A Day in the life of… a publisher

Today I was feeling a tad overwhelmed. Despite being a publisher for ten years, my first love is writing, and this means I am easily distracted. It is the process of creation I enjoy, rather than the necessity of maintenance!

The antidote to this antipathy: I wrote a list. (If you were curious, even if only for a second, as to what happens in a publisher’s day – well, here it is, on a platter.)

Emma Mactaggart / General Business

  • Email – yes, okay to use quote of mine for a book.
  • Rework PDF file to a word document to use in an autocue for an online workshop.
  • Newsletter for Child Writes – writing story / curating images.
  • Let web guy know newsletter ready for final construction and release.
  • Banking cheques! Doesn’t happen often!
  • Ring computer guy – can’t find files nor dropbox nor get printer working!


  • Process overnight orders for books.
  • Queensland Writers Centre initative – Books from Our Backyard – need to register all QLD writers published in 2015 by Boogie Books.
  • Liaise with the Freight Forwarder / Customs – two titles (Four Hot Chips / Mitten the Kitten) have landed in the country and are being unpacked at wharf in Brisbane!
  • Print orders for those two titles in anticipation of postage / handling on the weekend.
  • Book television interview with Ch7 re: Four Hot Chips
  • Contact: local radio / newspaper re: Four Hot Chips
  • Rebuilding titles for Stuck on You to generate Colouring In Books (cute!) – involves contacting author from 2006, rescanning images!
  • Amazon Sales report to bookkeeper
  • Putting stickers (Gold Moonbeam / Gold IPPY) on box of Imagine
  • Need to share Gold Moonbeam win with Queensland Writes Centre and Northern Rivers Writers Centre for Member’s News.
  • Dash to Post Office – illustrations for reimagined version of Lily Fabourama, Glamourama ready to be picked up!
  • Remember to pick up box of envelopes from Post Office (but only after I had driven home – had to go back again!)
  • Promotional Poster for 2014 CW Competition Winners for their own book sales signing days at independent bookstores.

Child Writes Program

  • Long list winners for the 2015 Child Writes Competition – generate certificates / send with prize.
  • All entrants – participation certificate for 2015 Child Writes Competition
  • Thank You emails for participants in 2015 St Anthony’s book launch.
  • Certificate to Peter Rookas for 10 years support of Child Writes
  • Legal Deposit – 2015 CW authors books to National Library of Australia and Queensland State Library.
  • Invoices generated for extra book orders from Child Writes 2015 authors


  • First round edit for author from Eisdvold (Child Writes 2011) with her second story!

Suffice it to say, I was a blithering mess by the end of it all, though deeply satisfied, as each of those notes above had a lovely TICK beside them. Not every day is as productive, yet everyday involves a huge range of tasks and challenges.

Now, where is my notebook, I just thought of an idea for a story…




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FIVE TOP TIPS from Inside the Publishing House

At the end of October I attended the Emerging Writers Festival event ‘Inside the publishing house’ at Hachette, Sydney. It was the week of Halloween and they had cool decorations and a table full of lollies!
hachette halloween 2

But even more importantly, we all got something to take away – and I’m not talking about the free book on everyone’s seat (I got one of the books in the photo – Favel Parrett’s When The Night Comes) but the generous people at Hachette (and their authors) gave all of us emerging writers practical advice to apply to our own publishing journey. I have condensed the take home messages to five top hints that struck me most:

  1. Know and support your industry – LIVE kids books – work in a bookshop, review, buy kids books. Robert Watkins said “It’s offensive to think you will earn a salary from an industry you do not support.” – buy and read Australian books. The publishing industry in Australia is passionate about supporting Aussie talent and sharing Aussie voices – they want to see that you are too. Having worked in a bookshop is POWERFUL point on your resume.
  1. Refine your craft – belong to a critique group – don’t submit until at least 2-3 Independent (ie NOT family and friends) people have given feedback – If you can’t handle supportive critique in this forum, you won’t handle the publishing process.
  1. Write widely, submit everywhere – “cream rises to the top” you will get noticed.
  1. Be brave, be bold, be tenacious (and patient) on your publishing pathway. 
  1. The manuscript is only a part of the story – it may grab the publisher’s attention and they will champion it, but for it to be accepted the entire company needs to see potential ie they need to be convinced that they can market the book – that there is a hook to connect the book with buyers and an author that can engage with readers.

hachette halloween 1

I am working on a detailed article on “How to get your work read by publishers” based on the panel discussions from this event at Hachette which will be published in  Buzz Words magazine on the 15th of February – so keep your eye out for it!

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Filed under Debra Tidball, Publishing Tips, Writing Tips

Five totally awesome things to include when writing your story

  1. Theme – children’s picture books have one strong theme. This is one insight or concept or viewpoint. Keep it positive, especially if a social problem as you want your reader to know how to deal with it.
  2. Plot – conflict involving the main character. This conflict can be internal or external and it needs to be resolved. The character learns through the process. (The lesson learnt is the theme!) Make sure there are events and action, not internal musings.
  3. Story structure – jump right in! Start later than you meant to and finish promptly. Keep it simple and avoid flashbacks. Are there a number of scenes? Is it told in the first person or the third person? Does it have a single point of view? Time – is it past or present?
  4. Character – someone the reader identifies with. Top age of the intended readership. Have one telling detail as an identifier.
  5. Style and tone – simple, direct, avoiding chunks of narration. If younger audience, embrace poetic devices (rhythm, repetition, alliteration) Don’t be cute, sweet, sentimental or condescending.

Kate receiving 'The Lost Calf' (1) copy

The magic from children’s picture books is fully realised when you read them aloud. You will certainly instinctively find that anything is missing from your story if you do so!

Now go and write – and read…




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Just Write For Kids has Moved!!

Jwfk pic labeled

Dear Valued Subscribers,  

Thank you for joining the Just Write For Kids Blog! Your loyalty and interest in our growing community is very much appreciated.  

We’ve had a successful first six months, with a wonderful line up of fascinating and insightful articles by our generous bloggers; regulars and guest posters! We’ve had author interviews, writing journey reflections, access to useful links, accounting tips, publishing tips and technical tips! What more could you ask for!  

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that our blog now has a BRAND NEW website! How exciting is that?! Nothing has changed except the title (now Just Kids Lit) – we’re still operating under the Just Write For Kids Australia brand. To be able to continue to grow and expand our literary community, we would love for you to head over and subscribe to the new site, and even tell your friends about it! And what’s more, we would love to feature you or your book event for FREE exposure, so if you have a great article on writing for children or want us to advertise your launch or other festival*, please get in contact!  

NEW! WEBSITE: www.justkidslit.com
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/justwriteforkidsaustralia
TWITTER: www.twitter.com/jwfkblog
EMAIL: justwriteforkidsblog@gmail.com

Thank you! Look forward to catching you on the other side!  

With Kind Regards,  

Romi Sharp
Founder and Director of Just Write For Kids Australia  

* Please download and read the conditions here.

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Where DO ideas come from? Tips for kids…

Emma Mactaggart Ideas

And tips for adults searching for their inner child!

‘I just can’t think of a good idea…’

I want to tell you right now, you have thousands of ideas already in your head and it just a matter of letting them land on the piece of paper in front of you!

You are looking at me, pleading for help! It is so tricky to come up with an idea on demand, on the spot, when there are so many other fun things to think of.

Well, actually – write down those fun things. Answer the question – what do you want to do this weekend if you are allowed to do ANYTHING!

  1. You are sitting there, chewing the tip of your pencil! All you can think about was the very funny thing your friend said at lunchtime.

Right! Write down that funny thing! Fill in what happened before and what happened afterwards.

  1. You are so distracted. The boys beside you in the classroom said some really mean words and you feel like crying.

OK – so write it down. Now describe those boys (make them smelly animals!) and describe what happened afterwards when you told them to be nice!

  1. Your teachers says, ‘Hello? Are you here?’ because you are so distracted you have missed the school bell ringing and the classroom is empty!

Grab your pen – write down that daydream – quickly, now, before you forget what distracted you in the first place.

  1. Finally, you were getting ready for sport on Saturday and you felt that funny feeling in your tummy, nervousness! You had a flash, a great idea of how you were going to deal with it…

Yes, you are onto this now – WRITE IT DOWN.

Every experience you have, good or bad, can be the base ingredient for a story. And the only difference between a story and a flash of an idea – it is written down.

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My best, worst feedback.

I am a writer. I love writing. Am I any good? I don’t know.

When I began writing I craved feedback. I wanted to find out whether my writing was good enough to go the next step or an enjoyable past time.

I attended a Writer’s Workshop in Port Hedland hoping no-one I knew attended.  The presenter, the lovely, talented Marlish Glorie, (author of Sea Dog Hotel and The Bookshop on Jacaranda Street), saw potential. It was the confidence I needed to continue my writing for others. I submitted my first Picture Book manuscript to Kids Book Review competition and waited.

The email came back, I wasn’t a winner but the feedback was good, better than I expected. The assessor even wrote LOVED in capital letters.


This was it, I am a writer, I am going to write. I wrote articles to magazines, wrote about electrical goods, submitted to any competition I could find, joined many online writing networks as a regular contributor, began a Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and Pinterest. I wrote about anything and everything, no focus, no goal I just wrote.

A year later I submitted again to Kids Book Review, if I received 38.5 out of 50 last time then surely with all the writing I had been doing I would have improved. I neglected to think about the manuscript I had sent in didn’t have the year of passion, commitment and thought placed into it like the previous year’s.

This is when my reality check came in. After again the waiting, the feedback was ready. I felt like I had received a big, fat, red cross. Of course, the assessors at Kids Book Review did not put a cross on the page, but the feedback was honest, accurate and the worst I had received.


I thought long and hard. It was my wake up call.

I learnt to be a writer you need to be, focussed, passionate, committed, thick skinned, and proud.

I became focussed, I spent a lot of time deciding why I wanted to write and what I wanted to achieve from my writing. I only kept writing networks which met my goal and personality.

I stay committed to my writing goal, not allowing myself to be side-tracked by online writing opportunities.

I have become thick-skinned (well sort of) I found an editor who was honest and whom I respected. I continually research, learn and write to improve my skills.

I have pride in my work, knowing that whenever I publish anything, even the 140 characters on twitter, it is to the best of my current ability.

Am I a good writer? Who really knows.

Am I a passionate writer with a clear focus on my goal, ‘Developing children’s reading and writing skills, through stages not ages?’ Yes.

Have you ever received feedback which made you stop and think? Feel free to share below, the good the bad and the brutal.




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Filed under Jenny Graham, Writing Tips

Super Easy Image Attribution for flickr

Blog posts and images are a match made in heaven. While it’s easiest to use your own photos, most times I find I don’t have a photo to suit.

There are numerous websites with images a blogger can use for free provided they meet any specified attribution requirements. This blog post is not about finding those sites. A quick Google will identify pages of posts listing and ranking image sites. If you’re looking for that you could try these lists from the buffer blog and Canva.

flickr3This post is about my favourite site. I have three sites I use regularly – flickr, Pixabay and FreeImages. The latter two frustrate me more often than not because while I might find a suitable image, the best image, the one I would much rather have, is displayed to taunt me. It costs money.

While Flickr contains some copyright images a blogger can’t use, it’s easy to search by copyright restriction category. The available images are a higher standard in terms of creative composition, theme and subject compared to what I find for free on other sites. You don’t need to setup a flickr account to use the images.

There’s one more reason that makes flickr images my favourite choice. It’s an app called the cc flickr attribution helper. This is a bookmarklet developed by cogdog which will generate a Creative Commons attribution script  – as text or html – for easy cut-and-paste insertion into your blog (or document).

Here’s how it works. Once you have the bookmarklet installed (instructions follow), find the image you want to use on Flickr, remembering to search by a usable image category. For my example image, I searched the “commercial use allowed” category because I know that will give me an image with some restrictions, to best demonstrate the bookmarklet.


I feel like ice-cream tonight so I selected the above image by Rachel_S_Lee from my search results. You can see in the bottom right of the screen it has “some rights reserved” and these relate to the attribution and that you can’t derive anything from it. To create the correct attribution click the cc flickr attribution helper in the browser tray and it will generate both the html code and text.


If I copy and paste the html into my blog it will look like this:

flickr photo shared by Rachel_S_Lee under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

And if I use the text, it will look like this:

flickr photo by Rachel_S_Lee http://flickr.com/photos/leerachel/6300067541 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

If I make a mistake and select an image which is restricted, the bookmarklet will provide a message saying the image can’t be used, even with attribution.

You can install the cc flickr attribution helper bookmarklet from here on github. There are a number of options but the easiest way, and the way I did it, is to drag the bookmarklet to your browser bar. If you prefer visual instructions, this YouTube will help you. It was created by Richard Byrne who blogs at Free Technology for Teachers, one of my favourite blogs.

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Filed under Sandy Fussell, Tech Tips

A Curious Tale: Interview with Longy Han

imageLongy Han loves a bit of adventure and travel, and with her natural curiosity and imagination, she aptly developed her new book series, ‘The Curious Travels of Gusto & Gecko’. Longy’s personal journey resulted in this wondrous quest between a pair of time-travelling dinosaurs, taking on the world one city at a time. The first book, bravely crowdfunded and self-published by Longy, is ‘Gusto and Gecko Travel to Kenya’.

Crafted by Elinor Hägg, the adorable, cartoonised illustrations with their bold and vibrant earth-tones sweep the pages, immediately hooking its readers in for the wild ride ahead. A naive prehistoric dinosaur pair jet off in their Rombom travel machine and enter an unknown land. Experiencing a real sense of urgency, the story takes off when a ferocious lion charges at their heels, and they dart through the plains of the serengeti. In each scene, upon encountering other African wildlife in their natural habitats, Gusto and Gecko attempt trickery to escape the jaws of the attacking lion. But no dust, hiding places, or blending in with the wildebeest crowd fool the roaring beast, until a fortuitous camouflage disguise saves their tails. A jolly celebration and a beautiful sunset conclude their extraordinary escapade on this present Sunday afternoon.

imageConnecting with themes including teamwork and courage, ‘Gusto and Gecko’ primarily aims to broaden the minds and awareness of its young readers to our fascinating world and cultures within it. This book is humorous and suspenseful with a plethora of details to explore, including the two concealed dinosaurs and their little mice companions. Flipping the ordinary and logic on its head, Longy Han has produced a wonderfully imaginative story that will have its early primary readers longing to take this tumultuous expedition again and again.

Han Creative, September 2015.

I spoke with Longy about how her ideas hatched and the plans set on her future horizon.

Congratulations on the release of your first picture book, Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya! Can you briefly explain your publishing process?

Gusto & Gecko was made possible through crowdfunding with the help of family, friends and the wider community. Elinor, my rockstar illustrator, was discovered through an online Facebook illustration competition that I ran.   From the get go, I wanted to challenge the traditional publishing process, bend rules and engage with the end consumers. I ran an interactive campaign so I could involve the public from the beginning to the end -people got to vote on the illustration designs which directly impacted on the creative process as well as the outcome of the book. This way, the book is not just mine – it’s all of ours.

‘Gusto and Gecko’ is a fun and lively story of discovery, friendship and shenanigans in the African wilderness. Who or what inspired you to write this story? What do you hope readers will gain from reading it?

I lived in remote Kenya for a month at an orphanage teaching kids mathematics and English (at least I tried)! At the end of my trip, I felt humbled and lucky to walk away with a really valuable life lesson: it doesn’t take much to be happy and kind to others. The animals I saw on my safari trip were also majestic. So I wanted to share my travel experiences and encourage readers to explore the world!

The illustrations by Elinor Hägg are gorgeously animated and humorous. How did the collaboration come about and what was it like to work with her?

Elinor is a graphic designer based in Sweden. I have never met her in my life but I feel incredibly lucky to join forces with her. During the brainstorming and sketching phase, we would Skype on a weekly basis and email several times a day. We brainstormed on our own first and then shared our ideas. Sometimes I come up with the most crazy ideas and Elli would have to put up with me. Overall, it went so well that she has agreed to work on the second book with me (surely that is a good sign)?!

imageWhat was your favourite part of the story to create?

The second page of the book is my favourite page – I love imagining what the travel machine (the Rombom) looks like, how it moves through space and the sounds it makes. The dotted lines actually signify the movements of the Rombom so I hope the little ones will trace those lines as they read the book.

If you could be any African animal which one would you choose? Why?

A giant hippo! How awesome would it be to lie or roll around in wet mud all day? I’m also pretty clumsy so being a hippo means no one can tell if I accidently slipped in the mud or if it were a planned maneuver!

What do you love most about Kenya?

Joie de vivre in the Kenyan people, especially the kids.

What do you love most about writing for children?

Every time I pen a story, I feel liberated – like a kid again where curiosity knows no bounds, imagination runs free and absurdity is accepted, treasured and enjoyed.

imageYou are currently planning another crowdfunding campaign for your second book, Gusto & Gecko Travel to New Orleans. What can you reveal about this next title in the series?

The next book will be set in New Orleans. This year is the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and I want to, through storytelling, celebrate what a beautiful and truly fascinating city New Orleans is. After all, it is the birthplace of jazz, home to authentic Cajun and Creole cooking and breeding ground for dangerous alligators!

Gusto & Gecko’s first stop is none other than the quintessential Café du Monde, best known for its signature beignets. As Gusto devours the hot, crispy, sugar-dusted beignet, nothing will prepare them for what happens next! Will you travel with us?

What else can we look forward to from Longy Han and her adorable friends, Gusto and Gecko?

A lot more absurd and fun-filled stories about countries around the world!

Thanks so much for talking with me, Longy! 🙂

Longzhen Han also has a vision to invest in the future of our next generation by giving back to the community. She is running a ‘BOOK FOR BOOK’ promise where every purchase made via the current crowdfunding campaign will include a donated copy to a child in need. Please head to the Gusto and Gecko campaign to make a pledge. You can also find more information about Longy and her book series at her website and facebook pages.  

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Filed under Author Interviews, Book News, Book Reviews, Romi Sharp

10 tips for getting the books out of the garage!

You have already achieved the most extraordinary thing – you have written AND illustrated your own picture book. You finally have that perfect gem!

Did you know over 80% of Americans want to write a book? Did you now over 150,000 titles were added last month to Amazon? It is a challenge now to let other people know your book is ready to fall into their eager hands.

If you want to generate an income from your book, you can do these simple things to help sales:

  1. Pick which format (eBook or print) and confirm the file extension by searching your own website or the Amazon sites for your book.
  2. Copy this url LINK
  3. Determine a ‘call to action’ – for example ‘Down load your copy today’ or ‘Buy a print copy and I would love to sign it for you’ or ‘The 100th share and I will give you a copy…
  4. Share this LINK with your world, along with the image of the book cover
    • by posting it on FACEBOOK
    • emailing the LINK
    • instagram the LINK
  5. Or use your book cover as an image on a postcard and send an invitation to purchase your book to EVERYONE – the old fashioned snail mail!
  6. Make and copy a book mark, with your book cover and a ‘call to action’
  7. You geo local bookstore will often have a  ‘local author’ section! They happily stock the books on commission.
  8. Design and make your own flyer and include a headshot photo of yourself and write about you as the author – which is an awesome way to promote your books, especially if you have a number of titles! Take this everywhere you offer to read your book!
  9. For example – to the local library and offer to read the book to children in the school holidays.
  10. Or, finally, offer to read the book to the kindergarten at your children’s school – after all, this was where the whole journey possibly started!


Have fun!

Kate receiving 'The Lost Calf' (1) copy



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Filed under Emma Mactaggart, Writing Tips

The Journey Begins

Following several rides on The Giant Drop, I took a rather giddy step back. It felt as though the manuscripts I’d submitted were starting to turn on me. ‘Oh, you think we’re so good. You think you’ll be turning publishers away with all the attention we’ll bring. You think your books will be up in literary lights… think again! We’re nothing, but wish-wash! You’ll never have your name on a book if we’re all you have to offer!’

Ah, the old seed of self-doubt, angrily sprouting away. Wondrous, isn’t it?!

I needed to view the bigger picture. As difficult as it was, I decided to put those pesky manuscripts aside and start something fresh. My morale yearned for it. In early 2014, I created a character; a curious, young boy on a quest to problem-solve, using his active imagination. I had hopes of turning his adventures into a picture book series. I drafted the first story and within a few months of daily rewrites and edits, he was ready. I knew it this time. This little guy was not going turn on me!

I submitted my manuscript to Kids’ Book Review for assessment and was delighted with the feedback. My idea was unique, entertaining and picture-book-appropriate. The one thing letting it down was that I had written the story in rhyme and the meter was inconsistent in most parts. The irony of a musician failing to write rhythmically, but I later realised my struggle may be because there’s no musical accompaniment in a book! No instrumentation to fill gaps and complete phrases.

Although there were many positives to my creation, the manuscript still needed work.

A highly experienced and professional author and editor, from the KBR team, saw promise in the story idea and my approach to improving it, and offered her services to work with me. How grateful I was, to have her knowledge and expertise helping my story (and me as a writer)! I’m thankful every day, for this experience.

Seeing my story take much better shape, I decided there were to be no ‘giant drops’ with this one. I knew it shone and my editor agreed. I showed the complete manuscript to fellow creatives and they also agreed. All signs were pointing the same way, urging me to transform this story to book. Following thorough research, I decided to self-publish. A 100% guarantee that my work would see the light of day and 100% creative control over its publication. I like having control. Some say, I need it. I’m relieved and thankful that I followed those signs because it was the beginning of a long and wonderfully rewarding (and challenging!) journey.


Catch you next month for the next leg. 🙂

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Filed under Author Business, Book News, Publishing Tips, Renee Price