My clients’ books, out in the world

There are few things  more satisfying than seeing your book published at last. Holding a hard copy in your hands, seeing it on the shelf of a bookshop, or listed with a thumbnail cover image at an online store – there’s no taking away the enormous achievement of creating, revising, and finishing your own book.

Almost as thrilling is seeing my clients’ books published. I’m so happy to see these three new books out in the world in 2017, because I know how hard each author worked to get to this point, and in different ways I helped each writer get there. In the case of Ashley Hay’s A Hundred Small Lessons, I copy-edited and trimmed the manuscript; for Fleur McDonald (pictured below with her novel The Missing Pieces of Us), I worked closely with her on structural and line editing; and for ABC television journalist Jane Hutcheon (bottom right, with her new book China Baby Love), I provided a manuscript assessment on an early draft of her manuscript that helped her develop the work before submitting a final draft to her publisher.

And while each of these writers is experienced, the same principles apply when I’m working with writers who are yet to land their first publishing contract. The same sorts of questions arise in drafts by inexperienced and professional writers alike.

While I do a lot of editing for publishers, I’m also a published author. And because of that, I know what it’s like to struggle to write a book. The editing process is both necessary and fraught, dredging up all sorts of questions – ones that you thought you’d already answered, and ones that you hadn’t even thought of.

See these testimonials for more information about what writers like about working with me.

Or if you’ve already submitted a manuscript to an agent or publisher and are not getting anywhere, consider my ten-page review service.

Farewell to the Father: Tim Elliott’s memoir-writing process

Max Elliott on the cover of Good WeekendTo see my client Tim Elliott’s memoir Farewell to the Father make the cover of The Good Weekend last weekend (left), as well as this extract on, was pretty exciting, to say the least. I’ve already received several emails from people who read one of the extracts, bought and read the book, and have been moved and inspired by it.

The May edition of my monthly email (subscribe at right) featured my Q & A with Tim on his writing process, exclusively for my email subscribers.

I hope you will consider joining my list. Subscribers receive practical advice about getting published and how I work with my clients, as well as information on grants and competitions for writers.

Tim Elliott’s Farewell to the Father: from article to published memoir

Farewell to the Father cover

Fairfax journalist Tim Elliott’s memoir, Farewell to the Father, will be published in April. The gorgeous cover speaks to the richness, power and detail of Elliott’s recollections of growing up with his brilliant but manic-depressive and suicidal father, Max. It is a book that explores the pain and joy of a son’s love for his father, and of the son’s love for his own children when Tim becomes a father himself.

I am deeply thrilled to have helped Tim’s story evolve from its origin as a Sydney Morning Herald feature article to its publication as a memoir.

The reader response to the article was overwhelming, and Tim knew he was finally ready to write his story. But how to move from a 3,000 word piece to a work of perhaps 70-80,000 words?

A mutual friend referred him to me, and I helped him develop the chapter outline and clarify the arc of the story for his book proposal. Publisher interest in the proposal was extremely strong. Pan Macmillan won the right to publish Tim’s book at auction, and Tim set to work.

Nearly 18 months and several drafts later, the result of Tim’s fearless and tireless efforts is one of the best memoirs I’ve read. I hope it gets the attention and the readership it deserves.

Tim Elliott will be a guest of the Sydney Writers Festival at two events: My Family & Other Obstacles on Sat 21st May 6.00-7.00pm (with ABC Radio’s Richard Glover), and The Legacy of Family on Sun 22nd May 11.30am-12.30pm.

PS: Manuscript development and book proposal development are two of the services for writers that I offer. Please get in touch if you think you’d like to work with me, or sign up for my monthly email newsletter about improving your writing and getting published.

Australian fiction in fine health, according to recent diagnosis

[F]irst novels that reshape familiar historical material with originality and dash; sustain their strange tales with assurance; move confidently between countries and eras, intimate and national histories; offer two more indications of the present and future health of Australian fiction.

From Peter Pierce’s insightful review of The Secret Son by my client Jenny Ackland, and of Leah Kaminsky’s The Waiting Room, in The Australian over the weekend.

A book party for Jenny Ackland’s THE SECRET SON

Here’s my client Jenny Ackland’s wrap-up of the launch of her novel The Secret Son a few days ago. It was a large crowd at the Bella Union in Melbourne. Jenny did a very smart thing by wearing a flaming red dress so everyone could see her. There are several photos including one of me reading out a message from Jenny’s publisher, who could not attend the event. She missed a great party, the only book launch I’ve ever attended that featured a belly dancer. Why? I urge you to read this wonderful novel and find out for yourself.

Jenny Ackland’s debut novel asks: Did Ned Kelly have a secret son who fought at Gallipoli?

Isn’t this a gorgeous cover?

The Secret Son explores the provocative idea that Australian bushranger Ned Kelly had a son James, who not only fought in Gallipoli, but stayed in Turkey and lived out his life in a remote mountain village. Cem, a troubled young Turkish-Australian man, comes to the village a century later to uncover his family’s past.

Jenny Ackland’s stunning debut novel is fresh on the shelves but already getting the attention it deserves, with this wonderful review on Readings’ website and a pithy piece in the Sydney Morning Herald that concludes:

Ackland effectively interweaves the past and the present as well as the voices that tell the story, James, Cem and the old Turkish woman, Berna, who links them. The Secret Son is infused with Ackland’s love of Turkey and its people. It is a powerful story of good and evil, and belonging.

Jenny lives in Melbourne but she lived in Turkey for a long time, and it’s her abiding love for the country and its people that makes for such a visceral reading experience.

I know that two men are coming up the mountain, at this moment, including the boy from far away. I wonder what my grandson’s face will look like. This is a boy in the skin of a man. I know the boy is innocent, that it’s his family soul which is guilty.

But wait, there’s more! Here’s the exhilarated author using a stack of her books as a pillow.

More about The Secret Son from its publisher, Allen & Unwin