1. Read: a lot, and as widely as you can.
2. Join: a critique group that takes writing seriously and approaches the critiquing professionally.
3. Network. It’s not natural, but it’s important. Join online groups, meet other writers where and when you can, overcome your shyness. Exercise politeness and respect while doing this. Make friends, share the journey. Give back where you can.
- Australian Horror Writers Association
- Queensland Writers Centre
- Continuum, Melbourne
- Swancon, Perth
- Conflux, Canberra
- Wheeler Centre, Melbourne
- For a list of writing festivals and other literary events, see the calendar on my website.
4. Polish your skills. The more you write, the better you get. Do workshops, expose your writing to productive, constructive criticism. Read books on the craft. Stephen King’s On Writing is a brilliant starting point. USE a dictionary. Learn grammar. Don’t be afraid to edit. Get to the end!
Katharine Susannah Prichard (Perth, WA)
Northern Rivers (Byron Bay, NSW)
Varuna (Blue Mountains, NSW)
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)
Plus there are a few private writing centres/schools with quality presenters.
5. Put your work out there. Enter competitions. Submit to magazines. Work up a CV of articles and short fiction to show you’re interested and part of the wider community.
- Joining your nearest writers’ centre is probably the easiest way to access opportunities and competitions
6. Enjoy it. This might be all there is.
Approaching an agent or publisher
Usually, these days, the agent will come first, but you might get lucky thanks to all that networking you’ve been doing and snare a contract without having gone through an agent.
- Use a resource such as the Australian Writers Marketplace to find agents and publishers most suited to your genre.
- Check who publishes and represents similar authors.
- Be wary of anyone wanting money up front.
- Consider self-publishing carefully – it’s particularly useful for niche genres, and can work if you’ve got the nous.
- Read Ian Irvine’s superb analysis of the book game, The Truth About Publishing.
- Subscribe to Google Alerts or something similar (Talkwalker is excellent) to keep a track of where your books and stories are being talked about, and perhaps try to join in the discussion.
- Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, a blog and a website are very handy ways of fostering a community around your writing, and interacting with readers and other writers. At the very least, a website where readers and journalists can find information about you and your work is a real asset.
- Try to attend conventions as a panellist; seek out opportunities for readings and appearances, media interviews, anything that will help spread the word to both targeted and wide readerships, as befits your story/ies. Do not forget local radio!