Monday 9 November 2015

What Next?

I recently joined many of you in attending
the Christian Writer’s Conference in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. I had a great time talking with old friends and meeting new ones, and I’ve already got the next conference in my no-longer-pristine 2016 diary (it’s 28–30 October 2016, near Sydney).

All the sessions I attended at the conference invited questions from attendees, and there were some great discussions. But I also heard a few whispered questions after the sessions, and one of those has stuck with me:

What next?

While I didn’t think she was discussing the conference programme, I also wasn’t sure what she was referring to. That got me thinking.

What is next?

For some people, it’s getting the first draft started … or finished (*raises both hands*). For some, it is revising, tightening, making sure the story is there, that they’re getting the point across with the required degree of subtlety (or not). For some, the next challenge is finding critique partners or beta readers to identify the issues you, the writer, hadn’t noticed (after all, if you knew it was a problem, you’d fix it. Right?). Some are in the early stages of self-editing and need advice on how to self-edit. Others are confident self-editors who are now facing the challenge of finding a freelance editor who will help mould the manuscript into shape, or polish it until it shines.

For some, the challenges are more outward focused: how do you find an editor? A proofreader? An illustrator? A cover designer? A book designer? A formatter? A publisher? An agent?

Do you need an editor, proofreader, illustrator, cover designer, book designer, formatter, publisher, agent … any of the above? All of the above?

Do you find a publisher? How? Do you self-publish? How? Do you need an agent? How do you get one?

What about marketing? A platform? Social media? Book launches? Reviews? Email lists? There are a myriad of things we should be focusing on as writers, but how do we prioritise. With so many things that could be done, the appropriate question might be what first.

And I’m sure this list only scratches the surface.

I understand the dilemma. I’m working through a lot of these decisions myself (hey, how do you think I came up with such a long list?).

As one of the three Australasian Christian Writers administrators (along with Narelle, our fearless leader, and Jenny, administrator extraordinaire), we are in the process of planning the ACW blog calendar for the first quarter of 2016. We have some ideas—see list above—but we’d like to know what you would value.

So we have a few questions for you:

  1. What next? What is your next challenge in the writing journey? What is your next step into the unknown?
  2. How can we at ACW help? What topics would you like to see us cover? What do you want to know more about, but don’t know where to start looking? What’s next?

Please leave a comment with your answers. This is your opportunity to shape our blog!

(Note: while I believe there is no such thing as a stupid question, I also know and understand that sense of apprehension and nervousness about openly asking a question *everyone else* knows the answer to. If you have a question or comment you’d rather share privately, please email me at igoulton [at] christianediting [dot] co [dot] nz, or message me on Facebook.)

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest  or Tsu.

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500.


  1. Great post! As I'm not especially technologically savvy or social media aware, I'd like to know more about these areas. I'd also like to know about other people's methods of planning and organizing that planning. Narelle's comments about spreadsheets sounds awesome - but I think I'd need a break-it- down demonstration to fully grasp that :/

    1. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by spreadsheets - do you mean plotting, or something to do with social media?

      Anyway, some posts on social media sound like a good idea as well.

  2. Great suggestion, Iola. A series on self-editing is always useful. My sense from other authors is email is the most powerful tool for marketing purposes, increasing readership & building relationships with readers so a series on that would be great. Having one or two authors who've actually done it and can demonstrate the results would be good.

    Self-pubbing is always relevant. Because we have some self-pubbers in our community be great to have them share their practical tips, what did work and what didn't.

    I do enjoy our craft book series and be happy to contribute to that in 2016. Another idea might be to include a feature on authors websites/blogs/social media/email that members of the community follow for "learning and development purposes" so we can share the love.

    Looking forward to an exciting 2016 with ACW.

    1. Self-editing, email marketing and self-publishing. Nothing big, then :)

      Thanks for the ideas, Ian! I agree it would be great to hear self-pub stories from members of the community (any volunteers?).

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  4. Wow, my head is spinning from that list. I didn't know I had all those questions until you posed them :) I'd like to echo Ian's suggestion about self-publishing. I've seen lots of posts looking at differences between the different types of publishing (e.g. traditional vs self-publishing), but a series on the "how-to's" would be helpful.

    Also, I'm not sure if this has already been done in ACW, but maybe a series on tips that are specific to different genres (e.g. sci-fi/fantasy, mysteries, historical, etc). There are a lot of writing principles that apply across the board, but knowing the quirks of each genre would be handy.

    Also maybe something on the pros and cons of different types of social media both for the writing process itself and for marketing. For example, I've never used Pinterest, but someone at the conference told me it's good for pinning images of things you might use in your novel. I'd never thought of that. So it would be interesting to see how and why people use different kinds of social media.

    1. Thanks, Nola. Those are some useful ideas.

  5. Thanks, Iola, for asking great questions. A big thank you to everyone who commented here and in the ACW Facebook Group. We appreciate your thoughts and feedback as we plan our 2016 blog calendar :)


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