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If you’re self-publishing, finding the right editor is crucial. But even writers looking to be traditionally published should consider getting someone to take a look at their manuscript. With so much competition, publishers want manuscripts that are as developed as possible, so they can save time and money on the titles they do choose. Getting a good edit can give your manuscript a huge advantage when it comes to submitting.
However, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into and what you should expect. Edits can cost a large amount of money, so it’s important to make sure that the editor you choose is right for you and your manuscript.
Finish & Understand Your Manuscript
The first step is to finish your manuscript as much as possible. Editors quote based on time required, so the more polished your manuscript is, the more money you will save. Leonardo da Vinci stated, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” This is true, of course, but write until you have confidence in your manuscript.
You also need to know your manuscript from a marketing perspective. What is the genre? Where would it sit in a bookstore? Who is the target audience? Which parts of the writing style or structure are non-negotiable? Which parts of the novel are you happy with, and which parts need work?
Write a synopsis—this is useful for you as a writer to ensure that you understand your manuscript, and it’s also great to pass on to a prospective so that they can see your vision for the novel.
Understand Different Kinds of Edits
Not all edits are created equal, and not all manuscripts need all kinds of editing before submission. There are three key kinds of edits:
- A structural or substantive edit is an edit that looks at your novel from a big-picture, structural point of view. This means looking at plot, character, voice, style, theme and each chapter/section to make sure they work in the book. This can include moving paragraphs or chapters around or making other changes to the structure of the book.
- A copy or line edit is a sentence-by-sentence edit that makes sure the writing flows. This is an edit for style and voice, as well as basic grammar and spelling.
- A proofread looks only at spelling, grammar and punctuation.
While all of these can be useful to do before submission, remember that if your work does get published by a traditional publisher, it will usually go through all of these stages again.
Other forms of editing include a continuity edit, which is when someone checks for continuity errors, to make sure that the sword mentioned in Chapter 3 doesn’t disappear. You can also look at getting a manuscript assessment, which is when a writing professional looks at your work and gives you a written feedback report, and is usually cheaper than an edit.
Know Your Budget
It’s usually good to have an idea of your budget before you approach an editor, and if you’re going through an organisation such as a writers centre to find an editor, this is going to be one of the first questions they ask.
The cost of an edit completely depends on the manuscript itself as well as the editor, and it’s difficult to give a ballpark number. An editor can charge anywhere from $60-200 an hour, but even that is up for debate.
- What have they edited before? What is their experience?
- How have they calculated their quote?
- Will you be involved at all in the process? Can you meet the editor for coffee/chat on the phone before moving forward?
Find The Right Person
Now’s the time to think about the kind of editor that would be right for your manuscript and your budget. Editors have all different kinds of backgrounds; some work or have worked in commercial publishing houses or with other professional publications, some have lots of experience in academia, educational or corporate writing, and some are freelancers with a background in editing.
The best thing for your manuscript is to find an editor that is experience in the same kind of writing, whether that be in genre, form or market (or all three). Literary fiction editors may not approach a gory thriller in the way that you want them to, and someone who usually edits speculative fiction may not have the experience to edit a verse novel.
Of course, editors with commercial publishing experience may be more expensive than a local freelancer. This is the stage where you need to weigh your budget and your manuscript’s needs to determine what you’re after. If you’re unsure, you can always contact your state writers centre to see if they know someone who might be right for your manuscript.
Do Your Research & Understand The Process
Before you commit to an editor or hand any money over, ask about their past projects, or contact a writer they have worked with before to get an idea of the process and the quality of their work. Get in touch with your state society of editors or writers centre to find out if they’ve heard of or worked with the editor before.
Unless the editor has a set rate per word, it can be a red flag if they do not ask to see the full manuscript before quoting. Most editors need to see the full work to understand exactly how much time and work it will take. Take note on whether the quote is final or subject to change, and request that they consult with you before spending extra billable time on the manuscript.
You can totally ask the editor if they’d be willing to have a coffee with you or a chat over the phone during the quoting stage to get an idea of how they’d approach the manuscript, and to see whether you’d click together. Ask them whether they are likely to consult you during the process, how they envision the manuscript to look like in the end, and their timeline.
Finally, understand the mechanics of the process. When will you need to pay? When will you receive the manuscript? Will there be discussions throughout the process? (Note that it is not necessarily a bad thing if the answer is no here). Is there a third party like a writers centre handling the money to protect you? Does the editor have public liability insurance? These questions both protect you and the editor—and make sure that you’ll be prepared for the whole process.
While white picket fences and a family car might be the American Dream, the Writerly Dream is just making enough of an income from your writing for it to be able to support itself. The average Australian writer makes $12,900 a year, which confirms just how unattainable this dream can be. It can be frustrating to think of all the awesome things we could do if we just had enough money to get started.
One often forgotten way that writers can be supported while creating projects and building their career is by applying for grants. Here’s everything you need to know about finding the right grants to apply for and the application process.
What is a grant, anyway?
Grants are when an organisation, often related to a government, offer money for a specific purpose. Most arts organisations are funded by government grants, but there are is also project and out-of-round funding that individuals can apply for, including writers.
Project funding is granted on a single project basis, for anything from writing a novel to starting a small publisher. Out-of-round funding is usually offered by state/territory arts departments, and can offer artists money to travel to interstate development opportunities in certain circumstances. Note that for out-of-round funding, the application process may not be available online, and you may need to contact the funding body directly.
If you’re not sure whether what you’re doing is suitable for the grant you’re applying for, you should be able to find past recipients online to see how the money has been used previously.
Where Can I Find a Grant?
Writers are usually looking for writing or arts-based grants, unless it has a specific purpose. For example, a travel, health or environmental writer may be able to look towards government departments, charities and other major organisations that work within these fields.
In Australia, the key places are the Australia Council for the Arts, and then each state/territory’s arts department. The Copyright Agency also has a Career Fund for both emerging and established individuals. These grants usually run on a calendar basis, and it’s useful to jot down the due dates for each one.
There are also occasionally one-off grants from organisations, as well as other opportunities such as fellowships, subsidised opportunities and residencies. The best way to keep on top of everything that you can apply for is to get in touch with your state writers centre and other relevant writing organisations.
How Do I Apply?
Take a look at the website of the grant you’ll be applying for to see the application process. Often it is some kind of online form, but this can differ from organisation to organisation. Again, it’s also a good idea to take a look at the people who have received funding previously.
Regardless of the grant, you’ll need to include how much money you will be asking for, a proposal of what you will do with the money, a short history of the project, any ‘in-kind’ support you’ll be providing for the project, and a breakdown of your budget. Letters of support from trusted organisations or individuals can also help to set your application apart.
It’s best to be as realistic as possible, to pay people (including yourself) fairly for their involvement, and to already have some experience in the field you’re requesting money for. If it’s an individual writing-based project, you may also need to include some sample writing.
Remember that this is a professional application. The tone should be vibrant and optimistic, to excite the reader. Take a look at the official documents produced by the organisation administering the grant to get an idea of their preferred style, but be sure to include a bit of your personality and branding as well.
What Are My Responsibilities?
If you receive a grant, you’ll sign a contract or agreement about the terms of the grant, and you will be expected to follow them. This means that you’ll need to use the grant for what you originally stated the grant would be used for within the time frame, acknowledge the funding body when appropriate, and complete the acquittal process, as well as any other requested reporting.
The acquittal process isn’t as scary as it sounds. Basically, you’ll need to show how the grant was used, detail your successes, and give the final budget breakdown. If any events were held (such as a book launch, workshop or festival), it’s great to include some photos or feedback. If you can’t get the acquittal in on time, contact the funding body immediately to request an extension.
What About Other Opportunities?
While grants are the most structured form of support, there are other opportunities that writers can apply for as well. These pop up throughout the year, and it’s good to look out for them and add them to your writing calendar.
Writing residencies are a great example, where a writer can have access to a space to just write. Often a stipend is provided by the venue to cover the writer’s daily expenses. If you can get away from work for a week or two, these are definitely worth applying for. There are also fellowships, and other subsidised opportunities.
Whether you’re hoping to work in the writing industry, or you’ve got a manuscript you’re hoping to submit, meeting professionals in the writing industry can really cement your career. It’s easy to forget that the whole industry is made of people—people who adore books and writing and words, and people who could adore you.
It’s always scary to put yourself out there, especially if you’re an introvert, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Too many people let the fear of networking stop them, and if you push past it and try, you’re already beating them. Besides, publishers and agents are looking for up-and-comers, and they want to meet you as much as you want to meet them.
Identify Who You Want to Meet
The first step is to identify who it is you’d like to meet, both generally and specifically. The idea here is to give yourself enough knowledge about the industry so that you know what the people in it actually do. You’ll be way better off if you know the difference between an acquisitions editor and a proofreader.
Are you looking for publishers? Big publishers or small publishers, or are you willing to consider both? Do you need an agent? What is your genre? What is your target audience? Who publishes what you write? Who writes what you write? Which books cater to your niche, and who worked on it? Who else might be useful to know?
If you’re not sure where to start, a recent book that has been published for a similar audience to yours, and make a map of all the people you can find who worked on it. Make sure to find a book that was first published in your region, and try reading the acknowledgements and searching for author interviews for clues.
All of these questions are relevant both for people looking to submit a manuscript, and for people hoping to work in the industry. Most professionals work in their own niche, and who might be helpful for one writer may not be helpful for another. Once you’ve figured this stuff out, you can start to think about which specific people you’d most like to meet.
Go to Writing Events
Writing conferences, festivals and events are the easiest way to meet writing professionals face-to-face. Whether they’re speaking or attending for their own professional development, they attend events like this with work in mind, and are totally prepared to meet and network with writers. Plus, the very fact you’re attending an event like this shows that you’re serious about your craft and you’re keen to learn more about the industry.
Events like this are also likely to be filled with people you haven’t even thought of networking with, like other creatives, or people who work for support organisations, or digital publishing experimenters, or publicists, or someone who might know that niche piece of knowledge you need for your manuscript. You’re also likely to meet other writers—both those who are a little further in their careers, and those who are at a similar stage to you.
So take a business card or your 30-second pitch, be polite to everyone you talk to, and listen as much as you speak. Don’t be afraid to go up to other people, because they’re all there for the same reason you are.
Look for Opportunities
If there isn’t a conference near you, there are tons of other ways to meet writing professionals and progress in your career. And don’t forget about the people with great connections who make things tick in the background, like writers centres and booksellers.
Go to writing workshops, online or in person. Follow writing support organisations online and subscribe to their email newsletters. Offer to volunteer for a support organisation or small local press. Go to the Australian Society of Authors’ literary speed dating events. Apply for programs like the ACT Writers Centre’s HARDCOPY program, and the Victorian Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. Submit to magazines with open calls for submissions, in the hopes that you might get to work with an editor. Send an email to a successful local author or a support organisation or someone with your dream internship asking for advice.
The point is do something. Reach out and make your bubble a little wider. You might not get to talk to the senior editor at Penguin Random House right away, but you could get to talk to an intern or someone who works in a small press. There are plenty of people in this industry, which is much wider than just publishers, and most of them are incredibly generous.
Reach Out Online
While nothing beats face-to-face contact, we’re incredibly lucky that we live in a world where everyone is just a click of a button away. Networking on Twitter is totally a thing, and a little online stalking can really result in a conversation or a small piece of advice with an industry professional. And even if you don’t get to talk to them personally, it might give you an insight into the kind of person they are, or what manuscripts they’re looking for.
Don’t be shy! If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at who writing organisations or literary journals are following, and then go on a train where you look at who those people are following. You can find wonderful things this way, or at least have a fun afternoon spiralling through the industry.
A Word of Warning
Remember that the writing industry, especially in Australia, is very small. This is great for many reasons—it means that the industry is accessible, and that making one good contact can open your world to lots of great contacts. But it also means that word travels quickly, and if you act unprofessionally or treat someone rudely, it may seriously affect your career.
So be generous to everyone you meet, and treat everyone politely. Even if your book is somehow guaranteed to be a bestseller, receptionists or interns or emerging writers deserve your respect—and you don’t want them telling their boss or other colleagues that you’d be difficult to work with.
The piece of advice given out most often to budding writers is “Just write!”. This is important advice; writing is a craft, and most of the time, you learn by doing. A lot of the time, your first few projects will be more like practice projects anyway, or they’ll undergo a serious overhaul before you submit them.
However, there are a couple of things you might want to do before investing a large amount of time into a project. It’s always good to be as prepared as possible, and to make sure there won’t be any unexpected obstacles once you’re underway.
Research The Publishing Process
The first thing you want to check out is how what you are writing gets published. You’re not gearing up to get it published right away, but you want to make sure that you’re not going to pour months of effort into something, only to find that you haven’t followed industry protocol.
If you are writing a fiction novel, then yes, most of the time it’s best to write the whole thing before even thinking about approaching anyone. Once you’ve written the full manuscript, typically you’ll get feedback from writing friends, an editor or a mansucript assessment, you’ll rewrite and edit for a while, and then you’ll submit.
However, if it’s a different kind of form, there could be a different process. Nonfiction books, in particular, are often sold via book proposal, as publishers like to have input into the manuscript as it’s being developed. You will need to write sample chapters and a brief, but you won’t necessarily need to write the whole thing. Memoir can be an exception to this rule, as many publishers like it to be treated like a fiction manuscript, but not always.
Often articles and short stories are pitched to publications, though it is possible to submit them once they’ve been written. Entering competitions are also a great option for shorter works (and occasionally longer ones).
Check For Any Legal Issues
For most people, this isn’t something that you need to think about. But just in case, it’s good to go into your project aware of any risks. Things you might need to double check include:
- Using real people, especially if they might be offended by your depiction of them or if anything you’re saying is untrue.
- Anything from another piece of pop culture, including characters, plots, settings (such as fantasy worlds–don’t worry if it’s a real place!) or anything else that is identifiable, especially if it’s not in the public domain.
- Including any and all quotes or other copyrighted material, including poetry, song lyrics, lines from books, and scripts. Again, this is one is especially important to look for if the source isn’t in the public domain.
- Any information, even if true, that you’re not supposed to disclose for legal reasons, especially if you’ve signed a nondisclosure agreement or if it’s from a place you’ve worked.
- Anything else you’re unsure about.
Most of the time referencing things like this will be okay, but it really depends how you do it. Of course, we can’t give you legal advice, but ArtsLaw have lots of great information on their site as well as a free legal advice service. You can also contact other writing support organisations.
Understand Your Publishing Rights
Another thing to be aware of is that if you post your writing online, you’ve given away your first publication rights. Basically, if you sell a manuscript or article to a publisher, most of the time they’ll pay for the rights to publish your manuscript for the first time. If it’s already been out there for free (such as on the internet) or for money (if you’ve self-published it), you’ll have already used these rights.
This doesn’t mean you’ve given away the rights to your writing, and no one else can sell or publish your writing without your permission. It does mean that it might make it a bit harder to sell your work to a publisher, even if you end up reworking the piece later.
This isn’t always a bad thing–lots of people have earned publishing deals through gaining a following by posting their writing online or self-publishing it. What is important is making sure you have all the knowledge you need to make a decision. You should also read the terms and conditions of any sites you upload your work to, to make sure they include anything that might
Of course, especially when you’re first starting out, this might not even matter to you. Places where you can post your work online for feedback can be really helpful as you’re learning your craft, so don’t feel pressured to save your work for publication.
Decide if You Want to Join Social Media
This one’s a bit more fun than the others on this list, but most publishers will really appreciate if you get on social media sooner rather than later. There are lots of writing communities online, and plenty of places to make friends and network. Joining now gives you time to experiment with the platforms and share the writing experience with the internet.
Take some time to look at the different platforms, and see where you might fit. For interaction and networking, writers might like Twitter as both a social and networking tool, and there are tons of tools and hashtags for writers. If Twitter’s not your thing, check out Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, or any others—more are popping up all the time.
Of course, if social media’s just not for you, that’s totally fine! It’s way more important that you work on the writing part, and now that you’ve checked off all the things on this list, you should feel totally free to go ahead and do just that.
Every successful writer thinks they’ve got this writing thing down and that they’re right about everything. And that’s true—for them. But writing is an art, like painting or sculpture, and you can use words to make all sorts of things in all sorts of ways. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read writing advice, but take it all with a grain of salt and do your thing.
That being said, these are the top five bits of writing advice on the internet, and what they actually mean.
Everything (And Everyone) Sucks at First
Especially when you’re starting out, it’s so easy to think that you’re the worst writer to ever have existed. But that’s totally not true. Writing isn’t just an art: writing is a craft, and like every other craft, it needs to be honed. Listen to Ira Glass on creativity if you’re ever feeling unsure about your skills.
And not only that—almost every writer’s drafts need a lot of work, and remember that most of the books you read have been professionally edited. Remember those guides on how to draw where you start with sketching a bunch of circles? Your first draft is basically those circles—and once you’ve got the first bit down, you can go back in and bring it to life.
Show, Don’t Tell
This is one of those pieces of advice that’s easy to give without explaining what it means. Basically, it means use hints in your description, dialogue or voice to indicate things to the reader without outright telling them. Obvious examples would include giving a character wrinkles on his face rather than stating that he’s old, or getting him to look at his watch five times to show he’s running late.
The essence of this is to trust your readers, and assume they are intelligent enough to pick up on the little things. You can also put symbolism and metaphor and hidden meanings into this piece of advice. Think of your favourite pieces of literature and the symbolism and underlying themes within it; though some readers may miss all of the details in your writing, there will definitely be those that notice all the layers.
Of course, this isn’t something you need to worry about too much in the writing stage—you can always add these details in while you’re editing.
Read. A Lot.
Reading is the most important thing a writer can do! As John Green says, it’s the only apprenticeship we have; we learn by seeing what other writers do and how. Of course, classic literature and books on writing are certainly useful for improving your skills, but they aren’t the only things you should be reading.
It’s important to read widely in your genre, so you can have an understanding of your market and of reader expectations. But it’s also important to read widely and voraciously, and for different reasons. Contrast slow-paced literature with a thriller to learn about the effects of pacing. Pick up a romance to study the bonds between characters, or the latest bestseller to see why it appeals to its audience.
Use Active Voice Over Passive Voice
Here comes the creative writing jargon that isn’t necessarily easy to immediately understand. Active voice is when the thing it is about does something (e.g. ‘he threw the ball’), while passive is when something is done to the thing (e.g. ‘the ball was thrown’). Using the active voice is usually recommended because it puts the character—and the reader—right in the middle of the action. Stuff is happening to them, rather than around them.
However in the right place, with the right narration, the passive voice can be used pretty powerfully too. This is one of those cases where you should take a step back during the editing stage and judge each use on it’s own merits.
Using Adjectives/Adverbs/Exclamations is the Road to Hell
The creative writing world is full of people who have opinions about different tools and types of language. Of course, there’s a grain of truth in each of these opinions, but keep in mind the context. Each of these people write in a certain style for a particular audience in their own genre—what they think may not be what works for you.
Almost everything you can put in a sentence can be used in a less-than-powerful way. Don’t worry too much about the doom-declaring naysayers. Again, forget about this while you’re drafting. Once you’re in the editing stage, you can look closely at each sentence and decide what works best in each place.
Querying a publisher or agent is never an easy task and it’s important to get all the essential bits right, including the synopsis. Your synopsis is your chance to sell your novel as a complete story, and when most publishers only request the first few chapters with unsolicited submissions, a great synopsis can convince a publisher to request the rest of your manuscript.
Of course, writing a synopsis is a totally different mindset to writing a novel. It’s strategic rather than creative, and you need to include certain pieces of information so that the reader has a clear idea of your manuscript.
What’s it for?
The first thing to consider when crafting a synopsis is the purpose of the thing. Most of the time, you’ll be trying to sell your work to a publisher that may or may not have read your query letter or sample chapters. You want to convince the editor that you can carry the story through to the end, and that you have a clear sense of the manuscript as a whole.
Usually when submitting you send in a query letter and sample chapters as well as the synopsis. The purpose of the query letter is to sell your manuscript to the publisher, and include the details including target audience, genre, wordcount, your bio, etc. Your sample chapters give the publisher an idea of your writing style and the pacing of the novel. Your synopsis is there to do the rest—convince the publisher that you can do this thing all the way through.
Now, it’s a totally different thing if an editor or manuscript assessor has requested a synopsis. Here, describe your vision for the novel, so that they can understand what you’re going for when reading your work. It’s important to spend some time on this—if they misunderstand what you want, they may make suggestions that aren’t relevant or helpful.
A synopsis is a 1-2 page (500-800 words is a good guide) description of the major events in your novel. It’s designed for a publisher to be able to see the structure of your manuscript as a whole, so that they can determine whether it is appropriate for them to asking to read the full manuscript.
This should be easy and fun to read (i.e. not a laundry list). Make it as legible as possible. Use paragraph breaks, and if it makes it easier to read, capitalise the names of each character as you mention them for the first time.
Unlike your query letter, this doesn’t need to change from publisher to publisher—a good synopsis gives a clear idea of the manuscript, and as long as you’re submitting the same manuscript, you shouldn’t need to personalise it too much.
- The plot: Your primary job is to list the major plot points and events, including the ending, to give the editor a sense of the structure of the book. If you have a defined structure (such as a three-act structure), your synopsis should reflect that.
- The characters: Mention each character by name as they appear in the plot. For major characters, include their goals and motivations.
- The setting: Explain the parts about your setting that are important to the plot. The reader should have some idea of where the book is set, but you don’t need to include all the details.
- The writing: Make the synopsis easy to read, and match the tone to the tone of the manuscript.
Dos and Don’ts
- Do finish the book before writing your synopsis. Especially if you’re writing fiction, you’ll generally need to finish the book before submitting. Besides, you don’t know if major plot points or structural bits will change if you don’t have a polished manuscript.
- Do take time to write your synopsis, and to edit it. Great synopses are very rarely written in the first go, and you really want to get this part of your submission right. If you can, get writing buddies or other networks to read over your synopsis before using it.
- Do search for example synopses online to get a feel for the structure.
- Don’t include a cast list, or every character in the book. If a character is central to the story, they should make it here—and if they don’t, you should consider their relevance to your novel.
- Don’t include all of the details of your worldbuilding or setting. If there are key plot elements related to your setting, mention them, but don’t waste room describing your world and forget to tell your story.
- Don’t be ambiguous. Clearly outline all of the major events in the novel, including the ending—and if the ending is intended to be ambiguous, say so!
There’s no shortage of apps and programs on the internet to run every aspect of your writing career, from social media to productivity to organising research to cataloguing the books you’ve read. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all these sparkly tools, and totally forget that your writing needs attention too.
So we scavenged for the best tools to improve what actually matters: your writing. All of the below tools are free or have a free version, because we don’t think writing should be restricted to those who can afford fancy tools.
While this app won’t touch your words or sentences, it will get you to write every day! Writing is a craft and a skill, and you can’t get better at it if you don’t do it. This app focuses on building habits so you can live the life that you want to.
Set yourself a goal and then check off each day as you meet it to build pretty graphs. It’s up to you whether you want to set goals in time-specific (e.g. write for 30 minutes every day) or task-specific (e.g. write two pages a day) formats. Before long, writing every day will be so natural that the graphs won’t matter so much any more.
This app is super flexible as well. If you’ve got the writing-every-day thing down, but you struggle to do other tasks, this can help you keep track. Other writing-related tasks you could track would include working on a specific project, editing your work, reading or studying.
One of the most exciting things about writing is coming up with lots of ideas, and starting to link them together to form a story. Good mindmapping software can really help you get your ideas out of your head, and fit them together in a way that makes sense.
There are countless mindmapping tools out there, but this is an old open-source favourite. It’s easy to use, scalable for bigger projects, and of course, it’s totally free to download.
It’s also a good idea to go back and re-mindmap your plot and characters during the editing process. This can be a great way to check continuity, and making sure that no characters or plot points disappear.
If you’re looking for feedback on your writing and connect with other writers, online writing and feedback communities like The Writers Bloc and The Pen Factor work to provide just that. By reviewing the work of other writers, you earn feedback on yours. These resources are great, especially if you’re just starting out and experimenting with your writing.
Of course, there are other sites where you can share your writing like Wattpad or on a blog, but these sites are specifically engineered to get you feedback and connect you with other writers. On other sites, you may receive opinions from readers, but not measured critique. You can also report reviews that aren’t helpful to the site.
Do be careful, though—some publishers and publications may not want work that’s already been posted online for free. If you’re working on something you’d like to submit, it might be best to keep that specific piece offline.
Once you’ve written a thing, this tool is great for editing your work—especially if your chosen style is clear and concise, like Hemingway himself. Hemingway is an app that highlights all the bits you might want to eliminate, including adverbs, lengthy sentences, passive voice, and complicated words.
Of course, this might not be the style you’re going for. Plenty of authors write wonderful books with lyrical prose and long sentences galore; this app makes sure that all of those choices are deliberate. We also wouldn’t recommend writing inside of this app, especially if you struggle to turn off your inner editor.
Another great tool for the editing process, this is a free online PDF editor that will let you annotate, highlight, white-out, and add images and links to your manuscript. All you need to do is save your writing as a PDF, and upload it to the site.
The key here is to look at the manuscript in a different way—consider changing the font or colour of the text, or read it in a different order. Making the writing look different will help you to see it in a fresh way, and pick up on mistakes you may have otherwise missed.
Of course, some writers may prefer editing via pen and paper, but this is a good option for those that like to keep it digital. Whether you’re going through your own work, or adding notes to a critique partner’s writing, this is a great tool for working “on top” of your document.
Submitting to magazines can be a great career move for any writer—you can get paid for your work, build a publication history, and it’s just a great confidence boost to see your name in print. Earlier, we posted a list of 10 Australian magazines you can submit to for pay, and today we’re following up with 10 more.
Since 1979, Going Down Swinging has been fostering a community of writers and artists around stories worth sharing. They host live events, publish print and audio anthologies, and regularly publish content both online and in their journal. Their recent issues have been published in app form, which has allowed them to be open to more experimental content, including animation, interactive text and short films.
Forms: Fiction, nonfiction, essays, poetry, photo essays, art spreads.
An online feminist literature and arts journal, this publication has a bit of everything. From live events to fellowships to a podcast in the works, it’s been upping its game since it started in 2014. This publication was built purely on passion, and as such, the amount they pay their contributors may fluctuate—but they always pay something.
Forms: Book reviews, poetry.
Australian Book Review is an independent nonprofit and a bimonthly magazine, and while they are selective, they are totally open to new reviewers. They pay every writer they publish—whether that’s in print or online—and they also publish poetry.
Forms: Art works, prose, poetry, non-fiction, essays, blog posts.
Peril publishes diverse art from diverse people, as long as it has a relationship with issues of Asian-Australian interest. They prioritise submissions from Asian-Australians and other diverse backgrounds, but they’re open to art from all people. This is an online publication which has been around for 10 years—and thanks to generous funding bodies, they pay all contributors.
Forms: Essays, creative nonfiction, short stories, reviews, poetry.
This is one of Australia’s oldest literary journals, and it’s highly respected. Each issue has a theme, and submissions are open for several themes at a time. Southerly accepts many different types of submissions, which makes it a great suggestion for almost any kind of writer, but read a back issue or two to grasp the tone of the journal before submitting.
Forms: Poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction.
If you like your journals a little less structured, take a look at this one. There is no thematic focus, and it’s published as an ebook rather than a physical magazine. This journal commits to publish a diverse range of voices, and pays everyone they publish.
Forms: Nonfiction, fiction, poetry, reviews, criticism.
It’s always lovely to see exciting, new publications, and Antic is one of these. Its first issue isn’t even out yet, but it’s a literary journal dedicated to supporting Australian (and international) writers. Keep an eye on this one.
Forms: Articles, poetry, book reviews, short fiction.
Frequency: 10 times a year.
Ideas and debate are the heart of Quadrant, which is a publication based on essays, literature, poetry, and political and historical discussion. They’ve got both an online section and a print magazine, and both are full of intellectual and interesting content.
Forms: Nonfiction articles on fashion and lifestyle.
Peppermint‘s tagline is ‘Style, sustainability, substance’. They’re eco friendly, and cover fashion, lifestyle and creativity. Many of their articles are commissioned, but they still readily accept submissions in the forms of pitches and complete articles.
Forms: Essays, memoir, reportage, short fiction, poetry, visual essays.
Published by Griffith University, Griffith Review prides itself on being the first publication for many successful writers, and encourages writers at all levels to submit. The journal itself likes to intelligently analyse current events, anticipate upcoming trends, and deliver insight into what matters most.
Forms: Fiction, poetry, column, culture, memoir, review, art.
Feminist friendly and weird in the best way, Scum Mag publishes new writing several times a week. With alumni including Oliver Mol, Patrick Lenton, Krissy Kneen and Zoya Patel (founder of the aforementioned Feminartsy), this is a favourite of many in the writing industry.
Writing workshops are the easiest place to find likeminded writers, to get catered feedback in the areas of writing you love, and to meet industry professionals. They’re a great opportunity to dig deeper in your craft, your career and your passion, and they’re almost always a great source of encouragement and joy.
As someone who works in an organisation that runs tons of these, I’ve been to a bunch. Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but I’ve had a specific take-away from each one, and I’ve always felt that they were worth the cost.
If you’d like to join a workshop but aren’t sure where to start, contact your state writers centre to see if they have any that you might be interested in. If you let them know what you love writing, they might even have some other opportunities to share with you as well.
Take Notes—But Not Too Many
Part of going to a workshop is being inundated with loads of information, and to get your money’s worth, you really do need to take notes that you can go over later. But there is the danger of taking too many notes, retreating into your laptop or notebook, and missing the things the tutor and the people around you are saying.
When you get into the workshop, take a look at any handouts you’re given. How detailed are they? If the tutor has a presentation, is what they’re saying on the presentation in the notes? How much of what the tutor is saying do you need to write down, and how much is common sense or anecdotal?
A strategy I like to use is writing short, snappy notes while the tutor is talking, and then spending 5 or 10 minutes on my break writing a short summary. That way I can be fully engaged with what the tutor is saying, and writing the summary helps me to retain the memories for longer.
Ask Questions & NETWORK WITH THE TUTOR
When going to a workshop, remember that the tutor is an industry professional, and they very well could give you the piece of information that takes your writing or your career to the next level. Of course, this won’t necessarily happen at every workshop, but it is a possibility as long as you’re generous, open and willing to seize the opportunity.
Writing workshops are a rare chance to dissect an industry professional’s brain, so you should! Ask questions and engage with the content. Don’t handicap yourself by being too afraid to ask questions or talk to the tutor. Workshop tutors teach because they love sharing their knowledge and resources with other writers.
Some questions, of course, might be more appropriate to ask the tutor during a break or shortly after the course. It’s never great for the other participants if one person takes up a workshop with personalised questions about their career. Don’t make it awkward for the tutor to leave, but feel free to give them some personal details about what you’re working on and ask for advice. You’ll get bonus points (and better advice) if it’s clear you’ve done some research beforehand.
Talk to Other Writers & Share Your Work
You’re in a room bursting with other writers and creatives—talk to them! It is totally fine to ask for someone’s email address, or suggest that everyone in the group join an email list. People go to writing courses to meet people who love writing the same stuff that they do, so put yourself out there.
Sharing your work is always terrifying, but it’s the best way to get immediate feedback on your work. The tutor is likely to give you some encouragement or suggestion, and you’re way more likely to actually improve your skills if you’re willing to take that on. And the other people in the room likely have some great feedback for you too!
If you’re not sure how to find writing friends, this might be it. Remember that everyone else in the room is serious enough about their writing to pay to attend the course, and they’re probably writing in the same genre or style that you’re interested in. If you don’t quite find what you’re looking for, contact the organisation running the course to see if they know of any local writing groups that might suit you.
Set a Goal & Action it Within 24 Hours
Before you leave the workshop, set yourself a quantifiable goal to practice what you have learned. Make it measurable, realistic and tangible, and write down exactly what you want to do. You might have an idea of this goal going into the workshop, but the content of the workshop may influence what it ends up being.
Your mission is then to take the first step towards this goal within the next 24 hours. The motivation is always the strongest closest to the workshop, when the knowledge is still fresh. Workshops are some of the most encouraging things you can do as a writer, and the most empowering, but they’re not worth the money if you don’t use what you’ve learned to improve your skills and habits as a writer.