The Benefits of a Goodreads Profile

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I’ve been helping an internet and marketing ignorant author about thirty years older than me in the lead up to his book being published and he’s also been receiving moral support from another published author roughly his age. He’s paying a professional to put together a small website and I suggested I set up a Goodreads author profile for him so that when the book is released I – and whoever else is so inclined – can post a review. He agreed.

I signed him up, added a picture and posted his About Me text that we’ve been working on for the website. Then, since I’m on Goodreads as well, I connected with him as a friend. And knowing the name of the other author who’s supporting him, I looked her up on Goodreads in an attempt to connect the two of them.

But when I found her profile, it was empty. She’s there – her book was quite successful and has an average rating of 3.46 – but there’s no picture, no author bio, no other information except that she was the author of the book listed. I was surprised. I went back to my friend and told him what I’d found, suggesting he contact his friend and let her know her profile was there and that she could claim it. He told me she was as clueless as he was when it came to technology and being online and that he doubted she would be interested. Fair enough. She clearly doesn’t have someone like me to help her out the way he has me. Continue reading

The Unusual and Irrational Obsessions of Writers

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Miranda Margulies: We can get the Times to write something. Or that nut from the Observer.
Kathleen Kelly: Wait, what… what nut from the Observer?
Miranda Margulies: Frank something? The one who’s so in love with his typewriter. This is just the sort of thing that would outrage him!
You’ve Got Mail

Most writers have unusual obsessions. For Frank Navasky in You’ve Got Mail, it was his typewriters (yes, plural – he had several). For me, it’s my dictionaries (yes, plural – I have more dictionaries than Frank had typewriters). I’ve written previously about how my dictionary is the one book I can’t live without, specifically my Macquarie International English Dictionary.

But the version I have was published in 2004 (which was when I bought it), making it twelve years old and meaning it doesn’t contain any of the words invented in the intervening period or reflect changes in how English is used (and as much as pedants would prefer there weren’t, there are always changes).

Last year, when I was using it to ensuring spelling accuracy and consistency as I edited Project December: A Book about Writing, I thought it would do the job well enough. But it was in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t be able to put off buying a new dictionary for much longer. And this year, when I was hired (and subsequently paid) to edit an autobiography, I knew the time had come. Continue reading

Writing the book or character that will headline your obituary

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Earlier this year, while scanning news headlines (as I do frequently each day), I came across the following:

Legends of the Fall author Jim Harrison dies aged 78”

Even though I’ve seen the movie of Legends of the Fall, starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, I didn’t know it was based on Jim Harrison’s book. In fact, I didn’t know who Jim Harrison was.

Now I know (because I did a little research before writing this blog post) that Jim Harrison started writing while he was recovering after falling off a cliff, that he was rather prolific, that Legends of the Fall is actually a novella, that he specialised in novellas and that I’ve never heard of any of his other works. Which explains why the writer of the headline felt it necessary to include the name of his most famous work. Continue reading

Why writers should call out other writers when they do poor work

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Earlier in the year, my stepmother was dragged into a PR nightmare when the founder and owner of a program for gifted children became the subject of an article in a major Australian newspaper. My stepmother is a licensee of the program and a teacher, taking it into primary schools and offering additional educational challenges for children who have been assessed as gifted. The owner had made the mistake of posting opinion pieces on the business’s website and a concerned parent, upon seeing the controversial posts, immediately contacted the newspaper wanting to have it exposed.

That concerned parent had a point. The posts weren’t just controversial and inappropriately featured on the business’s website, they were also completely unacceptable in the context of the program being offered in schools. However, instead of the journalist making these points in a balanced piece of reporting, she instead decided to target and ridicule the elderly owner of the program. Continue reading

Why writers should support other writers when they do good work

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This might be the most obvious statement ever expressed on this blog but there are a lot of writers out there. From those who’ve achieved enormous wealth and fame and those who manage to eke out a mid-list career to those who publish their own work and earn virtually nothing and those who secretly tinker away on novels without telling a soul, there are many of us including those who fall somewhere between the four descriptions above and those who fall somewhere outside of them but still consider themselves writers.

With so much competition in such a small pond, so many competing voices in which writers shout over each other and still struggle to be heard, it’s never been more important for writers to support other writers. Readers are all well and good – in fact, they’re very good – but when a writer is struggling for readers, the one thing that can keep their self-esteem in positive territory is support from other writers who know all too well what they’re going through. Continue reading

The Five Stages of Writing

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When we first start writing, thinking we might like to have a crack at the caper, we have all the tools we need. A basic knowledge of the language in which we want to write. A computer and a new Word document. Or a piece of paper and a pen. After all, writing is pretty simple, right?

In writing’s defence, it is pretty easy. As long as all you want to do is tinker. As long as you don’t care about ever being read or published. However, if you do, you might be interested to know it’s actually a very long process that can be broken into five stages.

And the hardest stage of writing is always whatever stage you’re at. Continue reading

Deciding Who or What Makes a Writer: Is It a Worthwhile Use of Our Writing Time?

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Recently in a writing forum, a poster asked the question, “Can saying ‘I’m a writer’ make you a writer? If so, is this a positive or negative trend in the context of preserving the art and craft of writing?” One witty response was, “Can saying ‘I’m a doctor’ make you a doctor?”

Of course, the answer is no. Just asserting the truth of something doesn’t make it true. In almost everything in life, it is our actions that prove who and what we are. Writers write, doctors study for a long time and then use that knowledge to help people get better. Even love, which is difficult to prove in the abstract, is almost always demonstrated in the small, everyday, practical tasks people in love undertake for each other.

So what are the small, everyday, practical tasks writers undertake that make them writers? Continue reading