Let's get you moving
I'll be your writing coach
If your journalism career is starting or stalling, perhaps you need to talk strategy. Take advantage of my 20 years of journalism experience (both as a writer and an editor) and my teaching of first-person writing to ask questions about where to next. Whether you need to fine-tune your pitching, work on article structure and understand more about what editors want, or you're a writer needing help structuring their book (memoir and non-fiction is my speciality – check out my three-hour workshop further down this page) or understanding how to get published, let's take it to Skype! A session costs $150 for 45 minutes. Contact me to find a time that works for you.
"I am an experienced freelancer but I had a coaching session with Jenny. She was so generous with her contacts and thanks to her I had a story placed in the Guardian which I'd been trying to get published for about a year. Am really thankful. She also helped me refine some other ideas. I would definitely recommend her to writers of all levels."
- Amy Fallon
"Jenny has been a breath of fresh air as she has been mentoring me in the literature world. Not having written a book before, and happy to declare that I’m all thumbs, I so appreciate that Jenny has been patient and supportive beyond measure. I feel much more confident approaching this huge task with someone so proficient and attentive."
– Lou Ridsdale, Food is Free.
Book my memoir workshop
Memoir writing – be it book, blog, essay, or legacy for the family – can be daunting. That might be because you’re stumped as to how to start. Or perhaps you don’t know where would be a fitting point to stop. Maybe the thing that’s always prevented you from writing your story, or a part of it, is you’re afraid of exposing yourself or of upsetting other people. That can be paralysing, but there are always solutions. In this workshop, journalist Jenny Valentish trouble-shoots the concerns you may have. You’ll go deep into structure – prologues, introductions, beginnings of chapters, ends of chapters – and explore themes as motifs and the integration of research. You’ll try different methods reinhabiting your younger self and presenting yourself as a protagonist/narrator, and will examine ways to portray difficult people with fairness and humour. Suitable for all levels of writing experience.
Previous clients include The Monthly magazine; Catherine Deveny's Gunnas writers' groups (five times and counting!) and Avid Reader.
The workshop is three hours long and in two parts. There are exercises throughout.
PART 1: STRUCTURE
Look at the various types of first-person writing and see which is the best fit for you.
Identify your main crusade and your sub-crusades.
Consider who your readers are and what they want.
Find an inventive way to theme your story, rather than spill every chronological detail.
Learn different templates for structuring your book – and your chapters.
Understand how great beginnings and great endings work.
Apply the rules of classical music to your compositions.
See how the format of feature-writing journalism can work for your chapters.
Work in research via different methods.
Identify the universal themes in your life that others can relate to.
Learn how to write a proposal for a publisher or agent.
PART 2: WRITING ABOUT YOURSELF + OTHER REAL PEOPLE
Set an intention
See what different memoirists have said about memory, truth and artistic licence
Understand how trauma affects memory.
Look at the different roles common in a dysfunctional family.
Consider ways to tackle writing about real people with minimal risk to your relationships.
See examples of disclaimers.
Discuss pros and cons of sharing your story.
Consider yourself as protagonist and whether you are being fair and unbiased (towards yourself and others!)
Find your tone of voice.
Learn how to avoid a story drenched in shame.
Can you be anonymous? Make up your mind via these high-profile examples.
An adapted version has also been delivered to those working in the drugs field who either want to explore their own stories or help their clients explore theirs. This has been delivered to Turning Point (Vic), Dapaanz (NZ) and SANDA (SA) and the Women’s Executive Leaders AOD Alliance (NSW).
Please note: my flat rate is $600, plus travel and accommodation expenses if outside of Victoria. I'm quite happy to deliver the workshop to one person, but it's customary to book me for your writers' group or organisation, charging a reasonable ticket price if you wish.
"Jenny’s memoir structure workshop came just at the right time for me. I had quite a bit of first draft writing but no clear idea of a big picture. Jenny’s workshop opened up several options for me. I then did one short 1:1 session with Jenny which resulted in my putting together a structure for my memoir-in-progress. What I learned in the workshop will be used throughout the writing process." - Seana Smith
"I have never been brave enough to do something like this workshop. When I saw Jenny was going to be there I knew that the two combined opportunities (writing and Jenny’s experience) could not be missed. I signed up feeling brave and nearly did not attend. However, I am so glad I did - I gained so much from Jenny’s reflections and suggestions." – Gunnas participant
Copywriting for you
You know what you need to say, you're just having trouble getting it across. It can be difficult writing inspiring copy, even if it's about your own business... actually, particularly when it's about your own business. Perhaps you need a web blurb, or a press release, or other promotional material, or maybe it's a speech you're preparing to give. I charge $1 per word, and with a background writing for newspapers, magazines and websites of all stripes, plus copywriting for corporate organisations, I can find your tone and fill your shoes. Let's talk about whatever it is you're considering.
Do you need an editor?
Whether you're working on a book, a PhD or something else, you might have got to the point where you need another pair of eyes, some grammatical tweaking and some suggestions. I can clean up your copy, restructure for optimum effect, trim it of flab and make it consistent in tone. Alternatively, some clients come to me with just the bare-bones idea of a book, with no idea how to progress it. I can also give you the lay of the land of the publishing industry and talk about your options when it comes to agents, conventional publishing and self-publishing.
I'm happy to discuss projects of any length. I charge $80 per hour for editing, or $150 for a 45-minute brainstorming Skype call, so contact me for an estimate.
“I will be eternally grateful to Jenny Valentish for seeing how to make my disparate, haphazard ideas work together and helping me craft them into a solid book pitch – with enthusiasm, generosity and a super-keen eye for editing” – Loene Carmen
“Jenny is a life saver. I was stuck like chuck and within a day she literally read 160,000 of my words and helped me with a new structure for my content. Legit mesmerised” – Kortney Olson
Your manuscript read, analysed in comment boxes and summarised as a whole in a separate document. For two years, I was a manuscript editor for London-based The Do-Not Press, and recently worked on manuscript assessment and development for WestWords, Western Sydney's Literature Development Organisation. I've also worked on manuscripts on a freelance basis. A competitively priced $1500 for up to 50,000 words, and $100 per 10,000 words thereafter.
"Jenny gave me so much clarity and an incredible amount of direction that I had lost along the way - too overwhelmed by a project 10 years in the making."
– Mel Bampton, Triple J
If you've got an album or book coming out, or you've got a client who has, I offer media training to fully prepare someone for the press cycle.
The music media landscape in particular has changed so dramatically to what is largely a 'pay to play' model. If you're not willing to pay for editorial, it becomes so much more important to think outside the box when pitching your own story, to come up with something that's impossible for journalists and editors to ignore.
I draw on my experience as a former music PR (four years), a journalist (25 years) and as somebody who has written books themselves that have elicited very personal questions from the media.
A session might include:
Identifying main talking points
Singling out scenes that are rich in visual details.
Condensing biographical points into quote-worthy phrases.
What to expect from different media platforms and outlets - straight from the horse's mouth of those who work there.
How to proactively offer content.
What to include and avoid in a press release.
An overview of types of media outlets.
Pulling out of a nosedive and post-interview damage control.
Workshopping of hairy questions.
A Q&A, as if in an actual media interview, with analysis.
A one-hour individual session costs $300 and is conducted online.
Alternatively, I have a workshop I can deliver to AOD and mental health services that have peers who might like to talk to the media and who need to be particularly careful when sharing personal elements of their story. Previous clients include SMART Recovery and Unharm. This longer workshop lasts up to three hours and costs $600.
"Jenny’s wealth of experience shone through as she provided participants with her unique insight into the media. Ultimately, she shed light on how artists could utilise the media to their advantage and in turn, create further opportunities for themselves."
– Mel Krause, Development Manager, The Push
"The media training Jenny provided for my artist was extremely beneficial and made a massive difference in my artist’s ability to engage with media in a relaxed and personable manner."
– Nate Flagrant, Flagrant Artist Management
If you're seeking a guest lecturer in first-person or feature writing, I've made cameos at RMIT, Australian College of the Arts (Collarts), Monash University, Bendigo TAFE, and for Express Media. I also ran the four-month Writers Victoria Features Clinic three times. NB: If your establishment isn't in Victoria, travel and possibly accommodation expenses will need to be covered as well as the teaching fee.
"Jenny Valentish teaches her craft with the same real world insights and fearless wit that makes her writing so compelling" — Michael Dwyer, journalism lecturer, Australian College of the Arts.
Since the 2017 publication of Woman of Substances: A Journey into Addiction and Treatment, I've consulted for the National Drugs and Alcohol Research Centre, and the University of Wollongong; and am part of an advisory group for research exploring the use of illicit stimulant drugs in weight control among female recreational drug users in the UK. I sit on SMART Recovery Australia's board of directors and am chair of SMART Recovery International's Communications and Brand Committee. I'm an ambassador for Monash University's BrainPark; have completed SMART Recovery's two-day facilitator training and have a graduate certificate in Alcohol and Other Drugs from Turning Point/Monash University, and have delivered talks at Turning Point and Uniting, which operates Australia's first safe injecting room. I've written about drug use and treatment for The Age, the ABC, Vice, The Saturday Paper and Guardian Australia, and am a core member of AOD Media Watch, which responds to stigmatising, inaccurate and salacious reporting on drug use in the media. Please contact me to discuss your project.
I've given keynote speeches at many drug and alcohol conferences in Australia and New Zealand, and have spoken at music and literary events, including: Women of Letters; Adelaide Writers Festival; Bendigo Writers Festival; Castlemaine State Festival; Melbourne Writers Festival; Newcastle Writers Festival; Sydney Writers Festival; The Wheeler Centre; QMusic's Music & Addiction forum; Face the Music; St Kilda Festival; Australian Music Vault; Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies Winter School.
My prices correspond with those recommended by the Australian Society of Authors for various kinds of appearances. Please contact me for more information.
NEED TO WRESTLE YOUR PROJECT INTO SUBMISSION?
Tag team with journalist Jenny Valentish to meet your editing, writing and coaching needs.
By the age of sixteen, Jenny Valentish was self-publishing her work. Calling her fanzine Slapper: The Groupie’s Guide to Gropable Bands was supposed to be an ingenious marketing gimmick, but got her splashed across national papers. However, that did become a sound foundation on which to build a reputation in media training, later life. It also led to her first columns, for the brand new Dazed & Confused magazine in Soho, and in Tank Girl magazine, as well as a raft of other work as the cheeky young upstart.
In her twenties, she had stints as a music publicist and as an editor with a crime fiction publisher. Random points of her writing career include a weekly techie column for the NME (want to sound like Franz Ferdinand in ‘Take Me Out’? No problem); writing Jenna Jameson’s column while working at Paul Raymond’s Soho empire; and moonlighting with record companies to create album bios for pop stars who didn’t seem to have heard their own albums. She’s interviewed everyone from Jack White to Joan Jett; not forgetting John Frusciante, in a pitch-black hotel room at the Chateau Marmot, and someone she won’t name who showed her gynaecological magazines on a tour bus while bidding her stroke his fur coat.
Upon defecting to Australia in her thirties, she edited national music magazine Jmag for four years, before taking the helm of Time Out Melbourne, sister mag to Time Out London. She now freelances for titles including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper and AFR.
There are books. Together with Tamara Sheward, she co-edited the 2009 Allen and Unwin anthology Your Mother Would Be Proud, with contributions from Tim Rogers, Jimmy Barnes, Julia Zemiro, The Chaser, Nick Earls, Angus Sampson and more. Her first novel, Cherry Bomb, is a teenage psychodrama set in the music industry and was published by Allen and Unwin in 2014. In June 2017, Black Inc published Jenny’s Walkley-nominated research-memoir hybrid, Woman of Substances, which investigates the female experience of drugs and alcohol. It was published in the UK and US in 2018. She is currently working on her fourth book, also for Black Inc.
Jenny is in demand as a public speaker, whether it be at writers festivals or giving keynotes at drug and alcohol conferences. She is a consultant for Australia’s National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, an ambassador for Monash University’s Brain & Mental Health Laboratory, a board director of SMART Recovery Australia, and chair of SMART Recovery International’s Communications and Brand Committee. She regularly updates her Facebook page with related stories.