10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

4. Humour

Some thoughts on writing humour. It’s a tricky business. Current events can instantly kill humourous writing. If you write a funny piece about fear of flying, say, then a plane crashes, the article crashes too.

Readers can take personal affront to a joke. I once wrote a funny piece alleging that the group KISS were a band of aging rockers. They did wear those platform heels. Could be a bit dodgy as you age. I received quite a few outraged emails. The KISS army is out there somewhere still loyal and still marching on.  Age shall not weary them,  apparently.  I’ve  had  highly  critical letters stating that my writing lacked  the  restraint  necessary  for  a  civilised  society.  I  didn’t realise I  could  cause  the  collapse  of  Western  Civilisation  by  including  the words ‘pissing yourself’ in an article.

But more than anything I loathe with a passion the HUMOUR section in a bookshop.

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10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

5. Rights

Some thoughts on Copyright. It is a tricky business. For instance, fair use laws apply in Australia for extracts and quotes, but what does this mean to a professional writer? (See Australian Copyright Council link below for detailed information) As a freelance author and journalist for over 30 years I am both the owner and user of copyright material.

As a Copyright Owner:

Books and Newspapers: Can publishers rip off ideas you have pitched to them? Yes! Ideas aren’t protected except for the exact wording. In the early days I’d pitch an idea to an editor, who’d reply ‘We’ve already got someone on that story.’ As if they already had someone on a story about using car parts as garden features, an Aussie peculiarity.

Newspapers: Can articles be published without your permission? Not legally. Although I was a freelance journalist and other imprints in the newspaper group assumed I worked in house. If I found out they had published an article in print I asked to be paid. About 2/3 of original fee. Less for smaller magazines.

Online: I’ve had my own articles emailed back to me in a chain letter without my name on it. That’s what annoyed me the most, a friend sending me a chain funny saying ‘You’ll like this.’ ‘Yeah! I bloody wrote it.’

RULE OF THUMB: If your work is used in a commercial product of any form you should be paid unless you have waived the fee.

https://www.copyright.org.au/…/An_Introduction_to_Copyright…

COPYRIGHT USE:  I’ve had a substantial quote used in a VCE year 12 exam. They didn’t ask for permission. But, maybe, for the sake of all students I should have asked for money to inflict some reverse pain on the examiners. Ha!

Recently, I was asked permission for a quote of mine to be used on a brass plaque in a bar in Malta. I didn’t think they needed permission, but I appreciated the request and, if I get to Malta, I reckon there’s a free drink waiting for me.

10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

6. Editors

In the beginning I argued with editors. The phrase ‘shivering like a new born foal’* in my first book arrived in the galleys as ‘shivering like a new born chicken.’ I was outraged, reinstated ‘foal’, to discover in print I’d written ‘fowl’. I’ve woken up in a cold sweat  when,  during  the  Iraq invasion, I wrote about friends who became ‘ dessert  warfare ’  armchair  experts.  I was saved that time.  A newspaper editor didn’t save me from ‘Bass Straight’.  It  appeared  in  the  banner heading too.  As I’m a humorist, they probably thought it was a joke. On the other hand, I’ve had a book editor insist that a character cannot walk ‘ through the door ’ but must walk ‘in at the door.’ Perhaps she was technically correct. I don’t know, but it sounded horrible. She added about 90 @s to the MS. I took them out and sent her an email with the 90 @s.  I  don’t  see  myself  as the hissy fit type.  Note  to  Self:  Be more gracious or shut the FU. We writers often assume our copy is  perfectly  clear  to others. It may not be. Now I’ll go all Jerry McGuire in the sting. To all my editors, who have saved me from my own arrogance or ignorance over the years, a big belated ‘thanks’.

10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

No. 7

In 1982 I had my first book and  first  article  published as well as my first baby. Much has changed on all fronts since then including a 6’2” baby. I know how to get published (See below) as a freelance but, like all paying endeavours, you can be seduced  into  following  the  money trail. I became a freelance journalist and earned a reasonable living  but  it’s  taken  me  30+  years to write my first novel. Could  I  have  written  a  novel  earlier?  Maybe.  Then  again  a 30+ year writing apprenticeship is a good preparation for a novelist. I can’t tell you what path to follow, but I can tell you how to earn money from writing.

Love the middle-aged, morose, driven crime novel detective.

Love crime novels. Love the middle-aged, morose, driven crime novel detective. Here are just a few of my favourites in this category: Morse, Lewis, Bosch, Wallander, Rebus, Perez, DCI Banks,  Frost,  Foyle,  Cannon,  Montalbano,  Harry  Hole,  Jesse  Stone,  George  Gently, Longmire.

Readers keep sending more names. Add Vera (fits the bill despite being female) and Jack Irish.

Stuck in a Fog of Negativity? You must meet Taku.

Surround yourself with positive people. Keep away from the ENERGY VAMPIRES who suck the energy out of you. No references needed. Just Google Negative People Instagram or Pinterest. You will have heard these mantras often enough.

The problem is you can be stuck in a fog of negativity without realising it. The fog is just there. Try aging, for starters. Nearly every conversation begins with a litany of health woes. So much so, I try to instigate a friend’s idea. We call it Renata’s Rule: ’10 minutes on health issues then move on.’

It has been a great joy to me to connect up with Taku Mbudzi. Taku emanates a radiant field of positive energy. Funny,  enthusiastic, inspiring. Taku is  a  skilled  writer, broadcaster  (She has appeared on The Project with Charlie Pickering),  podcaster  (See below)  and public speaker. More  importantly, to meet Taku is equivalent  to  popping  a ‘positive  vibe  pill’  if such a thing existed. Taku  is  young, energetic and funny, and I’m sure many students would benefit from being exposed to Taku’s positive force field. You can find out more about Taku here.

I have been  delighted  to  be  involved  with  Taku’s  podcasts  talking  about  ways  to tackle professional writing. In the first podcast we looked at writing newspaper articles. The second podcast involved getting a book published.

Being  interviewed  by  Taku  reminded me of one of my own vital traits. My younger self was undaunted by  the  challenge  of becoming  a  professional  writer,  simply  because I was so optimistic. Rejections – I could wallpaper my house with rejection slips – just bounced off me. Timing and luck played their part. But I just kept at it until I found my niche.

Episode 18 – Writing [Fake] News Articles with Journalist and Author Kerry Cue

Episode 19 – Getting Published in Australia with Author and Maths Blogger Kerry Cue