Creatives Chat: Writing – Emily Craven
Emily is the Digital Producer at if:book Australia and The Australian Writer’s Marketplace, and blogs about e-books and digital strategies for writers on her own site. She also runs a podcast for writers on marketing and digital strategies. In 2012 she produced Adelaide: Choose Your Own Adventure, an interactive choose your own adventure locative literature event in Adelaide CBD. She has spoken on transmedia, book marketing, e-books and author platforms for the ASA, national Writers’ Centres, and the World Fantasy Convention.
She is an author of YA fiction, her latest e-book’s being comedies set in Facebook. Also available is her non-fiction title E-Book Revolution: The Ultimate Guide To E-book Success which discusses the e-book revolution and marketing yourself in this digital landscape. In the 2012 Aurealis Awards she was awarded the Kris Hemsbury Award for an emerging speculative fiction writer and completed a twelve month mentorship with world renowned fantasy author Isobelle Carmody. She blogs about the lessons she learnt at The Original Fantasy.
Emily Craven chats writing:
1. How long have you been involved in the creative industries, and how did you become a professional writer?
I’ve been a writer for almost a decade however the point at which I really entered the publishing and digital media industry was in 2010. For three years I talked to experts from around the globe, including successful indie authors, publishers and the heads of online e-publishing giants. Concurrently I sought out expert mentors in the fields of internet marketing, social media and webinars, gathering all their combined knowledge and applying it to e-books, writing and publishing industry.
The rest came about by creating my own opportunities, my own luck if you will! I organised my own 12 month mentorship with Australian fantasy author Isobelle Carmody, the writer who had started my writing journey way back in high-school. Then in 2011 I heard about QR codes. I’d recently been reading a spoof choose your own adventure and I thought, “How awesome would it be if you could not only choose your own adventure but actually be there, where the story was happening?” Thus Adelaide: Choose Your Own Adventure was born. It was only the start of my publishing experiments which range from writing novels in ‘Facebook’ format and making them interactive to producing cross format e-books that mix prose with playwriting.
The ‘luck’ has just continued to snowball from there, it’s what got me my current job and half a dozen speaking engagements across the country!
2. Do people offer you work, or do you have to chase it down yourself?
I have done both, but as I said it has all come because I decided to create my own opportunities and stand out from the ‘norm’ in this standard industry. It was by doing my interactive storytelling event that I came on the radar for if:book and the Brisbane City Council, approached by both this year with offers of work. It was by experimenting with my own fiction and pushing the boundaries of digital narrative that I have the opportunity to speak at the Storyology conference in Sydney in August.
I’ve put myself out there on my blog and have had several consults with authors as a result (though I don’t hammer my readership about it) and I actively put together a proposal document and 3 minute presentation video for the writing centres around Australia to expand myself into the speaking/workshop circuit. It is about doing things off your own back, and networking your arse off!
3. Have you ever worked on a self-publishing project? What was the experience like – any traps or unexpected perks?
I sure have, I have self-published three novels at the start of this year. All I can say is it is time consuming, but ultimately worth it, as you can tell if you have read my blog! The biggest pitfall I found was trying to do the formatting of the files myself. I wasted a lot of time and then finally caved in to getting someone to do my Smashwords formatting for me! Since then I’ve discovered Pressbooks which creates fantastic epub and mobi files for direct upload to Amazon Kindle and Kobo which has made things a million times easier.
Self-publishing has given me a confidence that I don’t think I would have gotten going the traditional route, it has encouraged me to experiment in ways I could never do with a publisher and has gotten some very enthusiastic fans as a result.
4. How do you negotiate fees while freelancing for somebody?
Normally I charge an hourly consulting rate or a day rate for workshops. I once fell into the trap of quoting a client a flat fee to bring their book through the design, formatting and uploading cycle and grossly underestimated the time it would take me! I realised offering publishing ‘do it for you’ services was a full time job that cut into the time I needed to do my own creative stuff.
Which is why I now offload my immense collective knowledge by consulting and teaching authors to manage their own marketing and platforms. Much less time commitment for me, but of greater value to the author. Truly, an author who can manage their own online presence and connect personally with their readers has a much, much better chance of ‘making it’ then an author who doesn’t want to deal with it. Yes get someone to help you with SEO, yes get someone to help you with website design, or graphics, or cover art, or press releases, but you should always manage your own public relations.
5. What single piece of advice did you wish you’d known when you were starting out in the industry?
The traditional publishing route is dead – now it is just a tiny part of an author’s industry partnerships. What you should be focusing on first is building an audience in your genre, in your area of interest, online. Because it is only with a legion of people who like you and your writing, that your first book release will really be a success. And while you should always be on the look out for opportunities to apply for grants or get published, you should also be looking at ways you can start your own events and create your own opportunities.
Catch up with Emily at The Original Fantasy or via any of the below: