Have you ever wondered just what goes on at a writer’s conference? I spent last weekend learning about the ins and outs of commercial fiction publishing, with bestselling author Fiona McIntosh and an impressive panel of industry heavyweights who’d come along to share their wisdom with 120 bright-eyed writers just like me, at Fiona’s inaugural national conference: ‘NatCON’. Read more
I took this photo of the ‘Cascade’ glass sculpture by Sergio Redegalli when I attended amazing bestselling fiction author Fiona McIntosh‘s Commercial Fiction Masterclass at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens in South Australia. Apparently this piece weighs 12 tonnes!
I only realised just now that the reflection of the Palm House on the left hand side looks like part of the wave. And yes, that is a duck photobombing on the other side of the water.
I’ve previously written about attending other writers’ weekends with Fiona – you can read more at An author’s journey – the business of writing (2015) and Business of writing – building your brand (2016).
This is a piece I wrote when I attended Fiona McIntosh’s writing Masterclass two years ago. It gave me a good dose of confidence, a sort of epiphany that I could actually write.
Illira blew out a breath as she trotted towards the escarpment, trying to ease the heaviness in her belly. The field parted like a curtain before her horse, into yet another never ending row of wheat. A glance over her shoulder confirmed her suspicion; the trampled crop left a stark betrayal of the path she’d taken.
She pressed the horse into a canter, reassuring the beast with a hand on its damp neck. The gelding’s breath rasped over the whisper of passing wheatsheafs. Just a little further now to the cliff track, where their trail of hoofprints would disappear into the shale.
As the field ebbed away, a eucalyptus tang stung Illira’s nose, drifting from the forest spilt over the clifftop above her. The horse’s hooves crunched onto the stone path, a mere goat track, really, but at least it led to safety.
She bit her lip, having to let the horse slow to pick its way along, knowing at every step they were as exposed as a blowfly on a fresh shorn sheep.
I was lucky enough to spend the past weekend in the Clare Valley, South Australia, learning how to build my brand as a writer, with bestselling fiction writer Fiona McIntosh and an impressive panel of industry experts.
To start, all 24 delegates received an individual photography sitting with Juan Van Staden, which demonstrated the importance of having a professional image to accompany our writing.
Over the next two days, us writers were treated to fascinating insight into the world of marketing an author, as well as their books.
Dan Ruffino from Simon & Schuster and Lou Ryan from Penguin Random House provided a publisher’s perspective into how an author is built into a brand name and how this makes a difference to the book buying and reading audience.
Bethany Clark, marketing strategist from MD Word Republic, gave strategic advice on the dos-and-don’ts authors should keep in mind when creating their brand. Bethany also discussed the role of an agent and the benefits they can provide an author. It was interesting to note the lack of opportunities for an author to submit books to US and UK publishers without an agent, while Australian publishers tend to be somewhat more accessible to authors.
The final day was rounded off by Jason Lehmann, head of Argon Design, who led a hands-on workshop exploring the world of web design and how to best use social media to build our brand, profile and audience.
As well as the fantastic opportunity to learn more about the business of being a writer beyond putting words on a page, it’s always lots of fun to meet with other writers, and such a privilege to spent time with such a funny and talented group of people. A big thank you to all involved, including Fiona’s support team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the weekend ran smoothly and kept us well topped up with coffee on the chilly Auburn mornings.
I can’t wait to see what Fiona has in store for next year – her masterclasses and professional weekends are a must-do for anyone who is serious about becoming a writer.