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Contents

From the Director’s Desk

Editorial: Adieu to Our Minister for Poetry

Bestlinks: Put It on the Web!

Is ASP for You?

Focus: Molly Guy and David Reiter

4MBS Co-Production

Word Renewed: QPF 03

Out & About

Your Deal

Vol 5, No. 4— ISSN 1442-0023

Sara

Welcome to our final issue for the year where we farewell 2003 in typical IP style. Throughout October we celebrated the launch of our Spring Season and the release of five new titles. Two of these, I’ll Howl Before you Bury Me by Liam Guilar and Paul Mitchell’s Minorphysics, were winners of IP Picks 2003 Awards for Poetry. It has been extremely satisfying to follow the progress of these works from manuscript to book release and to share the authors’ pleasure in their accomplishments.

We focused on two poets and a biographer in our previous issue; now it’s the turn of our prose writers. Molly Guy writes us a ticklish invitation to delve into her work, Terminal Velocity, I’ll certainly be scratching! And David Reiter lures us into the private lives of his characters in his novel, Liars and Lovers.

We’re Out and About this issue with the IP Spring Season 2003 tour. As we publish more and more authors from around the nation, such tours are likely to feature more prominently on our calendar.

Retiring Arts Minister Matt Foley has been dubbed “the Minister for Poetry” by authors here who will long remember his vocal support for our oft-marginalised art form. I would like to add my personal thanks for all his efforts. In bidding adieu to Minister Foley in his Editorial, David summarises many key arts funding issues. It’s a perspective from the publisher’s coal-face of dealing with bureaucracy as well as a timely reminder that an incumbent Minister is just part of the picture.

We preview a 4MBS-FM co-production of David Reiter’s play, Paul and Vincent. The production will take place in January 2004 at the 4MBS performance studio in Coorparoo, with Eugene Gilfedder and Michael Churven as Gauguin and van Gogh. The play will also be published next year in IP Digital’s Audio + Text Series, along with an audio version of Swelter by Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford. This series continues to produce work of quality and dynamism since the release of The Fickle Brat by Chris Mansell. Other titles are at the planning stage.

In Bestlinks there’s a cheeky promotion of my own web publishing efforts, as I discuss how the web can assist authors in “doing it for themselves”. This compliments David’s reality check on Assisted Self Publishing. For festival junkies there’s also a brief review of the 2003 Queensland Poetry Festival and a whisper from the grapevine about what’s in store for the festival next year.

It’s been another rewarding year for me as IP’s Editor and your newsletter editor. My thanks to Assistant Editors Morag Kobez Halvorson and Heidi Keefer for all their hard work at Treetop Studio. My heartfelt gratitude to David for giving me so much credit when he does so much of the work.

Before I sign off, greetings to the most important people of all — those of you who buy our books and CDs and keep the company afloat! Be sure to visit the store to pick up some holiday bargains and scroll down to our fabulous specials in Your Deal.

eNews will be back in February with a preview of our Autumn list and all the results from IP Picks 2004. Meanwhile, keep those entries coming in!

Sara Moss, Editor, IP eNews


From the Director's Desk

DR_roofThis is a breather for me between major trips: a southern tour in support of our five new titles released in Spring Season 2003, and a trip to North America, where I will visit with family, but also have a reading at Cleveland State University’s Poetry Centre and a retrospective at my old high school, where I confess I did not write a single poem or story. I was intent on a career in medicine back then, before bio-chemistry did me in, but a search on my name on Google will reveal a couple more Dr David Reiters who did hang in there through medical school to become surgeons (I wonder how they’re doing with indemnity insurance!)

We have had a tremendous response so far to IP Picks, our national literary competition, now in its third year, if the number of requests for entry forms is anything to go by. The winning entries to date have been doing very well for us, and I was pleased to showcase the latest two winners — Liam Guilar’s I’ll Howl Before You Bury Me and Paul Mitchell’s minorphysics — that had their Gold Coast and Melbourne launches, respectively during the Seasonal tour. As one of the few national competitions for unpublished poetry and fiction books, Picks should have a strong place in the writing calendar, and we’re hoping for something more tangible than verbal support from Arts Queensland in the upcoming grants decisions so we can offer more than royalty publication to the winners! For those of you still tweaking your submissions, remember that they must be postmarked no later than 1 December.

2004 is shaping up to be another bumper year for IP, with our publishing program nearly full at this stage. Our Autumn Season will release a novel by Melbourne author Merle Thornton, poetry collections from Sydney authors David Musgrave and Jenni Nixon, and from Queenslander Liam Ferney (Jenni and Liam’s mss were Highly Commended in IP Picks 2003 and were subsequently offered publication). Finally IP Digital will be releasing a new Audio + Text title, based on Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford’s Swelter. Judging by the very positive response we’ve had to Chris Mansell’s The Fickle Brat, the first in that new Series, we’re on a winner.

And, given the enthusiasm I found during my southern tour, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Tasmanian authors and South Australian authors joining our list before long.

Be sure to check out IP eNews 21 in early February for a sneak preview of some of our new titles. In the meantime, get your orders in early to us for Christmas — we’re offering free postage and handling, plus a card in your name to the lucky recipient, on all orders received by 13 December.

I’ve got to get through my portion of Thanksgiving turkey at my mother’s before even thinking of Christmas, but I’m sure I’ll manage!

Cheers!!

Dr David Reiter

Adieu to Our Minister for Poetry

Long time Queensland Minister for the Arts Matt Foley has decided to step down. Reactions are mixed about this, and very little has been said in public, so let me be one of the first to offer an opinion about if this is a fitting end to the latest season of Yes, Minister, Queensland-style.

If support in word and presence are important, then certainly this Minister scores very highly. As a poet himself, the Minister has spoken very positively about literary writing in this State. One of his lasting achievements will be the creation of the Judith Wright Centre for the Arts, naming it after one of Australia’s greatest poets. Unfortunately the running costs of the building have made it difficult for any organisation dedicated to writing to be housed there, e.g. the Queensland Writers Centre remains in the less salubrious Metro Arts Building. Few writing-related events other than those directly funded by the Government, e.g. the Queensland Poetry Festival and National Poetry Day, have happened there. We once thought about holding a launch there but were told it would cost $400 just for the space. You’ve got to sell a lot of books to recoup that.

The Minister can certainly point to several other significant capital works projects intended to enhance the arts scene in this State. New spaces have been constructed at Performing Arts Centre, and the Queensland Conservatorium moved from cramped quarters at the Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point campus to a new building at South Bank where it’s now a part of Griffith University. La Boite Theatre could see the handwriting on the wall with nearby Suncorp Stadium looking for more lebensraum, and after drawn-out negotiations with the Government will soon have a new home at QUT’s Kelvin Grove Cultural Precinct.

Of course, there’s more to supporting the arts than having a credible Edifice Complex, and Minister Foley has been aware of this. The major performing arts groups continue to enjoy substantial Government funding, as do our arts festivals. On the writing side, the Brisbane Writers Festival, despite a few bumps lately with three new Directors in the past four years, played to huge crowds this year, despite — or perhaps because of — the skimpy numbers of local talent involved. The future of the Queensland Poetry Festival is less assured, with numbers sliding over the past two years, despite generous support from the Government, access to venues at the Judith Wright Centre and the Minister’s generous donation of his time to launch the festival.

Minister Foley will certainly claim to have invested more funds on writing, especially over the past three years. One of the more visible break-throughs has been the annual Premier’s Literary Awards, but these have been a mixed blessing, with very few winners from the Queensland ranks. And doubtlessly the Premier would claim credit for establishing the awards in the first place. However, from a bottom line perspective, Queensland taxpayers are subsidising interstate winners to the tune of $100,000 +, and the presence of an Emerging Queensland Author’s prize in the ranks is only minimal consolation.

It’s questionable that this cultural “foreign aid” does much to develop a stronger writing industry in Queensland. The Minister has been outspoken about indifference from the big publishers and the Australia Council toward Queensland talent (though both would dispute his claims), so why support an awards scheme that bankrolls so many interstate authors?

Matt_DRFor years, I have argued for parity between the high profile Premier’s Award categories and the annual Judith Wright Calenthe Award for poetry (again named by the Minister) and the Steele Rudd Award for the best short fiction collection, to no avail. Best selling novels and non-fiction find plentiful corporate and media support without Government largesse, but poetry and short fiction need greater visibility. Hopefully, his successor will see the sense in this.

Taming the Sir Humphreys is every Minister’s dream, and this Minister has had more success than most. The Arts Queensland (AQ) bureaucrats are earning their money now more than ever before. New processes are now in place for peer review of funding applications, with Major Grant rounds being held twice yearly rather than once a year. Grants under $5,000 can be sought monthly.

But increased opportunities to apply have not led to greater support for individual artists. The average amount of grant awarded per person has dropped during this Minister’s time in office. $30,000 grants were common years ago; it’s not unusual to see authors getting $10,000 or less to write a book from scratch. The unspoken business plan at AQ seems to be getting more artistic bang for the Minister’s buck.

Increasing access to the funding process has not been good news for the AQ staff, who now have to administer many more grant rounds in what must be an administrative nightmare (though Sir Humphrey would doubtlessly understate it as a “challenge”). Previously, an artist had an identifiable arts officer at AQ to approach, e.g. a senior project officer in writing. Now, the bureaucrats have been repurposed and redeployed and none are responsible for a single arts discipline. If an artist is bold enough to seek an appointment there, there’s no guarantee that the staff member will have sufficient expertise in the area under discussion. And this ad hoc approach has already led to some “interesting” policy changes.

The movement away from disciplines toward a business-centred model in AQ’s structure has not been good news for their clients. The new CIP system is rife with reporting requirements, supposedly intended to ensure accountability and viability among prospective clients. Even those groups seeking project funding have to supply termite mounds of supporting material.

The process will certainly exhaust any organisation not large enough to employee specialist in strategic planning and accounts, not to mention those AQ staff expected to review this documentation in detail, but it’s questionable whether the new system will benefit artists at the grassroots or return benefits to the taxpayers. It could be suggested by those with political motivation that this state of policy over-complication is intended to distract the populace from the issues that really matter, such as dollars and cents, but I would be loath to endorse such a view here. (Thanks again, Sir H!)

However, cultural foreign aid aside, writing does remain the poor cousin in arts funding in this State. Minister Foley has said much in support of his pet art form, and he has certainly created new policy intended to increase access of worthy artists to funding. However, he hasn’t delivered the money where it’s needed most. More worthy artists and projects are going without, or having to make do with less, and his department is less part of the solution than a creator of problems. In a climate where “outcomes” is a favoured buzzword in Government and the bureaucracy alike, we need new funding, not new processes.

It took nearly three years for AQ to “study” the policy implications of allowing more organisations access to CIP funding. Even with the pent-up demand state-wide, the Government was only prepared to commit $40,000 extra to CIP. Most current CIP clients regard themselves as sacred cows, so what Minister would be bold enough, despite Sir Hs best advice, to authorise their removal from the inner sanctum? In the case of this Minister, we’ll never know.

So, does Matt Foley leave the arts scene better off than when he took control of that portfolio? Without a doubt. And we are grateful for most of his victories and even more of his rhetoric. But it is questionable how much he and his stress-ridden bureaucracy have assisted in the recent flowering of artistic activity in Queensland. Based on the shifting demographic away from the magnets of Sydney and Melbourne, and the stimulus of Expo years ago, much of what is new and exciting probably would have happened regardless of who was in office. It may be sacrilege to say so, but the arts were already gaining momentum under the Coalition under Mike Ahearn and then Arts Minister Joan Sheldon. This Minister has spent too much time shifting the deck chairs and too little effort delivering the funds needed to assist his clients.

Sir Humphrey reminds us more than once that it’s a mistake to let a Minister get in the way of sound policy development. Unfortunately, Matt Foley must have missed that episode.

DR

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[In this issue we look at the other two titles from our Spring Season 2003 (see the previous issue for the Focus on the other three titles). Molly Guy talks about her second collection, Terminal Velocity and David Reiter bares all about his update to the novel of manners, Brisbane-style, Liars and Lovers.]

To be honest, I’m unhappy about writing “300 to 500 words that will make people want to read (or at least pick up)” Terminal Velocity. I’ve never consciously analysed my own work. My practice has always been to move on from completed stories without ever looking back.

I guess it wouldn’t hurt to mention that, when I was very young, I was into ‘breaking and entering’ in a big way. I was at least six years old before I understood doors were for knocking on. I was always letting myself into stranger’s houses, eavesdropping on their conversations.
I’d always loved the way reality ‘shifted’ in other people’s homes. No two households ever had exactly the same teacups, loo paper, salt cellars, prejudices.

Terminal_VelocityThe house I liked most in my neighbourhood had doors that hung off their hinges, it had a very lumpy lounge suite. The ‘lumps’ in the sofa turned out to be the dismantled parts of a stolen motor bike.

I was also fond of wardrobes and cupboards at this time. The fact that they were often filled with moths and silverfish didn’t worry me at all. (I remember my mum attempting to vacuum a moth out of my ear after I’d spent a particularly enjoyable afternoon crouched inside a linen press in a house miles away from my home).

My favourite wardrobes were filled with frocks lightly dusted, around the collars, with pink face powder.

2.

My dad was a prolific story teller. (My dad’s stories often involved ancestor worship). Offered the choice of pocket money or a story, I’d go for the story every time.

Unfortunately, when I first began telling stories in my own right I found the process disappointing in two ways.
Firstly, good story telling (oral) involved a considerable amount of creative energy at the end of which I had nothing tangible to show for my efforts.

Secondly, nobody believed a word I said! The word “bullshit” was mentioned.

I began writing things down. A weird kind of alchemy occurred. The extraordinary became almost believable.
On paper I was plausible (very nearly).

3.

Terminal Velocity could well be described as one more exercise in voyeurism. (Real or imagined). As well it appears as words printed on paper.

I hope Terminal Velocity is about social isolation. It’s possible I’ve allowed myself to be distracted at times.

I hope it’s about substitution.

(If you’ve finally climbed OUT of your wardrobe — and, even so, perversely chosen to isolate yourself from your community; wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to substitute loving relationships with friends and neighbours with a growing attachment to your pets, your potted plants? Your lap top computer?)

Essentially, Terminal Velocity is about the wackiness that creeps up on us when we spend too much time alone. (It’s possible, at first, that we may not notice we’re drifting downstream at a rate of knots. When we at last
hear the thundering of rapids ahead, it may already be too late.)

4.

Ask yourself this question — is it unreasonable to suggest that (like beauty) craziness/wackiness/aberrant behaviour might not be in the eye of the beholder?

— Molly Guy

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On my recent tour to points south, I was asked the same question about Liars and Lovers, which is one of the five titles we’re promoting in our Spring Season 2003: how long did it take you to write it? The answer is five years — off and on. But in the end it was a story that just had to get out there, so finally I had no choice but to find the time to finish it.

Liars_LoversIt’s my first published novel. A couple of earlier attempts lie in a dusty drawer, never to surface, even if this one wins the Booker. Part of maturing as a writer is coming to recognise work that will never be more than an undercoat for a more public product. You might very well take the view that waiting 25 years from the publication of my first story in Canada’s prestigious Fiddlehead Review to ‘become’ a novelist should lend the work an oaken aftertaste, but that’s only part of the story.

I’ve always known that I was capable of writing a novel if I set my mind to it. Yet, when I approached some major publishers with a draft of Triangles years ago, I wasn’t particularly motivated by their view that I should wait on releasing that collection until I’d produced a novel. I understood the practical reasons why they would suggest that; however the fact was that Triangles was ready to go, and I had no plans to write a novel. I still thought of myself as a poet, and fiction as a sideline, so I saw no reason to follow a career path set by a publisher.

Triangles was a critical success, as first runner-up in the Steele Rudd Award in 2000, so I thought again about fiction. There were a few stories in the collection that served as the starting point for Liars and Lovers, and certainly the satiric mode of the novel is in keeping with that found in Triangles. Within a few months I had a draft of a novel, as yet unnamed, but I wasn’t satisfied with it. I actually sent it off to Allen & Unwin, who had nibbled around the edges of the Triangles ms, but the reception was a bit cool. Their view was that the novel hadn’t decided whether it was a work of popular fiction or something more serious. I didn’t have to agonise over that — I agreed with them.

Over the next two years, I came back to the ms from time to time. I would tinker with it, as was my habit in writing stories, using my word processor to best advantage. But I found progress very slow indeed. I was always losing my place, forgetting what the point was.

Finally, I abandoned the draft altogether. I already knew my characters, and what I wanted to ‘say’ in the novel. So I wasn’t really starting with a blank slate — or should I say screen. My view was that the really important things would surface when I needed them.

Forbes Holbrook, the main character, is a would-be novelist, too, and his halting attempts to draft a satisfying storyline mimicked mine. Like in his case — though for different reasons — at a particular point in time it all made sense, and the prose came so quickly I could hardly keep up. The premise was that Forbes’ relations with the two key women in his life inform the writing of his Great Australian Novel. For him, love — and to a lesser degree, lust — sets him free from his inhibitions about letting the words come out and the characters take form.

The ending came to me about three-quarters of the way through the main draft, which only accelerated the process. And I had set myself a print deadline, which helped keep my focus, despite outside competing demands. A month out from the deadline I had a draft, and I gave myself the remaining four weeks to work through it once a week, incorporating changes suggested by my readers, as well as finding things myself.

The novel is a piece of popular fiction, a modern novel of manners set in Brisbane, but like all satire it has a serious sub-text. Few of us have the guts to live our dreams, and to deal with the consequences of simply floating on our backs throughout our lives. There’s a womanising secondary character by the name of Lenny, who earns a crust as a psychologist, but dreams of being a composer of symphonies. Finally he gets Rigby, one of the main characters, to hire out a hall for him to present the premiere of his opus, The Moreton Bay Symphony. It’s less than a success, but he has at least acted on his dream, and the other characters have to respect him for that. How many of us, the novel asks, would put our self-respect on the line to pursue a dream?

More to the point, it follows the exploits of Forbes and Rigby — sexual and otherwise — and how their unlikely bond prepares them for dealing with the challenges the novel presents. To a degree, this is not particularly sacred ‘men’s business’ but perhaps there’s room in the shops for a male equivalent to ‘Chick Lit’ for those who want more out of life than a tattoo. I certainly hope so!

— David Reiter

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Over the many years I’ve worked for IP, it’s been no secret that my special interest in the press, my passion, has been for our poetry publishing program. I came to the press originally as an author. In 2000, my first collection, A Deep Fear of Trains, was released as the first title in the Emerging Authors Series. It was an accomplishment for me, the culmination of over five years of writing poetry and two years intensive editing and rewriting of the collection. It was a time I learned some valuable lessons as an author. Writing poetry for myself was enjoyable and rewarding, writing poetry that other people might want to read was also enjoyable but involved some hard work. In this time, I was working towards something, the publication of a slim volume of poems in book form, an end “product” that someone else could “sell” to a readership.

Publication in book form is still the goal of many authors. It retains the prestige of the “seal of approval”. There is still a perception that if an author’s work has been published, by someone else, it must be good, or at least have some objective value. This persists despite historical evidence that many “self publishers” have produced work of exceptional quality.

With the proliferation of web publishing, our preconceptions are challenged on a daily basis. It’s not unusual to find work on the web of remarkable quality from unknown and previously unpublished authors. It’s also common to find a load of crap. With increasing access to the means and methods of web publishing, we’re all becoming content providers. The position of gatekeepers and filterers is under increasing scrutiny: where people can write, publish and promote their own work, what is the role of the professional editor and publisher? The covers are off it seems and the “O” word is everywhere – you see it’s all a matter of opinion. Well-informed opinion, perhaps, Well-educated opinion, most certainly, but opinion nonetheless. Increasingly, authors can choose to either take or leave that opinion.

As a poet, I see publishing in book form as just one of the goals of my writing. I’m increasingly interested in the potential of multimedia and the mixing of art forms. I have, with digital artist Shane Carter, formed an artistic collective, the Synaptic Graffiti Collective. Synaptic_Collective

We blend poetry with flash animation, digital art and sound. We publish work on the web and present it in live multimedia performances. We do hope to produce a CD in the future but are presently opening the collective to new members. Graham Nunn, an accomplished writer of poetry and Haiku and founder of the Brisbane group, Speedpoets is joining us, along with Rowan Donovan, a fellow Speedpoet.

We’re on the lookout for people to join us who share our basic values – a passion for creative work and an interest in wider social and political movements. The collective allows us to explore avenues that might not be available in traditional or mainstream publishing. Our goal is not necessarily an end “product” such as a CD or book. The process of creating the work together, of scripting and performing to live audiences is an end in itself.

I have also, with Shane’s assistance, developed a website which encompasses all my current writing interests, including Synaptic Graffiti. In doing this, I’ve joined the ranks of millions of authors worldwide who are “doing it for themselves”, compiling their own work and publishing it online for anyone to read. One of the advantages of this kind of publishing is that, aside from obvious costs of hosting and internet access, it’s free. All it takes is time.

There’s also an opportunity with web publishing to share more than the end “product” of a polished piece of writing. You can share elements of the writing process, the shaping of ideas. One area of the website is devoted to poetry on the experience of living with Multiple Sclerosis. Primary_ConditionI’ve titled the work Primary Condition, which refers to a question on a federal government application for a disability pension. I’ve published a small selection of poems on the web with accompanying information for readers about the disease. This information is optional: if readers want to know more about the context of a poem, they can run their mouse over a question mark and a text box appears with the information.

Interactivity and choice are something the web and CDs provide that a book does not. It’s not a second rate choice; it’s actually more useful and appropriate for producing work of this nature. A longer term goal for Primary Condition is publication in book and CD format, but, for now, I’m happy to develop the idea online, where I can share the poetry with readers and welcome “guest” contributions from other authors writing on the subject of illness.

PoetryDrawerI am so excited by the whole web publishing experience that I’ve published some of my older work online in a special collection titled Poetry From the Drawer. When you publish a collection of poetry professionally in book form, it needs something to tie it together, some sense of cohesion. Poetry From the Drawer is more random and chaotic. These are poems that never found their way into a book. NOT because they weren’t individually good enough, but they didn’t fit my first collection, and as time passed, didn’t fit the new directions of my writing.

I’m decidedly proud of many of these poems and I’ve enough ego not to publish them if I didn’t think they were good enough! All publishing involves a decision from the author to let go. I’d held on to this work for long enough; it was time to bid it adieu. On the guest pages, I dare other authors to do the same. A few brave souls have already risen to the challenge and I’ve assembled some diverse content for the next site update.

All this takes time, which is not a commodity too many of us have in spades. If we feel our time and our work must be rewarded monetarily, then publishing on the web is clearly not the best option. But poetry is not generally a lucrative exercise: even if we can manage to sell the modest print runs of our professionally published works, we can hardly give up our day jobs. Given this, why not share our poetry openly on the web, at least in part? I don’t believe by doing this that we give up our goals of publishing; we just open our minds to other opportunities. Oh, and if we don’t have the werewithall ourselves, it does help to work with someone else. I lucked out, I live with a graphic artist!

—SM

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up

Is there a bright future for self-publishers right around the corner? That was certainly the question in the air at the recent incarnation of the NSW Writers Centre Independent Publishers’ Book Fair.

The weekend kicked off on Thursday, oddly enough, with an awards ceremony for the best “self-published” books in several categories. The quality of the competitors varied considerably, and I suspected that some were on performance enhancing drugs — that is, they’d received more than a little assistance on the way to final production.

That’s not to say that I think that self-publishers shouldn’t try to get a leg up by calling in the experts when need be. Producing a book is every bit as complicated as carrying and then delivering a healthy baby, so I wonder sometimes why people think they must go one way or the other, getting a publisher to do it all for them or doing it all for themselves.

So the meaning of the term “self publishing” is a bit misleading in this context, and those who aspire to DIY projects should realise that those who seek out the experts where they are needed are much more likely to succeed.

The crucial thing is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Are you an editor, as well as a writer? Do you know enough about what people are reading to decide how many copies of your book you are likely to sell in a year or so, and hence how many you should print? Alternatively, do you have a large, waterproof, silverfish-proof shed for storing the surplus until the Grim Shredder winks at you? Do you know what it takes to design a cover that will suit your book and capture the eye of the passing trade in a bookshop — if you’re lucky to have your cover displayed? What about getting it into libraries? (It’s not as simple as fronting up at the desk and saying ‘Hi, I’m your local self-published author!’)

Some self-publishers dream that recognition is just around the corner, once Borders agrees to let them have a reading on a wet Sunday afternoon. They will quote the stories of unknown authors who are discovered by big time agents browsing the fiction shelves of a Dymocks store. When that doesn’t happen within the first few weeks of the book’s launch, they may send the book off to a few mainstream publishers in the hope of signposting the pathway to the Eureka Effect. Their chances here are little better than winning Gold Lotto on an ordinary Thursday (if you find that statistic encouraging, think again!)

A few self-publishers do succeed. These are for projects that have a ready-made audience, sizable enough to help the author turn a modest profit. Still others “break out” through word of mouth, creating demand on unchartered ground where soliciting editors normally fear to tread. (But they do know how to catch a good wave when they spot one!)

The bad news is that raw talent is only one element contributing to the success of a book. Being in the right place at the right time and finding an audience have a lot to do with it. More important is knowing how to refine the work to widen its appeal and then having the business sense to get it out there and spread the word.

Maybe we should coin a new term: Assisted Self-Publication. ASP has a nice ring to it. Most DIY authors are better off seeking help from the specialists — unless they do have a very large shed.

[there’s more information about the pros and cons of self-publication elsewhere on this site — Editor]

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Our activities for this issue focus on Spring Season 2003, our busiest season yet, so let’s get on with it!

In our first event on the Gold Coast, we launched Liam Guilar’s I’ll Howl Before You Bury Me at St Hilda’s School in Southport. David had previously visited St Hilda’s to talk to a senior English class about publishing, so he at least knew his way there. Liam’s position as Head of English promised to deliver a good audience, and the school community did not disappoint.

The highlights, aside from Liam’s spirited reading from the book, were warm-up acts from Peter Dravidian on sitar and Dave Fernandez on tabla, followed by a musical duet with Liam on lute and Chen Yang on violin. Being the shy Head of English that he is, Liam hadn’t spread the word about his poetry too generally, so curiosity proved a good motivator in the brisk sales of the book that followed!

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The next day was the Brisbane Launch at the Performance Studio of 4MBS-Classic FM, Brisbane’s community classical music station. Though we launched all five titles in the Season there, David and Liam Guilar were the only authors of the five present in body to read.


Cr Sharon Humphreys launched the event and our national literary IP Picks 2004, now in its third year. Charlie Veron, author of Inge, was very well represented by his ex-wife Kirsty, who shared her fond recollections of Inge Moessler, a fascinating subject. Then our Editor Sara Moss launched Paul Mitchell’s minorphysics, which, like Liam’s book, was an IP Picks 2003 winner. Finally David read from his satire Liars and Lovers, which should be required reading for anyone who enjoys al fresco dining and which features paid testimonials from Daph du Maurier, Jimmy Joyce and the like.

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Then the Spring 03 tour began in earnest, with stops in Sydney, Tasmania, Melbourne and Adelaide. David was a guest at the annual Fastbooks Self-Publishing Competition on 16 October, which announced winners in several categories, and gave rise to David’s reflections on self-publishing above.

IP had a stall at the NSW Writers Centre Publishers and Authors Bookshow that weekend and business was quite brisk, especially for titles from our new season. Liam Guilar flew down to feature in an IP Showcase Saturday afternoon, in which he read with David. The audience was keen to learn more about the latest developments with IP, and David was only too happy to oblige. He was particularly pleased when Irina Dunn, the Centre’s Director, complimented us on our first-class cover designs. Way to go, Irina, your cheque’s in the mail!

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Hobart was David’s next stop, with the launch of Molly Guy’s Terminal Velocity at the Hobart Bookshop on historic Salamanca Square.

David Owen, Editor of Island magazine gave an excellent review of the title — which we hope he’ll reprint in Island — before turning the microphone over to Molly. Those of you who’ve noticed that Molly’s photo has yet to appear on anything in connection with her book — including the back cover — will be pleased to see that David’s digital camera caught her in action. Her mini-site now has a photo! Thanks to Chris and the Hobart Bookshop staff for a delightful launch!


David continued on to Devonport — through snow at Lake St Clair! — for an evening with Fay Forbes’ writers group up there, and a spirited lot they are! Molly wasn’t able to make that event, but that only gave David an excuse to read one of his favourite stories from Terminal Velocity, as well as selections from Liars and Lovers. The group must have been pleased, because we’ve received an open invitation to come to Devonport on our next trip to Tassie. We also have a new bookshop partner in Devonport Books, so do say hi to Tim Gott for us if you’re in town!

Launceston was next on the list. After a brief detour to Cataract Gorge — well named for the effect on the eyes of an unfit Director after a trek on the Zig-Zag Track — David and Molly had a reading at the Academy of the Arts, Inveresk, which is part of University of Tasmania’s Launceston campus. He also welcomed Clive Tilsley, owner of Fullers Bookshop, as a new bookshop partner.

Then back to Hobart, for contact with more bookshops — Fullers Hobart, Dymocks (Centrepoint Shopping Centre) and Book City, which now stock IP titles. The last Hobart event was a reading at the Tasmania Museum, hosted by Joe Bugden, Director of the Tasmanian Writers Centre, who David was pleased to meet after all those emails.

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The next day it was off to Melbourne for Paul Mitchell’s launch of minorphysics at the North Melbourne Town Hall, which was packed to the rafters. Kevin Brophy launched the book, and Paul performed a generous selection from the book without reading from it at all. We were all very impressed!


The following evening, David was a panellist on the Victorian Writers Centre’s session on writing online. The panel also included one of David’s former students from the University of Canberra, who has gone on to great things with his own poetry, having been short-listed for The Age Book of the Year.

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The final whistlestop for Spring Season 03 was Adelaide. As was the case with Tasmania, this was the first time IP had visited there, and people were quite interested to learn more about what IP might have to offer prospective authors, as well as our achievements so far. David met with Plain Central Services, which assists South Australian libraries with their collection development, and Plain’s senior staff were very impressed by our list.

On Friday of that week, David held Meet the Publisher sessions with ten authors who came to pitch their project to him. He’s awaiting further submissions from several of them. Then he was a guest reader at Bookends Bookshop, where he hit it off with Rob Scott, the owner/ manager. Apparently, David’s not the first to see some resemblance between Rob and one of the stars of Black Books, a black humour TV show from the UK about a used bookshop of the same vintage. David also had a chat with some people from Friendly Street Poets, a group that produces fine anthologies of South Australia poetry, and encouraged them to form some ties with IP to our mutual benefit.

The last event on his schedule was a Reiter Interactive workshop at the South Australia Writers Centre, hosted by Barbara Wiesner, its Director. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Barbara and the Centre staff, the event was attended by about 20 people eager to learn more about online publishing. There was a spirited discussion about the pros and cons of non-linear works like David’s The Gallery and Sharpened Knife, but most people were relieved to hear that David doesn’t anticipate the death of the printed book for some time! Barbara attended the full-day workshop, then invited David to return to lead a master class in writing, which he will certainly do before long.

We encourage you to revisit the mini-sites devoted to our Spring 03 list and either order them online or drop by your local bookshop to order them.

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We mentioned some time ago that IP was exploring a partnership with 4MBS Classic-FM here in Brisbane. There’ve been two developments on that front. First, we held our Spring 2003 Season Launch there on 11 October (see Out & About). More recently 4MBS has agreed to mount a production of Paul and Vincent, David Reiter’s script, which is based on the relationship between Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, and particularly the Gauguin’s letters.

ABC Radio National originally aired a radio script version of the work in their PoeticA program two years ago, in a production that interspersed classical music with the script. Response from listeners was so positive that the ABC rebroadcast the program a year later to a similar response. Many listeners asked if a CD of the production was available, but it wasn’t. The ABC had only arranged for first broadcast rights and had no plans to produce a commercial version.

In the context of possible collaborations between IP and 4MBS, some months ago, David met with the station’s General Manager Gary Thorpe to explore the possibilities of a new production. Gary thought it was a good idea, so it’s now scheduled as an event in 4MBS’ annual Summer School on 11 January.

4MBS staff will record the play for mastering and production as an audio CD, and we are exploring the possibility of filming it as well. Paul and Vincent will be published as a new title in IP Digital’s Audio + Text Series, which will make it possible for viewers to listen as they read the script on screen, or simply listen to it as they would to a music CD.

LWNSThe plan at this stage is for people to come early for a backgrounder on the two artists and their stormy relationship. A curator from the Queensland Art Gallery will give a brief talk, and David will field questions about the composing of the work, first as a radio play based on his source book, Letters We Never Sent, then as a theatre script. We also plan to have participants have a play with his multimedia work The Gallery, which deals with the two artists and their work in a very different way.

Michael CProminent Brisbane actor Eugene Gilfedder will act the role of Paul Gauguin, with Michael Churven (pictured here) as Vincent van Gogh. The venue will be 4MBS’ Performance Studio, 11 January 2004 from 5pm.

Tickets are $18 for 4MBS subscribers and $20 for the general community. For tickets and further information, please contact 4MBS.

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From 12-14 September, the Queensland Poetry Festival once again took place in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts and Belushi’s Café (formerly the Latin Café). As with previous festivals, a good handful of both past and current IP authors attended, including Swelter poets Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford. For me, the festival provided a great opportunity to present multimedia work from the Synaptic Graffiti Collective, with the aid of the first-class technical facilities of the Centre.

The festival kicked off on Friday night with announcement of the winners of the Val Vallis Award for Unpublished Poetry and the inaugural Thomas Shapcott Prize – which offers a cash award of $3000 and a publishing contract with the University of Queensland Press. Lidija Cvetkovic won with her manuscript War is Not the Season for Figs. I’ve long been a fan of this poet’s work and her moving personal insights into the Balkans region and the effects of the conflicts there. She’s been widely published in journals, but this is her first long-awaited collection. Jaya Savige won the Val Vallis Award for his poem “Skirmish Point”.

Of the sessions I attended at the Centre a standout was the performance of a guest from New Zealand, Lynda Chanwai Earle. David Malouf, better known as a novelist, pulled the crowds, but I felt his poetry was somewhat overshadowed by that of his fellow readers, including the lesser-known Judith Beveridge. The always-entertaining Brisbane poet Ross Clark hosted a session on the “poetics of sin” featuring some of Queensland’s most talented voices, including Rebecca Edwards and Samuel Wagan Watson.

I was unable to attend the sessions at Belushi’s, but from all accounts a highlight was the Speedpoets. The group includes some emerging talents from Brisbane who perform regularly at this venue to healthy crowds. The group focuses strongly on poetry in performance for public entertainment. Its founder, Graham Nunn, takes the reins as Director of the Festival next year. If Speedpoets is anything to go by, we can look forward to a return of the Festival to its grassroots. I spoke recently with Graham who said he envisions a truly public festival with a focus on special events that are both thought-provoking and entertaining for audiences.

The outgoing committee can be justly proud of their achievements. They have built on the success of their predecessors and enhanced the national and international prestige of the event. My own view is the future success of this festival depends on taking the best from the past but not attempting to create another Brisbane Writers’ Festival – but one for poets – on the other side of the river.

Poetry has a different and special identity. Its future lies in the hands of current and future generations of poets, not those of arts bureaucrats and publicists.

— SM

Deal 1: Christmas begins at home!

Buy any title from the IP Shop via our order page for 10% off the cover price and we’ll throw in free postage and handling. Buy any two for 20% off, any three for 30% off, any four for 40% and pay a flat $5 for postage. How far can we go to rekindle the Christmas spirit? That’s it! Order by email, quoting YD:20_1. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only. Credit card orders, add $2 per title.

Deal 2: Let us play Santa for you!

Sick of the pre-Christmas crowds? Aunt Martha can’t wait for the Boxing Day sales? Have we got a deal for you!

Order any IP title for someone else (even someone in your household) and we’ll take 20% off, send a nice card in your name and post it to that lucky person for free! Order as many titles as you like, but you must specify the recipient and any special message you want us to include.

Order by email, quoting YD:20_2. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only. Credit card orders, add $2 per title.

FIPC members get a further 10% discount off the cost of either package plus free postage. Sign up now and get the benefits of Club membership today.

Offers available only to individuals, and excluding Santa Claus!

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