The Market Development Skills for Writers workshop at the Writers Victoria was one of the most useful pieces of professional development I’ve ever done. Over a free full day workshop for established writers sponsored by the Australian Council for the Arts, Hachette publicist Jaki Arthur gave us an insight into how big publishing works and how they work their publicity.
Cutting through the natural tendency of writers to over explain their work, she helped us formulate snappy descriptions of what sort of writers we were. (Historical fantasy with a chick lit twist) seven quick themes covered in our books, ( i.e. love, sex, death, travel, cookery, women’s power, the Great Barrier reef etc.) and showed us how to write a strap line for a book. (A beautiful courtesan, a deadly necromancer and the innocent young mage caught between them.) We worked on a list of media outlets and taste makers we wanted to get the attention of and she gave us some pointers as to what these sort of people might be looking for.
She also showed us how to formulate more concrete and finite writer’s goals as an important way of nurturing and directing our careers. For instance, we broke down a general goal such as “ Make enough money to write full time,” into something like “ Get my book in front of Jill Bloggs at the Write Place publishing house by the end of 2015.”
I found Jaki’s positive can-do attitude really encouraging and was reassured to feel that when faced with an important person to pitch myself to, I could bring out my themes and strapline instead of searching for words and babbling anxiously.
I had worried that the workshop wouldn’t help overcome my deep and innate talent for self-depreciation, but now armed with what I learnt I’m starting to feel that this whole big bad publicity thing might be … well … doable.
Thanks very much to Karen Le Roy from the Australia for the Arts, Kate Larsen from Writers Victoria and Jaki Arthur for running such an excellent workshop