not my main ‘income’.  I used to get those two things confused but they are very different.  Career and Job and Work and Income and Lifestyle and Finances are so complicated and intricuate, that I no longer try and extract them from the other, as I once did.

I do ‘work’ as a writer and I defend my position.

Here are some common responses I have received after telling people I am working as a writer – accompanied with a suggested reply.  I hope they are helpful.

1.  …But you have never studied writing !  

The Emerging Writer, Writing, DefencesWell, you never went to the University of Arseholes and got your undergraduate degree in being a useless, sceptic, sad old looser but you seem to still be quite qualified!’

I kindly reply that I have not ruled out any further study, I am just establishing wether it is right for me before I commit to another four year degree, then I bring up my long list of university study and the years that both my bachelor degrees too me to complete and how they both lead me to nothing.

2.  You must have a lot of time on your hands if you can manage to write a book!

This response is often said in a self sacrificing martyrdom tone, as they tilt their head to one side and pretend to dream of a time when they too might have as much leisure time as you.  Don’t by into it.  It is a trick to make you feel guilty when you absolutely should not.  Kindly tell your assailant that you have just the same amount of time in your day as everyone else, you just choose to spend your time writing a novel.  It’s that simple.

3.  You will be around in the day time tomorrow, could you just…?

The Emerging Writer, Defences, WritingThis is not just an attitude people have towards writers but all people who work from home.  This ‘errand running’ assumption is based on a common belief that working from home is not a real profession.

There is an implied lack of social responsibility towards the writer, making you feel as thought you are in some way in debuted to those who are less organised or who have made poor life choices.

The post office is a common one… house chores, going up the street, a few groceries, or my favourite – registering their car.  Waiting for a bed to be delivered and getting keys cut for someone else’s house guest are a few of the odd jobs I have run for people.  I fell into the ‘help everyone out‘ trap for a little while before I realised that I hated doing shit for other people.  If you want to, that’s fine, but it’s not for me.

4.  Why are you going home so early, you’re not even working tomorrow?

How many times have I been at a dinner party in the last few months and had people question me when I tried to go home…(Well only once, but it seemed really inappropriate).  ‘But you don’t have to get up for anything tomorrow’ they said.  I was really hurt by this.  I guess what she meant was that I could start writing whenever I felt like it, but what it showed to me was a lack of understanding for how hard this work is.  There is nothing helpful to say at times like this, cause mostly you are too hurt to be funny.  Just remember that I know how hard it is for you – and so does every other writer out there.  And go home!  You need to sleep.

5.  But you can’t even spell.

This comment was both hurtful and informative.  I have since convinced myself that spelling is for editors and I am doing my best as an Australian to keep them employed and valid.

6. Don’t you have to hand write everything before it is any good?

After hearing from a friend about a writing lecturer who refused any work that was not first written as a long hand draft, I started to wonder about practice.  She was laughing as she mentioned it, saying that there was a lot of writing essays first and then faking a hand written draft later.  What a waste of time? I say.

Weather people like to romanticise their own practice or waste their own time or insist on doing things the ‘right way’, this folk lore of writing is another rule invented to exclude people who want to be writers.  The truth is that you just need to do what works best for you and be willing to say it, even to your writing friends.

7.  You still writing that little book of yours?

The key word in this question is little – like a hobby.  This is not even meant as an insult.  It is just a projection of themselves onto you.  That is how they view their own hobbies, dreams, or lifetime goals – as something small, insignificant and easily dismissed.

Don’t take it personally, it is just how they approach their own creativity.

8.  How do you expect to make any money from this?

The Emerging Writer, Writing, DefencesI am very honest when people ask me this question and sometimes it annoys them.  I simply answer that I don’t expect to make money from it.  I expect to end up with my well deserved $2000 a year and a successful career in hospitality.

But I also expect to be the envy of every person I meet who doesn’t have the guts to do what I did.  I expect to wake up every day loving my life and my career, satisfied that I am not wasting my time.  I expect to spend time with the incredible characters I create, in worlds far beyond my own existence.  I expect to find and connect with the most incredible colleagues around the country.  I expect to be respected in my own home.  I expect to not have to defend my choices.

I expect that one day I will look back on a diverse body of work with pride.

 

Can I Crowdfund?

Is it fair for me to Crowdfund my work when I have not contributed to others’?

12 June 2013 – Crowd funding

I am wasting my time on Facebook as usual, when a see something that makes me think.  A friend has shared a link to help crowd fund his movie.  It is not the first time I have seen a friend doing this.  Wyrmwood and Newtown are projects that friends of mine have crowd funded.

The Emerging WriterThe thing is, I have never had any money to contribute to their projects.  Is it fair for me to crowdfund my work when I have not contributed to others’.  I am still confused about what I am offering and why I am asking.  I defiantly feel a bit uncomfortable about asking people to help me make my dream come true, when they are going to nothing out of it.

I started to do a little research.  The two most popular sites to crowd fund online is Kickstarter and Pozible.  I also found a TED talk video by Amanda Palmer called The Art of Asking.  Interesting… There is a lot to consider.

If anyone is thinking about Crowd Funding their work and are not sure about, I recommend watching this video, I’ve put a link in up there.