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10 posts about writing you may have missed

10 posts about writing you may have missed

Things have been a bit quiet around here, it’s true – but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out and about sharing writing tips, tricks and advice!

So here’s a round up of some writing posts you may have missed.

From how some of Australia’s top authors got their first publishing deal to a really great overview of book publicity, I’ve got you covered.

Click the links to read more.

 

1. 10 great reasons to write short stories

2. 8 great songs about writing to use in your Instagram reels

3. 7 publishing opportunities right now

4. How to establish and build a longterm author career

5. How to make a living as an author

6. Top three tips for writing cosy mystery stories

7. Six things you need to know about book publicity

8. What does it take to create a bestselling novel?

9. How I got my first publishing deal: 5 Australian authors share their secrets

10. How to write a book dedication

 

So You Want To Be a Writer bookWould you love more writing tips and advice? Check out my book So You Want To Be A Writer: How To Get Started (While You Still Have A Day Job), co-authored with Valerie Khoo and based on our top-rating podcast.

Buy it here!

How to be interviewed: 5 tips for authors

How to be interviewed: 5 tips for authors

One of the surprising side-effects of becoming a published author is that you find yourself being interviewed. In fact, sometimes you find yourself being interviewed a lot.

And yes, it’s a surprise, even for someone who is used to being on the other side of questions as an interviewer.

I remember when my first children’s novel, The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race To The End Of The World, was first published that there seemed to be an inordinate number of Q&As to fill out (yes, these count as interviews), radio spots to do, and other bits and pieces to endure.

I say endure, because I quickly realised that I am someone who likes asking questions a lot more than I like answering them.

But, having interviewed people for 20+ years, I was in a better position than many debut authors who are suddenly confronted with having to answer questions about themselves and their book for the first time in their lives.

And for many, it doesn’t get any easier as their careers progress.

 

Both sides of the interview table

I’ve been threatening to write this post for years, and in fact covered some information about how to be interviewed in So You Want To Be A Writer, the book.

But a recent Facebook post by an author friend, a friend who has been published multiple times and been interviewed MANY times, finally galvanised me into action.

My friend was nervous about being interviewed by a national newspaper and desperate for tips on how to get through it without ‘saying the wrong thing’.

So here are my tips, garnered from many years as a freelance journalist, many years as a podcast host and, now, many years of being interviewed for blogs, websites, newspapers, radio and television.

 

How to be interviewed: my top 5 tips for authors

 1. Do some research

Who’s interviewing you? For which blog, website, publication, podcast, station or channel? Who reads this blog, website, publication or listens to/watches this podcast, station or channel?

The audience matters. Your interviewer will tailor their questions to that audience’s interests and you should have them in mind when you provide your answers.

 

2. Think about the why 

If you consider WHY you’re being interviewed, you’ll be able to put together at least a basic outline of the KINDS of questions your interviewer is going to ask you.

That way you can be ready with some answers.

Why are you being interviewed?

Is it because you have a new novel out? Chances are your interviewer will want to know what the book is about (make sure your elevator pitch is strong), they’ll want to investigate any themes in the book (know your hook and be able to expand on it) and where people can find out more and buy it (be ready with your website details!).

Or is it because it’s Book Week and you’re a local author? This is a bigger picture interview, so you’ll need to know the Book Week dates, why it’s important in schools and any other angle you can brain storm. One tip: don’t forget to mention the title of your latest book because your interviewer may not!

Why leads to who, what, where and when

When I’m preparing to interview someone for the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, I’ve always got my journalism training in the back of my mind.

In every article I’ve ever written, I’ve looked at covering the Who, What, Where, and When in the first few questions, leaving the Why until I get towards the end.

As the person being interviewed, you start with the why, but remember that your interviewer will always need to cover those other basic details. So have them at your fingertips.

 

3. Know what you want to say

This is the most important thing to remember. The interviewer is ready to do their job, getting the story they need to fill whatever bit of space has been allocated to it.

You need to be ready to do your job.

Your job is to get your message across, even as you provide entertainment and information to fill that bit of space.

How do you make sure you do your job?

Create a cheat sheet and write everything down.

Write down the five top things that you want the audience to take away from your interview.

Write that short, pithy statement that says exactly what your book is about.

Write down your answers to the most common questions authors are asked (see tip 5 below).

Most interviews these days are done via phone, Zoom, Skype or even email, so you can keep your cheat sheet handy and no-one will ever know.

And you will be amazed at how easy it is to work in all of the things that you want to say, no matter what questions you are asked.

If in doubt, watch a politician on television. They do it every day.

 

4. Assume your interviewer knows nothing about you

One thing you will very quickly realise is that most interviewers have not read your book. Many may not have even read the media release.

In radio, for instance, where air time needs to be filled and every day is super busy, a producer will read the media release, Google a bit, and then create a list of questions for the presenter to follow (as a side note, many presenters do not follow the questions).

So there are two things to consider here.

First, make sure your website is up to date.

Otherwise, you may find yourself being asked random questions about irrelevant bits of your bio (cue another side note: as an interviewer, I implore you to please ensure you have a lovely, concise, relevant bio prominently placed at the top of your ‘about’ page. Think of me reading it out loud on the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, and save your love of cats for further down the page.)

Second, be prepared to fill in the information yourself. Don’t answer questions with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, expand to include as much information as you can.

“How are you today?”

Great thanks, just finishing editing my the second book in my new series, The Wolf’s Howl, due out in August this year.

“What is your new novel about?”

“The Fire Star is a middle-grade mystery story set in an ‘almost history’ world, about Reeve, a squire, and Maven, a maid, who meet for the very first time on their first day at Rennart Castle. When a valuable jewel known as The Fire Star goes missing, they are the first suspects because they are the last in the door, so they must band together to find it.”

“Where do books fit in to kids’ lives in this day and age?”

“There are so many calls on kids’ times these days, not just social media and phones, which are often cited as reasons kids don’t read as much, but homework, organised activities, the list goes on. Unfortunately, that’s showing up in the reading and writing results in NAPLAN. The key to getting kids reading is to find books that they will love. I write epic adventure stories, like The Mapmaker Chronicles, because they’re the kinds of stories my own boys love to read.”

You get the picture?

Be ready for the interview to go on tangents you don’t expect, but look for ways to bring those questions back to you and your books.

And keep your answers as short as possible.

 

5. Be prepared to answer the same question over and over in multiple interviews

If you read a lot of author Q&As, or listen or watch authors being interviewed, you’ll start to pick up on the questions that authors are asked over and over again.

“Where do you get your ideas?”

“How long does it take you to write a book?”

“Who inspires you as an author?”

“Who’s your favourite author?”

“What’s your favourite book ever?”

“What are your top three tips for writers?”

Etcetera.

My suggestion is that you prepare an answer for these questions.

Even if you don’t have a favourite author (seriously, who has just one?), prepare an answer that covers that.

Think about tips for other writers (and please, please, please, try to go beyond ‘read widely’ – yes, it’s essential, the number one thing that all aspiring authors should do, but it’s also the most common answer to that question).

Consider the one book you’d take to a desert island and the five other authors you’d invite to a dinner party.

You may think you’ll never be asked these questions, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that maybe, just maybe, you will be, and if you’re put on the spot you will suddenly find you can’t remember a single book you’ve ever read or an author whose work you enjoyed.

 

Bonus tip: try to enjoy yourself

Being interviewed is a privilege. It’s an opportunity for you to share your work with someone else’s audience.

Most interviewers are not ‘out to get you’. They are simply working writers or broadcasters or podcasters, just like you, trying to get a few quotes to bring a story together or to fill three minutes of a three-hour radio shift.

So be yourself. The best possible version of yourself.

Always remember that you’re talking to an audience (I say this because some interviewers are so good they can make you forget it’s not just the two of you having a chat)

Do the best possible job you can.

Good luck!

 

Allison Tait How to be interviewedAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

Want to know more about promoting your book, building your author profile, or how to manage author publicity? Join Write With Allison Tait, my online writing community.

Every month you’ll be able to join a live on Zoom Q&A with me to ask all your burning questions! More details here. 

How to guest post successfully: 6 tips for authors

How to guest post successfully: 6 tips for authors

With publications closing and book review sections of newspapers and magazines getting smaller and smaller, authors need to work very hard to find publicity opportunities for their books these days.

Whether traditionally- or indie-published, authors must seek out new and different ways to get their books in front of readers.

Fortunately, in a world where so much has moved online, authors are lucky enough, by their very nature, to have a hugely effective weapon in their publicity arsenal: words.

Having your own author blog and building an engaged community is one way to use your words effectively (and I’ve written about this herehere and here).

But another approach is simply to borrow someone else’s blog or website.

Guest posting 101 for authors

Guest posting is where you write a post or article for someone else’s blog or website, thereby drawing their audience’s attention to you and your work. Sounds simple, right?

Yes, and no. There are a few hurdles to jump between ‘I’d like to use guest posting as an author marketing strategy’ and ‘oh, look, there’s my post being shared widely on that established blog’.

Firstly, you need to know which blog might be interested in your post.

Secondly, you need to reach out to that blogger and actively pitch your work (it’s a rare occasion where a blogger will contact you and say ‘I see you have a new book out, please publicise it on my blog’)

Thirdly, you need to know what it is you intend to write about AND how this post will help to showcase your new book.

But more about that lately.

Let’s look at the first point.

Where to put your words

There are several ways to find bloggers/websites to pitch for guest posting. You could try the scattergun approach, whereby you just google ‘writing websites’ or ‘author blogs’ and work your way down the list.

Or you could just decide you’ll only target blogs or authors that have minimum 10K followers on Facebook – or some other arbitrary system you come up with.

You could do that. I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you have a lot of time to spare, then go for it.

Instead, look at your own communities. Look at the websites you follow, the authors you like, the Facebook groups you like to be part of, the people you like to engage with.

Who are they? What do they have in common? Are they sharing links from particular websites over and over?

Make a list.

Now look at your list and ask yourself this question: if I write a post for this blog, will the audience be potential readers for my book?

This is a really important question. Lots of new authors will look at guest posting on blogs where they can write about a subject dear to their hearts: writing. Which is great. There’s no doubt you’ll probably come up with a cracking post.

But the people reading that post will be WRITERS.

And while most writers are also readers, what percentage of them will want to read your book after gleaning all they can from your pearls of wisdom about writing?

With that in mind, have another look at your list of potential bloggers/websites.

And then make another list about the kinds of websites/blogs you think the ideal reader of your book* would visit.

That’s your actual list.

You’ll note there’s a * on that description and it’s this: if you are writing for children, for the most part you’ll need to be looking for the ideal buyer or recommender of your book. You’re looking for parents/teachers/librarians and the other adults who putting books into the hands of your ideal reader.

Who are you writing your guest post for?

Guest posting takes work. Sorry, but it’s true. Now that you have your list of potential blogs/websites, it’s time to take a very close look at each of them.

First question, does that blog/website take guest posts? Is there any evidence that other guest posters have paved the way for you?

If yes, then great. If no, chances are that you don’t need to waste your time.

Next, read through the last eight to ten blog posts/articles on the site. Even if you’re a regular visitor, don’t rely on your memory. The tone and flavour of blogs can change from month to month as the blogger’s circumstances or focus changes, so a guest post idea that might have worked three months ago may not work now.

As you read through, make a note of the tone or flavour of the posts. Try to get an idea of who the blogger is writing for – what’s their audience?

Have a look at any associated social media – what kinds of things is the blogger sharing on Facebook? What kinds of comments are they getting? What posts are really working for them on Instagram? Who’s engaging?

Once you’ve got a clear picture, it’s time to brain storm some ideas for THAT blog. Pitching is precise.

The key to a successful guest post

A successful guest post is one that provides the blog or website host with valuable content, while ALSO promoting the author’s book in a meaningful way.

You can write about similar subject matter for five different blogs or websites, but the ANGLE of each post/article needs to be honed differently for each blog or site you’re pitching.

As an example, say I was going to write a post about how to keep 13-year-old boys interested in reading, because my next book is an adventure story for 13-year-old boys. I might pitch three different stories thus:

  1. 15 exciting adventure stories 13-year-old boys will love
  2. The secret to getting tween boys back into reading
  3. The reason 13-year-old boys give up on books (and it’s not what you think)

These are obviously all ideas for blogs or websites that have an adult audience.

If I was pitching the same idea for a website that caters TO 13-year-old boys, I might go with something like:

The 10 best books you’ve never read

“But where is your book in all this Allison?” I hear you ask.

Oh, my book is in there. If it’s a book list, my book is on that list. If it’s a blog post aimed at adults about why boys don’t read, it’s got all of my experiences with my own sons and why they inform the brand-new exciting adventure story I’ve written.

In fact, that’s a tip for new guest posters – do NOT forget to put your book in to the text. Don’t just rely on the bio at the end, because readers may not get that far. Instead, start with “When I was writing [my book], with its themes of action and adventure, it reminded me of 10 classic adventure stories that kids today will love… As with [my book], these are books with [insert characteristics] etc etc”

Get your book upfront! And in the middle! And at the end!

But in a natural way.

Now for the pitch

Once you’ve brainstormed all of your ideas and worked out which is the best fit for each particular blog or website, it’s time to reach out via email.

Keep your pitch concise, covering who you are, the guest post topic you are proposing, how it fits into their site (if they have different series or post types, flag which one you are targeting), whether you can supply images (hint, bloggers really like it if you can) and when you’d be able to get them the post.

If they don’t have guest posts regularly, with a standard template for credits, let them know what kind of info/links you will supply along with the main article (eg, I’ll send links to my website and book info, along with a 100 word bio and a book cover), to show them your expectations around crediting. You might as well be upfront about this, otherwise you might end up writing an 800-word article for one link buried deep in the middle of the text.

Then cross your fingers.

Be warned that popular bloggers and websites are often inundated with guest post pitches, and you may not even hear back from them unless they’re keen to take up your pitch. Wait a week or two, then send a polite follow up.

As someone who receives a lot of pitches myself, I can tell you that the ones that really spark my interest are the ones where its clear the author has really thought about my audience. If you can tell me quite clearly what’s in your guest post for me, I’m much more likely to look closely at it.

As a hint, proposing that I do a Q&A with you about your book is probably not going to get you over the line.

After your guest post is published

I’ve got one word for you: share. Share. Share. Share.

Yes, you’ve written the post to effectively borrow someone else’s various platforms, but extend the reach of that post by sharing on your own as well.

Some of you are probably thinking ‘but, of course’, but, and trust me on this, I’ve seen many instances where it hasn’t happened.

Guest posting, as with most things on the internet, is best if it’s a two-way street. And, remember, if your guest post does well, your relationship with that blogger is strengthened – and chances are, you’re going to have more books to promote down the track!

When to start guest posting

As with most things to do with book promotion and marketing, the answer to this is NOW.

Even if your book is not out for six months, start researching potential blogs and websites now. Begin establishing connections, start to make a big list of potential ideas. You could even write some posts that will start to build your name in that blogger’s community.

Six weeks out from publication, start pitching, giving the blogger a time frame for the post. “My book is out on 1 August 2020, so ideally this post would run that week.”

Don’t overcommit yourself – remember you have to write all the posts you’re pitching and you need to do a quality job on each and every one of them. You’re better to send out six highly strategic and well-thought-out guest posts than 13 that you’ve dashed off for anyone who will have you.

Good luck!

Meet ‘So You Want To Be A Writer’ the BOOK

Meet ‘So You Want To Be A Writer’ the BOOK

It’s been a big year for the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast team!

Not only have we screamed past the ONE MILLION download mark (you’ll find my 15 favourite interviews here), with a LIVE event at VIVID Sydney (book now!) in the works, but we’re happy to announce that we’ve written a book!

So You Want To Be A Writer book by Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo

So You Want To Be A Writer: How To Get Started (While You Still Have A Day Job) by Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo will be on sale from 8 June (be at our event to be the first to own it!)

Here’s the blurb

The ultimate guide to making your writing dreams come true!

Want to write a novel or earn an income as a freelance writer, but not sure how to go about it? Authors Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo – co-hosts of the popular So You Want To Be A Writer podcast – will give you the steps you need to make your dream a reality.

In this book, you’ll discover everything you need to be a successful writer, including how to connect with people who will help your career grow and productivity tips for fitting everything into your already busy life. You’ll also explore how to keep your creative juices flowing and where to find other writers just like you.

This book lays out a blueprint to help you get started and thrive in the world of words. With advice from over 120 writers, you’ll tap into proven wisdom and find the path that will lead YOU to success!

Here’s what five of Australia’s favourite authors have said about the book

‘Practical, grounded and inspiring. When a thousand voices tell you that you can’t, you need a voice to make you believe you can. This book is that voice.’
Candice Fox, #1 New York Times bestselling author

‘So many pro tips in here from working writers. This is like Tim Ferriss’s Tools of Titans but exclusively for writers. I loved it.’
Tristan Bancks, award-winning children’s author

‘Perfect for the person who wants to write but doesn’t have the confidence or the know-how to start.’
Pamela Hart, award-winning historical fiction author

‘Essential reading for any aspiring writer.’
Graeme Simsion, international bestselling author

‘Val and Al were a godsend to me before I was published, offering a guided tour to the world of publishing that was otherwise closed to me. Their advice is highly, highly recommended.’  
Dervla McTiernan, international bestselling author

And here’s a picture of the co-authors on the day (nearly a year ago) we decided to write a book

Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait So You Want To Be A Writer book.

We are thrilled to bring this book to our podcast audience, our writing community and to new and aspiring writers everywhere. It will be available through a range of online booksellers, here and overseas, so stay tuned for more details.

If you’d like to read more about So You Want To Be A Writer the book, or register your details to receive notice as soon as the book is on sale, you’ll find all the details here.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

My top 10 posts for writers (2018 edition)

My top 10 posts for writers (2018 edition)

top 10 posts for writers (2018) | allisontait.comI can’t believe it’s that time of the year again! I’m taking a break from the online world for a few weeks at the end of this week, so I thought I’d start sharing some of my ‘new year’ posts early, starting with this one.

I’m always fascinated to see which of my ‘writing’ posts resonate the most each year, and this year is no different. So here they are, in descending order from 10-1, the 10 most popular posts about writing on this site in 2018. (Click the title to see the full post)

The one superpower that all published writers have

Industry Insider: How do you know when a story is finished?

Ask the writer: How to build your author platform

Starting Out #3: Do you need to do a course to be a writer?

6 skills you need to make it as a copywriter

Writing for kids: How to create remarkable characters

Writing for kids: 10 top writing tips from bestselling author Jacqueline Harvey

My top 3 tips from nine years of author blogging

Industry Insider: How to tell when your writing is ‘good enough’

10 things I’ve learnt from writing my debut novel 

Want more? You’ll find all of my posts about writing here.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m the author of two epic adventure series for kids 9+, and you can find out more about me here. Click the images below to discover more about my books.

The Ateban Cipher adventure series for kids 9-12 is out now!

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