So You Want To Be A Writer – Q&A Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait

So You Want To Be A Writer
Children's Authors | Novel | Reference work

Valerie Khoo is CEO of the Australian Writers’ Centre, the country’s leading centre for writing courses. With campuses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Online, the centre has enrolled more than 50,000 students across Australia and internationally.

A former journalist, Valerie is also co-author of the book So You Want To Be A Writer: How to get started (while you still have a day job), and author of Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business. She is co-host of two weekly podcasts: So You Want To Be A Writer and So You Want To Be A Photographer.

Allison Tait is the internationally published bestselling author of six novels for children, including The Mapmaker Chronicles and Ateban Cipher series, published in the Australia/New Zealand, the US and other territories around the world. Allison is co-host of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, co-admin, with Megan Daley and Allison Rushby, of the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and director of the children’s program for the Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival.

Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo
Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo

What is So You Want To Be A Writer about?

“So You Want To Be A Writer (How to get started while you still have a day job) is full of advice for new and aspiring writers about how to get your book written, how to get published, and how to overcome some of the challenges you face when you’re getting a foot in the door of the writing industry. We aim to offer practical, hands-on and useful tips, gleaned not only from our many years of experience across different aspects of the writing and publishing industry, but also from 200+ interviews for our podcast of the same name.” – Allison Tait

Is there a particular theme in your story?

“Our book is not so much about the craft of writing as it is a guide to being a writer.” Allison Tait

“We acknowledge that writing is often a side-hustle when you’re starting out, and we encourage a ‘stepped’ process when transitioning into a writing career. We provide really practical advice on how you can fit writing into your already busy life.” – Valerie Khoo

Was there an inspiration for your story?

“Allison and I co-host the weekly podcast “So you want to be a writer” which is all about helping aspiring writers learn more about the craft of writing. We wanted to write the book in order to distill our advice into one handy place! And the response has been overwhelming. We’re so thrilled that it seems to be striking a chord with people who have found it really inspiring and informative.” – Valerie Khoo

What is the story behind the story?

“Valerie and I have known each other for a very long time. Twenty years ago, we had desks right next to each other when we both worked at a women’s magazine. Since then, we’ve taken different paths through the writing and publishing industries, and our different approaches and experiences can be heard every week on our podcast, which has had well over 1 million downloads now. Our friendship and mutual respect made writing this book together very easy.” – Allison Tait

“We’re pretty in sync when it comes to bouncing ideas off each other and allocating who is supposed to do what. We divided up the chapters based on our areas of expertise and we agreed on our “voice”, which is really the conversational and friendly voice we have on our podcast – and away we went!”  – Valerie Khoo

What kind of research did you do to write this story?

“A lot of experience went into this book, drawn from two long careers, along with countless hours of interviewing authors and writers of all different backgrounds, genres and approaches for the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast. Those interviews gave us a vast primary resource on which to draw for tips and advice.” – Allison Tait

Do you have any tips for people wanting to write for children?

“I have three:

  • Understand who you’re writing for – don’t rely on your memories of being a child to write your stories but instead talk to actual children today
  • Understand where your story might fit in the bookshop – actively research what’s already out there
  • Join an association such as SCWBI or your local CBCA chapter and meet other people writing for children” – Allison Tait

“It’s totally possible to achieve your writing goals, whatever they may be. It’s a matter of determining the steps that will get you to where you want to be – and our book helps you figure that out – and then making small progress on those steps every day.” – Valerie Khoo

You can find out more about Valerie and Allison be visiting the following sites.

More about So You Want To Be A Writer the book.

So You Want To Be A Writer podcast.

Australian Writers Centre website.

Allison Tait website.

Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group.


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