How to Interview your case studies

At the moment, I am working on a piece that is not really going anywhere. My problem of course, is not lack of motivation, or laziness, but the fact that every interview I have conducted has just not panned out. No quotes have been right enough to make a good article idea a great one, not to mention an article that is worth reading in its entirety.

So what’s the big deal with the interview? Well, considering its results become the spice of the story, its fair to say that an interview can make or break your piece. An interview with an expert/professional on your chosen topic will add credibility to your argument/discussion, providing you with a backdrop to explore issues further and to of course branch out into other bits of evidence that will solidify any claims that you are making. This is because your interview with an expert will always present you with trends or certain findings that you might then find in case studies in everyday life, giving your piece a personal touch that will actually resonate with your readers – because they see that people experiencing symptom X and feeling Y actually walk about in society, or whatever. That said, your case studies do not always have to support what the expert or study says – and that’s all the beauty of writing/journalism.

As such, it is important to ensure your interviews are the best that they can possibly be (especially so you don’t end up in my sort of pickle). Some of my own tips for interviewing include:

  • The most important thing to remember is that, even if it takes you a long time to get in touch, it is best to interview the best available person for the job. There’s no point in interviewing a dietician who specialises in the eating habits of newly-arrived migrants if you’re writing an article for Girlfriend mag on eating disorders prevalent among girls aged 13-17. This is something which is currently plaguing me now, because I just so happened to pick an essential-to-know topic, but which is limited in scope and not necessarily a matter of interest. I have held three interviews to date and none seem right – just because these people are experts in their field, doesn’t mean they are passionate about it. Said passion always brings a bit of flavour to the interview and thus your story. So even if you have to search far and wide, I suggest you do it [ pending time constraints of course].
  • Always prepare yourself before conducting the interview. Read up on the issue and familiarise yourself with matters of research, other case studies or people who have experienced it in some way or another. If you’re interviewing an expert, read up on their background, the studies they have conducted to bring them to this point of expertise, and check out where and how they have been quoted before.
  • Arm yourself with a load of questions. More than you think you will have time to ask, because inevitably, they might answer something as they are going along anyway. That said, it’s also very likely that you’ll come up with more questions as they are responding to original ones, so ask those too. Go over your questions a few times before you conduct the interview as well – just to make sure some don’t sound similar to others etc.
  • Give them a chance to talk. Always give them time to muse over the questions and answers, and always ask if they’d like to add anything before you leave.
  • Be polite and professional. They are not your best mate, they do not owe you anything, and you are not on a criminal investigation. A little bit of R-E-S-P-E-C-T always goes a loooong way.
  • Always double-check the name, spelling and title of the person you are interviewing. You can spell really basic names in a variety of ways, and it’s not cool crediting someone from the School of Technology in Art at the University of Sydney, when in fact they are from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Technology, Sydney. (I just made these schools and faculties up BTW).
  • Get them to elaborate. Don’t accept yes or no answers – ask hows and whys. Better yet, stick to open-ended questions and you’ll have more room to move, not to mention the chance to venture off on tangents that might give you a better angle from which to write with.
  • If you’re interviewing for a bio sort of piece, always take into account a person’s gestures, surroundings, clothes. Look at where their attention is focused. If you’re at their home/office, describe it. Make little notes about their belongings and assess them later. If you’re in a park, observe how they behave around birds or children. In a restaurant? Their comments on the menu, or better yet what they order and how (are they friendly?) will tell you a lot. Not to mention whether or not they leave a tip!
  • Tools are just as important as questions. If it’s an in-person interview, have your phone, their contact details and the corrent instructions as to the meeting point on hand. Give them your phone number prior. Have your recording device ready, plus extra batteries. Have a spare pen/extra pencils to avoid any easy-to-arise issues.
  • Interviewing over the phone? The same rules as above apply. And this might sound stupid, but make sure you have a sound connection, and do not eat while you are doing it.
  • Via email? The thing that sucks about email interviews is that you can’t branch the interview off into a certain direction. This only happens in person. Plus via email, a person always has the opportunity to edit rtheir responses. It is so much better when they are tumbling out. Though that said, email interviews are already transribed. Easy option, but not exactly the most fruitful.
  • Don’t get too caught up in the business. In Release the Hounds: A guide to research for journalists and writers (Christine Fogg, Allen & Unwin), Roger Patching says that you should never leave an interview with an unanswered question, that you should always listen to what you are being told instead of just asking away, and present all sides (essential objective of all good journalism, of course). Patching also advises against asking double-barelled questions, as these can often be confusing.

I think (and hope) that I have just about covered all bases – or ones that have come about in my short term experience. 

Happy interviewing!  

 

Pondering about simultaneous pitching

I am extremely frazzled today. Was frazzled yesterday too, on account of the load of writing I have to do. Sounds like a good thing, but in reality it’s not. I am actually writing pitches – loads of them in fact. I have so many articles on the backburner, and at least three magazines who are waiting for an article on spec (that’s when you write the article first, and then they decide if they want to buy it).

The thing is, I have wasted weeks and weeks waiting on pitch feedback from magazines only to be told that they’re not interested way down the track (and usually after I have followed up countless times). As a result, I have crazy thoughts rushing through my head, thoughts that break the taboo of freelance writing and go something along the lines of pitch to anyone and everyone and let it be first in, first served.

The thing is, I have always professed to do everything by the book. I mean, I studied journalism at university for four years and apart from the fact that I am the biggest goody-two-shoes that does not break rules EVER, I feel it is slightly unprofessional to do what I am contemplating. But stories are like time-bombs that only have a limited time, and there’s nothing like being told your article has lost its timeliness in the six weeks its been waiting in someone’s inbox, when all they had to do was drop you a quick line via email saying thanks but no thanks. 

So naturally, I am sitting here, run off my feet but with not much to show for it, contemplating what should never be done: Pitching to multiple publications at the same time. Apart from being unprofessional, it could get me in trouble if, in an ideal world, more than one publication actually wanted it.

And considering I am just getting to breakfast now (and I have been up since 6am mind you) I really can’t handle the pressure. Anyone reading ever been in a similar pickle?

So let me calculate: I have four pitches to write, three articles to write on spec, and three interviews to conduct today. Yep, I really need that time machine right about now….And in case you think I am exaggerating – take a look at the horror that is my (ugly) desk. Apart from the fact that I want to buy a new pretty one but lack the funds (especially since I discovered a hole in my sneakers this morning and obviously shoes that aren’t missing any vital parts are more pressing) you can see that it in fact, has been hit by the time bomb of pressing stories. Check out the post its and to do lists, and if you can, the pile of books up top that need reviewing. Sigh. And of course, because it’s now 1:40pm and life is not doing it for me these days, breakfast in the bottom left-hand corner. Writing is a labour of love, Sarah, writing is a labour of love. 

But surely even love has a time-bomb that will eventually explode if it doesn’t do good by you? I guess my writing and I will figure that out soon enough… 

 

HOW TO WRITE A PITCH LETTER

The pitch or query letter is one of the first and most crucial steps to getting an article/idea published in a publication. Not only is it your opportunity to sell your idea, but often, it is also the first point of correspondence between you and the editors concerned. As such, it is imperative that it is done properly, so that even if you are unsuccessful on this occasion, you would have stood out at least professionally and paved the way for future (hopefully) some more pitching opportunities.

It is a good idea to view your pitch like a business transaction, for it is, essentially, a proposal for delivering a product, which you are then (depending on the publication) paid for. As such, a pitch should always be succint and to the point, communicated effectively and with all the necessary information to back up your claim, and highlight why you are perfect for the job, and why the article belongs in that publication and no where else.

In light of this, I have looked at one of my first articles published to help mock-up a pitch letter. The black parts are the often necessary elements to the pitch, the red is how I have roughly incorporated them in there. Please use as a rough guide and tailor to your pitches and publications accordingly for maximum success.

ELEMENTS OF THE PITCH LETTER

1. A great lead, similar to one that you will use in the actual story, and one that will immediately draw the edtior’s interest:

Dear X,

Imagine bringing home the perfect guy, only to have your family forbid the romance because you’re from two different cultures. If this sounds like a scenario from an ancient, far-off land, you’re mistaken. In our own backyard, first generation Australians are fighting a new form of relationship demon – the pressure to conform to traditional ideals that seem foreign and out-of-date. Yet inter-racial dating remains a major issue of contention among young Australians and their migrant parents, and it is slowly driving families apart.

2. A proposed title, and word count – though they will inevitably decide on this matter, it is always good to give an indication as to how you see it:

As such, I would like to offer you ‘I do, but they don’t” a 1,500 word article discussing inter-racial relationships in Australia, and how, with the onset of multiculturalism, they are affecting family dynamics in a way traditional cultures could have never imagined.

3. A rough plan for how you perceive the story to go/flow:

This article will look at U, V and W concerning inter-racial relationships, digging deep into Y and Z to determine why X occurs, and how.

4. The sources/case studies/experts you plan to cite in the interview to prove your point and explore your themes and ideas further: 

For example, this article on inter-racial relationships might have a sociologist from a university discussing the trends in such relationships, the dynamics of how they are for those involved compared to how they are viewed by other members of society, and how this has changed over time. You might also quote a couple in one of those relationships to see how it has worked out for them, as well as a person whose relationship with someone of another culture ended because of cultural/religious differences. To vary it up a bit, you could also suss out family attitudes, look at some stats as to how these have increased/decreased over time etc

5. Why this article suits their publication and why; and maybe, if you know it well enough, what section of the publication you would like to pitch it to:

I think this article would be a great addition to the ‘issues’ section of X Magazine, because it discusses issues that are not only relevant to your demographic, but ones that are likely to affect them, their friends or a family member sometime in the future. You are a publication that discusses relationships with a heavy focus on those involved, and the factors that determine the dynamics of their relationships with others, as well as how they see them themselves

6. A very brief bio of yourself, and any previous writing experience you have – if you don’t have a website, it might be good to attach a couple of clips (aka pieces – and not too many) of your work:

I am  a freelance writer and I have been published in X, Y and Z. Some pieces of a similar styles that I have written include A, B and C, and I have attached them for your convenience/perusal.

7. And of course, a clean ending with your contact details, and a hope that they will get in touch with you shortly regarding their response to your idea:

Thank you for considering my article idea, and I look forward to hearing from you soon on 04XX XXX XXX or on sarah@blabla.com

And with that, your pitch is ready to go. Just remember that it is always a good idea to know exactly whom you ought to be pitching to. Sometimes, a quick phone call to the front desk of the publication might save you a lot of hassle, and the label ‘unprofessional’. At a lot of magazines, it is usually the Features or Deputy Editor that handles submissions, whereas at a smaller, or online publication, they might have a generic email address for all pitches to go to.

Make sure you really know the publication that you are pitching to – look at past issues, especially recent ones, so you don’t pitch similar articles to ones they have recently ran. Learn about their style; familarise yourself with their layouts and word limits (ie, you would not pitch a 1500 word story for a one page article in Cleo); and check out/request their contributor guidelines if they are available.

As hard as it may seem, try to keep the pitch short. Under 400 words always works a treat, because it also demonstrates that you are able to stick to a limit. Waffle is your worst enemy (unless its the pancake-like type that you can eat, in which case it is delicious!) so read, re-read and re-read again! And do check your spelling a hundred times over if necessary, it may seem straight forward, but you’d be surprised at how many typing errors will weed their way into your pitch (this happens to me all the time, I ought to take my own advice. In fact, you might have noticed the mistakes in my posts already).

If you have any questions, place a comment through on the post and I will do my best to respond to them in due time.

Best of luck!

Interview: LIV HAMBRETT

I first met Olivia Hambrett under circumstances we’d rather both forget, but which worked out well for us as we both grappled with finding a footing in the creative industries. These days, we work together co-publishing online magazine Trespass, the ‘baby’ we have nurtured and toiled over for the past six months or so and which is now enjoying over 10,000+ views every month. Truth be told, Trespass owes much of its success to this woman who has done so much for it. Here she talks about her writing career so far, and her ambitions for the future.

Your university background is actually in Psychology. Was psychology an original career plan for you, or did you decide in the middle of it that you’d prefer a career in writing?

No, I was always certain I would end up writing. I chose Psychology largely because I wanted to do a broad, more academic undergraduate than straight media, which is the more obvious option for people wanting to go into writing. I was able to do a lot of Ancient History in the arts half of my degree, which is a big love of mine. I absolutely adored Psychology, and choosing to do it as an undergrad, despite having to spend four years saying ‘I am studying psychology but I want to be a writer’ to people who just didn’t get it, was one of the best decisions I made. I also think there is a lot of psychology in writing – knowing what makes people do the things they do is a bit of a treasure chest for an aspiring writer like myself.

Writers that work from home tend to comment about the merits of being able to work their own hours, or work in their PJ’s all day. Is that something that appeals to you, or do you tend to structure your day around a routine to keep you more productive?

On the days that I spend entirely at home, I don’t tend to work within too specific a structure. I start the day by writing out a to-do list, and I pretty much work through that. To-do lists are one of my favourite things in the world. They make me feel needed. I can’t stick to a routine too well, because ideas pop up all the time and I get distracted (easily), and sort of wade into particular project I wasn’t thinking of working on that day, and forget about the other ten open windows sitting on my computer. So, I suppose the closest thing I get t o a routine is a to-do list, and knowing that each day there are certain things I like to get done/need to get done for Trespass. I could probably be more routine-driven, but to be honest, this is the way I know I will be most productive, and I think when it comes to working from home, you need to work around a framework that suits you. With the mag, there is a publishing schedule I draw up from week to week that helps me know what’s going on (and what day it is, and where my head is), but that’s about the extent of it. With creative writing, I tend to work best late at night, when it’s all quiet and there is absolutely nothing to distract me. I try and set aside sessions, and when I am in these sessions, if I’m not feeling it, I still try and get something down on paper. After all, you can edit words, [but] you can’t edit a blank page.

You have recently started your MA in Creative Writing. How does this postgraduate, and creative, course differ from your bachelor degree? Do you think you like it better?

I’m actually about to finish it, I’m in my final semester. The MA is a terrific balance – it’s a split between Theory and Creative, with a major writing project replacing the usual MA dissertation. In terms of being different to psych – well there’s not a hint of anything remotely mathematical/scientific, which I struggle with enormously. Plus, there is a lot more freedom and flexibility, particularly in terms of my major. With that, however, comes heightened expectations, both with the comprehension of the Theory, and with the level of writing I’m producing. The creative workshops were brilliant – my advice to anyone wanting to really get into creative writing, is sign up to a class – bouncing your work off other people, whilst scary at first, is the best thing you can do.

Of course, in the middle of this, you also co-launched, and continue to co-edit Trespass Magazine. What was that experience like? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment when you see its readership continue to grow among its global audience?

Oh I love Trespass. And I am so proud of her. I absolutely feel a sense of accomplishment watching her readership grow. One of my favourite parts of Trespass, is working with our writers – I have met some very smart, very talented people, and editing their work has helped me develop as a writer.

You also do a little bit of copywriting, mainly writing the newsletters for a number of organisations. Does this help in bringing a little more money while you do the more creative/free-falling parts of the job?

I have worked with several businesses on a freelance basis with copywriting, which is great work when you can get it. If you land regular work, maintain your good relations with that client, freelance copywriting work pays well and is a great gig to have. But you have to be prepared, as anyone wanting to crack a creative industry must be, to not only work a lot for free, but also to have jobs completely unrelated to what it is you’re trying to get into. I’ve had countless jobs (retail, tutoring, administration, coaching) completely unrelated to writing – but they pay the bills and give me the time and flexibility to keep knocking those literary doors. 

What is a typical day in the life of Olivia Hambrett?

Full of emails and tea.

What are some of the perks associated with your job?

Presents in the post!! Collecting my post is a little ray of sunshine.

Have you consulted any mentors or guides to make the process of establishing writing career a little easier?

I’ve certainly spoken to people along the way, some completely wonderful, others completely useless. I met a journalist when I was still at uni and she was very encouraging, and still is to this day. And my supervisor at uni now is something of a creative mentor, Dr. Jane Messer. But I think it’s also important to remember to be in constant contact with people who are in the same boat as you. It is these people who know what you’re banging on about, and who can provide much needed support. Writing can be quite a solitary pursuit, and you can lose your mind (at least once a day) – so having friends who are chasing the same rainbow, to commiserate with and mutually encourage, is quite essential.

Who are you writing for at the moment? / What are some of your current projects? 

Right now my focus is my major project for uni, and Trespass. But I also like to have a few things on the go at the same time – it helps to be able to take a break from one set of characters, and get involved with another.

What advice would you offer to aspiring novelists, freelancers and wordsmiths who want to follow a similar career path?

Write. Everyday. Even if it’s just a few lines of complete babble. Talk to people – don’t be afraid to ask questions and email writers you admire. Enter competitions. Take on board constructive criticism from an industry professional, no matter the ego bruise it may incur. Get used to rejection – don’t let it deter you. Take a writing class. And know that this is what you want to do, more than anything else in the world…because sometimes, that is all you’ll have to sustain you.

Ten in the Hot Seat:

1. Describe yourself in one word: hate this question

2. Biggest accomplishment to date: hmmm, not burning the product of my recent bi-annual baking spree?

3. You wish you wrote: Pair a dreadful memory with a voracious reading appetite … I can’t answer that question

4. Can’t leave home without: a spritz of fragrance

5. One thing you are currently writing: an attempt at a novel

6. First thing you wrote: was a long, long time ago. I do remember writing something when I was 8, as part of a special class, and scaring the living daylights out of the girl next to me. It was about a man living in someone’s house, without those people knowing he was there, and cans of baked beans kept going missing.

7. Addicted to reading: in general

8. Top spot on your goals list: go away within the next few weeks, stay low airfares

9. If you were a character in a classic, you’d be: impossible to answer without sounding knobbish

10. The best thing about being a wordsmith: is often also the worst

10 TIPS ON MAKING IT AS A WRITER

At the end of May 2009, I was honoured to be a panellist at the Emerging Writer’s Festival in Melbourne, Victoria. I had the time of my life meeting amazing people who loved words and writing more than I could have ever imagined, and who implemented this love in ways I would have never comprehended – zines, comics, speeches, novels, blogs and more. It made me realise that writing for pleasure & profit is never as simple as it sounds, and there’s always a little niche that you could explore to make yourself stand out – and that niche could be as simple as combining your life’s great loves with the written word.

The Panel I was speaking on was called  ‘crashing, bashing and smashing through’ and I was freaking out about it, because not only was I the only one who had NOT written a book, but I was also the only one who had actually WRITTEN DOWN a solid speech and planned to recite it there, word for word.

Crashing, Bashing & Smashing Through the preparation for that speech was hard enough, but in the end, I decided that I would put the audience in my shoes so far, and share with them the lessons/advice I thought would be most beneficial to them. To give you a little indication of what was expected of me, I’ll quote the program guide for my panel’s description:

How do writers move forward in their career – finding the time to write, and make money to have the time to write? What are the secrets to breaking down the walls that stop us from calling ourselves a writer? Is it worth having an agent, and how useful is networking?

I ended up getting a little bit of good feedback after the panel, and so I thought I’d share my speech on Wordsmith Lane for those who want to break into writing, and are unsure of where and how to begin. It’s not going to help on its own, but coupled with some regular reading of Wordsmith Lane (blatant self promotion here, I know), you’ll no doubt make it happen. So here goes:

Writing is both my torment and my triumph. Being unable to write plunges me into moodswings PMS just does not compare to, seeing my name in print is the fuel to the fire I have had in me since I was ten years old. It was at that time that I first decided that I wanted to be a writer, and 13 years later, I am still trying to write out that career path, let alone write for it.

When I was younger, I had friends who shared that dream with me. Friends who shared my writing classes with me at university, friends who deliberated with me regarding what article should be pitched to which publication and why. But slowly, one by one, the ability to move forward in that career path, and the ability to move forward in life financially as a result of that career choice, became far too much to bear, and writing the dream (and the dream of writing) was abandoned in favour of more ‘concrete’ career paths: teaching, chiropractics, fashion, PR.

So how do we keep on the dream, the career path, the plan? How do we crash, bash and smash through the barriers? This is something I am still trying to figure out if the goals list taped to my closet door is anything to go by – but I am fortunate enough to have learnt a few lessons along the way. And I am hoping that, by sharing them with you today, you will also be able to write out the career path of being a writer, and crash, bash and smash through everything that stands in your way.

1. Call yourself a writer

If this is what you want for yourself and you are 100% certain of this, then you have made it through the first hurdle of indecisiveness. It is up to you to make the decision of who you are and what you want to do, and whether or not you are published will not change the fact that you can call yourself a writer. This realisation came to me in the very unglamorous spot of a university tutor’s office: I said I ‘wanted’ to be a writer, and she said ‘wanting is not being’. Her advice to me was simple: Call yourself a writer, put together a portfolio and decide where you would write and what rates you would charge. I have been a writer ever since.

2. Showcase your work

Blogspot, WordPress, Typepad, oh my! Embrace these avenues with all your might. Share your writing with the online community and you are well on your way to your next step. Whether it is a blog that will make you a name because it is fantastic in theme and content, or an online portfolio of your published clips/pieces of work – even if they are just from the uni newspaper (which is, FYI, how I started out) – it is one step closer to the dream.

3. Find yourself a mentor

Writing is the most competitive of competitive sports. That article idea is a ball in your hands – how you pass it and to whom requires a planned strategic play that ought to be rehearsed with a coach. When you arejust starting out, the process can be daunting. Find a few writers whose work/career path you find really inspiring and get in touch. It requires some courage, and they might not all get back to you, but it is definitely a risk worth taking. Someone is bound to help you – if it were not for one of the ambassadors present here today, I would have taken double the time on my writer’s journey, and I still count my lucky stars for her and all her great advice.

4. Swallow your pride and network shamelessly

Tell everyone you meet that you are a writer. The whole six degrees of separation thing proves you never know who they are connected to and how. Join writers groups on Facebook, follow other writers on Twitter (and read their bios on their personal websites and blogs), go to writers festivals and forums, and constantly scan websites for information relevant to your style of writing [like this one!]. If you have a blog, create a Twitter account for it and let people know you’ve updated it so they can read your latest. Post links to your online work on Facebook too – anything to spread word. Also check out Author Tracker by Harper Collins to find out where your fave authors are at – it will give you a little bit of an idea about their method, writing life etc. Another thing about swallowing your pride is work experience. I interned in magazines two days a week for two years, and it helped me get my first job. Sure, you start by grabbing coffees and photocopying articles, but a lot of magazines don’t advertise their roles and recruit internally, so being in their face is always a plus. Do remember that even work experience is a competitive market, so put in the hard yards and do not think anything is beneath you. The only way is up, and everyone has to start somewhere.

5. Know the game

It may seem straight forward, but read every submission guideline for every publication you want to write for. If it is a magazine, it’s also a good idea to read its media kit (usually online) because, even if its written for advertisers, it gives you a great idea about who the mag perceives its target reader to be and with this, you can tailor your pitches accordingly. This is as close as you can get to rejection proofing your work. For aspiring novelists, a lot of publishers have information about the submission process, and manuscript guidelines as well as advice, posted on their websites for your perusal. And always spare a thought to joining a writer’s centre. They are an invaluable tool.

6. The importance to figuring out its importance

Finding the time to write is a difficult one if you don’t do it full-time, and doing it full-time can be difficult if you want to live, because often, writing is a labour of love. It is up to you to assess how and when to factor it into your life. It might be setting aside time to write on the train to scrawl ideas, or waking up an hour earlier to write, or locking yourself up all day on a weekend to get some work done. They are all methods that have worked for me, but they might also mean that you will find yourself constantly praying to God for a time machine. Find one that works for you, and if the whole writing thing is important enough, you will find a way to make it happen one way or another.

7. Use it to your advantage

Once you have figured out its importance, and how you are going to work towards it, its easy to use it to your advantage. If you need money to support yourself until your career takes off, use your skill as a starting point. Writing your company’s newsletter will give you copywriting experience – as will preparing background info for launches and products and writing webcopy and the like. This all seems quite boring when compared to the thrill of feature writing or fiction, but they will earn you a rep and soon, the copywriting gigs could be pouring in, possibly freeing you up to freelance full-time/work part-time, and thus, do more of what you love.

8. Be open to the fact that there’s always something to learn

Sure, you might find yourself discussing writing on a panel at a festival, but when one of your topic questions is ‘Is it worth having an agent?’ and you have no idea, then you know you do not have the whole lot down pat. This will continue to ring true because the game keeps going, so stay on the ball and focused on your training.

9. Remember that life is material

And fantastic material it is too! Let every aspect of your life help you crash, bash and smash through the hurdles. Things I have learnt as part of my uni research have formed a niche for my opinion editorials and society features, while a Hate List I wrote in high school has formed the basis for my YA novel. Note that I have no prospect of a publishing deal at present, but the fact that I am not keeping this novel to myself and actually putting it out there just gets me closer to the dream. [Good advice me thinks, considering a YA publisher approached me afterwards and expressed interest in reading my draft]. People who have successfully implemented this include Melina Marchetta (Italian background, Australian home) and Lauren Weisberger (Devil wears Prada, rumoured job as Anna Wintour’s assistant).

10. And finally, when the lords of the publishing industry close their doors, it is up to you to open a window

Every writer faces their share of rejection, often on many occasions. JK Rowling and Marc Cherry (of Desperate Housewives fame) are good examples. You will inevitably face rejection also. But if you think your work is worth it, just keep going at it. Some of my rejected pitches formed the basis of Trespass, the online mag I co-started last year, because I felt that they needed to be out there. That mag has [at that time] now been around for six months, and it enjoys a phenomenal growth in readership as every month goes by. So if this is the life you want to make for yourself, you have to exhaust every possible opporunity to make it happen.

Because while rejection will be your torment, finding a way out of it will be your triumph. And there will be, as I have personally experienced, many an episode of torment and triumph. But getting on with the dream might be that next bit of material for your next fabulous piece of work. And that realisation is your personal silver lining – and what crashing, bashing and smashing through is all about…