Monday musings on Australian literature: Author blogs on the publishing journey

Most readers, not to mention aspiring authors, love hearing about the writing and publishing process authors go through. What inspired their book? How did they go about writing it and were there any hiccoughs along the way? How hard was it to get an agent and/or publisher? What role did the publisher/editor have in shaping the final product? And, once the book is out, how did the marketing/promotion journey go? How did they feel about reviews, positive and negative? These sorts of issues are often covered in book launches, and on panels and “in conversation” events at writers’ festivals, but some writers go a step further and share them via their personal blogs.

So, today, I’ve decided to share a select few of these, given I can’t possibly capture them all (even if I knew them all, or could remember all those I’ve come across!) All these authors have had books published, and all have written more posts on writing than the posts I’m featuring here. In other words, I’m brazenly inviting you to explore their blogs beyond the posts I’m highlighting below.

Book coverLouise Allan

Louise, whose debut novel The sisters’ song was published in 2018, has a series on her blog called Writers in the Attic. Here she publishes guest posts from Australian authors on what it’s like to be an author. Her guests include authors well-known to me like Heather Rose (A few thoughts about writing), Favel Parrett (When fiction becomes truth), and Robyn Cadwallader (The angel among the chaos). Introducing Robyn’s post, Louise writes:

I’m always deeply grateful to the writers who contribute to Writers in the Attic. Their words never fail to give me something to think about, or bestow a nugget of wisdom or just make me feel less lonely on this torturous journey to a novel.

Book coverAmanda Curtin

Amanda, like Louise (above) and Annabel (below), is a Western Australian writer, and has published a few books, including novels Elemental and The sinkings. She has a couple of special series of posts about writing on her blog, looking up/looking down. One is called Writers ask writers (with topics like early inspirations and tools of the trade), and the other is 2, 2 and 2 (writers + new books) in which writers discuss two things about each of three aspects or ideas relevant to their new book. Two of these aspects are set – things that inspired their book and places connected with it – while the third is chosen by the author. So, for example, Brooke Davis, writing about her novel Lost and found (my review) chose 2 of her favourite secondary characters in her book, while Jenny Ackland talking about The secret son (my review) chose 2 favourite things connect with her book.

Nigel Featherstone, Bodies of menNigel Featherstone

Local author Nigel has been documenting his writing life on and off since 2009 in his creatively named blog, Under the Counter or a Flutter in the Dovecote. However, he has written a special series documenting the course of his latest novel, Bodies of men (my review). The series, called Diary of bodies, takes us from its original inspiration to his feelings about reviews and, woo hoo, being shortlisted for an award. Nigel, like many of the authors in this post, shares not only the practical, factual things about writing and publishing his book, but also his emotional journey. Nigel, a local author, has appeared several times on my blog.

Irma Gold Craig Phillips Megumi and the bear book coverIrma Gold

Irma is also local author who has appeared several times on my blog. She is a professional freelance editor who also teaches editing. She has edited an anthology, and has had a collection of short stories and children’s picture books published. She discusses all this, and many other topics related to the writer’s life on her blog. Like some of the other writers listed here, she has included in some of these posts input from other writers, such as this post on rejections, in which Anna Spargo-Ryan, Sheryl Gwyther and Ben Hobson discuss their feelings about rejections. Hobson, author of To become a whale, writes:

It sucks. But I’m saying to you: you can persevere. You’re a writer, damn it. Get off the floor and clench your fists and edit and send it out once more. You can endure. You are being refined. Collect rejections like UFC fighters collect scars; each one of those things is a mark that has created this warrior you’re becoming. Be proud. And send it out again.

Annabel Smith and Jane Rawson

Annabel Smith (from Perth) and Jane Rawson (from Melbourne) have both appeared on this blog before (see Annabel and Jane). Together, they created in 2017 a series of posts they titled What to expect, which they ran on both their blogs, Annabel and Jane. Their aim was to “dish the dirt on what happens just before, during and after your book is released”. In these posts, Annabel and Jane give their opinion – on, say, prizes or book launches – and then, mostly, also invite another author or two to contribute.

Annabel is a member of the Writers Ask Writers series of posts that Amanda also posts. She also has an Author Q&A series in which she asks writers “to answer some questions about writing and publication” and a series on How Writers Earn Money.

Book coverMichelle Scott Tucker

Michelle, like Nigel, has maintained a general litblog for many years. However, also like Nigel, she has a specific series of posts focused on her biography, Elizabeth Macarthur: A life at the edge of the world (my review). In this series, she shares both her writing and publishing journey and her post-publication experiences and events, including being shortlisted for awards.

How generous and open-hearted are these writers to share their knowledge, and to go to so much trouble to do so. I dips me lid to them. But, they are just a start. Many other authors have blogs too, offering us all sorts of delights. I plan to share more of them during 2020.

Have you read any of the blogs, or blogs like them? If so, do you enjoy them and why?

29 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Author blogs on the publishing journey

  1. Yes, these are all blogs I follow, or have followed for a while, except for Irma Gold’s and Nigel Featherstone’s.
    But I might also say that there are some famous authors, whose books I really like, whose writing blogs didn’t sustain my interest. If I had to generalise, the blogs I’ve liked have been the ones that are not obviously part of a marketing campaign, but rather a sharing of the literary culture where they live and a generosity towards other authors. Both Amanda and Louise, for example, often feature interviews with other writers, and I’ve discovered authors new to me thanks to them. So the blogs are interesting in their own right, and the bonus is that I get to know when their latest books are about to hit the shelves:)

    • Agree, Lisa. I think all author blogs have a promotion element because the more they are out there the better usually for their careers … but all these I’ve listed here genuinely share their own and/or other writers’ experiences of writing in a way that can help the rest of us better understand the challenges. So interesting. And, as you say, you can discover new authors too.

  2. Michelle’s was the first blog I ever followed and it was exciting to see her progress from not being sure if her one chapter would ever be a book right through to publication and book launch. I’ve followed Jane Rawson too for some time, though she seems quiet now (as is Michelle). Another author I “follow” is Jess White, both on Facebook and via her irregular newsletter. A quick look at my side bar, reminds me Debbie Robson and Kim Kelly (how did I forget Kim!). And then there’s Mairi Neil, Up the Creek with a Pen, who teaches writing and writes poetry.

    • Thanks Bill. Michelle’s was one of the first blogs I followed too. There weren’t so many litbloggers around then and she added a different perspective. She’s quieter now as you say, like Jane, which is understandable. Jess, Carmel and several others I also want to share this year.

  3. This Monday Musings is a fascinating one. It always amazes me that you read so many books, so many blogs too – and that you can also present such intriguing posts. I think you must have a lot of servants to take care of everyday life.

  4. What a great list! I’m sure I’ll click on many of your links during my break. It’s usually fascinating to get to know about the process rather than just the result.

  5. I’ve read Jo Walton’s and John Scalzi’s blogs. I also follow my friend Joan Slonczewski’s, which she created because her publishers told her she should. In general, though, I’m not a big fan of author blogs.

    • Thanks Jeanne. I think those blogs by authors who create them because they’re told they should are usually those that I give up on because it’s usually clear that their heart is not in it and that promotion is the overriding goal. Not picking on your friend here of course as I don’t know her blog and what she’s done with it-it’s a tough world-but I think if they’re encouraged to do it, they need to find something they can do that’s special to them and that they can sustain. this latter being critical of course! A lot of people don’t really understand blogs.

      • I think that in the early days of social media, publishers (like the rest of us) didn’t really know or understand the direction it might take and so they just told their authors to get out there and do it, without any guidance about how exactly to do it and without knowing whether it was going to help with marketing or not. I’m sure a lot of authors spent a lot of time writing blogs that weren’t read when they could have been doing other writing that was more the kind of writing they wanted to do and maybe got paid for as well.

        I still think it’s important for an author to have a web presence where you can find a bio, a list of their books and a list of reviews if there are any, where to buy them and when they’re doing an event that we might want to go to. That doesn’t need to be a blog, but it’s the cheapest way to tailor a presence to suit yourself i.e. use the architecture of the blog to create what is really a static page.

        PS I should have mentioned Nathan Hobby’s blog. His hotly anticipated bio of Katharine Susannah Prichard isn’t a book yet, but like Michelle’s, it’s awakened an interest that we didn’t know we had, in the subject of the bio.

        • Agree with all you say here Lisa, and particularly re the value of a static website containing all that useful information.

          I thought of Nathan’s blog when I was doing this, of course, but had to draw the line (and no. of words) somewhere. I’m glad YOU mentioned him. His early blog posts about biography in general were great, and then like you I’ve enjoyed following his story.

      • I agree. My friend, a SF author and scientist, made hers into a “here’s something new about science” blog, so it’s interesting to people interested in the science behind her fiction.

  6. I spent the whole of 2014 giving author talks at Sydney libraries, andd greatly enjoyed it (as did, it seemed, my listeners). But I will confess that the talks were largely liverish, seeing as how I got ZERO help from my publishers.
    However, the liverisher they were the more the audiences enjoyed ’em. 🙂

    • Ha ha, M-R, there’s nothing like a liverish author, particularly if they’re entertaining as well – which you, I believe, can’t help but be! I remember reading about some of your experiences on your blog at the time. They made for good reading

  7. Just thought I’d take the opportunity to say Thank You and Merry Christmas to WG, and also to the core of correspondents who regularly participate in the discussion. I feel a bit like a spectator watching the experts strut their stuff (not meant in a sarcastic way, but more in awe of the knowledge and wisdom displayed). It has been an entertaining and enriching year. Long may it continue!

    • Why thanks Neil … it’s really been truly lovely having you join in. I see us as enthusiasts who learn more and more about books and our responses to them by reading blogs and the comments, and having a go at the conversations.

  8. Pingback: Diary of Bodies 12: the end of publication year / learnings (maybe) / the end is nigh? | Under the counter or a flutter in the dovecote

  9. Hi Sue, I haven’t read these blogs. I have enough trouble keeping up with the blogs from both you and Lisa. My TBR, continues to grow, and I can’t keep up with the weekend papers and their reviews. . I think these blogs are a great way for an author to promote their work and discuss their struggles. Have a fantastic Christmas and all the best for the New Year. I look forward to next year’s discussions.

    • Thanks Meg, I understand what you are saying completely! We all have to priorities what we can read don’t we? I really appreciate that you prioritise Lisa and me. Thanks so much.

      Hope you hav a great Christmas too – and I look forward to our conversations in 2020 too.

  10. The first literary blog I ever followed was ANZLitLovers, which led me here, to you, lovely WG. My first online comments were made with quite a lot of trepidation, but you were both so welcoming and the conversation was always so friendly that I soon felt right at home. Thank you for your kind words about my blog. And I second Lisa’s promotion Nathan Hobby’s blog – it’s great. I found blogging a useful way to think through some of the things I was working through, as a writer. And the friends I made through blogging have just been wonderful. As Bill says, I have gone quiet lately but I suspect I might be a little more active in the new year. I have a new project coming along….

    • Woo hoo, Michelle. I was wondering if you had a new project. Anything that had you blogging again would be fine by me! I always enjoyed your posts. And thanks for your support and comments over the years. Blogging has been great for introducing me to people of like minds and interests. (I do have f2f friends with like minds and interests too, but the blogosphere has brought so many more into my world for which I’m grateful.)

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