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Meet the speakers at The Content Byte Summit - Anna Featherstone

Meet the speakers: Anna Featherstone

You’ve been a writer for many years. What do you love about what you do?

When I write I can make sense of the world. The process of getting words down clears my head and heart, making way for new curiosities and adventures. What’s really a treat though is being able to go deep into topics I care about and then share ideas whether it’s a single line on socials, a workshop or right through to a 100,000 word book. The best thing about writing though… it’s an excuse to read!

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

Getting a trad publishing book deal from my first ever pitch as a 23-year-old was cool, but years later I think I got even more of a buzz seeing a freelance piece go up the charts on The Guardian internationally. Recently my heart did a little happy dance when the Australian Society of Authors put Look-It’s Your Book! (my book on writing and marketing non-fiction) on their recommended reading list. That was a moment!

I think business and marketing skills are the most important skills for freelancers to acquire. It doesn’t matter how great a freelancer you are if you’re not confident enough to pitch clients and earn a living from your efforts.

You are a big proponent of self-publishing – what do you enjoy about this way of creating books?

The freedom to nurture a book from an original idea into readers’ hands without a gatekeeper standing in the way or taking most of the profits! That’s born out of my experience more than a decade ago when I pitched a non-fiction book to publishers titled Honeycomb Kids: Big Picture Parenting for a Changing World and to Change the World. At the time, publishers said to me it was ‘too way out’, that though they ‘loved the writing’, the scenarios I talked about (global pandemics, mass migration, oil dependency, international unrest, the squeezing of the middle class etc) meant they couldn’t see a market for it. I believed in sharing information on the topic so much though, that I was ‘forced’ into self-publishing. Thank goodness! I ended up learning all the processes and even sold foreign translation rights into countries including South Korea and Turkey of all places. Indie publishing has come a long way and it now offers writers extraordinary control of their efforts, brand and income. I’ve brought out three more books since that one and there’s a lot to be said for the fun, flexibility and financials of being an authorpreneur!

What skills do you think are the most important for freelancers to acquire?

Business and marketing skills. It doesn’t matter how great a freelancer you are if you’re not confident enough to pitch clients and earn a living from your efforts.

Why do you think the Summit is important for freelancers?

It’s empowering and exhilarating to be with a group of people who are doing ‘your thing’. The learnings, the connections, the feeling that you’re not alone combined with hearing insights from people who might be just that step (or entire elevator!) ahead is so beneficial.  

How am I futureproofing my own career? I’m collaborating more. What I’ve seen is that my works are better, do better and are easier to market when I engage with, consult, and interview and involve more people

The conference theme is all about futureproofing your career. What steps are you taking to futureproof your own?

I’m collaborating more. As writers I feel we’re often content and comfortable as solopreneurs, the whole introvert thing. But what I’ve seen is that my works are better, do better and are easier to market when I engage with, consult, and interview and involve more people. Collaboration is also at the heart of Bold Authors, an online course hub I recently founded that brings together a community of authors and publishing insiders to share their knowledge on micro topics. It’s a realisation and relief to pool resources. So yes, future proofing for me is all about collaboration, community and being real. It also includes things little and large, such as sharing overflow work and amplifying the efforts and successes of others.

What are your thoughts on AI / ChatGPT?

Mixed, I see both sunshine and destructive cyclone. Yes, it can be a truly useful tool (research, speeding up sales copy based on your content, prepping initial outlines etc), but it’s also a critical threat – and not just to creatives. One of the most basic problems is the generation of a tsunami of content that makes visibility harder to achieve for all but the most established, creative, connected or cashed up. That said, freelancers can totally innovate and add all the special human touches to maintain and grow a healthy business.

My thoughts on ChatGPT are mixed – I see both sunshine and destructive cyclone. Yes it can be a truly useful tool, but it’s also a critical threat – and not just to creatives.

Do you think the future is exciting for freelancers, and if so, why?

Being a freelancer is always exciting… and terrifying, energising and fulfilling. I don’t see the future being any different. 

What are you most looking forward to about the Summit?

I’m just so keen to listen, learn and share ideas – and hopefully there’ll be many collaborations sparked over those couple days!

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