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Celebrating our author clients’ publishing successes!

The team at Brisbane Self Publishing Service were delighted to host our inaugural Christmas Party and author networking event on Thursday 29 November 2018 at Site Cafe in Banyo. And what a great night it turned out to be!

Coinciding with our five year anniversary, the evening proved to be a great success with some people travelling from as far away as Maleny on the Sunshine Coast, Toogoolawah in the Brisbane Valley and Lismore in northern NSW to attend our party. Drinks and nibbles flowed, as did engaging conversations between clients and our associated service providers. Everyone was keen to exchange ideas and share personal experiences of their writing and self-publishing journey in a relaxed and informal environment.

‘Meet and Greet’ opportunity

As most of the interaction we have with our clients is by way of email or phone conversations, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet many of our authors face to face for the first time and to finally put a face to an author’s name. It was also good to be able to introduce our ‘behind the scenes’ service providers who have partnered with us to help our author clients achieve their publication goals. In addition to our core service offerings of manuscript appraisals, editing and proofreading, page layout/typesetting and book cover design, we also provide print management, ebook conversion/distribution, audiobook production, website design and book marketing advice. Not everyone has taken advantage of all of these options but it was wonderful to see everyone chatting so openly with one another about their writing and publishing experiences. It was also interesting to find out more about what prompted our clients to take the leap of faith to self-publish their manuscripts; what inspired them to write about their chosen topic; how they got started; and what they’re currently working on.

A Centralised Hub for Local Indie Authors

At Brisbane Self Publishing Service we continually strive to create a personalised and supportive experience for all our clients. So naturally it was gratifying for us to see a large group of published and yet-to-be published authors coming together and enjoying themselves at our first networking event. In addition, the positive feedback we’ve received since the party, affirms we’re on track with our objective of providing a Brisbane-based hub for indie authors with friendly, professional advice and support on offer. We love what we do and feel privileged that our clients are willing to put their trust in us to help them realise their publishing dreams.

We are looking forward to seeing many self-publishing writers at our next author networking event. Remember to keep an eye on our website ‘Events’ page for more details.

Memoir or Autobiography: Which writing genre suits your story?

 

These days, there is a lot confusion surrounding the genres of memoir and autobiography, with many authors unsure of the actual purpose of these writing styles. People will often say that they are writing their autobiography when they really mean they are writing a memoir. Despite sharing some similar features, there are fundamental differences between a publication that is defined as a memoir and one that is considered to be an autobiography.

According to well-known American author Gore Vidal: ‘Memoir is how one remembers one’s own life while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked’. So before you decide to embark on writing your life story, it is important to have an understanding of the key similarities and differences between memoirs and autobiographies.

Similarities between Memoirs and Autobiographies

Both memoirs and autobiographies are written in the first person and they are true accounts of the author’s life. The author shares personal information with readers, in this way giving their audience genuine insight into the author’s thoughts, motivations and feelings.

Differences between Memoirs and Autobiographies

Memoirs usually focus on one or two central themes and explore one particular area or timeframe of the author’s life in depth. This might include sharing their experiences of overcoming an illness, a near-death experience or some other life-altering event. Memoirs usually cover a brief period of the author’s life, focusing on stories that relate to the main theme. The author may hop back and forth between different timeframes or they may start their memoir at a random point in time, objectively revisiting an extraordinary life event.

Autobiographies, on the other hand, are usually structured chronologically; they are the story of the author’s life from birth until the time of writing. They cover a much broader time span and no one incident is considered to be more important than any other.

Memoirs are more personal than autobiographies. Memoir authors reflect on what they have learned from their experiences and share their innermost thoughts with their readers. The author may offer opinions and question their own beliefs throughout the memoir without ever reaching a definitive answer. The story in a memoir relies on the author’s memories and may not be entirely true – for example, it is not possible to recount conversations exactly as they were spoken at the time.

In contrast, autobiographies include factual material that can be verified by readers. They are often written by celebrities whose fans are interested in the details of their lives and how they became famous. In contrast, anyone who has an interesting message they wish to share with others can write a memoir.

Memoir Writing Tips

Regardless of which genre you decide on, it is important to remember that your writer’s voice must engage the reader from the very first sentence. Your personality should be conveyed through your unique author voice. In memoir writing, using a conversational style helps readers to feel you are speaking to them personally – almost as though you are confiding in them.

On the whole, memoirs have an overarching theme such as triumph over adversity where the author has experienced terrible hardship but through courage and persistence has been able to prevail and succeed. When writing a memoir it is important to convey your character flaws as well as those strengths that helped you through your ordeal to demonstrate that you are a well-rounded human being who people can relate to.

Memoirs give readers the impression that what they are reading is true as opposed to imaginary (as in fiction). Therefore, your writing must be candid or readers will disengage with the narrative. Readers can usually detect when a writer is being dishonest. This is due to the fact that there is something uneasy about the writing style which makes them wonder why they don’t believe what they are reading.

Memoir readers want to be simultaneously entertained and enlightened by the subject matter. Always keep your audience in mind and avoid meaningless details or wallowing in self-pity. Long-winded, self-indulgent narrative will cause your readers to lose interest and feel unsympathetic towards you.

There are many reasons why people want to record their personal history. Maybe it’s because they learned an important life lesson that they want to share with others. Or perhaps they want to publish a record of their life for future generations of family to enjoy. Many authors decide to write down their memories as a form of therapy. Whatever the reason, by honing your understanding of the different styles associated with memoirs and autobiographies, you will be well prepared to tell your story.

Benefits of a Well-Written Book Blurb

What is a Blurb?

According to the Maquarie Dictionary a blurb is ‘an announcement of advertisement, usually an effusively laudatory one, especially on the jacket flap or back of a book’.

For authors, the back cover blurb is an essential marketing tool for their book. It tells potential readers a little bit about the book’s contents without giving too much away. It explains why someone should buy and read a book, and shares snippets of information about the author.

Features of a Blurb

Blurbs are usually found on the back cover of a printed book. An ebook blurb is more likely to be at the front. Ebook store websites often use a shortened version of a printed book’s blurb to describe what the book is about to assist people browsing their pages. Readers visiting a book store (either ‘bricks and mortar’ or virtual) will first be attracted by a book’s cover, then head straight to the blurb. A well-written blurb helps to converts potential readers into paying customers.

Blurbs should be brief and punchy; around 100–150 words is ideal. An attention-grabbing headline or tagline is a good tactic to use at the start of the blurb. The tone should be upbeat with a catchy opening sentence that taps into a reader’s emotions. Often the first sentence is a question which is designed to set up a query in a reader’s mind. The genre, main theme and protagonist should be mentioned early, then some mystery should be created around the main conflict. Finally, it’s a good idea to include in a few details about the author that gives them credibility as an authority in their subject field or as a capable writer. This could include the fact that they are already a published author.

Advantages of a Professionally Written Blurb

By the time an author is ready to write the blurb for their book, they have become so involved in the story that they may find it difficult to distance themselves from it. This is where an external viewpoint from someone else who has read the manuscript is useful. And a professional copy writer will know just what to say and how to say it to entice readers to buy the book.

An engaging blurb that is engaging and cleverly written conveys the message to the buyer that they are purchasing a good quality book. Employing a professional to write your blurb is a wise investment and one of the key factors in ensuring the success of your book.

Writing for Children is Not Child’s Play

Many people think writing children’s books must be easy. After all, they are shorter than adult’s books and most have pictures that use a lot of space. The truth is, writing a story with fewer words is much more difficult than writing a lengthier story and there are many elements to consider when writing children’s books. It is a good idea to keep these tips in mind if your goal is to write for children.

Types of Children’s Books

Children’s books fall into several sub-categories:

Toddler Books (ages 1–3)
Books for toddlers are usually 12 pages long, under 300 words, and contain very simple content. They should be about everyday life that very small children will recognise or provide information about colours, the alphabet, numbers, shapes, etc. Often printed in a board book format, they might contain features that allow readers to interact, such as lift-the-flaps or buttons that can be pressed to hear sounds.

Early Picture Books and Picture Story Books (ages 4–8)
The picture book category can be divided into two – early picture books (for younger readers in this age range) and picture story books for older children. The average early picture book contains fewer than 1,000 words while picture story books are usually 32 pages in length with 1,000–1,500 words.

Picture books rely heavily on the words and pictures working together to tell a story. The text should be minimal and whatever is left out of the text should be obvious from the illustrations. Picture books need to include multiple scenes or locations so that there is plenty of variety in the images. The pictures help children who can’t read yet to understand the narrative; therefore they should incorporate bright colours and simple sans serif fonts in order to be appealing to small children. For children who are beginning to recognise written words, the pictures work as an aid to their learning.  These type of stories are basic, written in chronological order and from the main character’s point of view. Using third-person (he/she/they) narration is the best choice for small children who might otherwise become confused when being read to by an adult. Younger children respond well to poetic techniques such as alliteration, rhyme and repetition.

Easy Readers (ages 6–8)
Aimed at children who are starting to read on their own, the length of this type of books varies. However, on average, it is somewhere between 1,000 and 2,500 words. They are highly illustrated but have a more grown-up format, often with short chapters. The story works without pictures but the pictures help early readers to feel less daunted than being confronted by pages of text.

The grammar used in easy readers is simple, with short sentences, short paragraphs and age-appropriate language. A few words above the reading ability of this age group are often included to challenge the reader. Right from the opening scene, the narrative is fast paced with the story being told through action rather than commentary and dialogue rather than indirect speech.

Chapter Books (ages 7–10)
Chapter books are longer and have a more sophisticated style than books for younger children. Chapters are still short but sentences are more complex and if there are any illustrations, they are usually black and white line drawings. Plots are more developed involving multiple conflicts for the main character to overcome. Characters should be of a similar age or a little older than the upper age limit of these readers.

Middle Grade (ages 8–12)
These books are longer again, with longer chapters, more sophisticated themes and complex plots and subplots involving more characters. This is the age where children become obsessed with characters so books for middle grade readers are often written as a series. The pace is still fast but may be interspersed with more interior monologue, encouraging readers to think for themselves. First person point of view is popular with this age group as it allows more intimacy with the main character and readers feel more involved in the action as it unfolds.

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