Saturday, 1 April 2017


Written by Michelle Morgan

Flying through Clouds is my new historical novel for young adults, and it’s hot off the press. Writing Flying through Clouds has been a labour of love - it took me almost four years to write and whip into shape, with the help of some talented editors along the way.  I chose to self-publish this time, and I haven’t regretted it. Getting a novel to publication is only the first part of the difficult road to publication. Marketing and publicity are critical if potential readers are going to find out about your book. I’d like to share some of my key strategies with you.

5 Marketing Strategies for Self-Publishing Authors:

1.    Create a Media Release (also known as an AIS or Advance Information Sheet) and email it to selected bookshops and suppliers, media contacts and bloggers.
2.    After your manuscript has been copy-edited, arrange for 50+ copies of your book (uncorrected proof copies) to be printed, then send to interested bookshops and suppliers, media contacts, reviewers bloggers and a few authors. Seek quotes for inclusion on the cover and/or inside the book.
3.    Organise a book launch and then a book tour of selected libraries and bookshops, giving talks in places which have some relevance to your book. Promote through social media.
4.    Develop publicity materials such as posters and bookmarks and get them professionally printed.
5.    Arrange a blog tour and promote through social media.

For any marketing campaign to be successful, you need to have a well-written and intriguing book, and a great cover. Professional editors and cover / layout artists are a must if you want to produce a quality book.

I hope you enjoy Flying through Clouds!

PUBLISHED: 2 April 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9953865-0-1
AGES: 12+
RRP: $18.99 Pbk

Flying through Clouds is available from bookshops, educational and library suppliers, and can be ordered on Michelle’s website.

Find out more about Michelle and her books on her website:

Check out Clancy Tucker’s blog tomorrow at for Day 3 of the Flying through Clouds Blog tour.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Today's interview is with Australian author/illustrator Alison Reynolds who has been publishing since 2003 with Five Mile Press. She talks here about her latest two children's books.                                                                            

These are the latest two picture books in the Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds series aimed at children 4- 8. They explore social etiquette and positive behaviour in a light, humorous way. The Playground Meanies is about bullying and The Big Snow Adventure tackles respecting rules.

Each book features a Handy Guide to Good Deeds on the last page, which can be used as a discussion point for adults and children.

What is the book’s history to publication?  The Five Mile Press commissioned these books as part of an ongoing series. The editor approved my initial concepts after a bit of toing and froing.
Why did you choose Five Mile Press as your publisher?                                             I’ve worked with The Five Mile Press for many years and value highly my relationship with them. They’ve offered me many wonderful opportunities to write many different style books. They’re perfect match for somebody like me who enjoys a challenge.

How long did it take from submission of your manuscript to receipt of advance copies? The whole process from initial concept to being edited took about five months.

Which editor did you work with? Was there a lot of work that needed to be done to your manuscript? How was the editing experience for you?                                            I worked with the super talented Melissa Keil at The Five Mile Press. She manages to point out where the text can be improved with tact and perspicacity. There was not as much work needed as for the first two books, because I know the characters now. With Melissa, I feel we’re working together to make the books the best books they can be.

Who is the book’s illustrator? Why do you like her work?                                          Mikki Butterley is a brilliant illustrator who lives in the north of England. She comes from a background of creating cards, and her attention to detail is extraordinary. I adore her work for the sense of fun she captures. Whatever wild wacky idea I come up with in the text, Mikki seems to be able to match it up with a gorgeous illustration. I also love her colour palette.

Anything else you’d like to say about your publisher?                                                      I would recommend The Five Mile Press to illustrators and other authors. They produce a range of different fabulous products, which makes it an exciting company to work with.

Have you written other books for children?                                                                  I’ve had over 70 books published, including board books, picture books, chapter books, choose-your-own-adventure style books and even a non-fiction adult book.  I work for different publishers, which helps me maintain a flow of work.

Do you belong to a writing group?                                                                                    I’ve belonged to a few writing groups in the past. One group has transformed into a lunching group of close friends as I’m the only one who still writes on a full-time basis. I firmly believe writing groups can be excellent especially when you’re starting out, but you need to be in one that suits you. If you find you’re in a toxic writing group that makes you feel bad, belittled and if you’re the one who is doing all the work, run. I’m lucky enough to be working with editors who give me thoughtful, excellent feedback, so I’m not in a writing group at the moment.

I had a few outstanding writing tutors/mentors when I studied, for example Janey Runci, Sari Smith, Rachel Flynn and Marg McKenzie. 

What are you now working on? 
I have an idea that I’m playing with for a series for 6- 8 year olds. I’m not at the stage of sending it out to publishers yet, but hope to be there soon. I’ve had a variety of books published, including picture books, board books, chapter books, middle grade books and even an adult non-fiction book.

Anything else you’d like to add?                                                                                      To aspiring writers out there: never give up; never give up; never give up.

I would love you to check out my website at

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Motivating Yourself to Write

‘Superglue’, that’s the answer I give when people ask how I motivate myself to write day after day. ‘Apply it to the seat of your pants and face the screen.’ It’s a glib answer, but basically this is the surest way to achievement.

There's nothing like the feeling of starting to write a brand new story. You’ve probably been thinking about it for days or weeks before you actually sit down at your computer and start tapping away. The characters are real in your head; the plot sounds promising, and you are motivated. This is going to be The One, the great international best-selling novel.

Your initial feeling of excitement can last for weeks. It's rewarding to see the word count increase as days pass. It's a joy to open your laptop and spend hours in your fictional world, forgetting all your everyday chores.

Comes the day, though, when you turn on your computer and instead of having fun writing the next scene, you stare at the screen and find yourself thinking about anything other than your story. Visitors are coming for tea, your carpets need vacuuming and your garden is neglected.  You type a few sentences, but when you read them through they sound about as interesting as last week's shopping list. Is it worth pursuing, you ask yourself. Perhaps it’s just one of those days. You write in your diary, make a cuppa and bring in the washing. All the time you’re thinking about how difficult it is to write, how nobody said you ‘have to’ write, that getting published is almost impossible given bookshops are closing. Doubts and negative thoughts crowd your head.

Before too long, this becomes the pattern of your days. Sometimes you manage to write a description - even finish a chapter - but more and more, you find reasons not to write. You moan to your family and colleagues about how you’re procrastinating and you ask yourself ‘how can I get over this writer’s block?’

Here is the cold, hard truth: motivating yourself to do anything that’s hard work, like losing weight, doing your taxes, exercising daily – and yes, writing -- is not possible.
You cannot motivate yourself to write. What you can do, is put a plan into action. Work out a system to get what you want.

First, know that the rewards have to be greater than the pain, or you won't do it. We spend our lives trying to avoid pain and to seek out that which is pleasurable. Yes, it’s true! The good news is that once you realise this, you've just taken a giant step towards your ultimate goal - getting your book finished and then getting it published.

Here are a few tips on how to reach your writing and publishing goals. First of all, you need to get serious. This doesn’t mean enrolling in countless courses, networking, going to writers’ festivals or reading writing magazines: none of it will do any good if you don't get serious about the actual WRITING. To have finished pages mounting up, you have to write. To get a manuscript complete enough to submit to a publisher, you have to write. You have to write regardless of whether you’re in the mood; whether or not there are family dramas or you’ve got a head cold. Superglue time is the published writer’s bottom line!

What are some ways of getting out that tube of glue? As indicated above, you need to put writing first. Make it your daily priority. Give it at least an hour a day. One hour out of twenty-four is doable. If you can't spare just one hour a day for your writing, then you are simply not serious.

If the reason you can't spare an hour a day is due to a genuine emergency (a serious illness, for instance), then that's different. Give whatever the crisis is your full attention, then get back to being serious about your writing as soon as it’s passed. Set up a routine for your writing until it becomes a habit. Don't let anything get in the way. If something totally unexpected comes along to derail you and sabotage your writing time, then make that time up before the week is out.

Map out your road to publication. You need to go through a process to do this, so be businesslike and create a checklist. This might include necessary research, writing crucial scenes, finishing a chapter at a time, finishing the first draft, editing the draft, getting feedback (perhaps paying for a manuscript assessment), re-polishing the draft. Make checklists not only for characters, but also for setting, plot, completion dates for scenes (or chapters), editing and polishing your work. Also rough out deadlines for each list. Goal-setting – setting up systems -- needs to be a priority.

One of the best ways of motivating continuity on your writing project is to find support, either with a writing buddy or through a workshop group that meets regularly. It really helps to be accountable to someone, to have support in setting up good writing habits and maintaining discipline with the goals and deadlines you’ve set up, and to critique each other’s work. Your writing support can be a single person whose opinions you trust (perhaps someone else on the path to publication), or it can take the form of a writing course with set tasks, an online assessment/editing forum, or a reputable critique service. Beware, however, of ‘supporters’ who don’t take the writing as seriously as you do: some forums can generate into chatty emails that aren’t focused on achievement.

If you want to be part of a writing workshop that meets regularly to critique works-in-progress, and you don’t know of one, then find one. This might involve putting a notice in your regional newspaper or library, contacting the nearest writers’ centre or asking your council’s community arts officer for local writers’ groups. A good size
group is four to five. Meetings might be once a week, month or fortnight.

Ready to get serious? Then stop reading this article, and clear the decks - mentally, socially and physically. Arrange a quiet writing area that is yours alone. Commit your writing plan and time to paper. Find a writing buddy or writing critique group, then START!

Discipline and good habits will get your book written, and motivation will come from seeing the results.

© Dianne Bates 

A former magazine and newspaper editor, Dianne (Di) Bates is author of over 130 books, mostly for young readers. She has also published How to Self-Edit (To Improve Writing) and Wordgames: Creative Thinking and Writing (Five Senses Education)  Di is the founding editor of Buzz Words, an online twice monthly magazine for those in the children’s book industry. Her 
website is  

Thursday, 17 November 2016

All of Us Together

Today's guest is CBCA multi-award winning author Bill Condon whose latest book, All of Us Together, was recently published by About Kids Books ( Bill kindly offered to answer some questions about this family story which goes straight to the heart.

Why did you set your book All of Us Together in Australia during the 1930s Great Depression?
I suppose the main thing was that it seemed a very interesting time in Australia’s history, and one that was brimming with possibilities for a writer. Also, today’s children probably don’t know much, if anything, about the hard times their ancestors lived through. I thought that writing a family story set in that time was a good way to give them an understanding of the Depression. But I should point out that I wasn’t interested in giving any kind of history lesson. For me, the historical aspect is very much in the background. First and foremost, I tried to write a story that would keep kids turning the pages.

The seeds of this book were probably first sown when I was in my teens, perhaps even younger. Back then my parents used to tell me about their experiences in the 30s. Like most young people, I probably didn’t listen very closely, but I must have been tuned in subconsciously. And so, when I was hunting around for a new project, the Depression gradually bubbled up to the top of the list.

Was your own family anything like Daniel's?
In lots of ways, yes. Like Daniel, the main character in All Of Us Together, I have two sisters. In my story, Daniel is the oldest, whereas in real life, I was the youngest – and I still am! My mum and dad were working class people, the same as Daniel’s parents. And the really big similarity between his family and my own is that, like Daniel and his sisters, we had the great good fortune to have loving and kind parents.

What would you say are the themes of All of Us Together?
I didn’t set out to write a themed book, or to be moralistic or preachy. I think that would be death to any story. However, themes do emerge. Daniel’s parents teach their children to be honest and to respect others. Of course, honesty is not always easy, so when Daniel makes mistakes, he knows he has to take the consequences. The love and support one gets from family is also evident, as are issues related to mateship, bullying, and coming to terms with grief.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It’s very hard to give an accurate answer. I started All Of Us Together last year, and worked on it for several months before consigning it to the Too Hard Basket. In January of this year I changed it from third person to first and dived back into, starting all over again. This time I didn’t quit and it took about seven or eight months to finish. So with this one it’s been well over a year. Some of them take a lot longer.

You have won quite a few book awards: how important are they to you?
I’d be lying if I said they didn’t matter. Just about every writer surely dreams of winning the glittering prize. However, I think there is a lot of luck involved in it. The year I won the Prime Minister’s Award (2010) all the other shortlisted writers had reason to be confident. Each of them had won other awards or been shortlisted. Mine was the only book that hadn’t had any previous success. I’m sure if there had been betting on the result I would have been a rank outsider. There are so many good books that I feel should have won awards, but which missed out. What I try to remember is that the glitter vanishes quickly, and few remember who won last year’s big prize. And too, just being published is a pretty big deal.

Have you started on your next writing project?
Not yet. It isn’t that long ago that I finished All Of Us Together and so I think I’m a little more brain-dead than usual. Hopefully that won’t last much longer.

Saturday, 12 November 2016


I have published over 130 books, mostly for young readers. I'm constantly searching for publishers appropriate for the book I'm writing or planning to write. Hopefully these clues will help you, too, track down a publisher. Good luck!

1) Write your book.
When you're starting out, publishers want to see a finished product, or at least part of a finished product. They want to know that you're capable of writing the whole novel. So before you approach a publisher or, even research the market, write your novel.

2) Research the market.
First you need to know what sort of book you've written. Who is your reader? Males? Females? Both? What is the age of your audience? Is your book genre fiction? What genre? What about the length?

Visit local book stores and look for books similar to your own in length and genre. You'll find the publisher's information easily, both on the cover and inside the book. Write down a list of the publishers you find that might be interested in work similar to your own.

3) Research the publishers.
I own a copy of The Australian Writer's Marketplace. You can buy Writer's Marketplace reference books for other countries as well, including the US and UK. You'll find details of many publishers in this reference resource. These details include their address, phone number, email address, website and submission requirements.

Create – and keep up to date - your own list of publishers who publish in your chosen genre. As a writer of books for young people, I have a comprehensive contact list which I regularly update by keeping my eye on publishers’ details in trade magazines, by swapping information with other writers with whom I network and by phoning publishers at least once annually.

The Internet has made finding publishers a much easier task. If a publisher has a website, and most of them do, then visit the website. Research what they are publishing. And look for submission information. Firstly, do they accept unsolicited manuscripts? Your manuscript is unsolicited if a publisher or editor hasn't requested to read it. In other words, your manuscript is unsolicited if you're sending it to a publisher without their prior knowledge.

A lot of publishers include submission guidelines on their websites, which you can easily downloaded. Always read a publisher's guidelines and always follow their instructions. Give your manuscript the best chance. If guidelines aren't readily available on a publisher's website, then send them a polite and professional email asking for a copy of their guidelines.

The reason you conduct research on publishers before you submit a manuscript is to save you time and money. There's no point sending your horror novel to a publisher that only publishes romance novels. There's no point sending your children's picture book to a publisher that doesn't publish children's books or picture books. There's no point sending your unsolicited manuscript to a publisher that doesn't accept unsolicited manuscripts.

4) Be professional
When you deal with publishers or anyone associated with the publishing industry it pays to always be polite, friendly and professional. Publishers are looking for writers who can produce great novels and conduct themselves professionally. This includes submitting your work in a professional manner. A neatly formatted manuscript, accompanied by a well-written query letter will be more readily accepted than a hand-written, unedited story!

You can find plenty of articles about query letters, manuscript submission and formatting here:

5) Be Realistic
Biggest does not equal best! Almost every writer wants to see his or her own book up there on the best seller lists. But aiming your book at the biggest name publishing house you can locate is not always realistic - nor is it always the best possible publishing home for your precious work. In many cases, a smaller, more specialised publisher might have a better chance of placing your book in front of the right readers for your particular genre.

6) Research again!
Just because you may have found the name of a publisher willing to publish a book similar to your own does not necessarily mean they are still accepting submissions! Keep a close eye on websites that list publishers actively seeking manuscripts. Some of these even list publishers who are no longer accepting submissions, so you'll at least have some idea of where NOT to send your work.

Here are some links to help you find a publisher's website:

Naturally there are many more websites on publishers that you can find for yourself by searching the Internet.

You can also access the names of Australian publishers by purchasing the Australian Publishers’ Association annual list of members.

You are in the driver's seat of your writing career. Take control and target your submissions to the best of your ability. And that means researching the market and researching publishers.
© Dianne (Di) Bates                                                             

Thursday, 10 November 2016

3 smart ways to crank up your creativity

Expand Your Know-How
If you want to excel at something, learn as much about it as possible. "It doesn't do much good to simply say 'I'm going to be a painter,' " says neuropsychologist Dr Rex Jung."You have to know about colour blending and brush strokes." Biology backs this: When we're being creative, our frontal cortex (the part of the brain where memory is stored and retrieved) is activated. That makes sense, because in order to come up with ideas, you need to have info from which to draw. "The more you try, the more knowledge you'll have at your disposal when dreaming things up," he says.

Make Problems for Yourself
Challenge your brain by coming up with what-ifs. You might ask yourself, What if I had to throw an impromptu dinner and all the guests were vegans? Or, What if I needed to look great for an event but didn't have time for a blow-dry?
"By inventing problems and then figuring out solutions to them, you build brainpower," says Dr Mark Runco, a creativity researcher at the University of Georgia, US.

Pick a Letter, Any Letter
"This puzzle exercises both sides of your brain," says psychologist Dr Shelley Carson. Set a timer for three minutes, then jot down all the nouns you can think of that start with a certain letter.

Set the timer for another three minutes and think of two categories the nouns would fit into-it might be places (Florida, France, forest) or parts of the body (finger, foot, face). When you're done, set the timer for three minutes again; re-ategorise the words into two more groups.


Contract checklist (per Australian Society of Authors)Before you sign, make sure you understand the implications of these clauses
Where your publisher offers their standard contract, check that it:
  • Has a firm date for publication
  • Has rising royalties, paid on recommended retail price, not net receipts
  • Gives approximate price and minimum print run
  • Has a revision clause
  • Binds the publisher to show you proofs
  • Defines responsibility for the cost of illustrations, indexing, photographs and so on
  • Has at least two accounting periods per year
  • Makes the publisher responsible for the loss of manuscript or book stocks
  • Has an effective termination clause.
Check also that it does not:
  • Assign copyright to the publisher
  • Assign digital/electronic rights to the publisher
  • Allow alterations without your consent
  • Allow royalties calculated on the price of sheets sold
  • Allow overstock or remainder sales within two years
  • Set a price for future Book Club sales
  • Take a share (other than agent’s commission) of non-print rights
  • Hold reserves beyond the second accounting date
  • Ask extended rights such as overseas rights without proof of ability to exploit them
  • Purport to assign or waive your moral rights
  • Include a consent to an act which otherwise would be a breach of your moral rights.
From Barbara Jefferis, Rob Pullen and Lynne Spender Australian Book Contracts 3rd edition (Keesing Press).