Australian author Jodi Gibson has had a love of writing as long as she can remember. She has been writing professionally since 2010 and has only recently turned her full attention to fiction. She fills us in on the subjectivity of good writing, the Australian writing community and being heard amongst the noise.
Please give us a brief overview of yourself and your work.
I’m an emerging commercial contemporary fiction writer. I currently have a manuscript out on submission to agents, and a handful of other manuscripts in varying stages of completion. My stories are very much character based. I love writing about secrets, memories, and the psychology of how we interact within relationships. The manuscript out on submission at the moment is a story about a young woman returning to her hometown after the passing of her mother and being forced to face her past. In particular, she has to finally confront her emotions from the death of her boyfriend when they were 17. It deals with issues such as memory, grief, secrets, betrayals and how split-second mistakes can change lives.
I mainly write novel-length works but have also dabbled in short stories and novellas. I also blog about writing and my writing journey.
What made you want to be a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and escaping life through words. I journaled quite prolifically through my teens and early twenties but it wasn’t until my late thirties when I left full-time employment to raise my young family where I considered writing as a career. I began freelance writing articles and moved into copywriting. I also began writing creatively in my spare time, and I realized how much I enjoyed it. Creative writing became one of the most natural things for me to do and my full focus.
What inspires you to write?
There’s no one thing that inspires me to write. It’s just an innate need to. I am inspired by real-life stories and the fascination with relationships and the way we interact in the world. I’m quite philosophical and that often drives my stories. I love asking the question ‘What if?’ to begin a new story idea, and love seeing how a character will grow through a story. I think there are story ideas everywhere, and you just need to be tuned into the world around you.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write. And keep writing. The only way to become a better writer is to write. My favorite quote of all time is from Ernest Hemmingway who said, ‘We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.’ – it is so true, and something all writers need to remember.
I’d also say to aspiring authors, that writing – or any creative pursuit for that matter – is subjective. Not everyone will like what you write, and that’s okay. What is important is that you value the process and that writing makes you feel something that other things don’t. It doesn’t matter if you are published or not, keep writing because it’s what you do (although I know we all want to be published!)
Any advice for approaching publishers?
Only approach when you are completely ready. Your manuscript must have been revised and redrafted to the nth degree – until you can no longer do anything more with it.
Follow manuscript submission guidelines to the letter.
Be sure about where your manuscript lies in the market and where you can see your book sitting on the shelves.
Have a clear and engaging synopsis that leaves no doubt in the publisher’s mind that they want to read your work.
All easier said than done, right?
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
Being heard amongst all the noise.
New authors really need to understand social media and how to promote themselves and their book, remembering there is a fine line between putting your book out there and being that annoying person who doesn’t stop barking about their book! Marketing these days is a toolkit full of options, not just one avenue.
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
Social media is the easiest way to put yourself out there. You need to be interesting and market not only your book but yourself as a person and a writer. You also need to be supportive of others.
There are so many avenues you can take to market your book, from social media to print media, podcasts, radio, book signings, events, author talks, writing festivals and more. They all need to be used together to maximize effectiveness.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
It’s not easy. I tend to look at it objectively. Not everyone will like my writing or stories. Sometimes they will not fit the market, sometimes the publisher will have something similar or feel that it’s not marketable. That’s the business of being an author. It’s not personal, and you have to look at it that way. So, take a moment to feel the rejection but don’t dwell on it or let it cloud your future writing; just get back to writing.
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
I’m an introvert, so the isolation doesn’t bother me all that much. I do though love social media as it allows me to not feel alone as a writer. In Australia, we have the most wonderfully supportive and interactive writing community, that is warm, friendly and inclusive. There is always someone there at the end of the keyboard to share your joy, confusion, disappointment or to simply have a laugh with.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Read! You cannot become a writer without reading. Read both inside and outside of your genre but don’t waste time reading books you don’t enjoy. I read a lot of commercial contemporary fiction but I also enjoy crime, thriller, romance, and rural fiction.