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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Writing Spaces: Getting Published

Of course the week they decide to do something that wasn't on the programme was the week that I couldn't make it to class on account of a job interview. Oh yeah, I got a job interview for a job in the library next year. I also got the job. Fingers crossed that'll go well. But yeah, the job interview made me miss the lecture, and then the lecture wasn't about what it was supposed to be about. It was supposed to be about digital media, but instead we had a guest speaker from the Australian Society of Authors talking about some of the inner workings of the publishing industry.

What I didn't realise was that lecture recordings this trimester, or at least for this particular lecture, was audio only due to copyright issues. Which royally sucks, because half of the lecture was the guest speaker referring to charts and lists and whatnot, which is a little useless when you're only listening to audio. So although I listened to the lecture, a lot was going way over my head, much to my dismay. 

Nevertheless, I am here to share as much as I can of things I have learned. 

The first thing the lecturer stressed that we needed to be aware of as writers is what's going on with reading and books. That is, who is buying and in what mediums? Who is reading and what are they reading? Who is not reading and what is not being read? There are trends and fads in the literary world all the time and it is our job as writers to keep up with them, make them, and break them.

We need to know what different mediums exist: not just books, but also ebooks, magazines, and journals. There is a whole digital and online market on top of the hard-copy books and physical bookstores. Writers need to determine which mediums suit their creations best and which mediums suit them best. This is also where the choice between traditional publishing and self publishing comes in.

Who are the players in the writing and publishing business? Obviously, there's us, the writers. Then you've also got the publishers, the agents, the editors, the booksellers, and everyone else who lies somewhere in between. In Australia, we've also got the Australian Society of Authors, who help negotiate better terms and conditions for us and help deal with government issues around us. I'm going to guess there are probably similar organisations in other countries.

Writers need business skills, or somebody who does to help us. Some of these skills include knowing how to read the book market, understanding your market and yourself, knowing why you're writing and where your writing fits into your market, and where you are getting your income from.

The note about income is a relevant point to linger on. It is hard to make a living just of writing books and you're pretty amazing if you manage it, but the bottom line is that not everybody can do it, especially not right from the word go. From your writing, you'll get income from advances and royalties, and possibly from grants, fellowships, Public Lending Rights, Educational Lending Rights, Digital Lending Rights, copyright agencies, teaching, and public speaking. Depending on how well your writing is received by readers, this may or may not be enough, and it's not uncommon for writers to have other jobs and means of income, whether it still be publishing-industry related or a job from a completely different field.

What else do we need to do? We need to gather info. This can be done by subscribing to journals, reading in the library, researching online for example on the websites of organisations like ASA, and going to writers festivals and conferences. It is important to do our industry research. Find out who is publishing your genre, who is taking unsolicited manuscripts, what their editorial guidelines are, and remember to only send what they've asked you for. Know who your competition is and what makes you different from them and learn how to talk to people. Gather your resources, know how to talk to agents, publishers, editors, maybe even accountants and lawyers. Get serious about your professional development. Know what your rights are. Overall, just make sure you how know to make the most of being a part of the writing and publishing industry.

As for the publishers, they are looking for new material and new voices. It's a risky job for them, even when they're dealing with pre-established authors, but once they've found someone they think has potential they will invest in them; understand them, their writing, their market, and how they perform in public. A publishers job is to form a list that represents what their house stands for, and this is why it is important that writers know what publishers are looking for, because at the end of the day they will make a decision based on commercial value and potential.

I really wish I'd been able to see some of the charts and lists the guest speaker put on on the screens. It sounded like there was some interesting information and statistics there, but I think this post is long enough now, as much as I would have loved to share more with you. Sorry if a lot of this read like dot-points.

Have you got any tips and tricks for getting published, or some insight on how the publishing industry works? 

- Bonnee. 

16 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the job--a little bit of cash is always nice to have.

    Sadly, the only insight I have into getting published is that everything moves at a glacial pace, at least as far as traditional publishing. One of these days I hope to be able to give you a real 'insider's view'!

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    1. Thanks JeffO!

      I think most of us want to be able to give an insider's view one day. Fingers crossed!

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  2. Congratulations on the job! A library must be such a fun place to work! :)

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    1. I'm really excited for next year, I think it will be a great experience.

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  3. Congrats on the job. Yeah. Gives me a headache thinking about all we have to know.

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    1. Thanks Donna :) It's crazy how much we have to know!

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  4. Congrats on the library job. That's perfect. And, yeah, I get dizzy thinking about all the information about publishing. It's a squirmy, moving, living thing that doesn't always make sense to me. Which is why I would be forever grateful to find a good agent to deal with the business side of things someday.

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    1. Thank you :) I hope most of us one day have an awesome agent to deal with the business side of things for us.

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  5. Congratulations on the job!
    You might've missed the lecture, but you did sponge up a lot of information. Best tip I can give you is that a lot of it is in the timing.

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    1. If it's about good timing than this can go one of two ways for me, because my timing is either really good or really bad and rarely anywhere in between. Thanks Alex :)

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  6. Congrats for getting the job in the library. I worked in the library while being a university students and found it to be a great job. If you get some hours siting in the evening checking in and out books, you'll have time to study while on the job. Getting published is my main focus now and I'm looking for an agent, who already will know all the stuff that you posted about. You might want to find the email of the speaker from the Australian Society of Authors and then send an email explaining that you missed the class due to a job interview and really will appreciate if the speaker can email you the charts. My only tip about getting published by a good book publisher is that it's more difficult that writing the book. Too many authors fighting for a spot to get an agent and to get published. But all the best, Bonnee, in the classes and starting the job.

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    1. Thanks Giora, I'm hoping the job won't interfere with studying too much. The charts were mainly statistics from what I picked up and I think she said the most important ones. Listening to the lecture again, they're not from the current or most recent year anyway. Only the ones who put in the hard work have a chance at getting what they want in this industry. Thanks again, Giora :)

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  7. Congratulations on your job! Wow. That sounds amazing. I feel like the deeper I get into publishing the less I know, or realize I know! It's all a long journey but that's why I've been trying to blog about it and share my experiences with others. We're all in this together!

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    1. Thanks Christina :) It's great that blogging exists because it's such a good way for writers to help other writers.

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  8. My biggest and best tip for getting publish is to write and keep writing. You can't get published if you don't have a finished manuscript ;)

    Congrats on your new job!

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    1. Thanks Lynda! Achieving publication would be very difficult if you never finished writing something, so that's definitely something important to keep in mind.

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