Monthly Archives: May 2018

Ruby Hamad and White Women Tears Over White Women Tears

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On Tuesday the 8th of May Ruby Hamad published an opinion piece in The Guardian entitled How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour, it was met with huge interest overseas but almost silence here in Australia. Although it was labeled as an Opinion Piece it is actually quite detailed with references and could certainly be classified as an article, but I’m not going to examine editorial decisions that I know nothing about, I’d like to talk about the silence.

I saw the article posted on the 8th, I follow Ruby Hamad on Twitter and it was right there on her feed. Even if I didn’t, it would have been hard to miss as the discussion picked up momentum, particularly in the US, and began to fill my timeline by the 17th. Ruby Hamad used this Twitter thread by Djed Press as a catalyst to discuss white women’s need to centre themselves in conversations for and about women of colour.

Ruby Hamad’s piece landed and then the whispered conversations began, ‘have you read it?’ Awkward conversations around if it was being said white women could never cry. White women were being quietly confronted and many of us didn’t quite know what to do about it. There was some #notallwhitewomen going on.

I kind of expected this response because as a white woman it is a confronting read. Being called out on bad behaviour is confronting. And then having to think about is it true, and have I done this, is confronting. It’s confronting not because anything Ruby Hamad wrote was terrible or viscous but because it is always confronting to examine yourself. I mean, at least it is for me. I’ve got awful self-esteem so self examination is generally telling myself how badly I suck, it might actually be pleasant for other people who constantly tell themselves how right and awesome they are. I imagine for those kinds of people this article would have been doubly confronting.

However, what I didn’t expect was the continued silence. I was expecting maybe 5 days to go past and then another established journalist or writer to join the discussion and really continue the conversation. It’s the kind of conversation that requires deft hands to cover it because there are complicating factors that have us white women clutching their pearls over this and it’d be great to see someone tackle these issues and still stand up and agree that this is a problem that we need to take responsibility for and check our behaviour on. I’m not saying white women are the only ones who do this, but I am saying we do have a problem with it.

Now I am not an experienced journalist nor an award winning writer, in fact I am the total arse end of Australian writing. I am a self-published, dyslexic author with ADHD and depression born into zero media or publishing connections. Heck, I lucked out on the connection front in any sense. I am not the deft hands needed for this conversation so I have stayed silent and waited to let the ‘adults’ do the talking… but they didn’t. The ‘adults’ didn’t join the conversation. They publicly ignored it. It’s possible that every single one of them somehow missed both it and the international coverage and that’s why they haven’t commented… But regardless of the reason there has been a lot of silence, so now this hack is commenting and hoping somebody will jump on in and do a better job. “Did you see that clumsy shit Robin wrote? I can do better than that!”

One of the major issues I heard whispered about was, isn’t that what MRA say about women? Aren’t we fighting them and saying that they’re wrong to say that? And it’s true MRA do say something similar. They do say women use their tears as weapons. They say that women overreact to being abused and use tears to garner sympathy for their abuse. Let’s be clear, if you hit, slap, push, scream at or threaten a woman, their tears are a valid response and not a dirty trick. However, that’s noy what Ruby Hamad’s article was about. It was about wronging someone and then when you’re called out for your bad behaviour resorting to tears and finger pointing to shift blame. You know, like a man who beats his wife and then crie that it was her fault because she nagged him. The tears being questioned are those used to silence people who have checked you on bad behaviour. It’s the tears used to claim a person calling you out is abusive, and that the person you wronged is actually worse than you for daring to point out your poor behaviour and they should have done it in some other way and there for you don’t have to list. Hamad’s a trick was not saying that if a white woman gets punched in the face she can’t cry, but that to wrong someone and then use those tears as a shield is manifestly uncool.

And quite frankly, we know there are women who do this. To deny this is to be dishonest. Honestly, I told a woman she was being pretty rude that exact same week and she began bad mouthing me at length telling people that I subjected her to inexcusable abuse and made some not so subtle references to my mental health. I basically just had to eat shit, because I’m open about my mental health I’m easily targeted by these type of people. ‘Oh that Robin, she probably did do the wrong thing, she’s crazy, poor you for being called in for being underhanded.’ Guess who else is easy fodder for these types of people? Anyone perceived as lower on the food chain, anyone they can easily assign blame to because they’re viewed as less capable. Disabled women cop this frequently too. ‘Oh they can’t really do things for themselves, we’ll just railroad them.’ ‘Oh you’re so good for helping those poor unfortunates out, how dare they want a say in how they’re treated and to have dignity, you’re so good, they’re so horrible.

So is it really any wonder that this happens to WOC too? A group of people who have been portrayed in everything ranging from literature, to movies, to the media, as aggressive and volatile. Heck Ruby Hamad’s article got treated as aggressive and shameful by some, and I won’t share links because I don’t want to give threatening statements oxygen. She didn’t write “all white women are always c-bombs and all WOC are always right” but people behaved as if she did. In fact she wrote:
“We talk about toxic masculinity,” Ajayi warns, “but there is (also) toxicity in wielding femininity in this way.” Brown and black women know we are, as musician Miss Blanks writes, “imperfect victims”. That doesn’t mean we are always in the right but it does mean we know that against a white woman’s accusations, our perspectives will almost always go unheard either way.

So far Claire Lehmann seems to be the only somewhat prominent, Australian, white woman really to have made a splash discussing it. She didn’t agree with the article but at least she acknowledged it and addressed it. It wasn’t this culture of silence. She didn’t go for a “ignore it and it’ll go away” type thing. I’m hoping more prominent, white women stand up and address the crying elephant in the room. Because, it happens and we really need to address it.

Cryptopart founder and journalist Asher Wolf has called attention to the fact that all this and more is happening in white feminism, and I’m hoping that her voice is big enough and respected enough that some more meaningful discussions starts happening here, like they have overseas. We need to stop falling for these narcissistic games of shifting blame onto the victim through theatrics. Not just in the writing or the media, but in every aspect of life. The best at crying isn’t always right. People saying something horrifically racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic/ablist should be able to be called out for their behaviour (I’m not talking about pile-ons) regardless of how poised they are when saying they’re repugnant opinions. Crying because someone checked your bad behaviour and trying to turn others against them for daring to question you is uncool, and people falling for this shit is ridiculous. “Oh yes, she is so awful for calling out your racist and homophobic behaviour, we should totally band against her and exclude her from all the things because she’s truly a bad apple.” Sometimes people cry, it does not make the other person a villain. I’m so fucking tired of it, I can’t even imagine how exhausted WOC must be in this society.

Anyway, find Ruby Hamad’s article (linked in first paragraph also) here.

Find Ruby Hamad’s website here.

Find Ruby Hamad on Twitter here.

Find Ruby Hamad on Facebook here.

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Ellie Marney Has Assembled #SelfPubIsHere

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On May 11th Pauline Findlay and I launched #SelfPubIsHere along with a merry band of self-published authors which included #LoveOzYA superstar Ellie Marnie. My debut post urged self-publishing Avengers to assemble for a self-publishing festival in Australia. The movement went gangbusters and got covered in Books+Publishing and Australian Self-Publisher. Last night Ellie wrote her own post doubling down on needing our own festival. And to be honest, it had too many good quotes for me to write them all here because I’d simply be rewriting the whole article, so I urge you all to read it. It is all about making that previously hidden aspect of publishing such as rights management, formatting, cover design, editing, etc visible in a way traditional festivals simply cannot. Find the article here and enjoy! So what do you think? Are you ready to assemble for a #SelfPubIsHere festival?

P.S. You can find Ellie Marney’s books here.

Writing Teachers I Love #SelfPubIsHere

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Last week for #SelfPubIsHere I spoke about editors that I love, people who make your manuscript glow. But what about before you have a manuscript? Are there people who can help you before you have finished, or before you have even started? The answer is quite simply yes, writing teachers exist. And fortunately we live in a time where there are more and more teachers available to learn from. I’m going to share with you some writing teachers that I love and where to find ones that you’ll love too. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s quality teaching. Not only did I teach for over a decade, including being Acting head of English, Drama coordinator, placed on secondment briefly to the body now absorbed by NESA amongst many other things, BUT I also studied directly with the creators of Quality Teaching and Productive Pedagogy. So trust me, I know teaching, and I say these people are awesome.

Toni Jordan is a truly incredible teacher. The three scenes that are consistently held up as excellent by critique partners of my WIP were all written during Toni Jordan’s Character and Dialogue course held at NSW Writers’ Centre. She is Melbourne based and has lectured at RMIT, presented extensively at The Wheeler Centre, tutors at Writers Victoria, and indeed lots of other places too. You can even get personalised mentoring from Toni through Australian Writers Mentoring Program. She has really strong opinions on structure and dialogue tags and is not afraid to state exactly what they are, which is very useful in a teacher. And although her opinions are strong she is never brutal; think of Toni as the epitome of firm but fair. Find Toni Jordan’s website here. Find her books here. Find Toni’s Robinpedia entry here.

I was lucky enough to do Pamela Freeman’s two day speculative fiction course a few years back. Since then, she has taken me under her wing and allowed me to ask her all sorts of inane questions. She is the kind of teacher who continues on thinking about her students long after the classroom door has closed and the lights have been shut off. She is very much the mother duck of the Australian writing teaching world, but with a truly wicked sense of humour. She has a PhD in writing, she knows her stuff, and she’s quite forward in telling people what she thinks. And you’re in luck, because Pamela is currently supercharging her Advanced Fiction Writing Course at AWC. She is a regular teacher at AWC who also have a mentoring program, teaches occasionally at NSW Writers’ Centre, pops into a couple of Sydney universities, and all around the place really. Find Pamela Freeman’s website here. Pamela gets bonus points for following along on the #SelfPubIsHere twitter storm. Find her books here, and her books as Pamela Hart here.

Kate Forsyth made me tear up my prologue, literally. She didn’t even read it, she just asked me a few questions, didn’t like the sound of my answers so told me to rip it up. Shocking, I know, but… she was absolutely right. Kate is able to get to the core of your writing very quickly and gives crisp advice that will improve your manuscript immeasurably. I don’t go anywhere without her plot arc worksheet. She is a regular teacher at AWC, also teaches at NSW Writers’ Centre, a few universities, and pretty much everywhere else including overseas. Find Kate Forsyth’s website here. Find Kate’s books here. (And I know she’d also love it if you could check out her cooking and books show, Word of Mouth TV.)

A woman that needs no introduction, Anita Heiss. She’s pretty much an icon in Australia. When I was volunteering at one of her panel events at the Sydney Writers’ Festival we had to form a separate line for her signings. She is a really practical teacher who urges writers to listen to their readership. She’s all about knowing what you write. Very thorough in her approach and her preparation is phenomenal. I was lucky enough to do a workshop with her at NSW Writers Centre but she teaches at a lot of other places too. Keep your eyes wide open to see her courses pop up and book quickly. Anita Heiss’s website can be found here. Find Anita’s books here.

Emily Maguire is a very quiet and serene teacher. She is never without an encouraging word for people and always listens to students thoroughly before responding. Emily also provides so many worksheets for you to take home so that you can continue to look back and relearn for years to come. She teaches the hugely popular Year of the Novel course at NSW Writers’ Centre and so you get to learn from Emily all year long. Find Emily Maguire’s website here. Find Emily’s books here.

One of the most exciting speakers I have ever seen is L.A. Larkin. She is very animated, very witty, and above all else, very clever. L.A Larkin mainly teaches in the UK but lucky for us the AWC recently snapped her up to teach crime writing so she’s not just swanning around British universities anymore, we can learn from her in Sydney. You can also find her speaking at a variety of other places, check L.A. Larkin’s website for details here. Find her books here or even here. Find L.A. Larkin’s Robinpedia entry here.

Jan Cornall is the first writing teacher that I ever had (aside from school) and she blew me away. She is a very calm person and has a soothing effect on the soul. Jan utilises short bursts of meditation in her teaching and, despite the fact that I am truly crap at meditating, it really works. She teaches at WEA, NSW Writers’ Centre, pretty much everywhere and runs her own draftbusters course in the Inner West that I cannot recommend highly enough. Find Jan Cornall’s website here. Find Jan’s books here.

I have long testified that Walter “the inconceivably incandescent” Mason is like viagra for the creative soul. This man simply oozes love and passion. To sit by him is to sit in the presence of inspiration. But he doesn’t just sit about being all inspirational, he also gives concrete tasks to do. He really is a spectacular speaker and I urge you to go see him whenever you can. He regularly teaches at WEA, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, NSW Writers’ Centre, Ashfield Library, and pretty much everywhere you can think of. Find Walter Mason’s website here. Find Walter’s books here. Find Walter Mason’s Robinpedia entry here.

Alison Croggon would come close to being the queen of Australian literature. She’s a poet, a spec fic writer, an opera critic, and so much more. You want to know how to write an arts submission? She’ll teach you. You want to know how to write a proper poetry review? She’ll teach you. You want to know how to write a fantasy novel? She’ll teach you. And, like Toni, you can have Alison all to yourself through the Australian Writers Mentoring Program. Find Alison Croggon’s website here. Find Alison’s books here. Bonus, she’s a huge #SelfPubIsHere advocate.

I did a Garth Nix course through ASA waaaaayyyy back in 2014. I rarely see his name crop up on workshops so was eager to attend, I think it pretty much booked out on its first day of advertisement. First up, the food they provide for the ASA courses is fantastic, seriously, if you haven’t done a course there yet… well… do it! Secondly, I was really impressed with how Garth took a different tac than many other teachers. He was explicit on who to pitch to, he was explicit on filling up your creative bank. It was a very informative workshop. He said nice things about my WIP, and as I am a complete saddest I have subsequently changed it from being set in Germany to Australia, from first person to third person from present tense to past tense. Whyyyyy??? Imagine what I would have done with negative feedback or if he’d actually suggested any changes? Burned my laptop and thrown it from the Harbour Bridge? Find Garth Nix’s website here. Find Garth’s books here.

Cass Moriarty is from up above… in Queensland. She is a tireless supporter of writers and somehow manages to write novels, write reviews of ALL the books, teach and be a doting grandmother. I am in awe of this woman and have no idea how she does it all. Her motto is ‘I can adapt’ and she brings that to your manuscript. You can find her floating about up at Queensland Writers Centre where she does workshops and mentoring. Find Cass Moriarty’s website here. Find Cass’s books here. Find Cass Moriarty’s Robinpedia entry here.

Thriller, chiller, and teacher Tania Chandler has been writing and editing for years. Recently, we’ve been lucky enough to see her helm her own workshops. She brings a wealth of experience with her, and is a very dedicated teacher. If you get a chance to get to SPAN Community House Inc. book in for a course with Tania. Find Tania Chandler’s website here. Find her books here. Find Tania Chandler’s Robinpedia entry here.

Aleesah Darlison is here by very special request, my 6 year old daughter’s request to be precise. I have not had the pleasure of learning from Aleesah but my daughter has. Aleesah visited her school last year and my daughter assures me that Aleesah is the best teacher ever, and very qualified. My daughter tells me that Aleesah has written over 100,000 books, and writes 1000 a week, so I’m fairly confident she’ll teach you a lot about time management, and possibly how to create time vortexes. We actually owned quite a few of Aleesah’s books before she went to may daughter’s school so my daughter’s claims are way less exaggerated than you think. Aleesah is a powerhouse. My daughter rarely steers me wrong so in order to keep tabs on the clearly enchanting Aleesah Darlison find her website here. Find Aleesah’s books here. Find Aleesah’s Robinpedia entry here.

And no list could be complete without #SelfPubIsHere rockstar Ellie Marney who teaches both YA and self-publishing workshops.

You can find her slinking around Writers Victoria and plenty of other places too. Just keep those peepers peeled. Find Ellie Marney’s website here. Find Ellie’s books here.

This is a list of general writing teachers that I highly recommend, I will do a blog entry on self-publishing specific courses later on. Now of course there are other fab writing teachers out there and I can’t possibly go learn from every single one of them, so I’d like to hear about who you love. Especially those fab teachers such as Natasha Lester who I hear so much about from WA friends. Which writing teacher really boils your potato?

Find friendly writers organisations here. Just click on “8. What other organisations in Australia support writers?” These places have been created to help you grow. They can and will help you. They have an array of courses and resources.

See #SelfPubIsHere featured in Books+Publishing here.

Also in Australian Self-Publisher here.

Read about my #SelfPubIsHere Festival dream here.

Read the article that kicked #SelfPubIsHere off here.

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.
Also, cough-cough, find my book at Booktopia or anywhere.

P.S. HAPPY TOWEL DAY!

Melanie Cheng: #Robinpedia

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Melanie Cheng is an Australian writer, born in Adelaide, moved to Hong Kong and now lives in Melbourne. She is also a GP, winner of the 2018 Fiction VPLA, and lover of the Emerging Writers Festival.

Now stop it. Stop that sniggering! I do good, honest profiles here. It says VPLA! That’s Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, not Visible Panty Line Australia. I’m pretty sure the acronym VPL went out in the 80s so just stop it. Furthermore, if any Australian writer was to win the VPL, it’d be me with my love of cottontail. Now back to the profile!

Melanie Cheng’s debut book, Australia Day published through Text, charmed critiques and award judges alike. It was winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, longlisted for an Indie Book Award, longlisted for an ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year Award, longlisted for the Matt Richell New Writer of the Year Award, longlisted for a Dobbie Literary Award, shortlisted for a Readings Prize, and winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. It’s safe to say that she has completely nailed the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and it is easy to see why. Her stories are deftly crafted with a hard hitting depth. They speak to that notion of displacement and belonging that everyone faces and therefore can relate to. She writes a vast array of characters that are unified with each other through this yearning for connection and thus likewise bonded with us the reader. But don’t just take my word for it, Australia Day had words of praise provided by the likes of Emily Maguire, Christos Tsiolkas and Alice Pung.

To continue name dropping, Melanie is friends with Jane Harper and emails her for advice. Yes the Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Forces of Nature which have now been picked up by Reese Witherspoon’s production company. Interestingly, Jane won the Unpublished VPLA the year prior to Melanie. It’s certainly an award good at predicting phenomenal success from talented new writers. Other previous winners include Graeme Simsion and Maxine Beneba Clarke. If you have an unpublished manuscript and are an emerging Victorian writer, might I suggest you enter? Entries open in September.

Melanie has been commissioned to write another book by Text and I will keep you updated on its release. She loves her local library, shout out to Bargoonga Nganjin in Fitzroy North, and is no doubt bunkered down there writing up a storm. She has said that much of her inspiration comes from her work, not just from her patients but from the people she has to deal with whilst advocating for her patients. If you put Melanie on hold for 7,000 hours whilst she was trying to help a patient, well, you have been noted, put through the fiction blender, and reimagined on the page.

Find Melanie Cheng’s website here.

Find Melanie Cheng’s blog here.

Find Melanie Cheng on Twitter here.

Find Australia Day here.

Read more about Robinpediahere.

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my opinion on author brandinghere.

Buy my shit here.

Editors I Love #SelfPubIsHere

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One of the major factors influencing the rise of respectability in self-publishing has been thanks to professional editors turning freelance.* But how do you find a good one? How do you make sure you aren’t being charged by a charlatan who won’t really improve your book at all? Or worse, take your money and then never respond to you again (yes, this happened to me once). It’s hard, #SelfPubIsHere and we want to publish quality books, but without good editors we cannot do it. To help make your journey a little easier, I’m going to share 9 top quality editors with you. People who would have made this article sparkly and zingy if they had been hired to look at it, and will do just that for your books. [Note: My blog does not use an editor only my books do. Please read my about section to understand why. This blog entry is not a sample of any editor’s work.]

Cait Gordon is a writer and editor. The publishing industry was lucky enough to poach this editor from the world of technical writing where she had 20+ years experience copy editing and technical writing. Now she’s ours and we’re not giving her back, ever. She is not just thorough but kind. Find Cait here. And just in case I don’t say it enough, I love Cait.

Linda Funnell is one of Australia’s most loved editors. What she doesn’t know about Australian English doesn’t actually exist. Very professional and, I know this is a cliche that she’d suggest I cut, a pleasure to work with. Find Linda here. Linda also works alongside Jean Bedford at Newtown Review of Books, who I have found likewise amazing, but I can’t see if she offers professional editing services. You can find Jean here.

Nicola O’Shea came to me recommended by Anita Heiss. Anita Heiss. I’ll just let that sink in. I don’t need to say anything about my positive experiences working with Nicola because a God damn national treasure recommended her and if that isn’tgood enough then I don’t know what is. Find Nicola here.

Tania Chandler! What can I say, I love this woman. She’s an author, writing teacher, and editor. She tackles every job with professionalism and offers clean, professional service. Added bonus, she has a killer sense of humour. Find Tania here.

Georgina Ballentine is a person that embodies dedication. She is passionate about making sure your work is the best reflection of you that it can be. She’s not interested in changing your voice, she’s interested in making it sing. Find Georgina here.

Dionne Lister is a successful author, editor, and leading champion of #SelfPubIsHere. But most importantly, she loves grammar. She runs a Facebook group on grammar. She blogs about grammar. She dreams about grammar. Very thorough, very knowledgeable, very passionate. Find Dionne here.

Jessica Stewart is a gramazon, an Amazon of grammar. She’s here to deliver high kicks to wrong comma usage, chop excessive adverbs and unleash clean flowing sentences. Find Jessica here. Find Jessica’s Robinpedia entry here.

Hot Tree Editing is friendly, cost effective editing. They are thorough and experienced. Their services offer multiple sets of eyes to ensure nothing gets missed. Find Hot Tree here.

Chryse Wymer was the first professional editor I ever worked with and came to me recommended by Dionne Lister. She is an absolute grammar nerd and if she ever reads this blog entry would probably have to begin breathing into a brown paper bag in order to cope with the errors. She’s going to make sure you don’t use the same word to start every paragraph and she’s happy to look up archaic words just to make sure they’re being used correctly. And she has had an extensive education in Australian terms such as root, died in the arse, take the piss, thanks to yours truly. Find Chryse here.

So what are you waiting for? Go get out that manuscript you’ve had gathering dust and get it polished to publication.

See #SelfPubIsHere featured in Books+Publishing here.

Also in Australian Self-Publisher here and you can love them on FB here.

Find out more about #SelfPubIsHere here.

Read about my #SelfPubIsHere dreams here.

Read the article that kicked #SelfPubIsHere off here.

See more about #SelfPubIsHere here.

*Note: historically, many of the authors you love such as Beatrix Potter started out as self-published but later when e-publishing first picked up momentum there was a real push against it. Now with print on demand becoming more accessible the quality and respect is rising again.
Also, cough-cough, find my book at Booktopia or anywhere.

Kate Murdoch: #Robinpedia

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Kate Murdoch is an Australian writer and award winning artist based in Melbourne. Yes, Melbourne. One of the official Cities of Literature. When she isn’t being an artistic genius, which to be fair takes up most of her time, she enjoys reading books such as Lillian’s Story by Kate Grenville and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.

Her debut novel Stone Circle was released in December 2017 through Fireship Press. It is set during the Italian Renaissance and delves into the mystical world of seers. Kirkus Review stated that it sparkles!

Kate has had her short fiction widely published in Flash Fiction Magazine, Euonia Reviews, Sick Lit Magazine, Ink in Thirds, and Spelk Fiction. Her second novel, The Orange Grove, will be released into the wild in 2019 by Regal House Publishing. It is set in 18th Century France and explores moral ambiguity and the catastrophic ripple effect that can occur from small actions.

Facts you need to know about Kate Murdoch:

She has a love hate relationship with Scrivener

Her views on carob are firm but fair

She isn’t afraid to pose the big questions about Australian culture

And lastly, but probably most importantly, she effing loves Fridays

Find Kate Murdoch’s author website here.

Find Kate Murdoch’s artist website here.

Find Kate Murdoch’s blog here

Tweet with Kate here.

Face off with Kate here.

Pin with Kate here.

Find Kate Murdoch’s profile by Anita Rodgers here.

Find Kate Murdoch’s interview on Ink in Thirds here.

Find Kate Murdoch in the attic here.

Find Kate Murdoch’s book here or anywhere.

Find Melbourne City of Literature here, here or here.

Read more about Robinpedia here.

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my opinion on author branding here.

Buy my shit here.

Let Me Proposition You… With a Self-Publishing Festival

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SELF-PUBLISHING AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! It is time to be seen. #SelfPubIsHere

I think self-publishing needs greater recognition from Australian Festivals and Awards. I think self-publishing deserves its very own day at one of the larger Australian writer festivals, or even it’s very own self-publishing festival. We have kids days and YA days at major festivals (check out the one at Sydney Writers’ Festival, it is AMAZING), why not a self-publishing day? It is absolutely booming at the moment with more and more people not only buying self-published books, but wanting to become self-published authors.

Publisher Weekly has reported that self-published ebooks represent 31% of ebooks on Amazon and this trend is increasing. Not only do they account for around a third of ebooks, they are also dominating sales. Self-published authors are surpassing traditionally published authors on Amazon in crime, speculative fiction and romance. They also have a big share of the market in all other genres. The big five traditional publishers only account for around 16% of ebooks on the Amazon bestseller list, all the rest are self or indi. And let’s face it, ebooks are big business now and are here to stay.

Many readers have no idea if the books they are reading are self-published or not. As publishing houses laid off inhouse editors and designers in favour of a freelance system, self-published authors were able to snap them up. As such, the self-publishing route is becoming increasingly popular and destigmatised not only amongst up and coming writers, but also those already traditionally published and seeking to take greater control of their work.

Despite this increase in popularity and quality many Australian literary festivals and awards have either ignored the self-publishing market or given it a one off panel. Often in Australia the panel discussion is merely about if self publishing is ruining the industry or not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The interest in self-publishing however is growing and has moved far beyond festival goers wanting to hear a simple discussion on if self-publishing is good or evil. They want in. Publishing your own book can be hard work and getting it into people’s hands can be even harder. This is a process that the increasing number of readers wanting to turn into writers are curious about. And honestly, readers also want the opportunity to see these self-published authors in person to get their books signed.

A self-publishing festival or day would be unique from other festivals in that self-published authors have to have a hand in all areas of their book development. They need to be able to source or become their own publicist, designer, formatter, bookseller, etc. Literary festivals often focus on authors and publishing houses, a self-publishing event would highlight self-published authors along with editors, cover illustrators, designers, and publicists. It would bring the often hidden side of publishing to the forefront. The part that happens behind closed doors that writers and readers are increasingly curious about. The parts they are willing to pay to find out more about. And I don’t mean in just one genre, I mean across all of self-publishing rather than a genre specific festival. Romance has traditionally been quite accepting of self-publishing and has on many instances lead the way but it’s time for other organisations to step up.

Below I will outline some of the awesome feature a self-pub fest would provide readers and writers hungry for something new.

Unique Guests:

Writers-

Self-published writers are essentially split into three groups, those that started self-published and get picked up by a traditional publisher, traditionally published authors who have turned to self-publishing (some vow never to return to the trad-pub model, others happily flit back and forth enjoying the hybrid life), and those that have started as self-published and never looked back. Each of these groups bring unique insights and appeal to the curiosity of readers and fellow writers. We would hope to attract presenters from each of the group, with examples of the types of authors listed below.

Self-published authors picked up by traditional publishers include authors such as Matthew Reilly, CS Pacat, Bruce McCabe, and Mitchell Hogan. People want to know how these guys made the conversion. It’s the dream for many starting out. Self publish, get picked up, and then have a movie trilogy made, I’m looking at you E. L. James.

Authors who started out as traditionally published and have then experimented with self-publishing include people such KERI ARTHUR (I’m putting this in capitals and bold because I somehow missed Keri’s name and am editing it in!), Lisa Heidke, John Birmingham, Ellie Marney, Maria Lewis, Ciara Ballantyne, Kim Kelly, and Alison Croggon. Everyone wants to know why they broke ranks. What is so fantastic about self-publishing that it attracted them? How did they do it? Is it more profitable? What are the benefits? Hybrid or abandonment?

Australia has an incredible array of self-published authors that have started that way and remained true to the form. Melissa Pouliot had a cold case reopened because of her debut book. Heidi Farelly was picked up as a regular guest on A Current Affair to speak on finances on the strength of the popularity of her self-published ‘How to…’ books. Lisa Fleetwood became an Amazon bestseller with her debut travel memoir. I myself have been picked up by bookstores for my memoir about postnatal depression and my book is even being used by some postnatal depression support networks. Lola Lowe was listed as a “Must Read” by Cosmopolitan Magazine for her debut novel. A.B. Patterson, a former detective Sergeant, has won three awards for his debut crime fiction novel, and been short listed for two others. Dionne Lister is a speculative fiction author who is an outspoken advocate of self-publishing and has been short listed for three awards. Elizabeth Cummings has been invited all around the world to talk about her picture books, in particular The Disappearing Sister – an important book that deals with speaking to and helping siblings of children with anorexia. There are many more self-publishing success stories amongst the Australian public eager to share their story and people want to know how they did it and how they can replicate it.

Of course along with writers it’s time to make the previously invisible members of book creation visible, the people that people interested in self-publishing want to find and hire but are largely ignored by Australian festivals:

Book Artists and Designers

Formatters

PR People

Editors

Representatives from printers such as Ingram Sparks and Publicious.

Representatives from self-publishing consultancy services such as Critical Mass Consulting, Bookends Publishing, and The Author Whisperer.

Logistics:

We need a location or a festival to give us a venue for a day.

We need an organiser / convener that people respect.

We need a publicist, although, many self-published authors are their own publicist and do a damn fine job.

Volunteers, we need people pointing and smiling. Trust me, it helps a lot.

We need all the food.

We need a dynamic bookseller who loves us.

We need those guests that represent the full gamut of the self-publishing experience.

And, without question, we need all the wine and cheese.

And don’t just take my word for it, read Pauline Findlay’s thoughts here. She strongly advocates for more self-publishing recognition.

So, what do you think? Are you with me? Do we need this? Are we going to create the pressure to make this happen? (I did send a proposal to a friendly writers’ centre but 10 months later I still haven’t even heard crickets in response) Some big name literary festivals overseas are already making the space, can we make it happen here? I vote yes! Chat about making space for self-publishing on social media with Pauline Findlay and I using #SelfPubIsHere

Ellie Marney also thinks a #SelfPubIsHere Festival would be great, read about it here.

Find out what Lisa Fleetwood has to say about this here.

Find out what Rebecca Chaney thinks here.

Also, cough-cough, find my book at Booktopia or anywhere.