There’s a new book in town and every author – wannabes, nearly-theres, and established pros — need to get a copy!

If you dared to stroll into my home office you would find at least a dozen books written by authors imparting their wisdom from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron to Anne Lamot’s Bird by Bird. We all want those secret keys to success be it actually finishing a manuscript or securing a willing publisher.

So, when I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy of How To Be An Author: The Business of Being a Writer in Australia by Georgia Richter and Deborah Hunn I said “ABSOLUTELY! YES PLEASE!”

I was not disappointed. In fact, I devoured every section, learning about this fascinating industry. A major coup is hearing straight from current authors like Natasha Lester, James Foley and Meg McKinlay, all of whom detail their experiences and share great tips.

This is a truly epic book for anyone who wants to understand how the Australian publishing industry works and what roles the author can and must fulfil. The book is designed to be read at any stage of an author’s career and allows for the reader to jump into any section, however I read it front to back because I was truly absorbed.

How To Be An Author will take you from the very beginning of managing your writing routine to creating a manuscript, finding an audience, building a brand, and the elusive part of finding a publisher and understanding that glorious contract. 

Author Georgia Richter

Once I finished reading it I knew I had to share it with you and all of my fellow writers I’ve met on this writing path over the past few years. I also wanted to know more and flicked a few questions over to Georgia Richter. 

Here’s what she had to say about the path to publication for them and us, the next wave of authors.

Who did you have in mind when you wrote this book?

This is not a book about how to write. Our target audience is the writer who is driven to develop their own writing practice but who would also like to understand the additional things a writer can do to build a community, a profile and an audience.  

There is so much that you touch on in this book from audience to contract, even marketing. For a new writer, this can seem very overwhelming. What’s the best advice for a new (not yet published) writer? Where should they be putting their focus?

This book is designed to be read at different stages, such as aiming for publication, in advance of the editing process, when contemplating marketing or preparing for events, and beyond. 

If you are a brand new writer, I suggest that you first concentrate on developing your voice and getting comfortable in your writing skin. When away from the page, you could look at ways to build a strong community of likeminded people and at developing a good relationship with your local bookshop. This important networking and research can be fun and authentic. It can include going to other people’s book launches, reading books and having positive interactions with others about their work – and should be with a focus on forging genuine long-term relationships.

Tell me about why it was so important that you collaborated with authors such as James Foley and Natasha Lester? 

When Deb and I were assembling our questions for authors, we decided we would like to hear from authors in a range of genres who modelled the kind of business practice that directly contributed to their success. 

James Foley and Natasha Lester are examples of the kinds of writers in this book who are talented and hard working, who love what they do, and who understand and use their own brand in a successful and authentic way, both in person and via social media. I personally learnt a lot from reading all the author responses – it is one of my favourite things about the book.

You give a very detailed break-down of the publication process. How important is it that an author understands the nuances of this process? How can this section of your book help them? 

While this process is very familiar to those of us who work within the industry, there can be myths, misconceptions and a certain mystique surrounding the process for those on the outside looking in. 

We think that having some advance understanding of the process will help a writer prepare for the amount of work involved and think about how they can best contribute to it. 

The amount of detail provided around the publication process may alleviate the anxiety of the unknown and help new writers think about what questions they might have for a prospective publisher. Having some insight into what happens after the contract is signed – e.g. the ins and outs of editing and production – will enable a new writer to understand the process ahead in a way that will only enhance that experience.

How important is it that a writer considers/develops their own branding, especially in today’s media world?
The writer who starts to think about their own brand early may build an audience more quickly or settle on the direction they wish to take with their own writing. Social media is a tool that is best wielded wittingly, and the suggestions in this book will help a new writer be mindful about how to use social media to their own advantage.  
What’s the ideal time to start working on/thinking about this?
The ideal time to start thinking about your author brand is the point at which you have settled into a voice or a clear direction or are starting to be able to identify the kind of audience you would like to reach. Of course, a steady writing practice is vital to provide the substance behind the brand.
Lastly, what is a single ‘nugget of wisdom’ that you want to share with anyone interested in writing?
It turns out that in writing, as in life, one of piece of sage advice (echoed by many authors who contributed to this book) is this: be nice and conduct yourself respectfully and with authenticity. That alone will take you far! 

How To Be An Author: The Business of Being a Writer in Australia is available at most major book retailers or can be ordered directly from Fremantle Press. You can also join their Facebook community for more great tips and conversation!