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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lisa Dempster's Guide To Being a Publishing Success PART ONE

Lisa Dempster
With the opening of the 2011 Emerging Writers Festival imminent, this year's Director still had time to discuss her Top 7 Tips to becoming a success in the Publishing Biz.

Tips 1-4 are below.

#1 Forget about a career path

In creative industries, your career path will not necessarily be linear, heading up the promotion totem pole. Creative industries most often promote based on your skill level. The best writer may have been writing for a year, but if they are the best, they will be the one to get the book deal. The cover designer that produces evocative covers that fit the book are the ones that will be commissioned again.
Lisa hasn't had a linear carer path by any means. She is a freelance vegan food writer, started her own small press, is currently Director of the Emerging Writers Festival and is a Publishing Lecturer at NMIT Fairfield.

#2 Embrace DIY - Independent Publishing

Lisa claims that she has learnt way more by teaching herself to be a publisher than she would have by working ten years in a big publishing house. At big publishing houses, you work in a department, either editorial, marketing, sales etc, and though you learn that role well, you won't learn other areas of the industry. By starting her own small press, Vignette, Lisa had to learn every facet of publishing, be it proof reading, pitching titles to booksellers, invoicing or taxes. 
Lisa has produced two "Mooks" (Magazine/Books) The Sex Mook and the Death Mook through Vignette Press.

(Vignette Press will soon open submissions to the Geek Mook, check out deets here)

Whether you want to start a music festival, make a film, self publish a book – go out and do it. You will learn SO much by giving it a go.

#3 No opportunity is too small

You never know where the people you meet and things you do will lead you in the future.
Five years ago no one would have thought that Lisa would be heading a writers festival

Related to #3, Lisa also suggests you: 

#3a Show up to things

This is a big one, people. One I'm not fantastic at yet, but it's not because I underestimate how important it is. Lisa says you should go to book launches, programs and submit things to journals and competitions. You might meet a like-minded stranger at a festival and make a best friend or even a business partner out of them. You might submit some work to a journal and it is rejected by the committee, but when the committee member who loved your story moves on to another position, they will very well remember you and your talent. 
Personally, I attended two SCBWI Conferences in 2009 and made some of the best writing friends I could have there.

#4 Put your writing out there

Lisa says keep writing. That's so important. But don’t keep it to yourself – put it out there.
Lisa is a big advocate of blogging and says that if you’re interesting or a good writer, people will read you.

Blogging helped her to learn to write succinctly, in her own voice and regularly.
But there are other things you can do other than blogging. If you’re a poet, go to spoken word events. A political commentator or comedian? Twitter is a great place to test out your skills.

That's it for today! What are your thoughts?

On Thursday, find PART TWO, with Lisa's Tips #5-7.

#5 Anyone can be successful

#6 You will fail and make enormous mistakes. And that's okay.

#7 Do what you care about.

Lisa Dempster is a jack of all trades in the publishing industry. She is a vegan food writer, has worked on a contract basis for publishing companies, bought out a small press and created her very own, Vignette Press, and is currently the Director of a two week festival for writers here in Melbourne, The Emerging Writers Festival (which starts this week) as well as being a Bachelor of Writing & Publishing Lecturer at NMIT, Fairfield. Phew!


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