Thursday, 22 March 2012

A message to my fellow emerging writers

As one of five shortlisting judges for a local creative writing competition (I'm not sure if I can say which one...), I've read a ton of unpublished short stories in the last few months.

It's exciting to know there are so many talented armature and emerging writers who's stories need only minor changes to be truly amazing.

Submit your stuff to publishers, people. You never know when you'll be picked up!

Be brave, leap off the deep end and have confidence you'll land on the other side.
Even if you're not, pretend to be; not many people can tell the difference

For all you Aussies, check out my post on the major Australian literary journals and magazines.

A bunch of other competitions are also currently accepting submissions. Some are free, while others charge a small reading fee. Many offer decent prize money, certificates of merit and/or publication opportunities.

I know I've said this cliche before, but...

You've gotta be in it to win it!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Review: The 'Style Manual: for Authors, Editors and Printers'

I have chosen to review the sixth edition of the Style Manual: for Authors, Editors and Printers edited by Snooks & Co, printed by Craft Print International Ltd, Singapore, and published, marketed and distributed by John Wiley and Sons Australia, Ltd. My 2011 paperback edition contains 550 pages and cost $44.95 plus $7.50 shipping and handling via Wiley’s online store.

The Style Manual is an extensive resource for authors, editors and printers as it contains detailed information on preparing publication plans; the role of authors, editors, designers, printers and various other specialists; how to convey information clearly and concisely, including spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalisation conventions; the importance of thorough copy-editing and proofreading; copyright, privacy and defamation laws; how to obtain quotes from printers; measures to ensure a publication’s quality; and, unique to the sixth edition, publishing on the web and other forms of digital printing.

Since the first edition, published in 1966 by the Commonwealth Government Printing Office, the Style Guide has undergone a number of revisions, keeping it up to date with the ever changing English language and trends in the publishing industry.

Each topic is written by specialists in their field, refereed by a second, or subsequent, source, and includes relevant images set out in an effective manner. For example, the introduction to chapter 25, ‘Paper-based Reproduction’, states that “Arranging for a document to be printed is a significant project management task. It entails contracting and coordinating a range of different suppliers, and checking the quality of the services they provide for the project. Knowledge of the processes and techniques involved enables suitable production decisions to be made.” The following 28 pages describe the process in great detail, including not only the various costs associated with print production (types of paper, printing and binding techniques, and embellishment), but also advice on how to reduce expenses without necessarily degrading the look and feel of the publication.

When you include the long list of further reading resources at the end of each chapter, the Style Manual has to be one of the most thorough and credible resources anyone serious about the publishing industry in Australia can own.

Harvard reference: Snooks & Co (eds.) 2011, Style Manual: for Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th edn, John Wiley and Sons, Singapore.

Sunday, 11 March 2012


I've arrived at a crossroad...

Finishing my novel is way outside my comfort zone; I'm avoiding working on it like my life is being threatened! I haven't given up - I think about the story and characters a lot, know where I want the plot and structure to go, and have a 5,000 word outline I'm quite happy with.

I might be overwhelmed because I'm not sure if I can maintain the voice for 60,000+ words. Maybe it's because I'm struggling to find more than two hours in a row every week to sit down and actually work on it. Maybe it's because I still don't know what changes to make while drafting the chapters I've already written, and probably introduce more errors than I fix. Or maybe it's because I'd like more experience writing and editing longer short stories (3,500-5,000 words?), which is a real challenge for me at the moment - I can barely control 2,500 of my own words...

My new plan for 2012 is to:
- Submit my 'finished' short stories to various competitions and lit mags. Workshop/draft/re-write any that come back and re-submit them until they get published
Ah, there is the road to success!

- Edit the stories I've been resting/avoiding, and submit those for publication, too
- Write a few new stories, which I haven't done for a while
- Continue writing articles and reviews for SEED, Platform and other student magazines and blogs
- Post on my blog a little more frequently
- Work on my general writing and editing skills
- Add a few chapters to my novel
- Continue helping at Vic Uni's events and proofread their publications; and, towards the end of the year,
- Produce a collection of my successful and favourite stories, which I'll submit to various publishers. If the collection doesn't get picked up, I'll publish a small print run myself and sell it through a few different places - it worked for Mathew Reilly's first novel!

Hopefully, this will give me the skills I need to work as an editor/proofreader, or establish my own critiquing/proofreading/copy-editing/printing business. I can then study Novel 2 in 2013 and, hopefully, finish the first draft of my novel by early 2014.

I keep reminding myself that at the start of last year I didn't know the first thing about nouns and pronouns, let alone parallel construction, phrases, coordination, subordination, (not that I now know everything about the overly complex language that is 'basic' English). I've come a long way, but have an even longer way to go...

So, yes, I'm trying to stay focused and motivated, and am keeping the big picture in mind: becoming a successful editor and novelist, while trying to be a good father and husband :)