Georgia Clark was born and raised in Sydney and at the age of 29 moved to New York to pursue a career as a a novelist and performer. She’s the author of It Had To Be You, The Regulars, and The Bucket List. She’s also the host and founder of the popular storytelling night, Generation Women. She’s a busy lady!
Tell us about your business and what inspired you to begin?
I’m the founder and host of a storytelling night called Generation Women. We’re a multigenerational storytelling series that invites a performer in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s+ to share an original true story on a theme. Our definition of women is inclusive of all gender expressions and includes trans women and non-binary folk. I was inspired to start the night after conversations with my mother, Jayne, about the feeling of disappearing as an older woman. Mum said the older she got, the more it felt like people were starting to look right through her. I wanted to create a warm and interesting space where women of all ages could come together, tell their stories, and be celebrated. A space where older women in particular could feel validated, respected, and seen. We started in summer 2017 and have been doing monthly shows ever since!
I’m also a novelist, and my newest book, a romantic comedy called It Had To Be You came out on May 4 through Simon & Schuster. It interweaves five modern love stories around a pair of mismatched Brooklyn wedding planners, and has been called an updated Love Actually.
What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ or ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’?
Things changed for me when I sold my first book to Simon & Schuster in 2014. Prior to that I’d had two modest Young Adults books published which collectively sold about 15 copies. I’d moved to New York in 2009 and was so broke, living in a cute but tiny basement apartment in Greenpoint with two other girls, barely able to afford boxed wine: I needed to start making some dosh! And I wanted to write something that people really loved.
I hired a freelance editor (who I still work with to this day), and after my 9-5 job, worked every night and weekend on a manuscript. I poured everything into writing something that readers would enjoy that would also sell for a decent chunk of change to a big publisher who could help me market it. And I did: The Regulars, was a witty, sexy exploration of beauty, told through a magic realist premise of a mysterious purple serum that turns the user supermodel-pretty for one week at a time. It was a huge effort that I felt paid off. Meeting up with my then-girlfriend, now-wife, at Little Owl in the West Village to tell her the news was a really special moment. We drank champagne that night.
Doing two Generation Women shows at the iconic Joe’s Pub in downtown Manhattan were also made-it-in-NY moments. It’s one of my favorite theater spaces in the city and both shows were electric and just so fun.
What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business?
Managing people. I am bad at it! My business partner at Generation Women is an absolute gun: Jessica Lore, such a hard worker, incredibly quick and competent yet also relaxed and easy-going. A dream to work with. I don’t have to manage her because she’s so good and we operate in the same sort of way, but in the past, I’ve had to manage other freelancers, and it’s not a skill that comes naturally to me. I once waited way too long to let someone go who I personally liked but was not doing a good job. In the end, I think we were both relieved, I should’ve fired her about six months earlier than I did. The lesson was that if you’ve given someone all the tools and time to do their job, and they’re still not, they won’t magically start because it would make your life easier.
Another lesson is that older women are easier to work with than young women. I don’t know why you would hire someone in their 20s when you could hire someone in their 60s. Team 60s will do a better job 100% of the time, I promise you.
Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?
For Generation Women, it’s our mailing list. Social media is addictive (it’s literally designed to be) but it doesn’t sell tickets. Building a mailing list with consistent, clear communication is how we built our community. Get those emails!
For book stuff, it’s slightly more complicated. I have a mailing list, but there’s a whole publicity and marketing campaign that cranks into gear six months before pub day.
Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?
I’ve occasionally had informal/sporadic mentors but no one right now. I should probably find someone? I want mentors! Mentor me!
Generally speaking, I’m super open with sharing information and contacts, and in turn find most people to be the same. I’m always perplexed when people get cagey about that sort of thing: I’m of the mentality that when the tide rises, all boats float. I’ll happily do a 15-min informational chat with any AWNY member who asks nicely!
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
Choose your team members wisely. Understand what your strengths are and partner with people who complement them. Fail fast and early (I’ve been doing that my whole life without really planning to, ha ha). Ultimately, I think the key to success is resilience and persistence. Most successful creatives and business owners aren’t the most talented, they just never gave up. Roll with the ups and downs, and keep going!
As far as novel writing goes, a dedication to craft is essential. That might mean enrolling in a class (which also connects you to a community and can give you some much-needed structure), reading craft focused books (Story by Robert McKee really helped me, as did Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes), or hiring a freelance editor (I’ve worked with Sarah Cypher of The Threepenny Editor on five books and counting; her development edits are like getting an MFA). You’ll have better luck getting words down if you write at a regular time, with no internet (just keep a running tally of things to google afterwards; it’s near impossible drafting otherwise). I work from an outline; if you’re new to the game, it can save you time.
Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?
We have sister shows in Sydney and Melbourne. The local producers there are doing an amazing job of putting on monthly shows, which also proves the concept works in different territories.
And my next book that I’m working on right now is set in Australia. Since moving to NY, I’ve written three books set in the city, but starting this manuscript during lockdown in Brooklyn, I longed for salt air and crashing waves. It’s another ensemble comedy-drama between two families: one American, one Australian. I’m having so much fun working with all the Aussie specifics!
What is next for your business?
After a year of virtual shows, Generation Women is back to live shows! Come check us out at Littlefield on Thursday May 13 (tix via our website). I am SO EXCITED to be able to gather our community IRL again!
You can check out all my book events fo It Had To Be You via my website, georgiaclark.com. Please pick up a copy to support this Aussie-author-in-New-York: it’s the perfect summer read.
Thanks and happy reading of Georgia Clark’s novels.