Over the years, I’ve kept up with my newsletter, Zulu to YOU with fair frequency. It’s a way that I’ve taken stock of work, progress and success over the years. Here’s how you can dip into my journey as a new writer, author and self-publisher. Here’s the archive of Zulu to YOU!

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Sue Liu’s book, Accidental Aid Worker is a compelling read and fun, too. The opening, travel-oriented chapter in particular is a ripper — personal, fast-moving and revealing, plus there’s romance and a villain, and then redemption. Sue captures ‘moments’ beautifully and the turning points in any episode, and does so in crisp prose that’s devoid of artifice or self-aggrandisement. As her narrative progresses into the book’s sustaining topic, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, she is revealed as an absolute demon for responsibility and involvement, and for getting results. It’s a lengthy tale, set mostly in Sri Lanka and partly in Australia, of tenacity and touching humanity. Her achievements both in “spontaneous” aid work and in later penning this well-crafted tale are formidable. – John Borthwick – Travel author

John Borthwick, is a fellow adventurer and, among many other accolades, Australian Society of Travel Writers’ 2016 Travel Writer of the Year. It was a serendipitous meeting of travel and writer minds at the launch of John Maddocks’ book, Against the Odds, last week in Newtown. John very kindly purchased Accidental Aid Worker and after reading, furnished me with this lovely review.

High praise! I’m thrilled!

I’m also in good company with this tribe of travel writers. I also met the vibrant and hilarious Glenn A Baker!

Escape to Sri Lanka, Japan, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and on a rollicking journey through and extraordinary life!  Grab your holiday reading directly from me. Signed copies of Accidental Aid Worker include some sweet gifts for Christmas! 

VISIT THE SHOP here –  Edition 1 now on sale! 
For bookstore, distribution and online ways to buy – click here

After receiving the huge news about being accepted into the writing residency at Hedgebrook in October, flights are booked, arrangements have been made and now, this…

I have revisited the work that has been ‘plonked on page’ since mid-2015, revised the plot and plan, printed off pages and am ready to start work – seriously. Vows have been renewed. This book wants to come into being.

Writing begins for Accidentally, with Purposethe next steps of Accidental Aid Worker.

I will not make the ‘mistake’ of announcing a due date for this new ‘baby’. One step at a time. Writing has commenced.

I have amazing news. In October, I will be spending a week on Whidbey Island – just outside Seattle, Washington, for a week-long Master Class workshop and residency at prestigious Hedgebrook.

Hedgebrook’s strapline is women authoring change. Their mission is to support women writers from all over the world to develop their voices and works, to  raise awareness in a vast range of issues.

Hedgebrook is THE place for me! My goal is to make headway on my next book, Accidentally, with Purpose – the sequel and next step from Accidental Aid Worker.

I submitted applications for a place in both the 2019 residency program and a Master Class residency workshop. Over 1800 applications are received each year for a coveted 40 places in the residency program (successful applicants are advised in December – I’ll let you know if I get in), and places in the week-long Master Class workshops are also hotly contested.

When the email congratulating me for my place in Hope Edelman’s Master Class arrived in my inbox, my excitement leaped off the email and straight onto Facebook. I think I said “Oh my GOD” out loud and all over my (Facebook) wall whilst jumping around the living room, for about three hours.

Being awarded a place at Hedgebrook is a real achievement and an opportunity I will make the most of. I will be joining six other women from around the world for a week on magical Whidbey Island to do exactly what I had wished for – take time out to invest, focus, write and develop Accidentally, with Purpose. 

Working with Hope

One of the reasons why this workshop with Hope Edelman is an important next step for me is that I will be learning how to approach and write stories that are deeply personal. Hope wrote Motherless Daughters, a book that saved my life by helping me relate to and come to terms with my grief and experiences resulting from my mother’s death. Hope’s work was a guide for me in expressing some of those raw and conflicted emotions around loss, in Accidental Aid Worker.  To have the opportunity to thank Hope for her work personally, is one thing. To work with her and learn how to become a more effective writer – quite another!

I am SO excited. Wish me and Accidentally, with Purpose, luck.

I was invited to attend a breakfast event for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2018

It was an inspiring morning, with the keynote delivered by Councillor Christine Forster.

I had no plans to connect with the speakers and had to rush back to work. I made a dash for the lift, and in the lift was Christine and her wife, Virginia.

I felt it only polite to say hello and now they have  a copy of Accidental Aid Worker on their ‘to read’ pile.

What a wonderful way to connect and celebrate International Women’s Day!

It began with introduction to Di Morrissey

A friend introduced me to the phenomenal Di Morrissey a few months ago. I sent her a copy of my book and we have been chatting via email constantly for the last 6 weeks or so about this and that.

Di read my book and then gave it to Chris Gibbons, who wrote the review for the newspaper Di produces, The Manning Community News – April 2018.

The first few paragraphs … OMG. I might faint. It’s amazing and I am so … stoked! This support by Australia’s most prolific and much loved author is staggering.

AAW Review - manning

REVIEW: This autobiography just had to be written.

Review by Chris Gibbons, supported by Di Morrissey – The Manning Community News – April 2018

This amazing woman has lived four lifetimes of an ordinary woman and, in doing so, has made a huge difference to many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives… All I can say after reading Sue’s story is, ‘What a woman!’. She shows us how one person can make a difference in this world, and I am in awe that she has been able to accomplish so much. An inspiring book. Read the full review – Manning Community News

What an honour to be featured in Thorpe Bowker’s February 2018 in their newsletter, Australian Self Publisher. It’s a no-holds-barred interview that lays bare some of the challenges, audacious goals and my journey into writing and self-publishing.

You might find it interesting to read what I think makes my story unique, what my biggest successes are and my biggest challenges.  Intrigued? You can read the full interview in Australianselfpublisher.com


Accidental Aid Worker now available at Barefoot Ceylon in Sri Lanka

Accidental Aid Worker now available at Barefoot Ceylon in Sri Lanka

Accidental Aid Worker has ‘come home’ to Sri Lanka and is now available exclusively at Sri Lanka’s most beautiful place for quality gifts, crafts, fabrics, art and of course, books – Barefoot Celyon.

Be sure to ask for your copy of Accidental Aid Worker at the bookshop, which houses the finest collection of books about Sri Lanka.


Barefoot Celyon – 704 GALLE ROAD Colombo 03


Presented by publishing, marketing professionals and self-published authors Sue Liu and Anna Maguire. 

This one-day workshop is for writers aspiring to publish their new works as print copy and ebooks.

Be guided on the importance of:

  • Being business savvy and marketing aware about publishing;
  • How author profile and book identity are crucial for writers;
  • Building your brand and marketing options;
  • Key elements for producing a book and how it helps with marketing, sales and distribution;
  • Funding options to enable you to create a professional publication.

Date:  Saturday 24 June

Time: 10-4pm

Where: Leichhardt Library

Cost:   Free

Limited numbers. Bookings essential at Eventbrite or phone: 9367 9266

Supported by Inner West Library Service & State Library of NSW as part of the indyreads™ pilot program.

Find out more – Sue – Self Pub Leichhardt Workshop Media Release – 16 May 2017


PRESENTERS: Sue Liu and Anna Maguire

Sue Liu is an energetic community leader, business woman and marketing communications consultant with over 24 years’ experience. She self-published her first book, Accidental Aid Worker, in November 2015 and has been recognised by fellow writers, industry experts and readers for her efforts and achievements, as an author.  Sue has also been acknowledged as an emerging voice and one worth listening to in the education sphere. Her approach is from the perspective of the author/self-publisher/business person/marketer. Sue shares her insights, perspectives and experiences to help each writer clarify expectations, hone goals and create strategies, resources and tools to best suit their journey.

Accidental Aid Worker has also been praised by Tom Keneally and Hon Professor Dame Marie Bashir, whose comments feature on the cover of the 3rd reprint edition. For further information about Sue and her work, explore: www.accidentalaidworker.com.au , www.zulucommunications.com.au ,Facebook https://www.facebook.com/accidentalaidworker/, Twitter (@zulu2you) and LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sueliu/

Anna Maguire is a Sydney-based consultant and blogger specialising in digital training and strategy. She advises on digital publishing and crowdfunding through her consultancy Digireado. Anna has worked in book publishing and digital content for 25 years. She is a former head of production and interactive at Random House Australia and is a passionate advocate for digital developments in the book. She is a graduate of the Yale Publishing Course and has appeared at the Sydney Writers’ Festival and Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. Anna has trained authors in their digital publishing options for over eight years.

In September 2012 Anna wrote her first book Crowdfund it!. Anna lectures and coordinates the unit Book Production and the Book Publishing Business unit of stud at Sydney University.  Anna blogs (infrequently) on the Digireado website, www.digireado.com.au, and at www.crowdfundit.com.au. She is also on Twitter (@digireado and @crowdfunditnow) and Facebook (facebook.com/digireado and facebook.com/crowdfunditnow/)


About indyreads™ 

indyreads™ is a hosted eContent Management Platform that has been developed by the State Library of NSW to provide library users with access to local publications including digitised local history material as well as purchased ebook titles. The platform allows the Inner West libraries to work with community authors and independent and mid-list publishers to explore ways of making locally important content more readily available to readers.

The industry standard platform has enabled the library service to smoothly integrate ebook content into their catalogue and provide a seamless experience for library members. The hope is that indyreads™ will give communities a greater diversity of local content and help connect writers with their audiences.

The State Library is developing plans to make indyreads™ available in more libraries across NSW and to continue their support of programs for self-publishers.

Find out more – Sue – Self Pub Leichhardt Workshop Media Release – 16 May 2017


1 November 2015 – a year ago today, I launched my first born book, Accidental Aid Worker, at my home, with friends. What a year it has been!

These past 12 months, I have committed myself to getting me and my story out to the world. Being self published, self employed (and not earning as a consultant), a solo woman and without a team or support. I have invested as much as I can of myself to this enormous, complex and worthy story. YES, I believe my story, experiences and messages are worthy and of value to humanity. I believe that they are important, have integrity, heart and are worthy of sharing in this way.

It has not been easy. Far, far from easy.

There have been many dips in the road and shitty happenings along the way. This has been a cleanser of a year. I have done what I wanted to do – make changes that stick. I have really sorted out where I am and who I’m with in the world moving forward. I have FOUND my voice, gained clarity and made a new commitment to my values, hold those values dear, and with absolute integrity.

To explore what it means to write and publish – I sacrificed a lot too, investing creativity, effort, drive, money and energy to:

WAS THE EFFORT WORTH IT? Will I continue to write and publish and where to from here?

One step at a time, and only time will tell. My most urgent need is to get back to the work that earns me a living as a business, marketing and communications consultant – the Chiefette of Zulu Communications and start the final season for Candles for Community – Christmas 2016 Campaign.

Accidental Aid Worker has been a blessing in my life and I hope it will continue to be embraced, educate, inspire, amuse and give people pause to consider “who am I, where am I going and what can I do?”

This is a real and raw story about taking on life with the spirit of adventure, striving to maintain integrity in the face of loss and adversity and the power of connection and community.


When you purchase your copy of Accidental Aid Worker directly from me, you’ll receive a personalised, signed copy of the 3rd reprint edition of Accidental Aid Worker that features Tom Keneally and Professor Dame Marie Bashir’s comments on the cover. It comes with a complimentary gift card, bookmark and numbered puzzle token. $5 will be donated to a community project.

Purchase online here at the shop

To those who have read my story: Thank you for taking the time to read, for prioritising this in your busy lives. It means a hell of a lot to me. Thank you to so many of you who have stood close and not let me fall, particularly in these last 12 months since making my life so public. It’s a test of your character as well, to stand in the eye of the storm with me. I celebrate you – and your courage to do so.

8-9 October  – Rosehill Racecourse – 9-4pm

I’ll be at Book Expo Australia – with lots goodies at my first public ‘bookish’ event as an author!
 I’m sharing a space with fellow author, Gabriella Kovac on stall S34 ( 3 stalls along from the bookshop!)

 Keep your eyes out for this poster – and  me of course!!


Book Expo Australia is afacebook-profile-logo dedicated event for national and international publishers and authors to meet and interact with avid book lovers held at The Pavilion, Rosehill Racecourse, James Ruse Drive, Rosehill.

Find out more about the expo, speakers and what’s on at www.bookexpo.com.au

batch_aaw3-book-quotes-squareA few months shy of celebrating the 1st birthday of the release of my book, Accidental Aid Worker, was another occasion to celebrate.

Legendary Australian author, Tom Keneally, and celebrated community advocate and former NSW Governor General, Professor Dame Marie Bashir both provided heartfelt words for me about my precious book. These worlds grace the cover of  the new edition of Accidental Aid Worker, which is now at 3rd reprint.

Professor Bashir kindly launched the edition at an author talk at Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts on 20 September, 2016.  In the company of a community of supporters and  70 keen readers, she spoke about her own experiences in Cambodia, and the power of connection and community, before providing her reflections about my story.


This is the video of the introduction and speech by Professor Bashir.

Part of my brain doesn’t compute that this happened. I’m thankful for the photographic evidence and that their words are immortalised in ink on my new cover. As you can see above, Tom also signed my copy of my book.

With Tom Keneally at SMSA

With Tom Keneally at SMSA

July is ‘the Month of Sue’ – when Sue and Zulu celebrate birthdays.  This year, it included some pretty amazing happenings including: achieving recognition fromTom Keneally, reconnecting with Professor Dame Marie Bashir, attending a wonderful writing workshop in Bali, organising 37 author talks with libraries and communities in NSW (between June and Feb), and Zulu celebrated 15 years in business.

This is the tale of a woman who bravely opens doors and thus has astounding adventures and enlightenments. All in the context of what can only be called an adventure story and an extraordinary life. – Thomas Keneally


I continue to work hard in my ‘pioneering’ ways to make a path for myself as a writer, artist and self publisher, and this newsletter includes some of my wins. Come celebrate with me at one of my author talks and work with me in making stronger connections in publishing and community.

The next edition of Accidental Aid Worker will feature the words of an internationally acclaimed author and an Australian treasure. Reviews from Tom Keneally and Professor Dame Marie Bashir will grace new cover of the book, which will be launched by Professor Dame Marie Bashir at Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts on 20 September – 12:30pm .

September/ October Author talks

  • Saturday 3 September – Author Talk – 2:30pm at Kiama Library 
  • Wednesday 7 September – Author Talk – 11:00am at Paddington Library 
  • Wednesday 14 September – 10am at Balmain Probus
  • Tuesday 20 September – Talk about – 12:30pm at Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts – NEW EDITION OF BOOK LAUNCHED BY PROFESSOR DAME MARIE BASHIR CVO
  • Monday 10 October – Monday Matters  – 10am at Mosman Library
  • Sunday 30 October – 11am at Sunday Assembly-Sydney

NSW South Coast Tour  13 – 19 October – Nowra to Merimbula

  • Thursday 13 October – 1pm at Nowra Library
  • Friday 14 October – 10:30am at Ulladulla Library
  • Saturday 15 October – 10am at Batemans Bay Community Centre
  • Monday 17 October – 10am at Tura Marrang Library – Merimbula
  • Tuesday 18 October – 10am at Bermagui Library 
    – 2:30pm at Narooma Library
  • Wednesday 19 October -1pm at Moryua Library

See a full list of Sue’s Author Talks here 

The reality is for most people who choose writing and publishing as their career path, it seems, that it leads to success for very few. Of course, each person has their own definition and markers of success, which includes the usual goals; actual publication, a publishing contract, sales on all platforms, readership, favourable reviews and the ultimate nod – inclusion as someone of worth and note in writing festivals.

The key takeaway for me from the two of the three events I attended during Sydney Writers’ Festival 2016 this past week (Being a Writer in the 21st Century – Woollahra Council and Forest For The Trees – NSW Writers’ Centre) is this:

It’s bloody hard to make a living wage and sustain income in a writing and publishing career – even for the most well known, best selling and industry-backed writers. To make a living from the craft and business of writing, you need to diversify into other forms of media, channels and platforms – not just publishing and selling books.

Is it madness to want to have a career in writing and publishing?

I have only really been on the self publishing/ publishing scene really since the release of my first book. That was only 6 months ago (1 November) – yet I guess in reality, I started researching and considering what I needed to do if I aspired to write and publish, in March 2013 when I came up with the crazy idea to write my story.

In any case, as a (relative) brand newbie to book and publishing world, perhaps this has been an advantage -not knowing the mechanics and realities of how hard, demoralising it actually is – and how skinny the rewards and returns can be.

I push on regardless with my business and marketing hat on, being guided by the gems I pick up in my writer/ publisher education and determined that I might just cut through by being a little bit naive and off centre as I carve my own path for my work.

Reality IS biting though – about the money aspect. Yes, financial reward is important to me and a key success marker – because we all need money to not only live and pay bills, but to continue to write, create and inspire with our work. After a solid 6 months of putting off seeking work from my usual profession, (and recovering from the writing and publishing efforts of the last few years) I have now tuned into the clear and unmistakable message from industry veterans and those who have ‘made it’ on the publishing scene (this year).

Here is my reality: I should not expect to live off the efforts of my writing at the moment or any time soon. If I do not want to lose my  house and want to continue to invest in being a writer and self publisher – I have to diversify my writing activities and get paid work immediately. And, I will – but right now, I need to keep plodding. I am making great headway, but it’s a ways to being able to sustain myself. 

Here are some of the wins.

Reason to continue and persist

  1. It’s early days – I’m not going to give up after only 2 years and 6 months of focus. I am reminded by others that it’s only early days and I am an infant in this new world. I am not yet worthy of being an overnight success am I? It won’t stop me trying.
  2. I am finding some places to fit into the writing and publishing world which is full of quirky creatives and inspired, hilarious and deeply talented people. I want to be one of them.
  3. My work as a marketer, communicator, sales person, writer and publisher is of high quality and standard. I know I have a lot of knowledge and now, experience to give in the future as an educator.
  4. Sheer determination and willingness to swallow my fear and charge on is reaping rewards. I should not stop now – I should keep going! I will!

It was incubating and growing for two and a half years before my story was ready for ink and paper. Now half a year old, what has been happening in life of this new book, Accidental Aid Worker? I had great expectations of my first-born book and whether they’ve been realistic or a flight of fancy, I have held on tight, white knuckled on the rollercoaster – the vertical learning curve, the dips and the climbs through the writing, production, delivery and distribution of this book. Hold on to your hats everyone – here’s the big update.

A relatively easy delivery

The actual delivery date of the book was 13 October, a significant time, being the day after the anniversary of my mother’s passing (yes, that was planned). I spent the two weeks prior to the launch writing personal notes in over 110 books, packaging and posting books to all those who had purchased in my pre-sale campaign. I had promised to do that, and 110 books went out all over Australia, US, Sri Lanka and Europe before the launch.

1 November was a launch day and it threatened to storm and chunder. This is not good for an outdoor event at your home, and thankfully the rain held off until after a beautiful gathering of friends, including Greg Fisher and Dr Rabbi Dovid Slavin, who graciously helped me bring this beautiful book into the world. You can read more about it here and also see photos.


A heart-warming reception from readers

Thank you – to everyone who has not only taken time to read the book, but also to tell me how they feel about my story. My book has been warmly welcomed. I am so thrilled to be connecting with my readers and have my very human story embraced. After sending a copy of the book to Professor Dame Marie Bashir, I received a delightful letter from her. Her comments begin the reader’s comments page, and I am truly  humbled by not only her feedback, but by the kindness shown by many others.

When I receive messages from readers, whether mid-read or at the completion of the journey – we share a particular sense of connectedness.  I am encouraged – no, honoured, that people have taken the time to not only read, but to let me know how they feel and relate to the book and my journey. Please DO keep those comments coming! You can email them to me here.


Getting AAW on the shelves of bookstores and libraries in the new year

After a quick break to dive the waters of Vanuatu between Christmas and New Year, I focused on the task of trying to get Accidental Aid Worker into more bookstores and into catalogues in public libraries. I set myself a goal for Easter to learn about it – and crack that nut. I would also be trying to get some speaking gigs – author talks at either library or bookstores.

Can I start by saying this – it’s NOT EASY – at all!!! It’s daunting. When you don’t know how any of that works and you’re an unknown, untested self-published author of a very  personal memoir – it’s terrifying and intimidating. Long story short – I had been encouraged that two of my local bookstores had taken the book in-store when I launched the book and, on my first day back to ‘work’ mid-January, I nervously and tentatively fronted up to my local library, book-in-hand, to ask how this all worked.  It was taken from my hands immediately with words of ‘yes, we’ll take it’. HOORAY!

This was the beginning of 5 weeks of cold calls and visits to book stores and libraries. With a fair number of knock-backs and non-answers – it was becoming a rather demoralising task. This effort resulted in get Accidental Aid Worker into 8 bookstores and 5 libraries. I had, however, reached a point where I needed to find a distributor. At the end of February, Accidental Aid Worker was accepted with independent distributor Dennis Jones and Associates . I continue to keep pushing on with my own marketing to libraries and bookstores as it does take this kind of collaboration to make it succeed.

This distribution relationship enables all trade distributors to easily order and receive Accidental Aid Worker.  The delightful team from Dennis Jones and Associates are (almost) always happy to answer my questions and work with me, and although it’s only early days, my book is now available at a growing list of bookstores and libraries around Australia – click here to see where AAW is on the shelf.

I am also really loving carving a Sue Liu/ Zulu-style niche in the self publishing and book world.  Because I know no other way – I’m learning, creating new pathways and engaging with industry professionals as I do. This could be a whole new area of focus for me that is very different from the usual business, strategy and marketing work that Zulu Communications is known for. 

Did you know: If you want a copy of Accidental Aid Worker from your bookstore or library – you can ask them to order a copy. PLEASE DO!

 Q: How many sold?

That’s the question on everyone’s lips. How does a self-funded, self supported author throw that answer out into the world without saying this first. Is it all about sales? Well, some of that success equation relates to unit sold – and you also have to consider: time, direct vs. distribution, consignment, production and related costs, profits (what are they), profile, reviews, readership, promotion, e-book distribution and credibility. Don’t forget sanity.

A: My first print run is more or less gone and I now have Edition 2 printed. In short – yes, I have done modestly well in the last 5 months.


Publicity and my NSW speaking tour 

I was  honoured to be interviewed by Kel Richards from 2GB quite soon after the launch. Honoured because he had read the book and the interview was my very first! It was a wonderful first experience in the limelight – and you can listen to it right here!

This is the big one – the author talks, book tour, speaking schedule. It’s all those things. My first public talk was at Woollahra Council – a little teaser if you like as I was invited as a guest speaker for a volunteers’ meeting. Coming up in June – I have my very first – official round of public talks at libraries in NSW. 9 talks in 7 days in fact – click here to see the full schedule which starts at my local library on 2 June – Leichhardt  and travels through NSW Riverina region – ending at Albury… 2-9 June. 

I am certainly interested more speaking, interview and collaboration opportunities and would be happy to discuss your ideas!

To infinity and beyond?

So, what does the future hold for me as a)self employed person b) new author c) self published author d) community worker?

Your guess is as good as mine. I’ll be busy continuing with marketing Accidental Aid Worker, embracing community work and speaking opportunities while I develop my skills and techniques and try to earn a living in business and marketing world too. Somewhere in between – I will continue with writing…the sequel to AAW.



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