Secrets of Self Publishing & Grants

by Cate Whittle, for SCBWI ACT


SCBWI ACT enjoyed yet another successful development evening on 5th April when 30 or so members from the region – and one from as far afield as Mosman (lovely to see you, Anne) –  came together to discover the secrets of self publishing and grants.

And what secrets! 

Indie Publishing

Nicole Godwin started the evening off sharing the journey of her gorgeous book, Ella, and all the things that she learned along the way.

If the idea of self publishing appeals to you, Nicole suggests that you should begin by working out what your goals for your book are, why you want to go Indie, and what it will take to produce a quality book that can compete with traditionally published works, including what you will need to outsource to ensure your book will look and feel great.


For Nicole, going Indie was important in order to maintain control of a project that she was passionate about – promoting and supporting her animal rights cause for elephants. Nicole made sure that she knew what she wanted the finished product to look like by researching design elements and treatments for picture books in her extensive collection, and where she could find the expertise to make sure her vision was brought to life successfully.

Nicole talked about finding the right experts, costs for different aspects of production and promotion, crowdfunding, and developing a support base. The challenges she faced included the time it took to develop the product she was aiming for, balancing creativity and business, and juggling life balance, but, in the end, it was all worth it to hold Ella in her hands and see the book she put so much passion into find its place in the world and start to do its job.

If you are interested in looking at the crowdfunding campaign for Nicole’s next exciting project, check her Indiegogo page and for more information about Ella check out Nicole’s Tusk Books website.


In the panel session that followed, with

it quickly became clear that, despite the challenges, the journey of self publishing was well worth it. Highlights included having a book to hold at the end of the journey, and, in Jacqueline’s case, winning awards, or, for Genevieve, being able to help the Soldier On cause. Kerry loved having the book to share with family, and is already on her journey to produce her next book(s) which, in turn, promote a cause that is dear to her own heart.

Was it financially worth it? Not necessarily, but you do have to look at the process as a business, and be prepared to do the legwork to get the reward.

Would they do it again? A resounding yes!

Final advice? Trust in yourself and in the process and go for it! Don’t think you have to know it all before you begin. Just do it!

We all needed a bit of a break to process the fantastic information that we had been given, so retired for a cup of tea and some nibbles before the next part of the evening, focusing on another ‘secret’: applying for grants.



Shaye Wardrop hosted the discussion with

who both offered lots of generous advice on applying for grants and fellowships.

Some of the main tips included following the criteria to the letter, working out what is unique about your project and how it will benefit the community or writing environment, getting on top of your budget (a bit of a sticking point for many writers!), and how you can ‘grow’ yourself through the opportunity.

Again, this is somewhere where you need to be certain of what your goals are and think about where you can get help to meet all the criteria, including contacting the grants officer for advice. Credibility is everything in applying for grants, along with taking time to make sure that you get it right.

For more information or background on grants, Irma has written an excellent blog post 'Grant Writing Tips. How to Win Gold' that is well worth the read.

SCBWI Tribute Fund Scholarship

To wrap up a wonderful evening, Nicole then came back to tell us about her amazing experience as a recipient of the SCBWI Tribute Fund Scholarship that saw her zooming off to New York earlier this year to attend the Winter Conference, where she got to hear first-hand from award winning authors about their secrets of success.

All in all, there was a lot to take away, and it has been great to hear back from many of the attendees about how much they learned and enjoyed the evening. I know that I came away with pages and pages of notes, and I’m sure that everyone else did, too!