SCBWI meeting Monday September 16, 2013 Hughenden Hotel, Woolahra

Special Guest: Author, Aleesah Darlison


Aleesah writes picture books and novels for children. She reviews books for the Sun Herald and has won many awards for her writing. She has written 18 books in the last three years, including Bearly There, Puggle’s Problem, Warambi, the Unicorn Riders and Totally Twins Series. In 2014, Aleesah will release her fourth picture book, Little Meerkat, (published by Wombat Books) plus a brand new fantasy series for boys called Ash Rover (published by Walker Books).  She travels extensively across Australia and internationally entertaining and inspiring students of all ages.


For more about Aleesah go to:

The Business of Writing

Aleesah spoke about the business of writing. Of needing to see your writing as a business where you are in charge of everything from the finances, creating the product, pitching that product and working with designers, publishers, publicists to promote that product. You are also in charge of your image and brand and making sure it is consistent and representative of you and what you write.

The most joyous part of the business, however, is the creating, but so much more has to be done to keep that business going.  

Marketing is Hard Work

She admitted that marketing is hard work, takes skill and needs lots of time. Even if you have a great publicist, you need to look for other opportunities to get your work known and in front of your readers. As with any business, not everyone will love your ideas and rejection will come with the pitches of the product as well as in trying to market it. Don’t worry. Aleesah keeps a spreadsheet of all her rejections and has to date about four hundred of them…but she still keeps going.

Here are a few things to keep your name out there: appearances, networking, writing articles, book reviews and book launches.

Opportunities and New Angles


Aleesah emphasized to always look for new angles and opportunities to promote your work and yourself….like ideas, they are everywhere and you can always do more. Publishers also LOVE authors and illustrators who are savvy self-promoters.

You Are The Key To Your Own Success

She was adamant that everyone has excuses or feels it is hard but you have to take the risk and put yourself out there.

One lovely piece of advice Aleesah gave was to look at your career as a long-term project. Those over-night successes rarely happen over night.

With the market more competitive than ever, you need to work out what is it that makes you stand out. What is your WOW factor that makes you and your product different from other authors and illustrators.

As well as the usual ways to promote like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs, think of ways to connect emotionally with your reader…and those who buy books for them.


Regularly think about:

Who you are

Who you want to be

Who you want to be seen as

And if necessary;



reinvigorate and tell everyone about it.

Thank you to Aleesah for a wonderfully succinct and information-packed evening. The room was completely buzzing afterwards. Thank you as always to Susanne who generously opens her hotel, The Hughenden, for us to chat and talk and share our bookish news.

Take care everyone,

Deborah Abela ARA, SCBWI