Sarah Rodgers was talking to a friend about a novel manuscript she’d started a few years previously but hadn’t managed to finish. Her friend suggested that now was the right time to get back to work on it. That night, Sarah enrolled in the Write Your Novel program at the Australian Writers' Centre.
“The course helped me get my novel, In the End, finished. There is no doubt in my mind that the quality of the book is markedly better than it would have been had I kept plugging away on my own,” Sarah told us.
Sarah has gone on to self-publish In the End and couldn’t be happier with the results.
“You have the ultimate control over your book if you self-publish, and of course, I retain the rights to my manuscript. I've also got a choice about how to distribute my book.”
The right structure at the right time
Sarah had enrolled in the Write Your Novel program once before and knew when she went into it the second time that the structure would help her to finish her novel.
“There were several things that I found useful,” Sarah says. “First and foremost, the quality of the feedback from the teacher and my fellow students.
“The structure of the program (ironically, as I'm not an overly structured person) helped me, and having the schedule months in advance so I could ensure I had adequate time to complete the various activities, as well as set aside writing time. Having deadlines ensured things didn't just get reprioritised, meaning it kept me accountable.
“Reading the work of others and learning to provide constructive feedback, I think, made me more critical of my work – not critical in a bad way, but able to step back from it and ask myself ‘what is the purpose of that sentence?' or ‘does this move the story along?'”
That structure is something that she has maintained, even after the course ended.
“When I was participating in the program, I dedicated every Sunday to writing and I took off one or two weeks here and there to help me meet the various submission deadlines. I tend not to write in the midst of my work day – although there were definitely some evenings that I would find myself at the computer banging out more words!
Deciding to go indie
Sarah knew early on that she wanted to take the independent publishing route, as it would be faster and she’d have more control over the process.
“For the most part, it was a pretty easy experience, and I am VERY happy with the finished product, in particular the book cover, which was created by the designers after only one phone call. Being able to clearly articulate what you want will make that part of the process very easy.”
Sarah has used social media and her network to market the book, and even held a successful launch event in Canberra. She’s about to embark on her next novel while continuing to run her business.
“I often say to people who want to write a novel that being a good writer isn't enough. You need to learn the craft of writing, learn how to develop a character, and how to create momentum are just two examples. Courses like Write Your Novel allow you to develop this craft whilst writing. Additionally, the importance of structure is a key part of the program, and this helped me enormously.
“I can't speak highly enough of the Write Your Novel course at AWC. You learn a lot, as well, meet some like-minded aspiring writers, and wonderful teachers.”
Courses completed at AWC: