On Writing

Writers, editors, agents, publishers and more share their thoughts, experiences and stories.

One of the most interesting areas of change in literature over the last fifty years has been in non-fiction. Creative non-fiction is a term that seeks to encompass its shifting boundaries. Much of the excitement in literature is happening at the intersection of fiction and non-fiction, so that what the writer invents, with the reader’s cognisance, becomes integral to the narration and creates a wholly satisfying whole, where ‘satisfying’ involves some aspect of engagement that spills over into enjoyment.

ALAA agent Jacinta di Mase answers some common questions about literary agents.
 

What does a literary agent do?

A literary agent is a writer’s representative in the commercial world: their manager, their business representative, protector of their copyright, the one who weighs in on the side of the author/illustrator in all dealings. 

There are certain ‘signposts’ that, if I see them in a Young Adult (YA) manuscript submission pitch, they can tell me all I need to know about how much an author actually understands YA literature and the readership they purport to be writing for. 

1. YA is not a genre 

Royalties* are very important. They are, after all, the primary source of an author’s income. Royalties compensate you, the author, for your work. Good royalties, proper royalties, will increase your income.

Australian Literary Management was established in 1980 by Caroline Lurie. I joined the company some ten years later and in 1993 became the sole owner. The mainstay of the agency was Australian literary fiction. We also represented a few children’s authors, biography authors, historians and academics. As far as popular fiction went, it mainly consisted of a couple of crime authors.

‘The Government supports the removal of parallel import restrictions on books.’ –The Australian Government response to the (Harper) Competition Policy Review

 

When the Turnbull Government published this statement in late 2015, it rendered hollow all its claims about being proinnovation. Indeed, it signed the death warrant of a globally envied local publishing industry and of new Australian writing.

Jacinta di Mase asks creators to reflect on their experiences with literary agents.

As agents, it may seem obvious to us that one of the most important aspects of our role is to provide insights into the publishing industry for the creators we represent.

At conferences and panels budding writers in the audience frequently ask: ‘How can I get my YA/Children’s novel published?

The Australian Literary Agents’ Association (ALAA) represents more than one thousand established and emerging authors and illustrators across all sectors of the publishing industry. Along with many others in the publishing community, our members were shocked to hear that the federal government is considering the repeal of existing parallel importation restrictions (PIRs) on books. These restrictions prohibit booksellers from importing books from overseas when a local edition is available.

Sarah Vincent investigates why it’s important to know what level your writing career is at.

Why does everyone want to know what stage you’re at as a writer? Does it matter? Some days I’m at “Wohoo!”; some days it’s “Who am I kidding?” and some days it’s “Throwing my computer out the window, why didn’t I become a nurse like my sister cause she gets double time on Sundays.”