Posts Tagged ‘emerging writers’ festival’

April 29, 2013

When I first got my iPad, I accidentally bought a self-published book on Amazon. I started sweating profusely and googled ‘how to get refund for wrong purchase Amazon iPad’. Luckily, it was a straightforward and quick process, and Lust’s Labours Lost (well, that wasn’t what it was called, but essentially it was, or similar) went back into the great book warehouse in the sky.

Self-publishing cops a lot of flak, and I guess I’m receptive, to a degree, to the charges of low quality and other misdemeanours laid at the door of books produced this way. This is partly because I know how much work goes into editing, designing, publishing and marketing a book, and self-published books often (huge generalisation again, I know) miss the mark in some of these areas. It’s pretty rare that I read a self-published book, although I have a few that I’m dying to read sitting on my bookshelf. Anyhow, what I’m saying is that although I’m aware of the general feeling towards the sector, I’m not really an expert in the area – not in terms of books, anyway.

What I really wanted to talk about (or, rather, had a brief thought about it and am now trying to flesh out into an actual idea) was the idea that blogging is self-publishing. This seems so obvious that you are all welcome to type “*facepalm*” into the comments section if you are so inclined. But what is blogging but self-publishing? The blogger is at once their own writer, editor, publisher, design coordinator and publicist. From that angle, I see self-publishing as one of the most powerful, freeing things a writer can do. Obviously blogging – at least, the way I do it – is a vastly different affair to writing a book-length manuscript and seeing it through to publication. But just as blogging has reached a level of ubiquity and diversity that is now recognised as valuable by previous pooh-poohers, I found myself wondering when self-publishing will reach a similar acceptance by the broader public. Even given the successes of DIY writers like EL James, and Darrell Pitt’s recent eight-book deal with Text Publishing (Pitt’s books were popular before he was signed by a publisher), there’s a lot of snobbery and a lack of familiarity with the possibilities of self-publishing.

Anyhow, I hadn’t meant to draw such a big bow: I know that blogging and self-publishing are oranges and apples, and there’s little point in comparing them further here, except for in how valuable they are for the authors themselves (a difference being that self-publishing may involve more costs on average, especially if print copies are involved, than blogging). In classes I’ve taught, I’ve put a lot of emphasis on how I wouldn’t have any kind of writing opportunities or balls if I hadn’t started this blog. That’s me personally, as I am a wimp, but the blog was a way to hone my craft, do it regularly, and try to do it better each time.

One of the challenges of being a writer is trying to find the right publisher or publication for your work. This can be incredibly intimidating and stressful if you’re starting out, and the pressure of performing well for editors you’d like to impress can be counterproductive or painful if you’re not even sure if you have writing chops. I’m not saying that emerging writers should aim low when starting out — not at all. But for an anxious little bud like me, the lessons of blogging have been invaluable in writing for publication and in publishing others. Among other skills, I learned how to come up with ideas, how to come up with appropriate titles, how to write for a specific audience and how to deal with external stakeholders like publicists and media. You learn what is interesting and important to you, and what is not. You learn what is interesting and important to readers, and what is not. You develop a voice. You have a space to publish writing that is more experimental in nature, time-sensitive, or can’t find a home for elsewhere for whatever reason. And of course, the most important thing is that I am, no word of a joke, ten times better at writing now than I was when I started blogging.

As the Emerging Writers’ Festival rocks up again for another fantastic year, I’ve been thinking about what I can take away from my experience, especially the things that I never really thought about before doing them. Blogs aren’t for everyone; not everyone is comfortable writing online, or often, and not everyone has enough leisure time to devote to blogging. But it’s been a really useful tool for me while writing. I never set out to ‘become a writer’; I just wrote, and waited to see what happened, and my blog was the first step. And it’s been pretty good so far.


Hey, I’m going to be appearing in two Emerging Writers’ Festival events this week. I’m insanely happy that it’s EWF time – one of my favourite times of year – and I’m very sad that it’s outgoing festival director Lisa Dempster’s last year. Lisa has brought an incredible amount of energy and unparalleled digital smarts to the enterprise, and I’m pretty excited to see what she does next.

But anyway, come see me in:

Get Money, Get Paid!

6:00 PM, Thursday 31 May 2012
Rue Bebelons
267 Little Lonsdale Street (Gmaps)

Writers can – and do! – get paid. But not always. And not always the same amount as their peers. Why? Pay rates vary across the industry and different kinds of writing – and writers – are valued in different ways. Our panellists discuss the inequities of the industry and how writers can educate themselves to get money, get paid.

With Elmo Keep, Bede Payne and Andrew Crook

The Pitch

2:00 PM, Saturday 2 June 2012
The Wheeler Centre
176 Little Lonsdale Street (Gmaps)

How to pitch & who to pitch it to.

The Pitch has been one of our most successful events over the past three years… and this year it’s going to be bigger and better than ever!

Featuring an expert panel of editors and publishers to give you no-holds-barred tips and advice about how to successfully present your work.

We’re also shining a spotlight on creative writing journals, where many writers jump-start their literary careers.

With time for Q&A, this is one mega pitching session you don’t want to miss.

With … everyone (seriously, it’s big)

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You learn a lot of things at writers’ festivals. In the first weekend of the 2011 Emerging Writers’ Festival, I’ve learned that:

  1. Ben Law’s work uniform is a pair of ‘housing commission-y track pants and a Bonds singlet’.
  2. If you are a freelance writer, ‘you will never stop freaking out’ (thanks, Penny Modra).
  3. Even if your friends are in London, they can still be guests at a festival held in Melbourne (see Hamilton, Caroline).
  4. It’s possible that the novel you wrote and recorded from your house in Melbourne will be downloaded over half a million times.
  5. I can’t hold my drink anymore.

No matter how tired I think I might get of attending literary events and writers’ festivals, the Emerging Writers’ Festival always surprises me with its ability to direct and hold my attention, and uncover enthusiasm in my breast where I thought it had lain dormant during the cold winter of my inactivity. We’re very lucky in Melbourne to have a festival that gives emerging writers support, opportunity and venues (physical or virtual) in which to meet, discuss, debate and laugh together.

There’s still another week of the festival left, with plenty of interesting ideas yet to be hashed out. There’s a strong focus on genre in this year’s festival, and there are also plenty of free and digital events too. See the program here.

My picks are The Pitch, where editors, including KYD editor Rebecca Starford, will be talking about what they look for in pitches, and Dirty Words, where a bucketful (brassiere-ful?) of writers, including gold-shoe-wearing Scot Alan Bissett and enthusiastic planker Linda Jaivin, will form a line to disclose naughty secrets and things of that ilk. Vachel Spirason of Slow Clap will also be there, and if he’s anywhere near as entertaining as he was at the festival’s First Word event, where he danced so hard he gave himself a front-wedgie, I think we’ll be in business.

The yearly book total is about to spike superlatively – this week brings the Emerging Writers’ Festival 15 Minutes of Fame book launches. I’ll be interviewing the people responsible for 16 books at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, at 7pm Monday to Thursday this week.

The books are:

Featuring — Monday 24 May
Miscellaneous Voices

Andee Jones – Kissing Frogs
Lucienne Noontil – Possum Tale
Joel Magarey – Exposure

Featuring — Tuesday 25 May
Stephanie Dale – My Pilgrim’s Heart
Peter Farrar – The Nine Flaws of Affection
Ebony McKenna – Ondine
Offset Journal

Featuring — Wednesday 26 May
Death of a Scenester
Kasey Edwards – Thirty Something and Over It
Kathryn Koromilas – Palimpsest
Fiona Trembath – Crackpot

Featuring — Thursday 27 May
Clinton Caward – Love Machine
Chrissie Michaels – In Lonnie’s Shadow
Caroline Webber – Putting Pen to Paper

Pick a night, any night. And I’ll see you there.

February 4, 2010

After what seems like endless months of lobbying – creeping up behind Lisa Dempster in the supermarket queue, leaving weird notes in her letterbox, buying crates of Bonsoy and leaving them on her porch then retracting them – I will be descending upon the Wheeler Centre, as part of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, to deliver it of what charm God granted it. But in service of what are known as ‘good times’: the 15 Minutes of Fame book launches.

15 Minutes of Fame

Are you a writer with published work looking to find the right audience? Do you need 15 minutes to meet new readers? Want to be a featured artist in the Emerging Writers’ Festival program?

The Emerging Writers’ Festival is looking for new writers interested in launching their publications in our 15 Minutes of Fame program.

15 Minutes of Fame will give new writers an opportunity to put new works in the spotlight within the Emerging Writers’ Festival.

15 Minutes of Fame is a series of short launches and readings by emerging writers of their newly published work, hosted by Estelle Tang (3000 BOOKS). Each session will include an introduction interview, followed by a reading and ending with a short question and answer component.

Each session will be 15 minutes in length (of course) and will be held nightly from Monday 24th May to Thursday 28th May at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas. A book table and bar will be run during the event.

If you are an emerging writer with a recently published work (within the last 12 months) and wish to be a part of 15 Minutes of Fame, please send your submission to by Sunday 28 February with the heading ’15 Minutes of Fame’.

Submissions should be maximum two pages and include:

· a statement addressing why a launch/reading within the Emerging Writers’ Festival program would benefit you as a writer

· what publication you would like to launch, including an excerpt.

Spread the word!

Picture from Newcastle. What? You want book-related content? Surely not. Well, I’m exhausted. So…a plug, totally plagiarised from the EWF newsletter.

The Emerging Writers’ Festival Reader is a new collection that combines highlights of the 2009 festival with general writing information and new creative works across various writing forms.

The Reader is Steven Amsterdam on writers’ workshops, Clem Bastow on freelancing, Jen Breach on writing comics, Mel Campbell on pitching to editors, Kathy Charles on shameless self-promotion, Stephanie Convery on writing Black Saturday, Olivia Davis on fear and writing practices, Lisa Dempster on how much writers earn, Koraly Dimitriadis talks to Christos Tsiolkas, Caroline Hamilton compares writers’ festivals and music festivals, Stu Hatton on his mentorship with Dorothy Porter, Jane Hawtin discusses publishing academic research for a general audience, Andrew Hutchinson recalls the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Tiggy Johnson on parenthood and writing, Krissy Kneen on not writing about sex, Benjamin Law on failure, Angela Meyer reviews books for writers, Jennifer Mills on the politics of publishing and engaging with readers, Anthony Noack on good grammar, John Pace on re-drafting your screenplay, Ryan Paine on the role of the critic, Ben Pobjie on writing comedy, Robert Reid on the role of the contemporary playwright, Aden Rolfe on the emergentsia, Jenny Sinclair on the landscape of her book research, Chris Summers talks to Lally Katz about theatre writing, Mia Timpano on how to cultivate the ultimate author profile photo, Estelle Tang on Christopher Currie and blogging fiction, Simmone Michelle-Wells pens a letter to her younger self, Cameron White reviews alternatives to Microsoft Word.

Emerging Writers’ Festival Reader launch
Monday the 12th of October 6:30 – 8:30
Bertha Brown 562 Flinders Street Melbourne
You can buy the Reader here.

HELLO INTERN part III on Thursday, god willing.

Let’s get straight into it, folks.

Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed emerging writers were ear-to-ear in the Yarra Room for Crashing and Bashing and Smashing Through, a panel about how to get that desired start in getting published, despite some pretty ominous fog in the morning. Kathryn Heyman kept her advice short and sweet: Write a good book. Know what your character wants. Read Aristotle’s Poetics. Make contact with an agent. Humble Chris Morphew talked about his strange sideways tilt at writing success, having started ghostwriting for Hardie Grant Egmont’s ‘Zac Power’ series. Note to nerds: it’s ok to like dinosaurs and spaceships if you can write. Sarah Ayoub counselled the audience to call themselves writers, and Bel Schenk, artistic director of Express Media, suggested that under-25s take full advantage of the funding/support opportunities available and make time to write. It was a down-to-earth session with accessible advice given by all panellists.

Out of the Mouths of Babes was an interesting breadth panel featuring speechwriter Rhod Ellis Jones, comedy writer Adam Rozenbachs and ghostwriters Melita Granger and Matt Davies, all discussing what it’s like to put their words in other people’s mouths. Aspiring ghostwriters beware. Melita edited (read: rewrote) a YA novel whose author was later extensively garlanded, though Matt took care to note that ghostwriting is ‘just a writing job’, for which fame and glory is not always sought or needed. Well, if you were writing the equivalent of ‘Property by Paris Hilton: Being Rich is Hot!’ you might be reticent too.

After the break, I thought it might be good to vary my literary food intake, so I popped in to see Sammy J discuss his 1999 show, which he’s about to take to Edinburgh. Amusing demographic information: audience 90% female, with definite mid-20s and early-50s age group clusters. Sammy recommended Robert McKee’s Story for assistance with narrative. We all hoped there would be a song, and there were two: one from 1999, entitled (and I paraphrase) ‘I believe that there’s a chance you don’t detest me’ and a new one. Lovely.

Maddie and I popped across to Page Parlour, the renamed zine/panellists’ market. I bought her a copy of Stop, Drop and Roll for her birthday, and she bought quite a few other tidbits. I was on a strict no-acquisitions diet. Call me if you want a picture of my stacks of crap as evidence of a reason why.

Finally (for me) The Best Ways Forward. Steven Amsterdam, of Things We Didn’t See Coming fame, had a very interesting path to being published. Being the son of a literary agent, having sent out rejection slips at the age of 16(!), and having worked for Random House (‘one of the biggest English-language publishers in the universe’) weren’t enough of a kickstart for Steven. Hey now. He found that workshopping with a cadre of 3 very different writers was the most beneficial thing for his writing. He also recommended the Zoetrope Virtual Studio for workshopping shorter pieces. Also, controversially, Steven recommended RMIT writing courses for their focus on producing work over Melbourne University courses (too much literary theory).

Rijn Collins credited her participation in the feminist punk zine world for jump-starting her writing confidence and success, and considered writing a key aspect of her re-emergence into society after suffering from agoraphobia. Rijn recommended Red Bubble, an online writing community, and local writers’ centres for support and resources.

Stu Hatton, who teaches writing at Deakin University, spoke movingly about being mentored by the late Dorothy Porter. Their friendship arose from one of the ASA-run mentorships and spanned craft, life and street-smarts advice. Pooja Mittal, one of the festival’s Ambassadors (roving, approachable experts, a lovely idea) was one of those irrepressible writers who would leave school to write a poem, forcing her bemused mum to send her right back to school when she would show up at the front door. She encouraged young writers to detach ego from art, and to welcome criticism, because anyone can be a mentor if you let them.

I had to skip off to book club after that. I had an amazing time at EWF. It was my first foray into Melbourne Town Hall as well as my first time at the festival, so I was pretty chuffed about sighting the infamous Miss Moomba portraits (think this hair). There was a palpable sense of excited, collaborative learning in the building over the weekend, and I think the team are to be congratulated on an inspiring week-and-a-bit. I wish I’d had more time to actually talk to more people, but such is life. I wonder if there’s a way of harnessing this energy in a sustained way over the whole year?

If you haven’t been to EWF before, and you are an aspiring writer looking for inspiration or advice, I’d say try it next year for a pretty spot-on bunch of events. Good times and claps.