Ep 163 New opportunities in content and custom publishing; And meet Samone Bos, who evolved her blog into the book ‘Momo Freaks Out’.

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podcast-artworkIn Episode 163 of So you want to be a writer: Discover new opportunities in content and custom publishing. Learn why writing is rewriting and what makes you a real writer. Meet Samone Bos, who evolved her popular blog into the book Momo Freaks Out. We have 3 copies of A.L. Tait’s Beyond the Edge of the Map to giveaway. Plus: author Instagram accounts you should be following and much more!

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Review of the Week
From Sanch:

 If you want to be a writer Here’s the thing for you Val and Al’s weekly podcast Will tell you what to do They’ll update you on writing goss Teach you all tips and tricks They’ll chat to inspiring writing folk Which gives your bum a deserved kick You’ll come away full of ideas For freelance and creative work You’ll want to write straight away And regular duties you’ll surely shirk There’s other lil’ tidbits you’ll hear Of banoffee pie and Procrastipup With Al and Val in your life It’s like having friends who prop you up ~ Sanch

Thanks, Sanch!

Show Notes

The Tangello Group to publish Diabetes Australia’s magazine

When not to link your brand with gay hate crime

A reminder of what makes a real writer

Writing is Rewriting

Writer in Residence

Samone Bos

Samone Bos lives with her eight-year-old twins and their retired champion greyhound Diesel in a super-colourful mid-century house near the beach in Melbourne’s south.

Samone is a commissioning editor and has worked in children’s publishing since 1999. To be honest, she would have preferred to have been a children’s television presenter and has the primary-colour wardrobe to prove it, but has built a successful and satisfactory career as an editor and also writer for a bunch of publications, namely Dorling Kindersley in the UK, some bits and pieces for Lonely Planet, Macmillan Australia, and Hardie Grant Egmont.

Her memoir is called Momo Freaks Out.

Follow her on Instagram: momofreaksout

Competition

WIN A.L. Tait’s 4th Mapmaker Chronicles book!

Platform Building Tip

Five Australian Author Instagram Accounts I Love

Your hosts

Allison Tait

Valerie Khoo / Australian Writers’ Centre

Connect with us on twitter

@altait

@valeriekhoo

Email us

podcast at writerscentre.com.au

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Interview Transcript

Valerie

Thanks for joining us today, Samone.

Samone

Yeah, no worries. Thanks for having me along, Valerie.

Valerie

All right. Now your book, Momo Freaks Out, just for the listeners who haven’t read the book yet, can you tell us what it’s about?

Samone

Okay. Well, basically, it’s based on a blog I had – I was an early blogger – from 2002 through to 2008. And it basically covered my life living in Melbourne as a young book editor. I do work in publishing. And having a whole lot of changes of moving overseas, living in Tokyo, then London and Singapore. And at the heart of it is really a love story between myself and my partner, Tim, whose name was T-Bone in Momo Freaks Out because we went with aliases like everyone did back in the old blogging days.

Valerie

Now when you started this blog, why did you start it? Like, did you anticipate it was going to be a book one day?

Samone

No, not at all. I started it mostly because I’d found out about blogging, I’d stumbled across it one day, just while bored at work actually. It was through a business card and I went down quite a wormhole and found blogs. Because back in those days, it was actually I think it was about the end of 2001, blogs weren’t really the common thing that they are now. Not at all, actually. I don’t think that anyone really knew what they were. You were sort of in on it or you weren’t. But I certainly didn’t anticipate it becoming a book. Although, I did want to write a novel. I saw it as an opportunity to have a daily writing practice. So, yeah, that’s really what it helped, was practising to write the novel I hoped to write some day. And it became it.

Valerie

Right, and it became the novel. So you do work in the publishing industry? What do you do?

Samone

That’s right, yep. I work in children’s publishing, though, not adult’s publishing. So I’ve been working in kids publishing since 1999. I started off as a production assistant – I didn’t even know what that was – but that got me my foot in the door.

Valerie

And so what do you enjoy about working in the children’s publishing industry?

Samone

I just love kids books. To be honest, I like kids books a lot more than adult books. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, and I think if you are going to work in children’s publishing that’s how it should be. But I don’t know, I think I’m young at heart, I’m not that old. Pretty old. I turned 40 last year. But it sort of stopped at that. Like, oh yeah, I turned 40 a while ago. I’ve got kids, I’ve got eight-year old twins. Even before I had them, I… I don’t know. I just love kids books, and enjoy making them.

Valerie

So this book, though, is not a kids book.

Samone

Not at all.

Valerie

It’s an adult book.

Samone

Yes.

Valerie

And there’s a few adult themes in there, as well. At what point, though, in your blogging journey, did you start thinking to yourself “you know what, this could be a book one day?” Was it quite early? Was it only recently?

Samone

I didn’t really… Well, the way it came about was I never submitted it. I didn’t submit it to anyone for publication. Julia Taylor, who was the senior commissioning editor on the Echo list, she sort of found me through Facebook. We did know each other vaguely through the publishing world. But I was writing one day, this was like April last year, in 2016, I was writing about internet trolls on my Facebook and how I’d dealt with my own, and she was just interested to know, “oh, you had a blog, did you?” And she wanted to know if that was something that she might be interested in looking at. And I thought, nah. But then pretty quickly I zoomed out on the freeway and handed her a full print-out of my blog. So, I did grab, I grabbed the opportunity once given to me. But I didn’t seek out a publishing deal at all.

Valerie

So tell me about the process of that? Did you literally print out your blog in full? And is your book literally those posts, all of those posts? Or did you curate them? Or did you add bits in between? Tell us about that process.

Samone

It’s a heavily edited version of my blog. That blog was 200,000 words. It spanned six and a half years. And a lot of it was all weird scrapbooky stuff of photos of things I liked, things I wanted to buy, bands I liked, whatever. So when dealing with it… Actually, about six years ago I spoke at the Emerging Writers Festival. I was on a panel called Mining the Personal with some other people. So at that time, I printed out the blog. So I had it handy. And we didn’t have any hard copies of the blog either, we had to go via that printout.

So initially I just went through and read it, cringed a lot, because it’s really embarrassing reading it, reading your own diary. You know, I’d forgotten I’d thought and done a lot of these things. But yeah, just went through and manually did my big edit of crossing things out and whittling it down that way.

But really, I went through it about five times solidly. Of course, I had a copyeditor and a structural editor, but I still had to edit my own material. Otherwise, it is diary entries. And some things… I didn’t rewrite anything; I wanted to, that’s for sure. But I mean, maybe save from editing out a few bits and pieces in an entry that didn’t quite gel, it’s kind of the real deal. But it can’t be found online because I scuttled it in 2008, it was all taken down.

Valerie

And why did you take it down in –

Samone

It very much is a book.

Valerie

Because of the book?

Samone

No, not at all. I took it down in 2008, or maybe 2009. I’ve got twins. They’re eight years old now. And when they were three months old, I don’t know, I took a long hard look at myself and thought, “do I really want to be blogging their lives?” I feel pretty strongly – you know, each to their own – but my personal stance is that kids’ lives are their own to live, and not really to be curated as part of their parents’ lives. I don’t know. The funny stories I really wanted to keep for themselves, and not necessarily as entertainment for others. Everyone in Momo, the book and the blog, was an adult. I didn’t necessarily ask them all if they wanted their stories, but I’m kind of the butt of all jokes, really.

Valerie

Yes.

Samone

I think that’s it. And at that time, in 2008, to me blogging was kind of over. But I know a lot of other people seem to think that was when it started. But that’s when sponsorship deals started, and media influencers. All these weird things that I know nothing about because I’m not really a social media person. I’m an anti-social media.

Valerie

So you say that when you read through it, you were cringing in some parts, and did I really do that, and that sort of thing. Because I think that when you are blogging, in a sense, especially when you’re blogging and everyone’s kind of got a code name, you almost are more confessional than if you are out there as you, in a sense. So when you did go through it, were you tempted to chuck bits out? Or how did you feel about putting it all out there, as you, in a book? You know what I mean?

Samone

I felt very confronted. I will say that. And especially the more and more I dug through it, and I had conversations with my editor about this, and there were a few melties where I was like “I look like a creep”.

Valerie

Like the hydroponic tomatoes!

Samone

Yeah! I’m a thief! But yeah, I think a lot of it is this… I don’t think I ever had a charmed existence, but it kind of would come across like that if I didn’t show the warts and all version of me cracking it frequently. And just doing things that, you know… I think if you’re going to put something out there, you’ve got to show all the shades, really.

Valerie

Are you… No, please go on.

Samone

Oh, no, that’s it. I’ve finished. Go on.

Valerie

Are you tempted to write another blog? Or potentially another memoir or other longer piece of work? Adult work?

Samone

Yeah. Um. I’m actually in the process of writing a novel, which will be my first novel, which has been commissioned. And that’s called Forty Teen. The subtitle is A Coming of Age Story. And that’s completely novelised and fictitious. Although, I did turn forty-two years ago. So I can’t move that far away from the memoir stuff. So I’m writing that at the moment. I was tempted to start blogging again. But I’ve got an Instagram account with not that many followers. But my personal Instagram – I’ve got a Momo one – but I’ve also got a personal one which I think is kind of like a mini-blog to me. Not a blog blog.

Valerie

And let’s just go to your work in children’s publishing for a bit, because I know people will be interested. As a commissioning editor, what are you looking for in a children’s book? And what are some of the biggest mistakes you see children’s writers make?

Samone

Okay. I think the biggest mistake is to be too wordy and boring.

Valerie

Okay.

Samone

There’s nothing wrong with earnestness. But I’m not sure that children’s publishing is really the place for it. I think if we’re going to get life lessons into kids, including eat your veggies, they need to be woven in in other ways, and maybe just be true to childhood. Like, I don’t know… We do get a lot of books where I think that’s boring, why would a kid like it? But I mean, we get lots of wonderful submissions as well. Oh, I don’t know how to answer that without sounding too mean. Because I like to be really encouraging of people. But I think… I mean, you know, Andy Griffiths did give me a quote for my book, so I’m going to sing his praises. But I’ve always loved his work because I think that Andy, especially – I mean, he’s our best writer in Australia, in my mind, and a lot of people’s – he’s really true to childhood. I don’t think he ever, he’s obviously a functional man, he’s a father and a husband and all the rest of it, but I don’t think he ever left his childhood behind. And that’s really evident in his writing. You’ve got to love kids books. I don’t think you can set out… I mean, plenty of people seem to come up with the notion of “I’m going to write a kids book. Because I’ve got children and I tell them a bedtime story.” I mean, that’s gorgeous and great and I think that’s how Winnie the Pooh got off the ground. I’m not exactly sure. I’m probably confusing my stories. But I think you’ve got to really have a passion for writing kids books, otherwise, don’t bother. Just because they’re short, doesn’t mean they’re easy by a long shot.

Valerie

Yeah. And so can you identify any trends that are hot right now in the children’s publishing world? And which trends are over?

Samone

I don’t know. That’s something we struggle with all the time at my work. I work for Five Mile. I think, we’re very much, our company sort of… Sorry, I’m losing my words.

Valerie

That’s okay.

Samone

Our position in the market is trying to be quite trend-led, so I should know what those trends are! I think that publishing, children’s publishing, children are not separate to the rest of the world. I think whatever trends are happening everywhere else are happening in children’s publishing. And there are a lot of issues… You know, kids, my kids certainly don’t want the news, I make them put their hands over the ears and start singing and yelling if a news break comes on TV. They’re eight. I want to keep them away from that stuff as long as possible. Because I didn’t. If the telly was off when I was growing up, it was because there was a blackout. I think that we need to put that filter on for children. But even so, they do absorb the world, and books need to reflect the modern world. There’s lots of sort of grandma books that get sold still. Like, that older people might like that aren’t necessarily… They have a different notion of the role of a children’s book.

Valerie

So when you mean grandma books, what do you mean by grandma books? Do you mean books written by older people for children that are a bit outdated?

Samone

No, not meaning… Oh, that’s such a bad way of saying it. I sort of more mean, there’s a lot of books out there… I love grandmas, and I can’t wait to be one myself. I more mean that there’s a lot of books out where there’s a certain nostalgia to them, just in their illustrative style or that sentiment. I know my mum, whenever she sends a book to my kids it’s called I Love you Grandma, or Kisses for Grandma, or Grandma’s the Best. There’s that kind of grandma the topic. Or even just that sort of very sweet, I don’t know, kids books like what I had in the early eighties which were a bit sentimental and nostalgic. That’s what I mean by grandma books. And sometimes with daggy illustrations. But don’t come and get me, grandmas! I think you’re all awesome!

Valerie

So when one writes a memoir, so back on to the memoir, when one writes a memoir usually it follows a particular narrative arc, it follows a particular journey. Did you feel that your blog, in the period that you covered, naturally fell into a narrative arc that would work for a book? Or did you have to chop it at a certain point in order for it to not have an anti-climax or something like that?

Samone

No, it was all pretty much in real-time of what I blogged. I didn’t want to start with my first ever blog entry because I didn’t particularly like it. But it started with the first blog entry, and it ended with the last blog entry. And that was something I spoke about with my editors, like, is this really a story? And I think Julia, particularly, who commissioned it, did say that there was a beginning a middle and an end. It is split up into three parts. And yeah, I think there is that arc of us sort of, me and Tim, Momo and T-Bone, the two main characters, me and Tim my former husband – we’re not married anymore, so that’s another story.

Valerie

Okay.

Samone

Us just sort of at a loose end, just hanging out being kidults for years, for a long time. Then we sort of had the big blow up where we decided to move overseas. That’s a middling period. Then still not quite sure what we were doing we came home and had babies, and I don’t know… There were more realisations to be had there.

Valerie

Wonderful. Well, it certainly gives inspiration to so many bloggers out there who are hoping that their blog is going to turn into a book one day. So thank you very much for sharing your journey with us. And of course, if people want to follow kind of like the new version of your blog, your Instagram account, where do they follow you?

Samone

All it is is @momofreaksout on Instagram. It’s a public account, so you can come and like me there if you feel like it. There’s all sorts of random things. Sometimes I get confused between that and my personal account, so you never know what’s going to show up. But it’s a lot of fun. I’m a big fan of Instagram. I do love Instagram. I don’t Twitter. Definitely don’t Facebook anymore. Insta is where it’s at for me.

Valerie

Wonderful. Okay, so it’s @momofreaksout which is the name of the book. And thank you so much for talking to us today, Samone.

Samone

Yeah, thanks heaps, Valerie, it was awesome.

 

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