Book Reviews

So You Want to Be a Writer by Allison Tait & Valerie Khoo – Book Review

Nicole Melanson ~

Writers Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo Book Cover - So You Want to Be a Writer

So You Want to Be a Writer, by Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo, picks up where other writing guides leave off by offering practical tips to would-be wordsmiths looking to transition into a life of writing—be that in a part-time capacity, or as full-time career authors.

If you are looking to learn how to craft a complex character or shape your narrative arc, this is not the book for you (in fact, p. 103 recommends seven other texts to serve you to that end). If, however, you are wondering whether you can take your flair for language and turn it into a profession, this guide is full of useful suggestions on everything from copywriting to scripting. Moreover, So You Want to Be a Writer offers ideas on how to scope out various industries before committing yourself, then tells you the best ways to make connections to help you get your foot in the door.

For my part, I found the chapter on Technology most useful. Tech advice is something most writing books shy away from, simply because what’s available changes so fast. Unfortunately, this means writing students miss out on hearing about incredible resources. I appreciate that the information dates quickly but see that as no reason not to include it. If worse comes to worse, someone learns about Scrivener now and then when something else comes along to replace it next year, you can just say “Remember Scrivener? It’s like that, but does this instead…”

For the same reason, I commend this book for also speaking to social media trends and specific platforms. In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to “be” a writer without any SM presence, so it’s great that this guide spends some time on that topic, regardless of what may come down the pipeline next.

So You Want to Be a Writer comes out of the Australian Writers’ Centre so there is, naturally, a fair bit of emphasis on the value of courses. While old-school purists may still be arguing that “you can’t teach writing”, this book merrily asserts that you can, supporting the notion that everyone can write something and achieve some sort of satisfaction and / or success in the process. So if you’re after upbeat encouragement, you’ll appreciate this guide’s Can-Do positivity.

The other treasure trove here is the firsthand author tidbits at the end, gleaned from hundreds of So You Want to Be a Writer podcasts. I’ve interviewed hundreds of authors myself over the past few years and the reason this format works is because there is always something new and interesting to learn from someone actively working in the field. There is no one way to succeed as a writer, and this guide respects that by showcasing the wisdom and experience of a vast community.

Whether you are merely curious about writing or already well established, I’d wager there are some useful tips for you sprinkled throughout So You Want to Be a Writer.


Buy the book

Listen to the So You Want to Be a Writer podcast

Learn more about the Australian Writers’ Centre 

Read WordMothers’ Interview with Allison Tait

Read WordMothers’ Interview with Valerie Khoo


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