This post is #6 of a 10-part series in the lead up to a writing conference being hosted by Fiona McIntosh (October 2019). Please follow along with my weekly posts as I share some writing tips and experiences I’ve gained while writing my manuscript and preparing for this wonderful opportunity.

This week I want to step away my usual type of post and share some insights from the very talented and well-published author, Fiona McIntosh. She’s one of Australia’s most successful commercial writers, with 37 PUBLISHED BOOKS under her belt. Can you believe that?! Fiona’s success is unusual in that her books span various genres including time-slip, crime and historical fiction.

Personally, I am a massive fan of her historical fiction. The details, adventures and risk-taking characters are so captivating. If you’ve read my other blog posts, you’ll also know that I attended Fiona’s mini-masterclass last year. What I learnt there put me on the path to writing with excitement, commitment and discipline.
Now, I’m on the countdown to attend Fiona’s inaugural National Conference where there will be even greater learning experiences not only from her but other industry leaders too. Some of Australia’s top publishers will be there… So, I wanted to ask Fiona if there really is a future for new writers. I hope you enjoy the following Q&A session.
1. What prompted you to host a conference for your masterclass graduates?
We are nearing 300 in the alumni and I was hearing rumblings of people wanting to get to know their fellow masterclassers outside of their cohort.  I refused to throw a party but I offered to host a national conference. ‘Build it and we’ll come!’ the gang cried and were as good as their word. We sold our 100 places in a few hours.
2. What has been the general response from the publishing industry about attending the conference and meeting new (hopeful!) writers? Do publishers want to hear from new writers in general?

Not a single person I’ve invited has turned us down. That’s the power of the Masterclass. It already has an enviable reputation out there in the industry for being the pre-eminent commercial fiction training ground that sends out professional, business-minded, goal oriented writers. It fuels the fire in their belly without giving them unrealistic goals by speaking to them in straight, hard hitting language and delivered to them by someone who has walked their pathway and has a 20 year track record in commercial fiction not just in Australia/NZ but across a dozen or more foreign territories. I also have a 35 year career in successful self-employment… a vital aspect of being a published writer, and my writing career moves across a variety of genres.

Yes, of course publishers want to hear from new writers! Writers are their reason for being. Writers are how publishers exist and make money. And like any good business, they have to keep looking to the future and replenishing.

3. Can today’s aspiring writer really go from dreaming to a successful career?

Why not? I did. So did every writer you’ve ever read who has had more than a couple of books published. I shifted from one successful career while dreaming of writing and then decided not to dream any more but to follow through on my instincts. That was 20 years ago.

4. What’s your single best tip for writing and completing a manuscript?

To write is a verb. That’s an action word…so stop talking, dreaming, wishing. Do it!  You need no more than 12 months per manuscript. Most of us commercial fiction writers who are out there in the Top 20, are crafting top selling novels each year in far less time than that. And I did that for several years while raising a young family and holding down full-time work, so no excuses please! Most successful writers are parents and family people with busy lives beyond writing… they don’t make excuses for not getting to the keyboard. They get to the keyboard no matter what.

5. What are some considerations writers should make when pitching to a publisher?

Don’t think for a moment they care. Make them care. Write a brilliant, addictive story. Then every publisher will want that manuscript … it’s a simple equation.

¬ ¬ ¬

Hand on heart, I can honestly say attending one of Fiona’s masterclasses has changed the way I approach my work and the goals I have as a writer. I’ll be forever grateful for the knowledge she has shared.

If you want to know more about Fiona’s masterclasses, fiction books or her excellent resource, How To Write Your Blockbuster, please click here.

J x