It’s always an idea when you’re seeking advice to go to an expert. Someone with inside information, someone with experience and skills, and the ability to communicate it all to you in a no-nonsense, practical way.
Which is why aspiring authors should ensure they get themselves a copy of How to be an Author: The business of being a writer in Australia. It’s a book of jewels written by experts, using their wealth of knowledge gathered over decades and poured into its generous pages.
Together, publisher Georgia Richter and writer and academic Deborah Hunn have created a practical guide for writers hoping to be published in Australia. On any page you flick to you’ll find crucial information such as what publishers are looking for, and what they avoid. You’ll find sections on the craft of writing and on defining success. Richter’s daily interactions with writers and illustrators, observing and guiding the creative process behind every book she publishes is evident in every chapter of How to be an Author. Then there’s the business stuff: you’ll learn how to write a decent cover letter, whether you need an agent, and when to create a website.
Woven in and around this are the words of published writers, poets and illustrators who were extensively interviewed to gain their perspectives on these and many other topics. They are unstinting with sharing their experiences, from managing rejection to working with an editor and negotiating a contract.
As a young writer, I devoured books of interviews with authors I idolised, and would pore over the pages of the Yacker series in particular; How to be an Author takes a similar, but more practical, approach, making it a perfect offering. How can you not want to know the juice on (international bestselling historical fiction author) Natasha Lester’s writing routine? Or (award-winning children’s author) Meg McKinlay’s take on work–life balance? Crime writer David Whish-Wilson’s advice on research? Ambelin Kwaymullina’s view on whether it’s possible to write for a living?
I may be among the writers interviewed – and what wonderful company I’m in indeed – but my fascination with their responses is no less now than when publication of my writing was but a distant dream.
How to be an Author: The business of being a writer in Australia is published by Fremantle Press and will hit the shelves 1 February.