the noobz This business of writing and reading is undergoing an era of rapid change. No matter your background or role, sooner or later you too will be a N00b.

Newbienewbnoob, or n00b is a slang term for a novice or newcomer, or somebody inexperienced in any profession or activity. Contemporary use can particularly refer to a beginner or new user of computers, often concerning Internet activity, such as online gaming or Linux use. It can have derogatory connotations, but is also often used for descriptive purposes only, without a value judgment.

— Wikipedia

This year, if:book Australia issues the challenge to twelve Australian writers to step outside their comfort zone and try a new professional experience – something they’ve never done before – then tell us all about it.

Carmel Bird is digitising a title from her backlist. Simon Groth is using a manual typewriter. Romy Ash is writing stories for Twitter. Benjamin Law is braving the squiggly world of shorthand. Sophie Masson is starting her own press. Jeff Sparrow is writing something that’s definitely not a book. And Sean Williams is depriving himself of sleep. In each case, we’re asking our contributors to deliberately become a N00b and tell us how the experience has affected their craft.

Not everyone resides at the cutting edge of technology and publishing and yet the influence of technology filters slowly through the entire industry and affects everyone. The ability and willingness to adapt to change is fast becoming an essential part of both the writer’s and the reader’s toolkit.


Who are the N00bz?


[box icon=””]Romy Ash’s first novel Floundering was long listed for The Stella Prize and is published by Text Publishing. She has been anthologised in Best Australian Stories and Best Australian Essays, Voracious: The Best New Australian Food Writing. She has written for The Griffith Review, The Big Issue and Kinfolk amongst others. She writes the blog Trotski & Ash. On Twitter, she’s @romyash and her website is at romyash.comPhotograph by Darren James.[/box]

[box icon=””]A former TV presenter, producer and broadcaster, Caroline Baum is Editorial Director of Booktopia, Australia’s largest online bookseller. She reads between 15 and 20 books a month for the Buzz monthly newsletter and to film exclusive author interviews. Caroline is a contributor to My Mother My Father, an anthology of writing on losing a parent, published by Allen & Unwin (October 2013). Her website is by David Corbett.[/box]

[box icon=””]Carmel Bird‘s classic text on how to write (Dear Writer) is used in writing schools in many countries. It complements her Writing the Story of Your Life, and both books underscore Carmel’s many works of fiction. Her website is[/box] [box icon=””]James Bradley is a writer and critic. His books include three novels, Wrack, The Deep Field and The Resurrectionist, all of which have won or been shortlisted for major Australian and international literary awards, a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus, and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. In 2012 he won the Pascall Prize for Australia’s Critic of the Year. He blogs at[/box] [box icon=””]Greg Field owned and managed an independent bookstore of the “dead tree” variety for more than a decade. Recently, he’s changed direction and founded app development company Lazy Dad Studio. He’s also writing the first in a series of murder mysteries: Death on Dangar Island. Greg is @GregPField on Twitter.[/box] [box icon=””]Simon Groth’s stories can go anywhere from tangled relationships and virtual writers to rock music and sleep disorders. His books include Concentrate, Here Today, and Off The Record: 25 Years of Music Street Press. As director of if:book Australia, Simon writes regularly on the future of the book and took the role of lead writer for the 24-Hour Book. On Twitter, he’s @simongroth and his website is[/box] [box icon=””]Charlotte Harper is founder and publisher of Editia, a Canberra-based digital first start-up specialising in short non-fiction and longform journalism. She is also publisher of Management Today magazine, a former technology journalist, a Walkley Award-winning web producer and ex-literary editor of The South China Morning Post. Charlotte wrote about the digital transformation of the book industry between 2010 and 2012 for Fairfax Media, Bookseller + Publisher and the ebookish and booku blogs and is the author of Weird Wild Web (Penguin Australia, 1999). [/box] [box icon=””]Sophie Masson is the award-winning author of more than fifty novels and many short pieces. Most recent is Scarlet in the Snow and Black Wings. For years, Sophie has used digital media as part of her creative work, with some novels featuring interactive Internet elements: characters’ blogs, band pages, websites. Sixteen Press is a natural extension of her interest in digital media. On Twitter, she’s @SophieMasson1, her website is at, and she’s also on Facebook.[/box] [box icon=””]Benjamin Law is a Brisbane-based writer who contributes frequently to frankie, Good Weekend, Qweekend and The Monthly. He’s the author of The Family Law – which was shortlisted for the Australian Bookseller Industry Awards (ABIA) Book of the Year – and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East. On Twitter, he’s @mrbenjaminlaw and his website is[/box] [box icon=””]Elizabeth Lhuede is a creative writing tutor with TAFE (Oten), formerly a tutor and researcher at Macquarie University. She is currently writing a psychological thriller and her work is represented by literary agent Virginia Lloyd. She created the Australian Women Writers challenge in 2012, the National Year of Reading.[/box] [box icon=””]Ronnie Scott is a frequent contributor to The Believer, Meanjin, the Australian, and ABC Radio National, and editor of The Best of The Lifted Brow (Hunter, October). Visit him at  Photograph by Brad Dunn.[/box] [box icon=””]Jeff Sparrow is the editor of Overland literary journal. He’s the author of Money Shot: A Journey into Porn and Censorship, Killing: Misadventures in Violence and Communism: A Love Story, the co-editor (with Antony Loewenstein) of Left Turn: Essays for the New Left and the co-author (with Jill Sparrow) of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within. He writes regularly for various publications on politics and culture. On Twitter, he’s @Jeff_Sparrow.[/box] [box icon=””]Emily Stewart is a Melbourne-based writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in numerous local journals, including Seizure, Rabbit and Cordite Poetry Review. Earlier this year, the Emerging Writers’ Festival hosted her installation Dear Reader, for which she gave away all her favourite books. Later this year, she is heading to the Philippines with a cohort of 20 Australian artists to collaborate with the Manila-based theatre group Sipat Lawin Ensemble on a crowd-sourced play about love. Her website is, and on Twitter she’s @StewEmily.[/box] [box icon=””]Sean Williams is an award-winning, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of over thirty-five novels, eighty short stories, and the odd odd poem. He lives in Adelaide with his family. On Twitter, he’s @adelaidesean, his website is and he’s also on Facebook.[/box]