When you think of common life goals, there are few out there as popular as writing a book. There are thousands of budding storytellers out there, just waiting to put their words to paper and see if they have the next Bridgerton on their hands.
But where does one start? Here, we chat with Simone Amelia Jordan – journalist and winner of The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers in 2021 – about her process and tips for taking that first step towards your big goal.
So, when it comes to publishing a book: what’s the best first move?
On this, Jordan explained that she’s still going through the process herself but shared that she recommends stepping into the journey with confidence. Her secret? You’ve just got to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
“I’m in the process of penning my first book, so I’m an emerging writer still reaching for that Holy Grail! Nonetheless, I believe you must start by throwing caution to the wind and shaking off your imposter syndrome,” she said.
“…it’s an absolute life goal for writers and non-writers alike, to get these stories out of us and into the world. I’m a journalist by trade, so writing creative non-fiction has been a challenge. But I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone to learn and be the best I can be.”
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?
“Setting aside time to not only write but also gather information and put some kind of structure together for each chapter has been extremely tough,” Jordan explained.
“I’m doing my best to balance everything I had going on before I started writing my memoir (three-year-old daughter, husband, my freelance work for Media Diversity Australia and Diversity Arts Australia plus my consulting agency, Higher Ground) and find extended periods to sit down and write. I’m being tougher on myself now, slowly stopping using everything on my plate as an excuse and making this book my priority.”
How has winning the Richell Prize changed your writing experience?
“I still can’t believe I won, so there’s that! (laughs). I completed my entire entry in a whirlwind month, during an extended COVID-19 lockdown period last year. I drove my poor family insane because, from the moment I saw the Prize advertised, I was hellbent on entering. Aside from a couple of short pieces for SBS Voices (in partnership with Sweatshop Western Sydney), I’d never written creative non-fiction before so for the first time, I enlisted trusted friends to look over my Richell Prize entry and critique it.
“I’m now much more open to sharing my work to make it better, and I can credit entering the Prize for that. Winning the Prize has truly allowed me to feel seen, and uplifted me to interact more confidently with the industry.”
Is entering the Richell Prize a worthwhile consideration for other writers hoping to have books published?
“Do I ever! I’ve had these anecdotes inside me for so many years, but never had a solid theme to bind them together—until now. Entering the Richell Prize not only forced me to brainstorm harder than ever on what the hook to my story was but also demanded I put together a chapter outline, a summary, and more,” Jordan explained.
“It gave me insight into the publishing industry and what might be required of me as an author. I come from neither a literary nor cushy background so when I say publishing a book felt like a pipe dream, I mean it. Entering the Prize is a much-needed push for emerging writers and all should consider putting themselves forward.”
It’s often said that those who want to write should read, so who should everyone be reading right now?
“My friends—both brilliant, passionate women—are celebrating their debut book releases over the next month. Isn’t that amazing?
“You have to pick up How To Lose Friends and Influence White People by Antoinette Lattouf, and Hip-Hop & Hymns by Mawunyo Gbogbo. Two women from underrepresented backgrounds taking the Australian publishing scene by storm. I can’t wait to read (and join!) them.”
If this has lit a fire under your butt and inspired you to write that book, The Richell Prize for 2022 is officially open and will be accepting entries until July 8, 2022. A prize winner will be announced on November 2, 2022. The winner will receive $10,000 in prize money, donated by Hachette Australia, and a year’s mentoring with one of Hachette Australia’s publishers.