How to promote a book: write outside the box

How to promote a book: write outside the box

It is a truth universally acknowledged that writing a book is one thing – promoting that book is quite another..

But thinking outside the box about book publicity can give an author more avenues to promote their book, and is also very satisfying. All too often new authors worry about what’s not happening with their book, so taking control of what you can do really helps.

Nobody knows this better than Dani Vee, whose first picture book My EXTRAordinary Mum was published in 2022, and whose second book My EPIC Dad! Takes Us Camping (book one in a six-part series) is out now.

With many strings to her bow, including podcaster and commissioning editor, Dani was better placed than most debut authors to understand the nuts-and-bolts of book promotion – but even she found herself having to think outside the ‘publicity’ box to maximise her efforts.

Fortunately, she’s dropped by to share her experiences in this guest post.


How to promote your bookThinking outside the ‘publicity’ box as a newbie writer!

By Dani Vee

The excitement of signing my first book deal lasted about 10 seconds before the terror hit.

What if it didn’t sell and no-one ever signed me again?

Ten seconds. The exact amount of time we allow ourselves to celebrate!

Leaving nothing to chance, I created a juggernaut of a spreadsheet of all the bloggers, reviewers, podcasters and book people I could contact.

I planned book shop visits, a book launch, social media posts and contacted local newspapers and magazines.

But I also watched others, and what I noticed was that the most successful people were creating content outside their books. They were creating a story around their story.

My picture book My EXTRAordinary Mum had been written from my own experiences of motherhood – and I realised that created an opportunity I hadn’t yet tapped into.


Creating stories around your book

I started writing articles about identity after motherhood, the expectations of motherhood and who you’re ‘supposed’ to be, the challenges of single motherhood, feminism, and even what it was like having a Gwyneth Paltrow LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.

In other words, I wrote about the ideas, thoughts and feelings that were behind my picture book. When it comes to publicity, you have to work to your strengths and show an authentic and vulnerable self. I think the more Instagram posts we like and the more filters we use, the more authenticity we crave – and it seemed to work.

Those articles were published by Mamamia, MamaMag, local newspapers and magazines and other media outlets interested in stories about motherhood, women and feminism.

Even though the articles were not directly about the book, they were topical. And they all featured my byline and my bio at the end – a bio that related directly to my book and led interested readers to my website to find out more.


How to find your story

You can do this too – all you need to do is to find an angle.

We know what your book is about, but what is it really about? What’s the story around the story?

What inspired it?

What is it about you and your experiences that resonate, inspire or interest others?

Sit down and brainstorm a list of the things that drove you to write the book, as well as a list of the themes and ideas that developed as you wrote it.

Once you have those lists, think about how they might crossover into articles or blog post – and which publications and bloggers might be interested in running them.

You’re not always going to get it right when it comes to publicity and promoting your book, but thinking about different ways of presenting your work is probably a good start!


Dani Vee is the podcast host of Words and Nerds, and author of picture books My EXTRAordinary Mum and the My EPIC Dad! series. She also works in publicity and acquisitions at Larrikin House, judges books for crime awards and may just have a crime novel in her somewhere one day. She is currently working on her first junior fiction novel. Find out more.


Allison Tait how to promote a bookAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries.

My new middle-grade novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out on 1 August. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.


Creativity, consistency, comfort and other writing advice you may have missed

Creativity, consistency, comfort and other writing advice you may have missed

I love writing for children. I love teaching kids about writing. But I especially love talking about writing with other authors who write in the kids/YA space.

One such author is international bestseller Amie Kaufman, who has hit the New York Times bestselling lists many times, and remains one of the most down-to-earth interviewees you could hope to meet.

This week, Amie and I staged a takeover of the Words and Nerds podcast, getting together for my occasional series about Creativity.

We talked about the importance of consistency for creativity – showing up is half the battle – and threw in a few more C words for good measure: like Conjuring up worlds, and Co-authoring.

Allison Tait Amie Kaufman Words and Nerds

Have a listen here – you won’t regret it!


More writing advice

And while we’re in the world of writing tips and advice, here’s a list of my posts about writing for the Australian Writers’ Centre blog that you may have missed.

Is your protagonist too comfortable?

Is it time to bring back the author blog?

Beta reading for beginners: 5 tips for providing helpful feedback

Do you need to write every day to be a real author?

Making sure your manuscript stands out in the slush pile

Three ways to tap into your creativity

Need to edit your own writing? Here’s where to start

Choosing a title for your novel

What is deep Point Of View – and how do you make it work on the page?

3 ways to create compelling characters (your reader will care about)

6 more top tips for writing commercial fiction


Other news

•June is another big month in my online Write With Allison Tait group. We’re welcoming Pamela Cook to our Industry Insider Zoom, to chat about the nuts and bolts of writing, publishing (traditional and indie), podcasting and more.

Write With Allison Tait online writing group

I’m also kicking off another round of #writeabookwithal, so if you’re looking for a daily dose of cheerleading and inspiration, now’s the time! to join!

•In other news, Your Kid’s Next Read now has a newsletter (sign up free here), with additional information, expert advice and resources for paid subscribers. On top of reading, Allison Rushby and I will be sharing tips for writers of all ages. Find out more here.

•And last but by no means least, my new middle-grade novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE (Scholastic Australia) is about to go to print and I’ll be updating my site with all the details next month! Can’t wait to share my ‘cosy mystery for kids’ with you!


Allison Tait writing tips and adviceAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

There’s more about my online writing courses here and full details about Write With Allison Tait, my online writing community offering Inspiration, Motivation, Information and Connection, here

9 more posts about writing you may have missed (+ 1 creative exercise to try today)

9 more posts about writing you may have missed (+ 1 creative exercise to try today)

It’s the earliest days of a brand-spanking new year and anything is possible!


If your goal is write more this year – perhaps to finish the first draft of your first novel, perhaps to add to a growing body of work, I’ve rounded up some more of my ‘elsewhere’ posts (below) to help you on your way. (You’ll find another 10 posts about writing here.)


From top tips for writing commercial fiction to the nitty gritty of raising the stakes in your story, I’ve got you covered!


I’ve also added a creative exercise to help get you started. I did this exercise myself this morning as part of the #Fresh5000 challenge in my Write With Allison Tait group and it helped to unlock a thorny problem in an idea I’m working through.


Hopefully it will work for you, too!


9 posts about writing


An insider’s guide to story structure


Beyond the writing 5 authors share their tips for a successful career


5 reasons why you should write middle-grade fiction


Twitter for authors: is it still worthwhile?


5 ways to increase the stakes in your story (and keep readers wanting more)


Anna Spargo-Ryan’s top tips for writing beautiful sentences


Is your manuscript ready for feedback?


5 top tips for writing commercial fiction


Content writing versus copywriting: what’s the difference


And a creative exercise

This is an exercise I created for my online writing group, and attempted myself this morning.


Poetry makes us look at language in a different way.

Today’s challenge is to find three poems to read. Any three. They can be from a book on your shelf. From the internet. Or search for #poetry on Instagram (it’s a surprisingly effective platform for poets).

Once you’ve read three, try writing a poem of your own. It can be a haiku, it can be a stanza, it can be a sonnet, it can rhyme, it can be free verse – the beginning of a verse novel perhaps.

If you can’t think what to write, look out your window and try to write a poem describing what you see.

This exercise is about bending your brain just a little bit.


I looked for poetic inspiration in an anthology on my shelf, in the spoken word performance of Joel McKerrow (highly recommended) and in the (also highly recommended) Instagram posts by Red Room Poetry.

It’s not hard to find these days!

If you’d like to try more creative exercises and write 5000 words by the end of January, it’s not too late to join us!


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!

Six must-listen podcast interviews about writing

Six must-listen podcast interviews about writing

Old habits are hard to break and, while I’m not co-hosting So You Want To Be A Writer podcast this year, I still get an itch every now and then (okay, I admit, quite regularly) to interrogate another writer about their creative process and their work.

I do love a nitty gritty podcast interview about writing.

Fortunately for me, writers are still happy to talk to me.

My ’10 minutes with…’ interviews for Your Kid’s Next Read podcast are proving incredibly popular – and NEVER last ten minutes (apparently I just can’t let go of a good conversation, who knew?).

Plus, I’ve been lucky that Dani at Words And Nerds podcast says yes when I send an email saying ‘I’m thinking I’d like to chat to X…’

The thing I love most about interviewing other authors is that I learn something each and every time.

Here are five recent interviews that I found illuminating.


Writing a ‘read it again’ picture book

Alison Lester on creating picture booksThere was a bit of fangirling, I confess, when I interviewed Alison Lester for episode 075 of Your Kid’s Next Read.

I had interviewed Alison previously for So You Want To Be A Writer (you can hear this, much longer, interview here), but, with only 10 minutes to chat, I wasted no time in drilling down into the secrets of creating ‘read it again’ picture books.

Alison is so generous with her creative knowledge. Listen here 



Creativity and crossing categories

Allison Rushby creative writing across categoriesAllison Rushby is the much-less-chatty third member of Team Your Kid’s Next Read. While Megan and I waffle on weekly for Your Kid’s Next Read podcast, Al remains in the background, keeping us humming along.

I considered it a coup, then, to wrangle her for an interview for Words And Nerds – an interview in which I interrogated her (in a most loving way) about how she gets away with writing everything from junior fiction to commercial women’s fiction with great success and apparent ease.

Listen here



Engaging reluctant readers

Morris Gleitzman how to write for kidsIn ep 073 of Your Kid’s Next Read podcast, I spent 10 minutes (actually, much longer) with award-winning, bestselling author Morris Gleitzman, talking about ‘Digging Up Dad’, his latest collection of short stories.

We also dig (see what I did there?) into the secrets of engaging reluctant readers (and publicists), writing stories with heart and why kids need both light and dark stories.

One of our most popular episodes ever. Listen here. 



Creativity, memoir and mental illness

Anna Spargo Ryan on creativity and mental illnessIt’s always a pleasure when I get to chat to Anna Spargo-Ryan, but this interview for Words and Nerds podcast is next level.

Anna and I dive deep into her creative process, mental illness, the ins and outs of writing a memoir, cats and, er, navels.

Listen here




Big themes in middle-grade fiction

Nova Weetman on getting feelings on the pageYou only need to listen to a few episodes of Your Kid’s Next Read to know that Nova Weetman figures in our top ten author recommendations. Megan and I are big fans of her thoughtful, sensitive, intelligent contemporary novels for middle-grade readers.

In this interview in episode 71, Nova and I discuss her latest novel THE JAMMER, big themes in middle-grade fiction, how to get the feels on the page and determining ‘age appropriateness’ for young readers.

Listen here

I’m also lucky that other podcasters like to talk to ME about writing. In fact, I recently had a terrific chat with Joanne Morell for episode 40 of The Hybrid Author podcast.


Writing in your real life

How to start writing while you still have a day jobJoanne and I talked about So You Want To Be A Writer (the book), how authors can make the most of their writing time around other commitments, being kind to your writing self and more!

The secrets of writing with the time you have, not the time you wish you had.

Listen here



Other writing interviews

Other recent interviews are those conducted for my Write With Allison Tait group Industry Insider Zoom events. These include:

• a brilliant chat with international bestselling author Kate Forsyth about Deep Point of View (and how to make it work on the page),

• an insightful discussion with Sophie Hamley, former literary agent now non-fiction publisher at Hachette and bestselling author under the name Sophie Green about the inner workings of the publishing industry

• expert advice from literary agent Annabel Barker about getting published in children’s literature

And more!

Those (video) interviews are archived in the group for easy access and I’m gradually sharing highlights on my YouTube channel here.

[For immediate access to full interviews and to attend our next Industry Insider Zoom event with Natasha Lester on Monday 14 November 2022, join Write With Allison Tait now! ]


Allison Tait head shotAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait – author, podcaster, speaker – and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

Subscribe to my newsletter for updates, insights and more amazing writing advice.

What advice would I give myself as a new writer?

What advice would I give myself as a new writer?

For me, August is very much a month of talking about writing. Term three ramps up as CBCA Book Week approaches and I have a full dance card of author visits and a festival appearance to finish off.

Of course, what with a podcast and an online writing group, I never really stop talking about writing, so I thought I’d write a little post to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked over the past few weeks.


What advice would I give myself as a new writer?

I was recently interviewed by Ky Garvey for the Totally Lit podcast.

In a very chatty interview, I reveal my writing and podcasting secrets, including my tips for productive procrastination, the inspiration for The Wolf’s Howl, how to choose the right idea, the most difficult aspect of writing, and the key to podcasting success.

Ky also asked me what the advice I would give myself if I could go back to the start of my writing career.

My response (spoiler alert) was that I would tell myself to develop patience.

After spending most of my life working to deadlines as a journalist and then a freelance writer, I was all about pushing forward, moving on to the next thing. Hurry up and write.

I quickly learned that book publishing is more a ‘hurry up and wait’ proposition but it has taken me years to work out how to live with that.

To be fair, I did have excellent people around me who tried very hard right back there at the beginning to help me understand. But I think it’s a bit like having kids – you think you know what it’s going to be like and that you’re entirely across the process, and then you bring them home…

Listen to the full interview here. And find more advice for new writers here.


Why should I read?

This one came in a quiet moment at the end of a recent school visit, and I don’t mind admitting that it stopped me for a moment.

A year seven student approached me, very earnest, wanting to discuss the fact that she didn’t read much.

“Okay,” I said. “Is there a reason you don’t read? Do you find it boring? Is it difficult? Would you prefer to listen to an audio book or consume stories in a different way?”

“I’d rather watch documentaries on television. Can you tell me why I should read?”

One thousand answers ran through my mind as we shared that moment. “When you read, you have a direct line to the way someone else thinks,” I said, grasping to articulate the joys of reading. “You are given their perspective on the world, their language choices, their experiences, even as they are filtered through the veil of characters and story.”

She didn’t look convinced.

“Words,” I tried again, looking for tangible benefits. “The gift of words directly into your brain. The kinds of words that will help you so much as you work your way up through high school.”

Again, she was doubtful.

“Even graphic novels?” she said. “I’ve read a couple of those, but they’re not real books, are they?”

Relief flooded through me. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, they are. Read those if you like them. Read as many as you can and then ask your school librarian for other books that are similar.”

She smiled. “All right, I’ll give it a go.”

And she walked away, leaving me to pack up my things and hope that I’d said enough that she would give it a go.

Listen to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast to hear teacher-librarian Megan Daley and I discuss questions like this one each week. Find it here.


How do I get author photos that I’m happy with?

My monthly Access Al Areas Zoom Q&A with Write With Allison Tait, my online writing group, is such a joyous part of my routine and the perfect excuse to talk about all aspects of writing.

This month, we got into the nitty gritty of author headshots, specifically how to make sure that you’re happy with any you get taken. I had three main tips:

Research the kind of look you’re after.
This will very much depend on what you’re writing and your personal style, but the best way to find out is to visit a whole bunch of author websites and make a list of the images you like. You’ll start to see a pattern – whether you’re drawn to black-and-white moody shots or crazy, zany shots, keep notes and examples so that you can show your photographer.

Get a word-of-mouth recommendation if you can.
The key to a great photo is feeling comfortable with your photographer and getting a recommendation from someone you trust makes the process easier.

Take at least two outfit changes.
Professional photos are an investment, so you’ll want to get a few different options from your shoot. Take at least two outfit changes – even if it’s just a different shirt – unless you want to see yourself in the same blazer over and over for the next few years. And ask your photographer to do a range of images – landscape, portrait, headshot – in each.

If you’d like join WWAT and ask your own burning questions every month (or at any time in the Facebook group for a written response), you’ll find more details here. In coming months, Industry Insider guests include Annabel Barker (literary agent), Kate Forsyth (bestselling author), Anna Spargo-Ryan (award-winning author and memoirist) and Natasha Lester (bestselling author).

What’s next?

And so into the breach of school visits I go. If you’re trying to figure out how to manage the Book Week costume this year, you’ll find a terrific list of ideas from Australian authors here.

For South Coast NSW readers – or those looking for a day trip from Sydney – I’m appearing at the wonderful Bundanon 2022 Writers’ Festival on Saturday 3rd September.

Young writers and illustrators can attend a writing/illustration workshop with me and Dale Newman, and I’ll also be In Conversation with international bestselling author Kate Forsyth. Details and tickets here.


A L Tait The Fire Star USAAre 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).

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

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