The story of my book: Conversations with Creative Women: Volume II

Producing the Conversations with Creative Women series was very much a classic case of creating the type of book I wanted to read.

I love learning about how people manage their small businesses, but I don’t love reading business books. I want to be inspired but I don’t want to be overwhelmed or feel that I can’t relate to other people’s paths to success. I want to read Australian stories. And I want to know how creative’s manage their careers but also their personal lives, their families and maintain their creative spark.

There were many stages and accompanying emotions in publishing the original Conversations with Creative Women book. With a background in book design and layout, it didn’t seem like such a daunting task to self-publish, and I hoped at least the growing Creative Women’s Circle community I facilitated would receive it favourably. There were, however, many elements of publishing a book that I had not encountered before and I was very much learning on my feet. The biggest lesson that I took with me was to factor in flexibility in timelines (especially when relying on third-party contributions) ahead of the desired publication date. Needless to say, when planning Conversations with Creative Women: Volume Two, I knew much more about what to expect and where to make allowances.

In both volumes of the series, researching potential interviewees was a definite highlight (because who doesn’t love browsing the internet in the name of ‘work’?). My main goal was to ensure Volume Two complemented Volume One, broadening the scope of industries covered and highlighting women from different cities around Australia.

Approaching interviewees was a little nerve-wracking… even the second time around. Despite the acclaim Volume One received in the local creative community in Melbourne, many of them wouldn’t have known me from a bar of soap, but that so many of them agreed enthusiastically to be involved was a lovely sense of relief.

While I usually have many questions I could ask anyone about anything off the top of my head, writing the questions for each interview was more time-consuming and challenging than I thought it would be, despite having an existing model to work from. And as per the first book, waiting for the interviewee’s answers was suspenseful, but receiving them was enlightening and heartening.

Designing and formatting the book myself was probably the quickest & easiest part of the process – after all I’ve done this dozens of times for clients, and tweaking the design slightly while retaining the look of volume one was a nice challenge.

Working with 14 new illustrators and designers to create the custom title pages for each interview was also a joyful part of the creative process – I loved receiving their artwork and the creative concepts they came up with in response to the brief.

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Waiting for the finished book to arrive back from the printers… well, let’s just say there were a few sleepless nights there! But I was very happy with the outcome, especially as it was printed right here in Melbourne.

Along with a fabulous launch party, and lots of good online and offline press about the book, I have to say I am thrilled to bits with the outcome. To see Conversations with Creative Women: Volume Two on the shelves of stores like Readings is a real honour, and I am excited for future adventures in publishing.


Tess McCabe is the Director and Melbourne event coordinator of the Creative Women’s Circle is a community of women involved in creative industries sharing information, inspiration and ideas. Find out more here.