Keep on writing ...

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2011, 12:00am

On March 12, four Young Post Junior Reporters met Australian writer Aleesah Darlison at the 'I Want to be a Writer' talk organised by the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.


Darlison - the author of Totally Twins series - offered an insider's knowledge on book publishing. She talked about the industry, how to prepare submissions, how manuscripts are assessed and much more.


Here, the four aspiring writers share what they learned from Darlison.


Fong Hui-yi The first step is to decide what you want to write, Aleesah said. Joining a writers' group or writing competitions, and attending workshops or courses can help you to get feedback as well as enhance your writing skills.


Most of all, it is important to expand your social network, because every opportunity counts. Don't be afraid of rejections - the more you are rejected, the more you improve. And eventually your work will be accepted.


Like Aleesah says: 'If you think like an author, act like an author, sure enough you will be an author.' A writer needs to work hard and persevere. And no matter what, just keep on writing.


Minal Daswani


Aleesah talked about what it takes to become a published writer. She suggested that we should join a writers' group or attend writing courses and workshops to improve our writing skills. She also said we should take part in writing competitions and send our work to newspapers and magazines to gain recognition.


Dhruv Singh


Getting your work published is not easy, Aleesah said. But, no matter how many times you are rejected, you should never quit. Who knows, you could be another J.K. Rowling!


Before writing a book, you should read other novels, especially those that deal with the topic you have chosen. You should know your audience, their age group and the word count of your novel. You should also observe the techniques used by other writers. Alternatively, you can stick to your own style.


Get an honest opinion about your writing from a reliable person.


Some writing competitions offer prize money and your submission may even get published.


Another important consideration is the budget. You should determine how much you want to spend on writing courses, entry fees for competitions and business cards.


Your image as a writer is important. You should have an online presence, such as a website or a Facebook fan page.


Always submit your work along with a cover letter. Keep it short and simple. Don't lose heart if your work is rejected.


Be patient and persistent. Keep writing and never give up.


Sophie Cheung


Aleesah, an author of picture books and novels, used to work in corporate marketing and write in her spare time. She kept submitting her writing to publishers and got more than 400 rejections. Eventually, her work was published.


She says being an author is like running a business - you have to be multi-skilled. You have to play the roles of a creator, salesman, designer and public speaker. Once a topic is chosen, you should join a writers' group to get as much feedback as possible.


You should continue to read books on the same topic, opting for modern rather than classic literature. You could also look up other authors' blogs, and jot down notes. You could even start your own blog or website.


Consider sending short stories to overseas magazines if the local readership is too small. Agree to do readings for free to gain extra exposure.


Set up a budget for items such as stationery, printing and postage. Keep a record of income and expenditure and review your position after one year.


In addition to receiving royalties from her books, Aleesah said she gets paid to read and review books.