Jeff Apter’s advice to writers – don’t give up your day job

all write: Keiraville author Jeff Apter will be sharing some of the secrets of biography writing at an event in Wollongong Art Gallery next month. Picture: Adam McLean
all write: Keiraville author Jeff Apter will be sharing some of the secrets of biography writing at an event in Wollongong Art Gallery next month. Picture: Adam McLean

The best piece of advice Keiraville author Jeff Apter can give to those who want to be a writer isn’t about the art of writing at all.

The writer of numerous rock biographies is holding a workshop and talk at Wollongong Art Gallery next month.

Among the advice he’ll be sharing will be a tip he picked up from Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap – get a job.

Which doesn’t mean forget about writing, but rather making sure you can pay the bills while you’re doing it.

“The research in Australia shows the average wage for a writer is $10,000 or $11,000 a year,” Apter said.

“I let people know that. I hate to burst their bubbles but you’ve got to be realistic.

“Make sure you’ve some way of making a steady income, whether you’re driving a cab, making coffee or a more professional type of job, because you’re not going to make a living from writing, unless you get really lucky, get a lot of breaks and persevere.”

...you’re not going to make a living from writing..

Jeff Apter on the harsh reality of being a writer

Apter has been able to make a living out of writing books – either his own or ghostwriting others – while also dabbling in magazines and newspapers as well.

As well as a bit of luck, Apter said it was also the result of hard work – showing the discipline to write every day. Even when he might be able to think of something else he’d rather do.

“You’ve got write every day, you’ve got to set yourself goals for the day, the week, the month,” he said.

“If you’re writing a book don’t sit there and think, ‘I’ve got to write 80,000 words’, think ‘I’m going to write 10 chapters, each of 8000 words’.”

At the moment, Apter is riding high on the success of his latest book High Voltage: The Life of Angus Young, which has made more than a few bestseller lists.

Apter said the book’s success shows that people still can’t get enough of AC/DC.

“I’d love to say it’s all about the writing but it’s just subject,” he said.

“If you choose the right subject and you write a reasonably serviceable account of it, it just connects.

“People just keep reading about AC/DC stories, I guess it’s a generational thing.”

Jeff Apter’s biography writing workshop is on November 4 at the Wollongong Art Gallery on November 4 followed by a talk, where he will also sign copies of High Voltage.

They are both ticketed events (South Coast Writers’ Centre members and Friends of the gallery get a discount) and can be booked on 4228 0151.