Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author: Hazel Edwards

imageHazel Edwards, best known for her much-loved and cherished ‘Hippo’ books, is also one of Australia’s leading and most passionate authors with over 200 books to her name. Just incredible! Writing across a range of genres for a diverse population, from picture books to chapter books and adult non-fiction, Hazel brings with her a fortune of experience that she is more than willing to bestow upon an extremely captive audience. We are so lucky that Hazel has agreed to share all her top tips for becoming a successful ‘authorpreneur’ with us here today! Thank you so much!

With your wealth of experience in the book industry, what differences have you found between traditional and self publishing?

There’s been a rise of self publishing by first-timers AND by highly experienced authors who have projects which fit niches or titles which have been orphaned by mergers and take-overs.

Self-publishing varies in quality, cost and purpose. So do the results in terms of satisfaction, income and readers.

Considered author re-publishing is not the same as ‘vanity’ ( poor quality & ripped off). Self-publishing can be appropriate for unusual subjects, niches or family history. And self publishing can be ethically done by small packagers who are NOT vanity, because they give value and distribute the book. There’s a BIG difference between a known –named author self publishing and a first-timer.

1. Realistic knowledge of the process and the roles involved.
2. Quality writing (a traditional publisher provides a sifting process & editorial support, but a first-timer has no basis of comparison. Hence, egos fall for praise of vanity publishers keen only to extract money.)
3. Distribution is the real issue, not publishing.
4. Cost: A good cover & quality editing is vital.
5. Passionately putting all your free time into the novelty of promoting your one book-baby, and professionally maintaining a large list of your own titles, longterm, is very different.
6. Reputation. And contacts with reviewers, educators, journalists, bloggers etc.
7. Difference between a ‘freebie’ hobby which you fund and a profession with income linked to effort.
8. The use of the word ‘author’ has become devalued to mean anyone who puts up something instantly on Amazon, regardless of quality. (Often with little or no financial return. Amazon needs only the content.)
9. But some ‘must-be-told’ unique stories do thrive as self publications and with today’s digital abilities, now is an easier time to do this.
10. Speed. Now much quicker to have book published and reviewed online via bloggers. But less literary expertise amongst the bloggers. Not impartial. A lot of mutual 5-starring for books not of that quality. Gush differs from evaluation.

I’ve been traditionally published since my first YA novel ‘General Store’ was accepted by Hodder & Stoughton when I was 27. Hippo was my third book. But circumstances have changed for all creators in the past ten years. I have self-published as e-books, some print popular, rights-reverted titles in order to keep them available. And centralised my discussion resources and mystery literacy series on my website. I self published ‘Hijabi Girl’ in print & e-book, because of the subject matter being rejected by many.

Now, you need to be an authorpreneur, where the author’s name is the brand and you are actively involved in publicizing your titles and you may be the publisher bankrolling the project too. In earlier time, traditional publishers provided strategic, long term support and authors felt a loyalty to their only publisher. Now each project is on a book by book basis and much depends upon sales. Professional authors may have multiple publishers and sometimes for reprints of the same title.. Marketing decides which authors will be promoted from their budget. Mid list and lesser known authors have to actively publicise even with major traditional publishers.

So authors need to multi-skill. An easily navigated website is vital. Preferably self-managed.

More on marketing… What have you found to be the most successful strategies in publicising your books?

1. Make the writing as good as possible. This leads to word of mouth recommendations which are slower but more effective longterm.
2. Apt cover & title.
3. Talks (panels, webchats, conferences) where you discuss the ‘issue’ rather than your book.
4. Website with teachers’ notes & review links. Book page for each title. Learn how to update it yourself.
5. Provide extras, like (my) classroom playscript for ‘Hijabi Girl’.
6. Twitter with wit, not ‘buy my book’. Use of hashtags.
7. Learn social media to upload photos etc but DON’T flood with the same title.
image8. ReadAuthorpreneurship; The Business of Creativity’ which I wrote as my own digital apprenticeship and to share techniques from a format-challenged author.
9. Have a non-fiction ‘how to’ title which links with your fiction.
10. Do phone radio interviews rather than in-studio. Saves time.
11. Have a ‘play’ half hour and learn a new digital skill daily.

Do you have any tips for authors / illustrators on public speaking and/or running successful author visits?

Regard yourself as a small business. Charge ASA rates. Don’t undercut professionals by doing ‘freebies’.
Under media resources on my website I have a hi res author photo and bio for download. Saves lots of time.

Use your website to indicate the type of talks you offer.

Many libraries and council organisations work a year in advance.
So should you.

What incredibly valuable tips! You can never underestimate learning new skills, no matter how small. Thank you, Hazel!

Read Part 2 of this incredible interview here!

CLOSED:

***Chance to WIN!***

Have you adopted one or more of Hazel’s tips after reading this today? If so, tell us about it in the comments or on Facebook and you will be in with a chance to WIN an e-copy of Hazel’s must-read book, ‘Authorpreneurship; The Business of Creativity’!

Good luck! 😄

More on Hazel Edwards can be found at her website.

Competition details:
– Comment here or on this post on Facebook with one or more of Hazel’s strategies that you have adopted.
– Competition is a game of luck, provided the answer is relevant. Winner will be selected at random.
– Winner will receive an e-copy of ‘Authorpreneurship; The Business of Creativity’ by Hazel Edwards.
– Book copy is supplied courtesy of Hazel Edwards.
– Winner is to provide their email address to justwriteforkidsblogATgmailDOTcom within 7 days of competition close.
– Judging is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.
– Competition closes on Friday September 9, 2016 at midnight.
– This giveaway is not sponsored by Facebook or any other entity other than Hazel Edwards and Just Write For Kids.

5 thoughts on “Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author: Hazel Edwards

  1. Will seriously consider including teachers notes with my next self published book. Also love the idea of extras. Have debated about including in my first book the play the main character writes. Will now sit down and write Murder at Murgatroyd Manor.

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