Writing Copy Before Bestsellers – Six Famous Authors And The Advertising Campaigns They Created

Mark Twain once said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

And before they became world famous novelists, these authors knew just the right kind…

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The Write Stuff – Famous Writers On The Art Of Writing

A writer needs advice from all and sundry, and often receives it whether they like it or not.

But from these great writers of the past any advice is good advice, even if it can be a little off the wall…

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GUEST BLOG: Ernest Hemingway and the Girl from the Bush by Nicole Alexander

I often wish I’d been born a man. This statement has nothing to do with the perceived favouritism that is touted in relation to the world of publishing but instead is a reflection on the practicalities of being a fourth-generation grazier in the male-dominated world of agriculture. I’m pretty sure that this desire to be more than hands-on, on-farm can partly be attributed to Ernest Hemingway, with whom I’ve been infatuated with from an early age. It was he that swept me away aged twelve with For Whom The Bell Tolls and later, The Old Man and the Sea. His economical word usage and understated style struck a chord with me and at some deeper level; I wanted his life; the martini-drinking, big game hunting, bull-fight aficionado, bestselling author. Wow, EH had me right from the beginning. Right or wrong, I’m a fan for life. I was an omnivorous reader as a child yet Hemingway stands alone as the first author to shake me out of complacency and compel me to write. Later I ventured into the works of Dickens, Shakespeare and Austen and their brilliantly crafted imagined worlds beckoned me to try harder at perfecting my own scribblings.

These days I’m a time-poor yet eclectic reader who spends nights studying research material, dipping into the more literary of authors and reading the odd work of commercial fiction. I’m not a trend follower. I read for pleasure and education and the books that provide both remain favourites. Having grown up on the tales of my own pioneering ancestors, I’m naturally drawn to Australian rural literature. Although historically only a small percentage of our population have lived beyond the major cities, some of our most distinctive stories and indeed legends are set in the vastness of the Australian bush.

My non-fiction favourites include Jeannie Gunn’s We of The Never Never, Mary Durack’s Kings in Grass Castles and Eric Rolls’ A Million Wild Acres.

Fiction picks include Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood and Xavier Herbert’s Capricornia.

In all these works the reader is treated to the story of men and their passion for land, of occupation and settlement and of businesses forged and lives lost in a land fraught with the difficulties of an isolated frontier. There is something thrilling about reading about the country in which we live, and taking a step into the Australian outback via the written word is an experience rich with conflict, difficulties, intrigue and romanticism.

© Nicole Alexander August 2012

Absolution Creek

by Nicole Alexander

One man lost her. One man died for her. And one would kill for her …

Nicole Alexander’s new bestseller is a sweeping rural saga spanning two generations.

One man lost her. One man died for her. And one would kill for her … Nicole Alexander’s new bestseller is a sweeping rural saga spanning two generations.

In 1923 nineteen-year-old Jack Manning watches the construction of the mighty Harbour Bridge and dreams of being more than just a grocer’s son. So when he’s offered the chance to manage Absolution Creek, a sheep property 800 miles from Sydney, he seizes the opportunity.

But outback life is tough, particularly if you’re young, inexperienced and have only a few textbooks to guide you. Then a thirteen-year-old girl, Squib Hamilton, quite literally washes up on his doorstep – setting in motion a devastating chain of events…

Forty years later and Cora Hamilton is waging a constant battle to keep Absolution Creek in business. She’s ostracised by the local community and hindered by her inability to move on from the terrible events of her past, which haunt her both physically and emotionally.

Only one man knows what really happened in 1923. A dying man who is riding towards Absolution Creek, seeking his own salvation…

From the gleaming foreshores of Sydney Harbour to the vast Australian outback, this is a story of betrayal and redemption and of an enduring love which defies even death.

Click here to buy Absolution Creek from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

About the Author

In the course of her career Nicole Alexander has worked both in Australia and Singapore in financial services, fashion, corporate publishing and agriculture.

A fourth-generation grazier, Nicole returned to her family’s property in the late 1990s. She is currently the business manager there and has a hands-on role in the running of the property.

Nicole has a Master of Letters in creative writing and her novels, poetry, travel and genealogy articles have been published in Australia, Germany, America and Singapore. Nicole’s previous titles:  A Changing Land, The Bark Cutters.

The Ultimate Imaginary Literary Dinner Party Guest List: Guest Two, The Debater

Thank you, you have filled the first place at my table, The Drunkard. You have chosen Ernest Hemingway. A brilliant choice.

As you know, now that the Olympics are behind us I want to celebrate the intellect. And to do so I am going to host my very own dinner party. An imaginary dinner party, with some of the greats of literature. But my imaginary dinner must be a small intimate affair. I want to be able to talk with my guests. I don’t want it to be overcrowded or too grand. One seat has now been filled.

But I still need your help. Remember, I want particular kinds of guests. I want variety. I want spice. I want argument and passion. The perfect roll call for a dinner party, if you will. Ernest Hemingway occupies The Drunkard’s place. My dinner party is on Saturday night. This gives me four days to fill these final four positions. Here is my wish list.

Today I need you to choose the second guest – The Debater. Where would any dinner party be with a skilled debater, someone able to play the devils advocate, coerce the room’s yin and yang, someone so skilled in the wordy arts as to excite all of the guests into a frenzy of discussion?

Someone needs to fill The Debater’s seat. I’ve got a long list of people in mind, but I need your help to narrow it down. You can do this by voting in the poll below

You can also suggest anyone I might have left off the list that you think fits the bill.

We’ll publish the results each day, and on Saturday we’ll unveil The Ultimate Imaginary Literary Dinner Party Guest List.

And next week, I’ll give you a full report on how it went and the books that these great figures have been influenced by.

Your host,

Andrew Cattanach

Click here to read all of Andrew’s Posts. Click here to follow Andrew on twitter.

Grab a seat Papa, what a brilliant choice, mojitos for all!

Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Paula McLain

author of The Paris Wife

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents in 1970, my two sisters and I were sent off into a series of foster home placements. This was an incredibly transient way to grow up, and we switched schools a lot, though always stayed in public schools. At eighteen, when I aged out of the system, I went to a community college and embarked on a highly inefficient course of study. Nothing really inspired me until, at age 24, I stumbled into a creative writing class. Voila, I had found my passion.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, I thought being a secretary was pretty appealing. I liked the reassuring clicking of typewriter keys, and liked what I imagined was a keen sense of order. At eighteen, I began working in a convalescent hospital, and thought I might be a nurse. I had watched a lot of soap operas featuring hospitals as glamorous places where one might meet a doctor husband. My convalescent hospital was decidedly unglamorous. When I was thirty, I was in graduate school studying poetry, and trying like crazy to be a poet—have a career and publish a book. I did accomplish that, though I ultimately stopped writing poetry along the way.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That the world is a terrifying place. I was afraid of everything at eighteen—and though because of my childhood trauma, I had good reason to be, it was also terribly limiting. It wasn’t until I left California in my Continue reading

Rebecca Lim, author of Mercy, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rebecca Lim,

author of Mercy,

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Singapore but raised and schooled in marvellous Melbourne, Australia. I speak a kind of terrible, pidgin Mandarin Chinese around my relatives, but I think and dream in English.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, I wanted to be a picture book writer and would hand deliver wonkily-drawn picture book manuscripts to the Melbourne offices of imprints that have slowly disappeared from Australia over the years (remember Methuen, anybody?).

At eighteen, all I knew was that I didn’t want to study Medicine (partly because everyone thought that would be an excellent career choice) but I did want a job that revolved around ideas, words and writing. So I picked Continue reading

You always said you’d read Hemingway – here’s your chance.

Ernest Hemingway is more than a writer… He is a name, an entity, an icon in the same manner as those other American giants Marilyn Monroe, JFK, George Washington and Henry Ford. All of whom are instantly recognisable, as names… but what do we really know of them?

In the particular case of Ernest Hemingway I feel confident in saying that most people know very little about the real Ernest Hemingway.

At first glance we see what his publicist would want us to see – the strong, attractive, virile, Don Juan; the macho big-game hunter, the bull-fighting aficionado, the deep-sea fisherman, the WWI veteran and WWII war correspondent. In this guise he is at once magnificent and risible.

As such we also have a firm idea of what his books contain. Tough male characters, brutally bare prose, weak women and lots of dead animals. But are we correct in our assumptions?


Hemingway is not the man he seems. He is delicate, sensitive, intelligent and Continue reading

All Great Libraries Must Start Somewhere

I have the greatest of luxuries – a personal library of over 5000 wonderful books. But I wouldn’t have been able to amass such a delicious collection if I had been forced to pay retail!

All of Booktopia’s fiction titles are reduced by at least 10% – everyday, all year round. But we also have thousands of titles reduced by up to 80%!

Here is a small selection of literary gems reduced to clear… (only while stocks last!)

The Old Man And The Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana, Ernest Hemingway’s magnificent fable is the story of an old man, a young boy and a giant fish. It was THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA that won for Hemingway the Nobel Prize of Literature. Here, in a perfectly crafted story is a unique and timeless vision of the beauty and grief of a man’s challenge to the elements in which he lives.

‘The best story Hemingway has written – No page of this beautiful master-work could have been done better or differently’ Sunday Times.

RRP: $19.95

Booktopia Price: $12.95

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The Famished Road : A Man Booker Prize Winning Title

by Ben Okri

In the decade since it won the Booker Prize, Ben Okri’s Famished Road has become a classic. Like Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children or Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, it combines brilliant narrative technique with a fresh vision to create an essential work of world literature.

The narrator, Azaro, is an “abiku,” a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death. The life he foresees for himself and the tale he tells is full of sadness and tragedy, but inexplicably he is born with a smile on his face. Nearly called back to the land of the dead, he is resurrected. But in their efforts to save their child, Azaro’s loving parents are made destitute. The tension between the land of the living, with its violence and political struggles, and the temptations of the carefree kingdom of the spirits propels this latter-day Lazarus’s story.

Retail Price: $14.95

Booktopia Price: $9.95

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Gulliver’s Travels :
and Alexander Pope’s Verses on Gulliver’s Travels

by Jonathan Swift

‘Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own’ Jonathan Swift.

In the course of his famous travels, Gulliver is captured by miniature people who wage war on each other because of religious disagreement over how to crack eggs, is sexually assaulted by giants, visits a floating island, and decides that the society of horses is better than that of his fellow man.

Swift’s tough, filthy and incisive satire has much to say about the state of the world today and is presented here in its unexpurgated entirety.

Retail Price: $7.95

Booktopia Price: $6.49

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by Sebastian Faulks

Mike Engleby says things that others dare not even think.

When the novel opens in the 1970’s, he is a university student, having survived a ‘traditional’ school. A man of devoid of scruple or self-pity, Engleby provides a witheringly frank account of English education. In the course of his subsequent career, which brings us up to the present day, he and the reader encounter many famous people – actors, writers, politicians, household names – but the most memorable is Engleby himself.

For beneath the disturbing surface of his observations, lies an unfolding mystery of gripping power. When one of his contemporaries unaccountably disappears, the reader has to ask: is even the unembarrassable Engleby capable of telling the whole truth? Engleby can be read as a lament for a generation and the country it failed. It is also, in passing, a consideration of the limits of science, the curse of human consciousness and some of the odder lyrics of 1970s rock music.

Retail Price: $32.95

Booktopia Price: $15.95

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House Of Meetings

by Martin Amis

There were conjugal visits in the slave camps of the USSR. Valiant women would travel continental distances, over weeks and months, in the hope of spending a night, with their particular enemy of the people, in the House of Meetings.

The consequences of these liaisons were almost invariably tragic. House of Meetings is about one such liaison. It is a triangular romance: two brothers fall in love with the same girl, a nineteen-year-old Jewess, in Moscow, which is poised for pogrom in the gap between the war and the death of Stalin.

Both brothers are arrested, and their rivalry slowly complicates itself over a decade in the slave camp above the Arctic Circle. As one brother, finally, writes to the other, ‘You know what happened to us? It wasn’t just a compendium of very bad experiences. That was general and standard-issue. That was off the rack. What I’m referring to is the destiny that is made to measure. Something was designed inside us, blending with what was already there. For each of us, in different ways and settings, the worst of all possible outcomes.’

A short novel of great depth and richness, House of Meetings finds Martin Amis at the height of his powers, in new and remarkably fertile fictional territory.

Retail Price: $27.95

Booktopia Price:  $12.95

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson : Selected Poems

by Alfred Tennyson

Treasury of verse by the great Victorian poet, including the long narrative poem, Enoch Arden plus The Lady of Shalott, The Charge of the Light Brigade, selections from The Princess, Maud and The Brook and  more.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson is among the most beloved English poets of all time. This edition of his selected poems includes classics like: The Lady of Shalott, Charge of the Light Brigade, Maud, Morte d’Arthur, Ulysses, The Lotus Eaters.

Elegantly packaged with a ribbon marker, this volume is the perfect addition to any poetry library.

Retail Price: $37.95

Booktopia Price $19.95

Click Here to Buy!

The House of Spirits very limited stock!

by Isabel Allende

Here is the magnificent saga of proud and passionate men and women and the turbulent times through which they suffer and triumph. They are the Truebas. And theirs is a world you will not want to leave, and one you will not forget.

Esteban – The patriarch, a volatile and proud man whose lust for land is legendary and who is haunted by his tyrannical passion for the wife he can never completely possess.

Clara – The matriarch, elusive and mysterious, who foretells family tragedy and shapes the fortunes of the house of the Truebas.

Blanca – Their daughter, soft-spoken yet rebellious, whose shocking love for the son of her father’s foreman fuels Esteban’s everlasting contempt… even as it produces the grandchild he adores.

Alba – The fruit of Blanca’s forbidden love, a luminous beauty, a fiery and willful woman… the family’s break with the past and link to the future.

In a triumph of magic realism, Allende constructs a spirit-ridden world and fills it with colourful and all-too-human inhabitants – the Trueba family, whose passions, struggles and secrets span three generations and a century of violent social change. Against a backdrop of revolution and counter-revolution, Allende portrays a family whose private bonds of love and hatred are more complex and enduring that the political allegiances that set them at odds.

Retail Price: $28.95

Booktopia Price: $15.95

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by Daphne Du Maurier

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman.

An international best-seller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

Retail Price: $22.99

Booktopia Price $17.95

Click Here to Buy!

Ten Terrifying Questions on The Breaking of Eggs with Jim Powell

On the eve of his Australian publishing début,

we ask

Jim Powell

author of

The Breaking of Eggs

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in London in May 1949 and grew up there. I left London more than 25 years ago, but I will always be a Londoner. I was lucky enough to have about as good an education as you can get – Charterhouse School and Cambridge University.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I have never not wanted to be a writer, if that makes sense! But I always thought I would do it later in life. Whether that was prescience, self-fulfilling prophesy or lack of confidence, I have no idea. At 12 I certainly wanted to be a pop star. At 18 I think I mostly wanted to be grown-up. At 30 I wanted to be a politician. Possibly I have now achieved the second of these ambitions.

3.    What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

More than anything, a belief in strongly-held beliefs. Some people base their lives on the rock of certainty; others on the rock of doubt. The longer I live, the more I am attracted to the rock of doubt. I think, and certainly hope, that this attitude is neither weak nor indecisive, and that an admission of ignorance is the Continue reading


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