Tag Archives: publishing

Events I Managed to See at Sydney Writers’ Festival 2018

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Here’s what I saw and learned at Sydney Writers’ Festival this year. A quick run through of all my #sydneywritersfestival action, ranging from helpful advice from Jane Harper to The Chaser’s War on Mummies:

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Daniel Pilkington: #Robinpedia

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Black and white photo of Daniel Pilkington. He has stubble and short but floppy hairy. His shirt is fine checks. Quote: In publishing we all want each other to do well because we’re all passionate about the industry. Photo was originally in colour without text and on the NSW Writers Centre’s website.

Daniel Pilkington is the Head of Sales for Hachette Australia, but before we get to his career journey let’s cut straight to the important bit, judging him based on his appearance. Because if Hollywood profiles of the likes of Liane Moriarty and J. K. Rowling have taught me anything, it’s that judging books based on their cover is imperative. Daniel’s Twitter profile states that he would be considered good-looking in the 1950s. He has periwinkle eyes and good hair, beautiful even. It’s got that floppy Hugh Grant quality but in a dusty blonde. But is it the best hair in publishing? Alas not quite. Alison Green still holds the title. Do better Hachette.

Born to teacher parents Daniel Pilkington decided to break with family tradition, leaving school at the age of 17 to work at Kmart. Daniel had big dreams and they didn’t involve sitting behind a university desk, no, they were of freedom and wind blowing through his magnificent hair. He yearned for the only thing that would make this happen, a Kombi.

Picture of the character Fillmore from the movie Cars. Green Kombi van with sleepy face and the word PEACE and some flowers spray painted down his side.

A Kombi was to be Daniel’s ticket to traveling Australia and so he procured a job at Katoomba Kmart in order to earn some of that sweet Kombi cash. He was initially placed on the door to greet and farewell customers but soon found that being at a constantly opening door in the Blue Mountains during winter is fecking cold and so eager for a warmer position Daniel buckled down and was soon promoted to manager.

Surely on a manager’s salary Daniel could now achieve his dreams of buying Kombi? But by that stage Daniel had discovered that he loved watering the plants at Kmart, unpacking the books and chatting to customers, so he stayed. He stayed and continued to be promoted until he was managing the great Kmart of Chatswood Chase and Warriewood. Under Daniel’s love and care Warriewood became the highest selling Kmart for books. Publishers liked this very much. In 2007 he was declared Young Retailer of the Year. Surely now he could get his Kombie?

Long story short, he didn’t. Or maybe he did but he didn’t ride off into the sunset in it flipping off everyone as he went. No, he stayed. He stayed until one fateful evening Hachette invited him to an author talk and dinner. The dinner was free, young Daniel eagerly licked his lips and leapt the chance. At that dinner Daniel impressed the then Head of Sales at Hachette so much with his passion for selling books that he slipped him his card and told him that should his Kombi van not be rockin he could come knockin for a job. Six months later Daniel came knocking and was offered a staggering pay cut. He accepted.

Daniel initially became a Sydney Account Manager, then worked his way up to National Account Manager, Head of National Accounts and eventually Head of Sales. He loves this because he gets to see all of the books. Fictional, non-fiction, children’s, all of them. This also means print books, ebooks and audiobooks. It might seem like an unconventional route, but aren’t all the best journeys a little bit winding and different?

Daniel has run the whole gamut from Kmart greeter to Head of Sales at Hachette but did he ever buy that Kombi? I don’t know but I’d really like to find out. Let me know about his Kombi in the comments section below. Also add any other tidbits that you think would help flesh out this entry. 😚

Characters from the movie Tangled saying ‘Go, live your dream.’ Rapunzel on the left wearing purple dress, big guy in the middle meant to look criminal, Flynn Rider on the right has brown hair and is meant to look handsome.

Find Daniel Pilkington being 1950s handsome on Twitter here.

Hot new tip off: Daniel Pilkington loves the Foo Fighters.

No word on where things stand regarding the Kombi but I’m uncovering new leads.

Submit to Hachette here.

Browse Hachette’s titles here.

If you enjoyed this entry I just know you’ll love my Robinpedia profiles on:

Natasha Lester

Sarah Schmidt

Allison Tait

L.A. Larkin (I love her and occassionally have cocktails with her so you better love her too!!!)

Learn more about Robinpedia here.

Learn more about me here.

Read about my views on being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my thoughts on author branding here.

Joel Naoum: #Robinpedia 

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Who is Joel Naoum? A man, yes. A human being, yes. A carbon based lifeform, yes. But is there more to him than being a mamal and living on Earth? The answer will surprise you, for it is yes.

Naoum began his life as child to Australian writer Dianne Blacklock (can’t find her on Wikipedia so rest assured she will be getting her very own Robinpedia entry). Sitting by her side he absorbed a love of books but as a social butterfly he could not see fit to cocoon his radiance in the solitary world of authorship. One year his mother took him to the Sydney Writers’ Festival  (why yes I am a volunteer, how can I help) and he found that despite being introduced to cool authors such Andy Griffiths and Garth Nix he was himself more attracted to the lurking representatives from the publishing houses. A fire was ignited within the belly of the young Naoum and he set his heart upon joining the publishing industry. 

Pan MacMillan gave Naoum his first job in the publishing sphere. He both horrified and delighted his interviewer by telling her about his love of the new technology ebooks (he’s older than he looks, it was new back then). She loved his innovative approach, she did not so much love that he somehow had an illegal electronic copy of one of Pan MacMillan’s titles. He did not know it was illegal prior to this point and does not recommend it as an interview strategy.  Fortunately he still got the job.

Not only did Naoum get the job but he thrived. He was awarded the Unwin Fellowship and was able to travel to the UK and learn all about the innovative things UK publishers were doing in epublishing. He spent three months in the UK learning the secret business of a variety of publishing houses.

After his fellowship ended and Naoum returned to Australia he was selected to head up Pan MacMillan’s digital first imprint, Momentum. Their original goal was to still be able to publish mid list authors that there was no longer shelf space for after the collapse of Boarders. Because they love authors and stuff. The focus of Momentum changed as they came to realise that the ebooks that sold well were more genre based such as romance, crime and spec fic, not so much literary Australiana. Just quietly, e also love their self help and parenting books. In order to make money the imprint had to switch from its original purpose. Over a 5 year period Momentum put out 450 titles.

Naoum, still committed to the digital world has now setup his own company, Critical Mass. This is mainly a self-publishing consultancy firm that helps self published authors get in touch with editors, designers, and gives marketing advice. He will also help people looking to traditional publish polish their pitches. He is there for you.

In addition to this Critical Mass, Naoum has designed a course for The New South Wales Writers’ Centre, where he is a board member, that actually publishes student’s work. It is open to people with completed and edited manuscripts. Naoum then takes students through cover design, formating, connecting with a distributor, and finally, actually hitting publish and getting a print copy into their hands.

Jump onto Joel’s website here.
Chat with him on twitter here.

Find out more about Robinpedia here.

Read about The New South Wales Writers’ Centre Stick here.

Buy my shit here.

Lou Johnson: #Robinpedia

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[Note: I am dyslexic so grammar nazis should run while they  still can.]

Lou Johnson is a standout figure in the Australian publishing industry. Some people would say that she has publishing in her blood as her father was a prominent figure in Granada Publishing Ltd and her mother was a publicist and literary agent. Together, her parents set up their own publishing company and bookshop. Lou Johnson probably learned more about the publishing industry over family dinners than most of us will  learn in a lifetime. 

Lou Johnson, impressive publishing lineage aside, has became a dominant figure in her own right. After leaving journalism she joined Harper Collins‘ sales team, where she progressed up the ranks. A lateral move saw her working on the national management of our  ABC Centres, and then back into publishing with a senior role at Random House. Her next position was with Allen & Unwin where she was the sales director. Later she became the managing director of Simon and Schuster.

In 2014 Lou Johnson left mainstream publishing and in 2015 began Author People. Author People was created to be more in touch with readers. At its essence was building the relationship between authors and readers. It is focused on three main types of writing; lived experience, stories to entertain, and knowledge to share. Books from the Author People are infused with fairy dust to ensure top quality. This is possibly a metaphor but I’d prefer to take it literally. (I believe.)  Author People is currently not taking on new authors, but is always fabulous to watch for the innovative work being done with its existing bank of authors.

In late 2016  Lou Johnson accepted the position of publishing director for Murdoch Books. The Australian publishing industry is watching with great anticipation as this innovative person steps back into traditional publishing. We’re certainly prepared for a shake up.

Find Lou Johnson on twitter here.

Find her website for Author People here.

Find Author People on Twitter here.

Find Author People on Facebook here.

Find Murdoch Books here.

If you have any additional information about this entry please leave it in the comment section.

Learn more about Robinpedia here. 

You Don’t Have to be a Millionaire to Support Authors

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Not long ago I blogged about how Walter Mason inspired the spirit of fandom in me. For those of you not familiar with Walter Mason, he’s probably the most charismatic person in the Australian book industry. And let’s be honest, there’s lots of competition, so this means he’s pretty spectacular. Today I’d like to speak about the spirit of fandom a little bit more and how that actually helps authors.

We always hear “buy books, if you truly want to support authors than just buy their damn BOOK! For god’s sake open that wallet, they need to pay rent!!!” Which is fair enough, buying books directly funds authors. It’s even better if you do it through your local bookshop, but  we don’t all have the money to buy books everyday. Fortunately, for those of us that want to love more than our budget allows, that doesn’t mean you can’t support an author every single day if you should want too. There are lots of ways you can help out authors you love that don’t cost an arm and a leg. 
When people love a movie they sometimes pay to see it many times but many simply can’t afford that but they still help out by providing much needed enthusiasm through raving to friends, tweeting, making fan art, blogging and generally being fanatical. We can do the same thing for books. Let’s bring the spirit of fandom to the book industry.

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Read and interact with an author’s blog. Most authors have a blog. Commenting on their blog and letting them know that you like what they’re on about helps provide a moral boost and let’s them know what their readers do and don’t like. Writing can be very solitary and knowing there are people out there loving your work helps. If you are a blogger write your own blog entry about how a book or author has inspired or moved you. Shout out your appreciation loud and clear, let your enthusiasm become contagious. Write a review.

Rave to your friends about your favourite authors. I’m far more likely to read a book recommended by a friend than by looking at an advert. They’re my friends so I respect their opinion. I started reading Kate Forsyth books after a friend loaned me a copy of Dragon Claw. I have now gone on to buy myself, and friends, over 30 copies of her books. One loan resulted in mutiple purchases. And the books of hers that I have gifted to friends have resulted in even more readers. So never feel like you’re cheating an author by loaning their book out, you could be getting them a loyal reader.

Connect with authors on twitter. Who doesn’t love a compliment? Who doesn’t work better with a little enthusiasm to warm their soul. Knowing that your writing has touched someone has power. Last night I received a tweet from Michael Williams, a person that I respect and admire very much, and it meant just as much to me as a book sale. No it doesn’t pay the rent but it does help keep the depression at bay and depression is a mind killer so it’s just as vital.

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Follow authors and interact with them on any of their social media platforms. Most authors aren’t guaranteed their next book will be published. If they have a strong fan base they seem like a safer bet to publishers. If publishers can already see that people love their work and connect with what they write then that’s a big vote of confidence. Show your confidence in your favourite authors by doing so publicly if you dare.

How about some fan art. Show what those words look like in your mind. Show just how much books have touched you by inspiring you to create your own art. Not an artist? Me neither. I like to create memes instead. I spend far too much time on imgflip. But I just love putting beautiful words on beautiful pictures and sharing my love. Feel free to give it a go. It’s easy and fun.

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Attend author workshops. Many authors earn most of their income through teaching. So attend their events if you have the means.

And of course, yes, buy their books when you can. (Note: there are a few authors who only appreciate this method of support so will probably feel bombarded by the above suggestions, so don’t do those to them, but most appreciate some enthusiasm.)

You certainly don’t have to support an author every day, but you can if you want too without going into poverty. What are some of the different ways that you like to show support?

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Edit: I’ve started using #auslitlove on my tweets that are about loving Australian authors so that I can keep track of who I’m loving and make sure I spread the love around far and wide.

Garth Nix Workshop: @garthnix presents at @asauthors

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Yesterday I had the great privilege of attending a workshop run by speculative fiction juggernaut author Garth Nix through the Australian Society of Authors.  Garth Nix has been described as the James Bond of the speculative fiction author world. And for good reason. He’s  smooth, he’s witty, he is internationally successful  and, he knows his business in and out. Coupled with the fact that he rarely does workshops he truly has a reputation for being an international man of mystery.  I jumped at the chance to go, because quite frankly I’d book in to see him read the yellow pages, it’s Garth Nix. However, the question lingers, is he reclusive because he can’t teach or simply because he is so incredibly busy writing, drinking expensive spirits and fighting crime. I can now confidently tell you that it is most certainly the latter.

Garth Nix did something very rare in his workshop, he addressed the ‘Art’ of writing and gave very specific business advice. In my experience workshops tend to focus on the ‘Craft’ of writing and gloss over the other two, whereas Garth Nix divided his time evenly between the three. I’m a bit of a workshop whore so thoroughly appreciated this unique approach. If you’re a bit of an over workshopped hag like me and occasionally suffer from itsallbecomingabitsamesameitis I would thoroughly recommend watching like a hawk for any Garth Nix courses that  come up. You will not be disappointed.

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Stop rambling and just tell me what he said. Okay, I’ll give away a few takeaways from the workshop but because what you take out of a writing course is purely personal the real benefit can only be truly attained by attending them. We are all on different writing  journeys so what inspires us, what we need to learn, what makes sense to us, is all different. So please keep that in mind. It all depends… but here’s a few thing that I learned.

Books are successful because they transfer emotions. You need to put emotions into your characters that in turn transfer into the readers. As such you need to fill up your emotional reservoir.

Write what you know does not mean write an autobiography. You know so much more than your actions. You are a sum total of everything you have read, seen, heard, felt and done. In short, you know so much more than you think you do.

Keep writing. If you finish a book write another story, if you put a book aside write another one. Just keep writing.

Don’t go too wild on your first novel. Learn the craft well before you start being too experimental. A tight focus with a straightforward structure works best for beginners. No need to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of it.

Don’t just rely on grammar to construct beautiful prose. Remember rhythm and euphony.

You need to decide if you’re writing for long or short term gain. Your approach to what and how you write will be different.

I shall leave my giveaways there, I hope to see you at the next course.

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Speculative Fiction Festival at #NSWWC

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Be Careful What You Wish For

As you all know I can’t resist a good festival so I of course went to the Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre run by Cat Sparks. A good time was had by all. My main take-aways from the day are listed below. Enjoy.

Garth Nix

  • Garth Nix is so brilliant and so talented that he sold his first short story at the age of 19 to a magazine he didn’t even submit to. No I don’t feel like elaborating on that story because the specialness might decrease and I prefer to keep him godlike in my mind.
  • Garth Nix states that there are no dead manuscripts. A manuscript might not sell simply because it does not fit with the appeal of the time, in another five years it might suddenly be in. Don’t ever throw away manuscripts, resubmit, recycle, repurpose them.
  • Garth Nix said that I could sit in the same sunny spot as him. I died and the ran away. Totes kept my cool…

James Bradley

  • Initially thought that he would live out his days as a poet in poetry excellence of the most poety kind. Turns out he unfortunately needed to have written more than six poems to do this.
  • If you win a cheque, don’t lose it, the organisers of whatever competition or award you won it for will be pissed off that they have to rewrite it.
  • Authors get rejected all of the time. Don’t let rejection deter you because even if you have one success that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a nasty rejection lurking around the corner.

Kate Forsyth

  • Submit your manuscripts typed. Publishing houses don’t generally accept ones hand written in an exercise book that you have illustrated yourself.
  • Always be brave and keep on persevering. Never let your own fear or ego hold you back.
  • Kate Forsyth signed a copy of Impossible Quest 3 for my niece. I am now the favouritist aunt ever.

Marianne de Pierres

  • Internal logic is key to ensuring that your work is believable and accepted by the reader.
  • Marianne de Pierres says she doesn’t know how she feels about a lot of issues hence her characters have different views and she allows them to sort through bigger picture issues. Her works are explorations not morality messages.
  • Write to you personality style. That being style, genre/subgenre, length, strength of message etc. You have to write your novel not somebody else’s.

Stephanie Lai

  • Stephanie Lai starts with a human/scientific problem and then develops the story around that.
  • Stephanie Lai leans towards short stories because she loves quick immediate communication and gratification.
  • Stephanie Lai says to keep the science real but the world fun and fantastical.

Isobelle Carmody

  • Isobelle Carmody crowd funded her book before crowd funding was a thing. That’s how cool she is. She sold shares in her first book for $30 each and agreed to give the money back should she ever be published.
  • Isobelle Carmody has never been rejected. She humbly claims that it is because she takes so long to write her books that publishers are too scared to say no lest she never write another one or takes even longer next time.

Bruce McCabe

  • Bruce McCabe starts with real life problems being explored in scientific labs today, then moves out twenty years and explores what will be happening with those issues and advances.
  • Bruce McCabe feels that trying to box Science Fiction into a narrow definition isn’t productive. That there is a whole spectrum of sci fi ranging from hard to soft and they’re all equally valid.

Pamela Freeman

  • Okay, I am so spun out by what she said to me personally that I cannot even remember what she said on her panels. It would have been insightful too because she always says really good stuff. Pamela Freeman told me that she had read my ebook What Happens in Book Club… and had laughed so hard that she had to read bits to her husband. I nearly died in fangirling overload. I’m not confident that I am actually awake and this isn’t some extended dream. If I truly am awake… GO ME!

Now the bit that you really want, WHAT DID THE PUBLISHERS SAY THEY WANTED?!?

FableCroft Publishing

They are looking for sci fi. Middle Grade and YA. Make sure you read their submission guidelines or Tehani Wessley will cry. You don’t want to make her cry do you?

Ticonderoga Publications

They like anthologies. Love them! So write an awesome short story. Just don’t be sexist, and violent for the sake of shocking rather than for the sake of the story, otherwise Liz Gryzb will cry. You don’t want to make her cry either, do you?

Just quietly, I did pitch to one of the owners the idea of making a The Voice / Literary Pitching crossover show. They weren’t down with it, so if you have any great ideas like that, don’t pitch those to them. Russell Far rather kindly pointed out that although spinning chairs would be fun, they don’t actually see the person pitching as it is, only their words. Good point Russell, good point. However, if there are any TV execs out there who like my idea I am prepared to except my millions of dollars now.

Pantera Press

Their rep was so warm and wonderful that I think everyone wants to now submit every manuscript to them. Seriously, he was lovely and so caring. He was the Rick Martin of the Panel because he had such passion. The rep in attendance likes Romance so I think we’re all switching just to work with him.

Momentum

Genre fiction with a very clear audience in mind. So none of that boundary hopping, all over the place, wishy washy stuff. Keep it tight, keep it focused, keep it commercially appealing.

Harper Voyager

Wouldn’t mind seeing a bit of Epic Fantasy. But please don’t use humour in your submissions, or guilt trips over the fact that your family will starve if they don’t pick up your manuscript. They don’t like that.

Bloomsbury

Submit through the UK website

Hope to see you at the next festival.

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