Di’s top tip for aspiring authors: Write the best book you can but be more persistent than anyone else!
Author of 130+ books, Dianne (Di) Bates is a full-time freelance writer. Di has worked as a newspaper and magazine editor and manuscript assessor. She founded Buzz Words http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com in 2006. Di is a recipient of The Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to children’s Literature. Her website is http://www.enterprisingwords.com.au
Why do you write? I’m not very good at many things and happily because I’ve written so many books (over 130), I’ve made my living from writing for many years, thanks in large part to lending rights and CAL payments.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’d be an events planner, a real estate agent, a stand-up comedian, a forensic pathologist or a detective.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Not hearing back from publishers. This didn’t happen when I began writing over 30 years ago, but nowadays most publishers don’t seem to have the time (or good manners) to acknowledge receipt of manuscripts or even to respond to them, unless of course it’s an acceptance.
How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? Occasionally when I have a book contracted, a publisher submits two or three covers and asks my opinion, but other than that there has been no involvement post submission.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Working my own hours and being my own boss and being able to come up with ideas that usually lead to fruition.
—the worst? Not hearing back from publishers.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I don’t think I’d start if I knew all I now know. However, if I did proceed, I would find a mentor as well as a weekly writing critique group. I’d attend as many writing conferences and festivals as possible to network, and I’d read (and review) as many children’s books as possible. I’d write every day, but most importantly I’d learn how to edit fearlessly.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Publication is possible, provided you learn the essential writing and editing skills and you are prepared to overcome lots of obstacles.
What are the most significant changes you have seen in the publishing industry since your first book was published? When I first started writing, I worked on a manual typewriter and now of course there are computers. One can now submit electronically, a very good change which saves a lot of paper and postage costs. As well, of course, authors are expected to do much more than just write, including self-promotion, usually on social media.
Do you consider it more difficult now for writers to become published? Yes, there is much more competition and of course many courses for would-be writers. But I truly believe that outstanding writing will always find a market.
Is your experience as a much-published author an advantage to you as a publisher? How does that experience influence your role when commissioning work? As author, reader and reviewer I have developed a ‘nose’ for sniffing out quality writing. And being in the industry for decades, I know the names and work of published authors; also I keep an eye out for new talent. At About Kids Books (http://www.aboutkidsbooks.com) I don’t commission books; I am most interested in social realism but any book which is beautifully written whatever its genre is the kind of book I want to publish.
Bright and cheerful Ashley lives with her mum and pet guinea pig, Froggie. Ashley wants a lot of things in her life: a puppy, to be a dancer or actress when she grows up, and more attention from her mum. Most of all she wants her parents to be reunited.
When Ashley is faced with major changes in her life she meets Daisy and Will, a couple from ‘Aunts and Uncles’. In them she finds a loving couple able to support and encourage her just when she needs it. But can they help Ashley develop the closer relationship with her mum that she yearns for and guide her through the changes ahead? Ideal for readers aged 8 to 10 years. Purchase from http://www.celapenepress.com.au/a_game_of_keeps.html