Dimity Powell’s Writing Tips for Newbies

Today I’m pleased to welcome talented and charming Dimity Powell to DeeScribe Writing.

Dimity has dropped in on her blog tour to celebrate the release of her debut junior novel. PS Who Stole Santa’s Mail?

“Dimity’s new book is a quirky, fast-paced, light-hearted Christmas mystery filled with evanescing elves, odd smells and stolen hopes and scooters.”

Dimity says, “I didn’t set out to change the world with this children’s novel but I did want to embody my crazy love of all things Christmas within it, and to show kids the power and magic of believing in the spirit of Christmas.”


Here Dimity shares her path to publication, and she has some great tips for new writers.

Each author’s path to publication is unique and fascinating. Mine is no different. PS Who Stole Santa’s Mail? began as an assignment submission back in 2006.

Five years down the track, a couple of competition entries and a lot of editorial advice and massaging later, the manuscript was shortlisted by Morris Publishing Australia in their inaugural writing competition. I was overjoyed but dwelt little on it; thinking that I’d spend the rest of 2012 overhauling the story. When I got the email that I’d won a publishing contract, I experienced the usual disbelief immediately followed by panic. No sitting around on my hands now thinking about a rewrite! It was game on for real.

My first publishing experience has been pleasantly gratifying. Much of what I had been preparing and studying for over the past six years has been beautifully validated by the whole process. The term ‘journey’, used to express and define one’s rite of passage on any given venture, is sadly overused. Being an ex grotty yachty; I’m more comfortable with ‘voyage’. Sometimes it was smooth sailing. Sometimes there were choppy, uncertain seas, but it was always exhilarating.

Here are my top tips for newbies to the (traditional) publishing process.

  1. You’ve won a contract! Great.  Give yourself a quick pat on the back; enjoy the moment then, steel up. If you thought actually writing your story squeezed every last creative drop out of you, think again. The hard work is about to begin.
  2. Go back and give yourself another quick pat, because being offered a contract really is a momentous thing.
  3. Write out the word ENJOY and stick it somewhere prominent. Try to remember to do this at all times, because like many first time experiences, it’s easy to forget what the dream is all about when you are so busy living it. I enjoyed just about every aspect of the voyage even the rough bits because they were proof positive that I was attainting my goals. Maintaining a positive outlook well enhance your overall enjoyment.
  4. Read. Read everything you can about: others’ experiences, your contract, whatever your publisher sends your way. Make sure you understand exactly what you are reading. If you don’t, seek advice. A publishing contract is a legally binding agreement like any other. It is filled with terminology and percentages and clauses unique to this industry. Associations like ASA (Australian Society of Authors) can offer contract assessments, advice and guidance for the uninitiated.
  5. Don’t be shy. Develop a sound working rapport with your publisher. Even in the larger houses this is still possible. I was fortunate to be published by a growing independent publisher. The advantage to this is that any communication is almost instant. I felt more involved and was consulted at most stages.
  6. Be professional and friendly. Whilst you don’t need the docility of a house cow, being malleable to the publisher’s various requests goes a long way to establishing a workable relationship with them. Showing your publisher you are willing and able to work in a professional team and could also ensure an extended business relationship with them.
  7. Be prepared to rewrite parts of your manuscript. I really enjoyed this part. It gave me the opportunity to get back to the nuts and bolts of my story and tighten it up even more.
  8. Keep calm when it comes to editing. Again this was the part I was extremely keen to partake in. My edit was a bit rushed as it turned out; I would have loved more red pen queries. Don’t be put off by a heavy final edit. The result will be better, cleaner, and brighter.
  9. Be resourceful and pro-active. In today’s financial and forever changing climate, no publishing house has buckets of PR dollars to splash around, especially on first time authors. Try to take up as much of the promotional marketing slack as you can and know how to. I developed my own plan which I shared with my publisher. We then used it to fit her requirements and recommendations. Have a clear idea to whom you are aiming your book for, why, and how you intend to reach them. Know how you can best promote yourself and your book. Are you a keen blogging, social media fiend or part of a club or group that can assist you? Don’t be afraid to learn new ways to broaden your author platform and strengthen your author brand. But if you are not comfortable with online baring all, then investigate other ways to reach your audience; through library, festival or school visits for example. Don’t stop once you’ve received your first print run of books either! Happy days indeed, but if you want to move those books out of the box, you must maintain your marketing momentum.
  10. Start planning for publication before it happens.  Being published wasn’t my ‘be all and end all’ goal for writing. I just wanted to share my stories with the kids I wrote them for. But I did have a very clear plan of attack; almost down to the copy I would send to the local newspaper! I liken it to planning for your own wedding even before you’ve snagged a husband. Because it’s healthy to plan for your dreams right?
  11. Finally, like the Sam in PS Who Stole Santa’s Mail?, believe: in yourself, your publisher, your book.

Good luck with your writing and enjoy your reading – always!

Thanks Dimity for those fabulous tips.

Wishing you and Sam all the best on your blog tour and I hope that Sam finds his way onto many bookshelves:)



Find out more about Dimity and her book by visiting these other great blogs on tour:

Tania McCartney, Susan KBR 17/11/12 http://www.kids-bookreview.com/
My Little Bookcase 18/11/12 http://www.mylittlebookcase.com.au/
Sheryl Gywther 19/11/12 http://sherylgwyther.wordpress.com/
MPA australia 20/11/12 http://morrispublishingaustralia.com
Kat Apel 21/11/12 http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog/
Elaine Ouston 22/11/12 http://elaineoustonauthor.com
Renee Taprell 23/11/12 http://booksforlittlehands.blogspot.com.au/
Alison Reynolds 24/11/12 http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au/
Buzz Words, Vicki Stanton 25/11/12 http://buzzwordsmagazine.blogspot.com.au/
Christine Bell 26/11/12 http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/
Dee White 27/11/12 https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/
Jackie Hosking PIO 28/11/12 http://www.jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com
Alphabet Soup, Rebecca Newman 29/11/12 http://soupblog.wordpress.com
Angela Sunde 30/11/12 http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/