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Becoming A Published Novelist, by Sandi Wallace

You want to write a novel. Perhaps you want to write many novels. Fantastic! Now, settle in for a ride that will probably be long, interesting, challenging, daunting and fun.

The first thing to realise about writing a novel is that nothing happens quickly. So enjoy every step and take the positives out of setbacks – your baby just isn’t ready yet but if you keep persevering, learning and growing, you have every chance of achieving your writing dream and the delay means your book will be the best it’s capable of being when it’s finally released.

You only get one shot at a great first impression, so don’t be in too much of a hurry.

You’ll have moments of doubting yourself. I questioned if I should adopt a saner hobby – like retail therapy or doing coffee – but it was tongue-in-cheek while I kept pounding the keyboard. Fortunately, when I first submitted my manuscript to a publisher, although she said it “isn’t ready yet”, her feedback was very positive. Instead of recommending I try a new pastime, she invited me to resubmit, which I did and she subsequently offered me a publishing deal.

Because fears and frustrations are normal humps, write despite them, or spurred on by them. Write because you can’t imagine not writing. Write first for your own satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. Then imagine the thrill if you’re able to take that to another level, to be published and share your work with others.

You will be working on your book for a lengthy time, so make it a good time. Maybe you’ll be a writer who attempts different manuscripts before one is published. Some of those may be destined to remain in your bottom drawer forever. Maybe you’ll be like me and decide that you still believe in that first full-length novel and can bring it up to publishable standard. Either way, the process will involve redrafts, critiques from others, more editing and eventually submissions to literary agents or publishers, unless you’ve chosen the self-publishing route. Response times on submissions vary greatly but twelve to twenty-four months isn’t unusual.

Because you’ll be with your book for a long time, write what you want to write, what you’re good at and what you’d like to read, because your foremost audience is you. Write some of what you know and research the gaps. You can draw upon every significant experience in your life – love affair, marriage breakdown, car accident, failed exam, trip abroad, house move, new job and more – adding texture to your writing.

Read widely, especially across the type of novel you want to write (if you know what that is). Keep a journal rating each book you read, recording what you liked or disliked about the work, and useful data such as publisher details, and, where the author mentions it, his or her agent. The former will help you cherry-pick the facets of writing that will develop into your unique style and the latter will help you target your submissions appropriately. There is no point sending your gritty crime novel to a publisher or agent that specialises in cookbooks.

Some authors don’t know what type of novel they want to write. They make this decision once they’ve planned a theme, characters, setting and so on. If you’re in this category, you’ll find your story and fit it to a genre or literary fiction.

Many of us know what type of book we want to write and plan a story around that.

At a very early age – as a shy, imaginative, bookworm dreamer – I became hooked on writing and addicted to crime fiction in film and print, and the likes of Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcock, and series such as Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys cemented it. Ever since, I dreamed of being a crime writer and scribing my own series.

I took a winding path towards that dream, with stints as banker, paralegal, cabinetmaker, office manager, executive assistant, personal trainer and journalist, and came close to joining the police force along the way. Although I might’ve made a good police detective, I’ve found a safer way to investigate and solve crimes as an author. My ‘writer’s apprenticeship’ wasn’t time wasted. It made me more determined to achieve my dream. It continues to provide inspiration and fodder for my stories. It gives me maturity as a writer.

As I wrote my first crime novel Tell Me Why, I kept in mind some essential advice passed on to me by writing tutors, authors and publishers:

  • Aspire to be as good as you’re capable of being at that time.
  • Continue to work to be a better writer.
  • Learn from the authors you admire but don’t try to imitate them.
  • Be true to yourself.
  • Writing is often solitary, so network with other writers – from aspiring to established – to learn from and support each other.
  • Enjoy writing and the associated experiences.
  • Luck and good timing can factor into success.
  • Boost your writer’s biography with achievements in short story competitions and publication in a range of forms.

I am currently writing the fourth manuscript in my series and, so far, none has been as challenging as my first. Even at this stage, I keep these tips in mind, along with my personal motto: If it means that much to you, do it.

So, hang on to your hat, good luck and I wish you every success with writing your novel.


Sandi Wallace’s author website:

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     Moonshadow - Eye of the Beast by Simon Higgins - coverJennifer Scoullar - Turtle Reef

Writing Novels in Australia

The Undying Appeal Of Immortality In Fiction, by Simon Higgins

Immortality is one of humanity’s oldest storytelling traditions and therefore one of written art’s great themes. Why is it so persistent? To help us really nail its place in writing, let’s consider it in the light of human nature. Mortal nature.

I think universal angst over mortality can confront a young adult just as easily as a retiree. It underpins the appeal of fantasy immortals like vampires and angels in folklore and modern fiction. Perhaps also those quirky Benjamin Button type characters whose lives are fated to be odd and remarkable, yet universally accessible at the same time.

Travelling in China in late 2012, researching for new books, I was repeatedly confronted with reminders of this human fixation. Not only the Land of the Dragon but the world in general is littered with relics and monuments that echo the lives of rulers yearning to live forever. If not in this world, then in the next. History is so lush with amazing, idea-provoking backstories.

Obsessed with staying alive, the first emperor of China drank immortality potions, including ingredients like mercury, which modern science has proven is toxic to humans. But when the experimental medicine of the time and the assurances of his astrologers began to ring hollow, the master of the Middle Kingdom turned his attention to securing his afterlife. In it, he reasoned, there would still be enemies to face. If he was to remain proud and invincible, he would need to take both the jewels of his court – his wives and concubines – and his mighty army, into the afterlife with him, at least symbolically. Was fear of a post-death battle a huge factor in his thinking? By this stage, those mercury brews had most likely addled his mind.

It was an amazing experience to go to Xian, where part of the Silk Road started, to see the results of his dream face to face – literally. It has been called the Eighth Wonder of the World. What a thrill to explore all three (so far) excavated pits containing the infantry, archers and horses of China’s Terracotta Army. In Pit 1, the largest of the digs, I was able to get quite close to individually modelled warriors. Each one, many experts believe, reflects a particular soldier who lived and served in an elite fighting unit. Jaw-dropping as the Terracotta Warriors are, they are also surely a potential warning to us about the nature of real immortality.

A thousand years from now, China’s first Emperor will doubtless be remembered, most likely for the sheer scale of his vision, his ambition and for forcefully uniting the warring kingdoms. But I think writers like George Orwell and Harper Lee will also be remembered… for significantly challenging the Western world’s thinking with powerful stories that have already been read, honoured and retold across generations, sparking useful debate.

So isn’t real immortality about leaving a positive, creative legacy? That, we can all partake of. Perhaps storytelling messages themselves best explain this enduring human obsession with living forever. In fiction, writers give us both villains and heroes, fated to live impossibly long or resilient lives, regenerate like Wolverine, renew themselves like Doctor Who (or James Bond, for that matter). One example is the character called The Deathless in the first of my Moonshadow ninja novels, Eye of the Beast. Most writers working with immortal or empowered characters try to show how lonely that wanderer’s life really is, and how deeply flawed their character and consequent decisions.

In other words, supermen, amazons and immortals are every bit as fallible and tortured as the rest of us. This is actually very comforting. Maybe it’s something people keep coming back to reflect on, through the tool of fiction, because it’s SO comforting. Millennia of oral tradition, then writing, now pop-culture, repeats the eternal message behind the immortality myth:

Don’t sweat it. Even the divine suffer. Heroes ultimately let themselves down, choose badly, or fall while striving on their quest.

Even the feisty Norse Gods cop Ragnarok in the end. So really, we’re all in the same longship.

No wonder we find that creating such people in high stakes conflict situations absorbs us endlessly. We see ourselves and our struggles micro-mirrored in the turbulent stories of people who are like us, yet endowed with far greater powers and facing more ultimate threats. But, in the end, are they really more powerful, or just both blessed and blighted, like everyone else, simply in a more grand and tragic way?

Stories with a point to them live forever. You can kill people but not ideas. So my advice is take up your quill rather than sword and share tales worth repeating until the stars turn to dust.

As Shakespeare’s endurance proves, readers and viewers love layered characters, timeless ideas, plots with intriguing levels and at least one observation or insight of substance to relish or reflect on later, when the joyous tumult of the heroic plot is done.

If we writers can recognise the great undying themes, make sense of their engine rooms, then creatively deliver, yet again, their high calibre essence to our readers, a kind of immortality is up for grabs.


Simon Higgins’s bio page

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Animal Characters In Novels, by Jennifer Scoullar

‘So your stories have animal characters. I didn’t know you wrote children’s books?’

I get this a lot, and it’s a puzzle. The assumption is that, as adults, we’re somehow supposed to have outgrown our emotional connection to the animal world. That hasn’t happened to me. I’m as alive now to the voices and possibilities of animals as I ever was, and fortunately my readers are too.

There is a proud tradition of animal characters in adult fiction. Early examples are the Houyhnhnms, a race of civilised horses in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, the birds, ants and fish in TH White’s The Once And Future King and perhaps the greatest animal character of all time, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. However in the twentieth century it became unfashionable to portray fictional animals, except in children’s literature. It became even more unfashionable to attribute any form of emotion to them. (Interestingly, recent research on dolphins and elephants suggests that they may well experience a wider range of emotions than humans.) Nevertheless, anthropomorphism became a pejorative term.

Thankfully there are always authors who defy convention. So we have the tortured rabbits of Richard Adams’ Watership Down. We have the marvellous dogs of David Wroblewski’s The Tale Of Edgar Sawtelle and Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy. Cormac McCarthy writes from the point of view of a wolf in The Crossing. This powerful excerpt fills us with dread and admiration, without ever becoming sentimental:

“She carried a scabbed-over wound on her hip where her mate had bitten her two weeks before somewhere in the mountains of Sonora. He’d bitten her because she would not leave him. Standing with one forefoot in the jaws of a steel trap and snarling at her to drive her off where she lay just beyond the reach of the chain. She’d flattened her ears and whined and she would not leave. In the morning they came on horses. She watched from a slope a hundred yards away as he stood up to meet them.”

Then, of course, there’s Only The Animals by Ceridwen Dovey, which has been long-listed for this year’s Stella Prize. In this astonishing anthology, the souls of ten animals who died in human conflicts over the last century tell their own stories. The old taboo against anthropomorphism is lifting, and it’s a fine thing.

When building an animal character, I first learn as much as I can about its life. As an amateur naturalist from way back, this is a great joy for me. I love nothing more than immersing myself in the world of a brumby, or dolphin, or even an octopus. (I have an octopus character in my March 25th release Turtle Reef.) I then build my animal character. I invent a back-story, motivation and personality based on what I’ve learned of the species. As with any other character, not all of this invention will find its way onto the page but I keep it in mind as I write.

This kind of thoughtful, balanced anthropomorphism helps us recognise the kinship shared by humans and animals. An example is the recent documentary film Blackfish, telling the story of Tilikum, a troubled, captive Orca who killed several of his trainers. It’s a heart-wrenching tale that has us sympathising with the whale. This couldn’t happen if we weren’t given some insight into Tilikum’s emotional plight.

There are two important things to keep in mind when writing animals for adults. Firstly, you need a strong reason for having a non-human character. It must further the plot or reinforce your theme in a way no person can. Secondly, you must balance animal and human traits in a sensitive and respectful way that suits your particular story. Readers should be able to empathise with the animal character, while still recognising its unique differences.

I have a few novels in my bottom drawer that were rejected because of animal points of view. Yet the wild popularity of rural fiction is largely due to the prominent role animals and nature play in the genre. Maybe I should dust off those manuscripts? Readers, particularly ones living in the concrete jungles of our cities, are hungry to re-engage with the natural world. They love animal characters. It seems the publishing world is finally catching up with them.


Jennifer Scoullar’s author website:

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Jennifer Scoullar - Brumby's RunJennifer Scoullar - Billabong BendJennifer Scoullar - Billabong BendJennifer Scoullar - Turtle Reef     Robyn Bavati - Pirouette book cover

On Setting In Novels, by Robyn Bavati

A friend of mine had a small role as a middle-aged Jewish woman in the first season of a popular TV series, and was asked back for a second season. When she discovered that a scene written for her in the next season was almost an exact replica of one of the scenes she did in the first, she rang me to ask for ideas about how to make the new scene different. I suggested they show her baking challah – to which she replied, “But there’s no kitchen on the set.”

Fortunately, as novelists we have no such constraints, and can set our scenes wherever we like to add variety and richness to our story.

Setting refers to time and place, and is essential for conveying the world of the story. Most writers understand that a story set in eighteenth century France will have a different feel from one set in ancient Egypt, just as they understand the difference between a story set in an urban environment as opposed to a rural one. Your story may be set in the past, the present or the future, in a real world or an imagined one. You may wish to write contemporary fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, sci fi or dystopian fiction. When it comes to setting – your choices are huge – in fact, unlimited.

Unlike backstory (a requisite element of any novel but not one that must necessarily permeate the entire story), setting is one of the six basic elements of novel-writing. This means that, along with the other five basic elements (plot, character, structure, voice and theme), it must be integrated into every scene.

The three most common mistakes writers make when it comes to setting are:

1. Overlooking it altogether (eg. the scene might be a conversation between two people, but the reader never finds out where and when the scene takes place).

2. Describing the scene in far more detail than the story requires.

3. Moving a character from one scene to the next in an unwieldy manner as a result of not knowing how to simply set the scene.

Luckily, all these errors are easily fixed. If you think you might have overlooked setting in one of your scenes, read through each scene and check whether you have written a sentence or two early on in the scene that enables the reader to imagine where and when the scene takes place. If not, be sure to add these descriptors. Even if you think that what’s important is what is said, not where and when it is said, the where and when is still information the reader will need.

Perhaps you have already set the scene. Have you kept the description of time and place clear and concise? Or is the description overly detailed and hard to follow? Remember that every scene should in some way provide insight into character and advance the plot. Try not to let setting hog too much of the limelight. If you’ve gone overboard when describing your setting, pare it back.

Finally, let’s take a look at how easy it is to move characters from one scene to another just by setting the scene. The key lies in understanding that you don’t have to move your characters – just put them where you want them to be. For example, if you’re moving Tom from the living room to the bedroom, instead of a filler sentence such as, “Tom got up from his chair in the living room and went into the bedroom”, simply begin a new sentence with “Later, in his bedroom…” or leave a white space and begin a new scene with “In his bedroom that evening…”

A white space generally indicates a new scene – a change in time and/or place. If you want to begin a scene hours, days or months after the preceding scene, you don’t need to fill the reader in all that has happened in the interim. If anything of significance has happened, it will most likely have a scene of its own. There is nothing wrong with beginning a scene with a brief time descriptor such as “The following day”, “The next week” or “One month later”. Of course, it would be a mistake to begin all your scenes this way. You might like to begin with a description of place, or with action or dialogue. Eg.:

Tom approached the lane with his eyes firmly on the centre skittle. Though the bowling alley was crowded that evening, he managed to block out the noise of the other bowlers. He had to focus.


“How much did you bet?” asked Jane, as they entered the bowling alley that evening.
Tom winced, not wanting to admit they’d be out on the street if he didn’t win.

In both instances, the setting is taken care of early on, cueing the reader in on time and place.

You can also use setting to add richness to your story by taking your characters somewhere new and exciting, or by depicting the banal in an interesting way. As Samuel Johnson said, “The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.”

Remember, you’re writing a novel, not a film script – no budget restrictions limit your imagination. So have fun. Let your imagination roam. Dare to explore.


Robyn Bavati’s bio page

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Robyn Bavati - Pirouette book cover    Moonshadow - Eye of the Beast by Simon Higgins - coverHouse for all Seasons by Jenn J McLeodThe Fragment of DreamsBurning Lies

Writing Novels in Australia

Marketing And Sales For Novelists, by Greig Beck

Okay, I admit, I’m biased. I’ve worked in sales and marketing for 20 years and believe that, except for a few rare exceptions, marketing really matters.

You could be one of those writers who has penned a book and, like the rest of us, believe it’s fantastic, enjoyable and just what the public is looking for. Unlike everyone else, through the addition of some mystical Hogwartian factor, your book has an element of magic that cuts through and is picked up by book clubs, web genre-pages and millions of readers across the globe. Think 50 Shades of Grey or Hugh Howey’s Wool series.

If, like the great majority of writers, you are out there screaming ‘look at me’, you need to make things happen by yourself. You may be luckier than most and have a publisher who has a skilled marketing and publicity machine behind them. If not, then in the words of Michael Jordan: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

I’ve been an author since 2009 and, even in that time, have seen monumental changes. The playing field is leveling and the internet has given everyone the same sized shop window. I’m luckier than most in that I now have a worldwide readership, and have books published globally in many languages and in various mediums (paper, eBook, audio, etc). When it comes to marketing, I’ve seen things that have worked and things that have not.

Okay, so your book has just hit Amazon, iBooks and other online retailers, and its ranking is still in the hundreds of thousands. You just need a couple of small things:

1. More people to read it!

2. More people to talk about it – and glowingly!

Here are some things that that might spark some ideas:

EMPATHISE: Most of us are readers as well as writers. So what makes you buy a book? For me, the first thing that hooks me is the cover art. Next, it’s the blurb. Maybe the first few chapters that you can sample, but, most of the time, I’ll already be sold. As many ebooks are inexpensive, if I don’t like it then I’ll just move to the next – so price is important – the lower the price the lower risk. What about book trailer videos? I’ve used them. I’ve also seen a lot. Although I hear good things about them being persuasive for wholesalers and book fairs, I’m just not convinced these work at the reader level. A book trailer has never influenced me to buy a book. Track record is a strong determinant of value. If I know the author’s work and have enjoyed it, then I’m more than likely to buy their next book. So, deliver a quality product and it will turn drop-ins into recurring customers.

BOOK REVIEWS: Know your audience! There are mountains of book reviewers these days. Some command the attention of thousands or hundreds of thousands of readers, while others just reach a small circle of friends. Seek them out and persuade them to read your work. There’s nothing like a good sales letter in an email – short, sharp and compelling. Introduce yourself, include a short punchy book blurb and then why you think they’d enjoy the work. It might be something like: “I saw you recently enjoyed Book of Bones. My book, Boney Book, is similar, but has X & Y as well.” Just look for reviewers who are writing about (and enjoying) books similar to your own. A key thing is to do your homework. Please remember your targeting: don’t try to get your horror book reviewed by a romance book lover. The review might not be what you wanted. If they write a good review, thank them and then link to their review on your website/Facebook page/other media. In return, they get more traffic back to their site. If they’ve reviewed one of your books and liked it, then there’s a good chance they’ll review your next.

BAD REVIEWS: Roll with the punches. We all get bad reviews. Some are worthwhile criticism, while others just show that whoever was spitting the venom hadn’t even bothered to read your work, or didn’t like the price or the look of you on your website with all those happy, smiling teeth! Never take them on, as all that might happen is they’ll wait for your next work and do the same again. After all, they’ve got nothing to lose and they’re anonymous. Did I tell you about the reviewer in India who hated my first book so much he tried to get his book blog readers to all write to my publisher to ask them never to publish me again? Thank heavens they didn’t agree with him, but still.

AVID READERS: Just as there are those who will dislike your work, there will be even more people who absolutely love it. They’ll seek it out, seek you out, write to you, want to know more about you and tell their friends about you. These are the readers that form your Praetorian Guard. They’ll write early reviews for you that are important for your rankings, and also defend your honor. Never forget them. Engage with them and always make time for them.

INTERVIEWS (all formats): Have a ready-set-go thumbnail sketch of your book on-hand. In the first on-air interview I did I was given a simple prompt: “Tell me about your book.” I suddenly realised, I couldn’t describe it quickly, so I waffled, umd and ahd, and, when finally done an agonising several minutes later, I knew I certainly hadn’t done my book justice. From that point on, I wrote and rewrote a small piece that succinctly gives the reader a reason to want to read it, and always had that handy and memorised.

ADVERTISE: Facebook and Goodreads are getting very good at audience targeting programs. If you wrote a book about a young, one-legged werewolf, now you can select target demographics right down to werewolves, one leg, and readers between 15 and 21 years of age, and also those readers that just love ebooks (tip, remember the differing time zones if advertising in several countries at once, and also that Sunday night is a big night for ebook purchases).

DON’T SPAM: Don’t overdo it with your readers on mailing lists or social media posts. Learn to get the balance right. Don’t bother going on some of those author/writing sites and continually talking up your work. All you’re adding to is authors spamming other authors. Hey, guess what they’re more interested in? Their own work, not yours!

CULTIVATE RELATIONSHIPS: Get involved with literary networks (no spamming!) and other authors. Advertise together, organise book signings together to share costs and goodwill. Go to events to be seen and heard, and to see how the successful authors do it. If you’re just starting out, then getting noticed matters. Sometimes you need to do free stuff: write articles or start a blog about things that interest you – and bonus points if you can segue into some of your stories (see some of my blog posts on Thriller Central). Also, offer to be a guest judge for literary prizes. Just do whatever you can to lift your name/profile above the crowd. Don’t forget, there’s an old saying: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” So don’t be afraid to ask other known authors to read and blurb your book. Sure, they’ll probably say no, as everyone is busy, but if the subject matter is what they like to read then you’re half way there.

BE PATIENT: Selling books is like a snowball rolling down a hill. The more books you have in the market, and the more readers who like your work, the more people will seek out your backlist. Sales generate more sales and the rolling snowball gets bigger.

Now, what are you waiting for? You should already be writing the next one!


Greig Beck’s author website:

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    Rotten Gods by Greg Barron - Australian novelist

Writing Novels in Australia

Powerless Heroes, by Michael Pryor

I know this article should really be called ‘Powerless Protagonists’ or ‘Powerless Main Characters’ but I couldn’t resist the nuance of ‘Powerless Heroes’. What I’m talking about is the tendency of many stories to have a main character who is helpless. Put upon. A loser.

I was once reading a book – and it shall remain nameless – when I ran into a character who lurched from disaster to disaster, relationships soured as soon as he touched them, businesses went downhill as soon as he joined and weather became inclement the moment he stepped outside. He was hapless in the extreme. I think we were meant to sympathise with him as an everyman, but I just grew more and more irritated – and then I had an insight.

It isn’t just that he was a victim of circumstance, it was his reaction to all this. Hardship didn’t make him stronger and didn’t make him more determined – he simply bore it with what was meant to be good grace but came across as peevish whining.

When writing, I maintain that main characters should be powerful in two senses:

Firstly, your main character needs to be in a position to act. By that, I mean she or he should be physically able to affect events in the novel. For instance, a hermit, all alone on an island, is probably a poor choice as a protagonist in a story about the wheelings and dealings in political circles in Whitehall, where up and coming crusader Holly Stanthorpe is caught up in a controversy that shows us the seamy side of the historic buildings clique. No, Holly Stanthorpe is better placed to be the main character, instead of poor shipwrecked Ishmael Callaghan, having to read about events by way of the erratic delivery of messages in bottles.

Secondly, your main character should be psychologically able to act. This doesn’t have to mean that they are out and out action heroes, ready to disarm the terrorist using materials close at hand, no matter how appealing that might seem. It doesn’t mean that they are successful in their attempts to act, but, to drive the novel forward and engage a reader as an accomplice, the main character should, at some time in the story, make decisions that affect the events unfolding in the narrative.

Without being physically able to act and psychologically able to act, we have main characters who are buffeted about by the seas of fate and destiny. This is all well and good for navigational buoys but deadly dull if you’re a reader.


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     Moonshadow - The Wrath of the Wolf by Simon Higgins - coverHalf Moon BayHouse for all Seasons by Jenn J McLeod

Writing Novels in Australia

On Being An Indie Author, by Prue Batten

Being an independent author isn’t easy for the uninitiated. You are competing against traditionally published books with a massive publicity machine as well as against an ever-expanding market of indie published books.

So why did I bother?

I became fed up with the traditional system. It works on a long timeframe and less than 5% of submissions ever make it beyond the gatekeepers. It was time to look at other pathways. I was writing niche fiction then and, according to those in the industry, there was simply no market for it.

I had been working through Cornerstones Literary Consultancy in the UK and the editors there had honed my work within an inch of its life. They also shopped me around to agents. I was close to getting a London agent until she decided I lived too far from the epicentre of publishing, which so shocked me that it became a turning point in my life. I was a member of a peer-review site,, funded by the UK Arts Council, and the week of that fateful moment with the London agent I received an email from the site saying they were venturing into print on demand publishing and asking if I was interested. I took all of an hour at lunch with author GS Johnston to make up my mind.

My life as an indie author began.

Since starting in 2008 I have never looked back. I write a book a year – the time it takes for me to research, write drafts, have it edited, beta-read, re-edited, cover designed, formatted and then released. I set up a website (since rebuilt), a blog and entered the social media world with much trepidation. I entered it at the same time as my peers at You Write On. We stuck together and helped each other. Slowly we began to make a name for ourselves. We followed serious commentators like David Gaughran, Joanna Penn, Joe Konrath and Anne R. Allen, and we heeded their advice.

When I began as an indie author, I was making one sale per month – hardly reassuring. Slowly the novels secured some momentum. I went into this pathway with absolutely no expectations and still have none. I wrote niche historical fantasy and have tended toward the niche side with my historical fiction, so I thought if I sold one or two I would be immensely happy. That said, it has paid off sweetly. How sweetly you ask? In the last twelve months alone, enough to pay for my kitchen and laundry to be renovated. Yes, a small kitchen and laundry but who’d have thought?

If I were to give advice on treading the indie path, it is this:

1. Read as much as you can about the industry.

2. NEVER publish the first book you write. Hone your craft before you present the reading public with a book.

3. Employ a professional editor who also has empathy and humour. You will need that support.

4. Find objective beta-readers.

5. Have a professional cover designed by a qualified graphic artist.

6. Find a formatter or learn how to format both for e-book and print.

7. Publish through a publishing service like Amazon, Smashwords or Draft2Digital. It is the best way to maintain control of your work and to get it into the marketplace easily for minimal outlay.

8. Find blogs, and readers who use them.

9. Enter competitions. An award validates a novel.

10. Expect nothing and enjoy the ride.


Prue Batten’s author website:

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     The Innocent

Writing Novels in Australia


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