Is this the reason you haven’t been signed by a publisher or literary agent yet?

Is this the reason you haven’t been signed by a publisher or literary agent yet?

October 12, 2023

When I first read and loved (even though it did make me scared to revisit the inner west of Sydney!) Ashley Kalagian Blunt’s fast-paced, richly detailed crime thriller Dark Mode, I had no idea about her journey to publication.

I originally contacted Ashley to ask if I could use one of her author marketing ideas in a Marketing for Authors workshop I was running for Byron Writers Festival. I’d seen a photo of her at a bookstore wearing a t-shirt with her book cover on it, I was intrigued because it’s not something I’d seen a traditionally-published author often do.



As Ashley explained though, she loved the book cover so much, she wanted to make the most of it and t-shirts seemed like a good idea.

Wearing a t-shirt with a book cover on it:

  • Increased visibility and awareness of her book.
  • Meant no awkward moments when walking into bookstores to sign books or when holding author talks at libraries and festivals.
  • Became a conversation-starter at other events.
  • And, in a bonus, one night she wore it to the pub and the bartender noted she loved the three authors with endorsements across the cover (Anna Downes, JP Pomare and Petronella McGovern) and decided to get a copy of Dark Mode. (This anecdote also shows the power of testimonials and social proof for a book!).

Between her fabulous writing style, gorgeous energy, and open approach to marketing, I couldn’t resist asking Ashley some more questions.

I specifically wanted to know what she credited her bestselling success to.

And when I found out, I asked if she could create a course for Bold Authors around just that topic.

Yes, Ashley Kalagian Blunt credits:

  • being signed by literary agency Curtis Brown
  • securing a two-book deal
  • becoming a bestselling novelist
  • selling overseas and translation rights to Dark Mode
  • vastly improving her writing skills
  • growing her writing community
  • and receiving new opportunities

to her active participation in writing groups. That’s correct – being a member of a writing group totally transformed the path of her writing career.

And even if traditional publication is not your goal and you just want your indie-authored books to be the best they can be – a writing group could make the crucial difference to getting your manuscript finished, sparkling and with an enthusiastic writing community around you.

Ashley’s so passionate about helping other writers experience the benefits of being a member of a writing group (while avoiding the pitfalls!), she’s prepared an inspiring 1 hour, take at your own pace, course all about how to:

  • Grow your confidence and beat writerly procrastination through being an active member of a writing group.
  • Significantly improve your writing craft.
  • Find or establish a writers’ group in your area (or online).
  • Get the most from your writing group.
  • Give and receive feedback on writing so all members of the writers group can grow from the experience.
  • Maximise the benefits of being in a writers’ group.
  • Know if your writing group or a member in it is toxic – and what to do about it.
  • Maintain a positive and active writers’ group.
  • Screen new members to make sure they’re a good fit for your writing group.

As Ashley says, ‘My involvement in a writing group helped me measurably improve my writing, secure a two-book deal, launched me as a bestselling author and so much more.’

Working with Ashley on the course made me realise how much I’ve been missing out on by not being a recent member of an active writing group – even if I plan to continue being an indie author. Now that I understand how the best ones operate, I’ll be able to avoid making the mistake of joining the wrong one, while also participating in a more beneficial way.

My two experiences with writing groups were quite varied. One was with an international memoir writing group. It was this group’s extraordinary encouragement that led me to refine, finish and publish Honey Farm Dreaming: A Memoir About Sustainability, Small Farming and the Not-So Simple Life. Amazing! But that writing group disbanded at the end of the course. Another group I thought about joining just wasn’t the write fit for my skill-level and interests, and Ashley talks about the importance of getting this fit right in the course.

But now I’ve completed the course ‘How to Join and Participate in a Writing Group to Become a Successful Author’, I’m buzzing about finding the right writing group to join as I plan my next book. I’m looking forward to meeting deadlines, being accountable, improving my writing and growing my writing community in a really organic and beneficial way.

How about you? Are you ready to take your writing to the next level? Do you want to know why a writing group might just be the missing key to your success?

If so, join Ashley Kalagian Blunt as she generously shares all her tips for running and being a member of a healthy writers group – and where to find suitable writing groups near you.

Thanks so much Ashley for putting your time and passion into this course so writers anywhere and everywhere can benefit!