As this blog approaches its 11th birthday, I can see a certain pattern in my posts. Each year at around this time, in response to reader enquiries, I write a ‘how to achieve your writing goals this year’. I particularly liked this one, which is now five years old but the advice is evergreen.
This year, I decided I’d wrap it all up a bit more personally, and make it all about you and me.
Here are five ways I can help you achieve your writing goals this year
Listen to my podcast
From 2014-2021, I co-hosted, with Valerie Khoo, 462 episodes of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast.
We have been talking weekly about all aspects of writing for several years now, and our author interviews each episode are a real highlight (see my favourites from 2020 here).
Whether you are just dipping your toes into the world of writing or are wondering what the next step might be, you will find an ‘aha’ moment in every episode – I know I always do! Be warned, it’s a deep dive into the well of knowledge and we’ve been told it’s addictive!
Valerie is now flying solo with So You Want To Be A Writer, while I’m now co-hosting Your Kid’s Next Read podcast with Megan Daley. If you’re a children’s author, or a parent/carer/teacher/bookseller/publisher or other interested party, don’t miss it!
If you are writing for children, I’d also recommend joining the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, which I admin along with Megan Daley and Allison Rushby. Here you’ll find an engaged community of parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, authors and others who are interested in putting the right book into the hands of young readers.
Note that there is a very strong NO SELF-PROMOTION rule in this group, so it’s not the place to promote your book.
Why then would I suggest you join?
Because it’s a brilliant place for an inside look into what readers (or their parents/carers) are recommending and what they’re looking for. One of the key pieces of the success puzzle for any author is understanding the market and the target audience, and this group takes you right inside it. Join here.
Read this blog
As I mentioned, I’ve been blogging here for nearly 11 years, with a huge number of posts about writing, publishing, editing and more. Chances are that if you’ve got a question about writing, I’ve answered it here. Try searching for what you’re after.
Here, for instance, is a selection of posts about editing.
You’ll find writing tips (for adults and for kids) here.
Or go here for other suggestions and starting points.
Try a course
When I get enough questions about any particular subject, I write a course for the Australian Writers’ Centre on that subject.
We’re all about practical advice delivered with a healthy pinch of inspiration and a dose of motivation. Plus, we combed through hundreds of hours of our podcast interviews to bring you the best tips we could find from a wide range of authors, from international bestsellers to debut authors who remember very clearly what it’s like to be where you are now.
There you have it: five ways I can help you achieve your writing goals this year.
If you want to keep up with new writing posts and courses, join my newsletter here. Occasionally, I give away a one-hour Skype coaching session via the newsletter so keep an eye out for that.
If you’ve got a question I haven’t addressed anywhere, email me via the contact form on this site and I’ll look at answering it here in a blog post or on the podcast.
Best of luck with your 2021 writing goals!
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).
So when Liz Ledden reached out to write a guest post about all that is good about podcasting (and some tips on how to start your own podcast), I jumped at the chance.
Liz Ledden tells: 6 Things I’ve Learnt About Podcasting
Since co-hosting kids’ book podcast One More Page for nearly three years alongside fellow authors Kate Simpson and Nat Amoore, I’ve learnt a thing or two about this whole podcasting biz. Here are six standouts:
1/ It’s like your own personal masterclass … that you share with the world
Having a podcast about the children’s book world (One More Page) means you’re constantly asking people about things you’re curious about. And that presumably (and hopefully) listeners are, too. Obsessed with a certain author? Drill them for their creativity tips! Dream of working with a particular publisher? Ask them what they look for in a manuscript, or an author. There’s so much wisdom to be gained from podcasts, and the hosts have as much to learn as their listenership.
2/ It’s hard to listen to your own voice (like, really hard)
One of the most confronting things about podcasting, especially when starting out, is discovering what your voice ‘really’ sounds like. Which may then lead you down a rabbit hole of – why do I laugh like that? Why didn’t I say something different there? Can we just re-release that entire episode already?! But eventually, you do get used to it. (Except for that sentence, and that one too … Oh god, I hope no one heard that bit!).
3/ It’s kind of like a workplace
Being part of a podcast team is just like a workplace, minus the boss and regular pay packet. There’s the ‘watercooler’ (a WhatsApp chat mostly filled with ridiculous gifs) and to-do lists to tick off (yes, our very own KPIs). There’s also break-time banter (the pre and post-pod chat), dodgy office politics (It’s MY review copy! No, MINE!), and people behaving (or singing) badly at the Christmas party – except ours is recorded for anyone to hear. At least we can all declare ourselves ‘Employee of the Year’ – hooray!
4/ It’s also a bit like being a publisher
‘Sorry, it’s not right for our list’. Sound familiar, writerly people?! Yes, that age-old publishing rejection spiel is sometimes just as applicable to the podcast world. I’ve discovered how similar being a podcaster is to a publisher, in terms of people getting in touch:
– We have an endless stream of people emailing with requests (the ‘slush pile’).
– We sometimes need to take a raincheck on wonderful content (a fully booked publishing schedule).
– There’s the occasional mega-star we try to squeeze in no matter what (like when a celebrity kids’ book author comes knocking at a publishing house – hello, mega sales!).
– And just like publishers, we have a few odd bods offering content not really suited to One More Page (like writers who don’t follow submission guidelines or research a publisher first).
Sorry to say … it’s not right for our list.
5/ If something goes wrong, it’ll be at the worst possible time
Inevitably, any internet-dependant venture will face a tech fail or two. These, of course, are exclusively reserved for those high-profile guests you’ve waited your whole life to speak to. But that time you interview your pal from your writers’ group? It will go off without the slightest of hitches. Internet gods, why do you do this?! (Sidenote: It’s actually been a while since this has happened … knock on wood!)
6/ Grateful guests warm the heart
Some seasoned authors, illustrators and other bookish figures regularly do the publicity rounds. An interview here, a livestream there, maybe even a coveted TV spot. They’re glad to add One More Page to their repertoire, but it mightn’t necessarily be a life highlight.
However, every now and then, someone is stratospherically excited and grateful for some podcasterly airtime, whether we interview them, review their book or shout out to their latest venture.
And when someone tells us how much it means to them, it makes all the effort worthwhile.
Like the idea of podcasting?
Perhaps you have your own idea for a podcast (or don’t even mind the sound of your own voice!).
Here are a few things to consider if embarking down the podcasting path:
Why are you podcasting?
You don’t necessarily need a product or service to spruik, it might be to build your brand or further your career.
As authors, we’re able to mention our own books, so think about how you could tie in your existing ventures with your podcast. Of course, you may simply want to connect with likeminded people, but who knows what opportunities that could lead to?
What is your podcast about, and who is it aimed at?
If you have several audiences in mind (e.g. across age groups), how will your content cater to them? At One More Page, we imagine some kids might listen as well as adults who love kids’ books, like teacher librarians or writers. That’s why we keep our content G-rated, and also feature kids themselves on the show.
What will you call your podcast?
This sets the tone for your show, and requires a bit of research to avoid doubling up. But once you have a name you can set up everything from a website, to an email address, to social media accounts.
What about all the techie bits?
From establishing your format, writing your content and contacting potential guests, there’s a whole lot of behind the scenes work in putting a podcast together.
You’ll not only need a website host but an account with a podcast hosting site, which will upload your episodes to all the main podcast apps. Plus some quality headphones with a mic, a quiet place to record and recording software, too.
There’s a world of information a quick google search away to help you work it all out.
If the above sounds daunting, it’s mostly related to getting started. Once you’re up and running you can concentrate on producing your content, let the laughs roll and share your fun (and in our case, fandom) with the world!
Liz Leddenis a Sydney-based children’s book author and co-host of kids’ book podcast, One More Page. Connect with Liz on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Her picture book Tulip and Brutus about friendship, differences and bugs is out now.
Her second picture book, Walking Your Human, is for dog-lovers everywhere and due out in February 2021.
I have decided that it’s high time for an update*.
If you’re hoping to be a published children’s or YA author one day, or if you’d just like to learn more about the processes behind some of your kids (okay, yours) favourite books, click the episode number to listen to the interview or read the transcript. Click the author’s name or book title to read more about them and their work.
10 Australian children’s/YA authors talk about writing
Rachel Spratt, also known as R A Spratt, is a bestselling Australian author and television writer. She is known for the Nanny Piggins and Friday Barnes series of books, which are both available in many territories worldwide, and a new middle grade series The Peski Kids. She also continues to write for television, specialising most recently in children’s animation.
I thoroughly enjoyed this frank and engaging discussion about the reality of being a children’s author, how to manage being published in different territories, and why a bugle is always a good idea for school visits. Episode 268.
Bren MacDibble is an Australian author of children’s fiction. She also writes YA fiction under the name Cally Black. In 2005, her first-ever YA novel, In the Dark Spaces, won the Ampersand Prize and publication with Hardie Grant Egmont, and went on to win the New Zealand Prize for CYA, a Queensland literary award, an Aurealis award, and a host of other awards, including being a CBCA honour book for 2018.
That same year, her middle grade novel, How to Bee, published by Allen and Unwin, won the CBCA Book of the Year for younger readers, and a string of other awards.
Bren and I discussed her latest middle grade novel, The Dog Runner, writing in a bus and managing two publishers and a hectic schedule!Episode 272.
Jenna Guillaume has been working and writing in team spaces for more than a decade, first in the features department at Girlfriend magazine, and more recently as editor-at-large at Buzzfeed Australia, specialising in pop culture, identity, feminism and social media.
We spoke about Jenna’s debut YA novel, What I Like About Me, and the role that social media played in landing her literary agent and promoting her book.Episode 274.
Amie Kaufman is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy for young and not so young adults. Her multi-award winning work is either published, or slated for publication, in more than 30 countries, and is in development for film and television. Her series, for YA and middle-grade, include The Illuminae Files, The Starbound Trilogy, Unearthed and Elementals.
Amie is, in short, a rock star and this lengthy interview is engaging and generous – one of my favourites. Episode 276.
Melina Marchetta is the author of ten novels, including the multi-award winning YA novels Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, and the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award winner On the Jellicoe Road. In 2011 her novel The Piper’s Son was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Her work has been made into feature films, translated into 18 languages, and published in 20 countries.
James O’Loghlin is one of Australia’s most respected, entertaining and experienced corporate speakers, corporate comedians and media personalities, best known as the host of over 300 episodes of the much loved The New Inventors on ABC TV, and for his witty and entertaining programs on ABC Local Radio. He is also the author of ten books, including six for children.
James and I talked about ‘how to write funny’, and how he draws on his own experiences for his popular series TheNew Kid.Episode 287
In seven years, children’s author and illustrator Matt Stanton has created 23 original titles, four bestselling series, and sold more than 800,000 books. In 2017, his premiere middle grade series Funny Kid, which he writes and illustrates, debuted as the number one Australian kids’ book, and is now finding fans all over the world.
In this interview, Matt and I talked about everything from his background in graphic design and how that helps him through the process of writing and illustrating his books, to working closely with his wife, bestselling picture book creator Beck Stanton.Episode 290.
Mick Elliott is the author of the popular middle-grade trilogy The Turners, and a former producer at Nickelodeon Australia, working on programs such as Slime Fest, Camp Orange, The Kids Choice Awards, and squillions of commercials.
For his latest series Squidge Dibley, Mick added ‘illustrator’ to his CV, and was happy to discuss the challenges and triumphs he faced.Episode 294.
Pip Harry is an award-winning writer and editor. Her YA novels include I’ll Tell You Mine, winner of the Australian Family Therapists Children’s Literature Award (2013), Head of the River, longlisted for the Gold Inky award (2015) and shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Literary awards (2016,) and Because of You, shortlisted for the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and Queensland Literary Awards (2018).
Pip’s latest (middle-grade) novel, The Little Wave, is written in verse, and we had a terrific chat about the process.Episode 301.
And then there’s…
Of course, we don’t just speak to children’s and YA authors on the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, oh no sirreeee! With 300+ episodes to choose from, we have something for everyone, so check out our full list of episodes here.
(If I were you, I’d listen to ALL of them. I can honestly say that I have learnt something different from every single one of the amazing authors who have given up their time to share their thoughts and expertise.)
In the decade that followed my first terrible post (which disappeared in a blog clean-up some years ago), I have written hundreds and hundreds of blog posts as this blog morphed from being a daily blog about Life In A Pink Fibro into an author blog as I shared my (then) career as a freelance writer and my journey into becoming a published author of children’s fiction.
I’ve really struggled with writing this post. In the past, I’ve celebrated my blogging anniversary with posts about things I’ve learned about blogging in that year. I’ve listed them all at the end of this post so you can follow the whole journey.
I dallied with crowdsourcing the post by posting a Facebook callout, where regular readers shared their most memorable posts with me. Here are a few:
But at the end of the day, I’ve decided that I’m going to do two things to celebrate this milestone.
Share the biggest thing I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years.
Share MY favourite posts from 10 years of blogging.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years
So, the biggest lesson I’ve learned about blogging in 10 years is that blogging is about connections. The thing is, it didn’t really take me 10 years to grasp this. In fact, I blogged about it in my FIRST year. It’s called Why Blogging Is Not Writing and it also came up on the list of reader favourites.
This lesson was reinforced for me in the most painful of circumstances in January when a dear friend of mine – who I met through blogging and with whom I would never have made friends were it not for blogging – lost her beloved husband very suddenly. I think about her every day, and I make contact with her every few days, just to let her know I’m thinking of her. To connect.
If you’re not blogging to connect with people, you’re not doing it right.
Which brings me to…
My favourite posts from 10 years of blogging
These are not the most popular posts. They’re not necessarily the ones that bring the most traffic. They’re the posts that make me smile, the ones that remind me of how blogging really helped me to bring my writing voice down from ‘broadcast’ (think magazines, newspapers, writing for others) to ‘intimate’.
I 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)