During the first of the HARDCOPY workshops we studied how to write well. The second workshop, though, is all about how to be an author.
It is not at all the same thing.
With a day still to go, my head is swimming with information. In the days and weeks to come I will try to distil it and present the key messages from each session. But for now, some key messages in rough note form.
When choosing a publisher – will my book help the publisher to achieve their goals? Will it slot easily into their list?
A good title is crucial.
Networking is crucial. Incidental meetings can lead to important connections.
A good agent will ensure you skip the publisher’s slush pile and that your MS at least gets read by the right person.
Pan MacMillan has the best publicist in Australia.
Authors need to do much of their own publicity work – lining up interviews, for example.
Don’t sign a contract with a publisher that contains a reversion clause linked to the book’s availability or remunerative value. (Yes, now I actually know what this means and why it’s important!)
The words to the Happy Birthday song are owned by Time Warner and subject to copyright.
There is no copyright in titles, slogans, ideas or facts – it lies in the expression of ideas, in the structure and composition.
Watch out for contracts that seek to consult with the author rather than obtain the author’s consent.
When first published it may feel like the publishers know everything but actually you are in an equal partnership. It’s OK to push back.
Writing a book is legitimate work.
Those who read books also spend more time than average online – the two activities are not incompatible. In fact Australian non-fiction readers spend an average of 18 hours per week online: more than the national average.
Know your online audience.
Your website/blog is an island. Use Facebook, email, Instagram, etc to jet ski people to the island.
Do not look to book reviews for validation of your work, or yourself.
Ensure your publicist has a list of appropriate media contacts (for me that might include rural radio, newspapers and magazines as well as popular history magazines).
When you are interviewed on radio you need to be able to describe the book in the 30 seconds that the interviewer will allow you. If you are on talkback, write down each caller’s name.
Every author suffers from self-doubt.
By the time you publish you are a world expert in that subject. Revel in that and draw confidence from it. It gives you a certain power.
Writing a book is important because something you care passionately about has a life of its own, out in the world.