This year a number of WA libraries linked up to celebrate National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). They put together the Write Along The Highway Festival (WATH), which provided the public with free access to a wide variety of interesting and challenging writing events from October through December.

As part of the festival, the Writers and Self-Publishing Expo yesterday focused on providing aspiring writers with access to information on editors, typesetters, illustrators and various pathways to self-publishing. There were a number of industry-appropriate stalls, with vendors both selling their wares and ready and willing to discuss their part in the publishing process with anyone who stopped by to ask a question.

Each attendee was presented with a little goodie bag that included various brochures, an A5 exercise book, a ballpoint pen and (oddly enough) two balloons. The balloons made me smile – and I’m sure I’ll inflate them at some point or give them to someone – but I was delighted with the notebook and pen, with the idea that everyone was being tacitly encouraged to write.

The highlight of the day was the opening address by well-known local author Rosanne Dingli. She started out by shuffling her notes, making a few opening remarks and then popping her on glasses, peering down at her notes and exclaiming, “Oh… words!”, much to everyone’s amusement. Intentional or otherwise, it served as a very effective icebreaker.

Rosanne went on to present an informative and entertaining account of her writing and publication journey. Although initially published at a time when conventional publishing was considered de rigeur, she took to the idea of self-publishing with a will once it became a viable option in 2009. Rosanne said that she revels in the notion of authors being increasingly able to jump the barriers to publication and take their stories directly to the readers. “It provides a bonanza, an extravaganza of books for readers!”

There are a number of key issues relating to self-publishing, but what it all boils down to is to have a story, edit it well, provide an accessible book layout and invest an attractive cover. Rosanne’s take home message was to write – often and enthusiastically. Then to edit and edit again, polishing the work before getting some beta readers to provide feedback. At this stage, she said, if you haven’t already done so then it’s high time to learn about cover design, typesetting and the various e-book options. If you can’t or don’t want to do these things, then you’ll need to employ someone to do them for you. Finally, re-edit and publish.

After that it’s a matter of promote-promote-promote in order to get, nurture and grow a reading audience. Rosanne emphasised that this is where the Internet shows it’s worth, providing worldwide access to a pool of readers. Make social media your friend, she said, review books, invite reviews, be interactive – it’s all about visibility.

It was a pleasure to chat with Rosanne at her stall later on. She was very generous with her time, answering numerous questions (comprehensively and clearly) from all comers whilst simultaneously promoting and selling her books. Amusingly enough, when asked how she can do it all – the public speaking, self promotion and selling as well as the writing, editing, typesetting and so on – she said that the public part of it is something that she dons like a cloak to disguise the fact that she’s actually an introvert. All I can say is that it’s an excellent cloaking device and that I need to get one of those!

Overall, I’ve been very impressed with the level of organisation at each of the events I’ve attended and interested to see how diverse the participant/audience groups have been. I look forward to hearing what indie-author H.Y. Hanna has to say on the subject of author marketing and promotion next weekend.

I love these free writers events! I’ve met some fascinating people, gained valuable insights and feel invigorated to be part of a larger writing network. If you haven’t been to any of the Write Along the Highway events so far, don’t stress – there’s still time to attend at least one.



2 thoughts on “Writing along the Highway

  1. Thank you for this very accurate and entertaining account, Nik. I am so very glad you enjoyed the afternoon, which was well-organized and very well attended.

  2. *grins* Time to attend four more! 🙂 Three more workshops this week and then our final family-friendly TGIO (Thank Goodness It’s Over) BBQ next week. 🙂

    Thanks so much for such a wonderful write up, Nik. I’m so glad you enjoyed the expo. It sounds like you got a lot out of it. Rosanne really is brilliant, and such an inspiration. The response from the community has been wonderful too. I hope those notebooks and pens are put to serious use in the months ahead. Write on!

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