November marks the first Tauranga Moana Book Festival, a month-long celebration of all things literary from local authors across the Bay of Plenty and beyond. It's all happening in Tauranga libraries, says Lauren Jones.
"We have Iti Pounamu which is little treasures storytelling and song sessions, activities for kids, learning how to make graphic novels, streaming the film Horrid Henry in the libraries because of course that's a popular book, right through to events for adults where there's book launches, author talks and even a pub lit quiz."
The festival will be the place to be for aspiring writers and illustrators of all ages looking to break into the industry. They'll be able to have one-on-one conversations with people in the industry.
One local author taking part is Pāpāmoa's Rebecca Larsen, known for her popular picture books like Row, Row, Row Your Waka.
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"As an author I feel like these sessions are really good to come and meet other authors because you do really work on your own in this industry quite a lot," Larsen said. "You might have a publisher, but you're never in an office with them. You're really in your own creative space so in terms of the industry I think it is a tough one to crack but a lot of people get into every year so… perseverance!"
If you're a budding writer with an idea but don't know what to do with it, Larsen said a trip to your local library could help.
"If you've got a specific genre for your writing, go to the library and talk to the librarians and look for the New Zealand-published books. If you're interested in making a cookbook, it's going to be a very different publisher from a children's picture book. Look for a publisher who specialises in that niche that you're writing for."
Another local sharing her experience is Maungatapu-based illustrator Debbie Tipuna, who says any budding artist should be prepared for the inevitable hurdles along the way.
"The industry is constantly evolving and changing," she said. "It's probably harder now than it used to be to get published. People think they're going to be able to write a story, get their friend to illustrate it, submit it to a publisher and bing, bang, book - it's going to happen. It's a little competitive out there, you might get knocked back a couple of times… or more."
The Tauranga Moana Book Festival runs until the end of November, across libraries in Greerton, Tauranga central, Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa.
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