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Contents

From the Director’s Desk

Editorial: Do We Need More Writers?

Focus: Spring Season 2004 Authors!

Down and Dirty Distribution

IP Picks 2005

Out & About

Queensland Poetry Festival 2005

Your Deal

Vol 6, No. 4 — ISSN 1442-0023

SaraWelcome to the final issue of the year and what a fantastic year it has been for IP!

We kicked off in 2004 by announcing the winners and commendeds for the IP Picks Awards and now we celebrate the release of their titles across four Australian states.
Wendy Evans has an amusing tale to tell about the launch of The Diggings are Silent in WA. Murphy was certainly present at that one! Things were a little smoother for Cate Kennedy at the launches of Joyflight in her native Victoria, with successful events in Benalla, Daylesford and Melbourne.

We preview the launches coming up for Joel Deane, author of Another, in Victoria and Sydney, and for Nora Krouk, author of Skin for Comfort, in Sydney. David Reiter will also be launching his own novel, Liars and Lovers, in the southern states. Read Out and About for all the details.

Wendy Evans, Liam Ferney and Margaret Metz, author of Live by the Bottle, share the spotlight in Focus. Liam takes the prize for most surprising answer to an interview question, I can’t recall any other IP authors listing Paul Keating as an influence! Liam's poetry title, Popular Mechanics, Highly Commended in the 2003 Picks Awards, was also launched in October at the Queensland Poetry Festival.

David tackles a thorny question in his editorial – are there too many writers in Oz? Should they be issued with Provider Numbers like doctors to keep up the demand for good writing? Make up your own mind. Inspired by the upcoming Independent Publishers Bookfair he’ll be attending at the NSW Writers’ Centre later this month, he provides a feature on distribution that should be essential reading for any author — publisher-assisted or otherwise.

I provide a brief review of the Queensland Poetry Festival, which featured a number of IP authors, including Liam, Cate and David, who gave a live demo from his multimedia script, Paul and Vincent.

My own CD project, the Synaptic Graffiti Collective: Slam the Body Politik was also launched at the Festival with a bravo mix of multimedia and live performances. Order forms can be downloaded from the website. This is not an IP title but our Director has generously allowed me a plug in this issue in lieu of our usual Bestlinks column.

IP Picks 2005 will be closing at the end of the month. Enquiries are running thick and fast, so if you harbour ambitions of being an IP author, hurry with your manuscript.

Finally, I want to remind everyone that Christmas is coming and books and CDs do make fine gifts for friends and family, and anyone interested in quality Australian writing. You can do your shopping right now, hassle free, in our online shop. But don’t forget to check out the deals first.

We will see you in the New Year with all the results of IP Picks 2005. After the high calibre of this year’s crop, I can hardly wait!

Sara Moss, Editor, IP eNews


From the Director's Desk

DR_roofAs we go to press with the final issue of eNews for this year, I'm catching my breath from our most ambitious publishing season yet. We’ve already launched The Diggings Are Silent Now, a book and CD collaboration between writer Wendy Evans and musician Alan Ferguson, out in Western Australia, and I had a whirlwind tour of Victoria with Cate Kennedy in support of her book Joyflight. Mid-November will see us launching Nora Krouk’s Skin for Comfort, Margaret Metz’s Live by the Bottle and Joel Deane’s Another in Sydney and Melbourne.

All of this would have been so much harder if it had not been for the support of the dedicated team at IP. My thanks to Sara, Morag and Sue for making it all happen.

The entries are already coming in for IP Picks 2005, which promises to be our most successful competition yet, with strong interest being registered in the new category of creative non-fiction as well as the standing categories of poetry and fiction. I’m looking forward to seeing what the judges come up with this year, but the competitors will be hard-pressed to match the quality of our winners from last year!

Sydneysiders will have several opportunities to catch the IP spirit in November and stock up on presents for Christmas. On Wednesday, I’ll be offering a workshop at the NSW Writers Centre on “Repurposing Content: From Print to Multimedia”. On Thursday, Joel Deane and I will launch our novels at Ariel Books, Paddington. Then, on the weekend, I’ll be at the IP table during the Writers Centre Annual Publishers Bookshow, with launches of Another, Liars and Lovers and Nora Krouk’s Skin for Comfort during the Fair.

The following day, I fly to Melbourne for Joel s launch there,
then it’ll be back to Brisbane for me and the inevitable wind-down to Christmas.

Let me be one of the first to wish you and yours a happy and safe festive season and a productive 2005, on behalf of the team at IP.


Cheers!!

Dr David Reiter

Do We Need More Writers?

Research sponsored by the Australia Council has revealed that Australia has a glut of writers. In November 2003, OzCo published Don’t Give Up Your Day Job — An economic study of professional artists in Australia by Professor David Throsby and Virginia Hollister, which prompted follow-up research that confirms what most people already know: we have far more writers among us than we used to. More than triple the number, in fact, than we had 20 years ago. The number of artists in other disciplines has increased dramatically as well.

In some ways, this is good news. It suggests that we are becoming a more literate and creative society. But is this true across the board? If it were you would think there would be more readers and purchasers of artwork out there. While the bank accounts of a few artists of established reputation may be fatter today than 20 years ago, the title of the report foreshadows that increased supply in the mid-list has not been matched by increased demand. The average artist earns less than $7300/year from his or her creative work and less than $30,000 from all employment, i.e. his or her day job.

It gets worse. A third of artists earn less than the minimum wage from that day job. Which means that few lawyers and doctors are scribbling away on the side. Many artists have to settle for casual positions outside the award system because they have limited skills outside their artform.

Writers, as a group, are even worse off. Half of all writers earn less than $4000 from their writing and 25% live below the poverty line. Interestingly, the Australia Council provides less money to writers on average than other practitioners — take note OzCo! The only bright note here is that writers do tend to earn more than artists in other art forms from their day jobs and are second only to musicians in their average total income of $35,000.

A social researcher more cynical than Throsby and Hollister might put the blame squarely on the universities for encouraging this over-supply of creative but otherwise unemployable types. The oversupply of artists is growing by 2-3% per year, but universities show no restraint in the number of students admitted into creative arts courses. There are now 50,000 students in these programs — a growing.

Perhaps we need a professional organisation like the AMA to put the brakes on the supply of artists to make the professional more marketable. Or, if students still insist on queuing up for writing programs, perhaps the Government could institute an AAL (Australian Artist’s Licence) whereby the number of graduates allowed to compete for income from arts-related activities could be strictly regulated, especially in population centres of more than 100,000 people.

I think Brendan Nelson, Minister for Education, has a point in suggesting that we need to reduce duplication in some universities and increase specialisation in others. It seems that every backwater university these days sees creative writing courses as a money spinner, and who can blame them for putting on the undergraduate courses in lieu of bake sales and car washes to balance their budget. But do we really need all these PhDs in Creative Writing diluting the opportunities for writers as a profession?

The day may soon come when admission to the slushpile for major publishers will require a certified copy (no photocopies, please) of your PhD, as well as a reference from a certified agent.

Perhaps it’s high time that universities stopped the “cut-and-run” approach to curriculum by ensuring that their arts graduates achieve more adequate career skills during their programs of study, allowing the day jobs that they will inevitably come to rely on for their survival to be more rewarding and meaningful.

That would certainly provide more fodder for those university newsletters extolling the successes of their graduates.

DR

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[In this issue, our Assistant Editor Sue Nelson focused on three new IP authors: Wendy Evans, Liam Ferney and Margaret Metz.]

Wendy Evans: The Diggings Are Silent

[Wendy’s worked in a wide variety of occupations, not many of which involved writing. But doubtlessly her many years as a journalist came in handy in the writing of her collection, which was Highly Commended in the IP Picks 2004 competition.]

SN: Tell us about the title story, “The Diggings Are Silent”.

WE: It was written 25 years ago when I wrote the song “Clare”, for the Settlers 150th Anniversary album, Bound for West Australia, which went gold as a CD. I later collaborated with Alan Ferguson after I wrote the story behind the song, the opening lines of which are The Diggings Are Silent.

At his suggestion I added more lyrics, Alan set them to music, and the stage performance was born. In 1984, at the WA Folk Federation Festival, many in the audience left the marquee in tears, declaring this one of the most beautiful Australian stories ever written. Then Alan joined forces with producer Ron Sims to make a CD of “The Diggings”. Last year I assembled a collection of short stories, some old, some new, to augment the title story.

SN:
How much of your characters, especially your more eccentric characters, are drawn from real life or personal observation?

WE:
I’ve had a neighbour with the same banking habits as Diggings_Covthat of Mr Prentice in “Backyard Bliss”; like the boy in “The Hole Truth”, I wasted many hours at school stuffing blotting paper in cavity-pocked desks; and, just as David, in “Hold Me, Touch Me”, faces blindness, so do I, for I have cataracts and am losing vision although, hopefully, this is temporary.

I’m a senior citizen. I’ve worked as chambermaid, cook, forester, teacher, university tutor, garbage collector, lavatory cleaner, artist, theatrical promoter, spin doctor, DJ, geologist, vending-machine attendant for naked women, map-maker, strippers’ chaperone, coffee-shop manager, public speaker and a political guru.

I’ve had four children including an electrician who’s gone through a messy divorce and is now into crystal gazing, a miner, a chef and a computer geek. I’ve been married to an RAF officer who is also a geologist, a garden-bag contractor and a financial planner — he is about to retire and drive me even nuttier than I am already. I use what I know, places I’ve lived in and things I have experienced as springboards for my imagination, backing up fiction with careful research. I’ve only scratched the surface of creative possibilities!

SN:
Do you find it difficult to segregate your writing and your real life experiences?

WE:
No. I enjoy stepping into other worlds and getting into the skins of fictional people. It’s sometimes a jolt to step back into the humdrum of reality – and I do wish my husband wouldn’t bring me coffee while I’m halfway through writing a torrid sex scene!

SN:
When did you start writing?

WE:
In the Dark Ages! Stories for my young sisters, plays that we performed in the garage, more serious work when I took scholarship English and Art at high school. Whenever I could afford it, I’d rush to London for the weekend to visit art galleries and catch matinees, first and second houses of as many West End productions as possible, always shilling seats in the Gods.

Wendy_EvansI went to the University of Wales to do a major in English but changed faculties and studied Geology and Geography instead! However, I spent much of my time writing sketches for drama society and satire for Rag Magazine, as editor, while drawing caricatures of lecturers and writing rude poems about fossils!

My main creative energy was spent on stage as a singer and comedienne or in painting in oils. Then I became an English teacher. Crazy old world, isn’t it?

I started writing drama for children and a children’s book, but my main focus was painting until we came to Australia, where we settled for 14 years in a remote mining town with no television. I worked as a geologist, and immediately started an art group and a drama society, got involved in folk music and a local history society and began winning awards for short stories and started a major novel about early days in the Pilbara.

I became a journalist in the mid-70s and wrote a humorous column for many years, but did not start serious creative writing until 1999, when I left newspapers and took part time work in public relations.

SN:
How many genres have you written in?

WE:
Historical sagas, contemporary suspense/thrillers, science fiction, bush ballads and serious poetry and lyrics, satire and humour, sketches and one-act plays, across the entire spectrum in short stories and I have an operatic libretto in progress. You can also include journalism, both hard news and major features on environmental issues.

SN:
How did you feel after completing The Diggings Are Silent?

WE:
Like writing another. Short stories are a sheer delight because they offer such variety. Selecting those for inclusion was difficult and I’ve since rewritten several and created a whole swag of new ones.

Completing a novel is different. It’s intense and, from conception to the end of the first draft, I take only four weeks for research and writing. I’m oblivious of time and place until the final sentence. It’s like giving birth to an elephant. It’s the polishing that takes the time, the patience, and the critical analysis.

SN:
Any messages that you hope come through your book?

WE:
Not really….In general, I’d like to convey that compassion is better than intolerance, that love is better than hatred, that humour can be found in the most unexpected happenings and that it’s bloody good to be an Australian.

SN:
What is the main impression you want to leave the reader with?

WE:
A strong desire to read more of my work!

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Liam Ferney: Popular Mechanics

[A rising star on the Brisbane poetry scene, as well as Poetry Editor for Cordite Magazine, Liam was High Commended in IP Picks 2003. His book, Popular Mechanics, was included in the Brisbane Writers Festival and launched at the Queensland Poetry Festival.]

SN: When did you start writing (a) in general and (b) this particular book?

LF: I wrote a sequel to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh at 9, then I started writing poetry at 13. I began performing at fringe festivals at 14. The earliest poems in Popular Mechanics were written when I was 18.

SN: What are your writing influences?

LF: Nick Cave, cricket, westerns, John Forbes, Mandelstham, Tom Carew, John Keats, Arthur Rimbaud, Jack Kerouac, Raymond Carver, Frank O’Hara, Rene Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, Arthur Streeton, Katrina Olley, Banjo Patterson, Sam Peckinpah, coffee, sunsets, rivers, Jim Carroll, Basquit, Joe Sacco, injustice, antiauthoritarianism, Black September, r.e.m., pavement, Leonard Cohen, On the Waterfront, Alfred Hitchcock, Wes Anderson, Brett Dionysius, Alan Wearne, Martin Duwell, Paul Keating, Winston Churchill

Liam_Ferney SN: How many genres have you written in?

LF: Short stories, short films and poems. Also press releases, annual reports, company announcements, council reports, company research, DVD slicks, advertising copy, radio ads, scripts, taglines, catch phrases and bollox.


SN: What are your other professional activities and interests?

LF: I work as PR and Communications Coordinator with Magna Pacific. We’re a DVD distributor who do a mixture of arthouse, b-grade, children’s, classic and documentaries. It’s a small public company so it can be quite hectic. I’m also Poetry Editor with Cordite and am an Associate Editor with papertiger.

SN: How much of the book is imagination and how much is based on personal observation or experience?

LF: I think my imagination is filtered through refracted observation. I write about things that have happened, that haven’t, that might happen or might not.

SN: Are there any strong social or political messages that you hope come through your book?

LF: I believe in the liberation of Palestine. I believe in goodness and justice and right, however tenuously they may be constructed. I believe we need to strive to be better. To be kinder. To be gentler. To be slower.

SN: What is the main impression you want to leave the reader with?

LF: I want the reader to feel like they’re looking at a bottle Pop_Mechdropped over the side of a ship and into the ocean.

SN: How do you draw inspiration for your characters?

LF: Newspapers, anecdotes, characters in other books, people in films, strangers, music.

SN: What do you consider to be the strengths of your book?

LF: I think my work is an enlightening rumination on contemporary economics, ethics and aesthetics. It is funny and sombre. Classical and kitsch. It is a work torn between its love and hate of the world.

SN: How did you feel when your book was accepted for publication?

LF: Relieved.

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Margaret Metz: Live by the Bottle

[Margaret works as a writing consultant for environmental clients on the New South Wales Central Coast near Gosford.]

SN: What prompted you to write the book?

Live_by_BottleMM: I started writing Live by the Bottle as the major project for my Master of Arts – Writing degree at the University of Western Sydney. Over the years I had become concerned about the status of women in our society and particularly those in gaol because women in gaol suffer from the worst kind of discrimination.

Often they are there because of crimes against themselves to do with drugs or prostitution and about 85% of them have histories of child sexual abuse. Because of the relatively small population of women in gaol they don't get the same kind of services or conditions that men do and then when they come out there is a great social stigma. It is relatively rare for women to commit crimes of violence. In the great majority of cases of this type women are the victims of repeated domestic assault.

I wrote a children’s information book on police services around Australia last year and as part of that project I interviewed three local constables at the Brisbane Water Area Command based in Gosford on the Central Coast where I live. Unofficially, they told me that in a week, which for them is four twelve-hour days, they would have about 20 cases of domestic violence.

They also told me unofficially that the Central Coast had the worst domestic violence statistics of anywhere in the state. It is therefore no coincidence that Live by the Bottle is set on the NSW Central Coast. It’s not named as such, but the geography is there. The Koala Bay of the book, the “insular suburban idyll” as Sue Booker has called it in her review, is an hour and a half’s drive north of Sydney, placing it right smack bang in the middle of this invisible map of domestic violence.

SN: How close is the theme of this book to personal experiences?

MM: It’s based on a year or so of my life, although, because I wanted to make Madeline a murderer I had to push everything, every negative emotion that I felt in my own life and every out-of-control action, to its absolute extreme; so the emotions in the book are mine but they became Madeline’s and I wrote as Madeline as time went on. In fact, I wrote as Madeline for years. It took me about three years to write the book and during that whole time I would see things as her, and sometimes as another character I created called Victoria Wild, and hardly ever as myself.

SN: How would you describe the novel?

MM: I started with the idea of domestic violence and the unequal treatment of women in gaol and by the law and ended up with something that was quite a hybrid text originally.

It’s not a detective story, although it’s got some cops in it at the beginning and the end and they do tell part of the story. I call it a “murder story” although strictly speaking that’s not true either because Madeline pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and for it to be murder the Crown has to prove “intent.” The easiest way to describe it is as a “murder story that has elements of true crime in it.”

SN: When did you start writing?

MM: I started writing in about 1984, just after I was diagnosed with “RSI” — repetitive strain injury — and had to stop work as a court reporter. In those days in New South Wales the court reporting branch was extremely short-staffed. Because I travelled around the countryside a lot with the District Court I was often the only reporter in a court, and had to write shorthand at high speed all day. In those days the District Court lists were so long that the judges often sat from nine o’clock in the morning until six o’clock at night.

Because of the RSI I had to wear a resting splint for about three years and then eventually change careers completely. The whole experience was very painful, both physically and emotionally, and I guess I started writing a journal as therapy really, in small bursts at first and then in longer pieces as the pain slowly got better.

In 1987 I wrote my first piece of fiction, “Just like the Hydro Majestic Only Different,” which I took to a residential short story writing workshop with Gwen Kelly, who was the first person to tell me that I could write. “I mean really write,” she said during that workshop. I also wrote a full-length play and various performance pieces while I was at university doing a BA. I found I had a flair for directing as well, and ended up topping my first year of theatre studies. At one stage I had thoughts of going into directing as a second career, but thought it was such a hard and competitive business that I would never make it, especially as an older person by then and someone with a disability.
I decided then that fiction was going to be easier to get into. Little did I know that it would take me another 17 years before my first book, Live by the Bottle, was published.

SN: How did you feel when your book was accepted for publication?

MM: Relieved. Proud of my achievement. Ready to get it out there and to get on with the next one.

SN: What are your writing influences?

MM: I’m obviously very influenced by my court reporting Marg_Metzexperiences and I just loved doing the research with the various police and legal people who helped me flesh out parts of the “case.” It was very exciting, like stepping into my own novel.

My police informant, Commander Terry Baker, thought a real-life Madeline would get 12 years and my legal friend, John Foord, SC who incidentally used to be my favourite judge when I was a court reporter, thought he could get her off completely if the matter had gone to trial.

I’m also influenced very much by the news and social issues and of course by my own experiences of the world. I like popular culture, television and classical music.

SN: How many genres have you written in?

MM: Novel, short story, play, poetry, a kind of libretto for a collaborative performance piece with Romano Crivici from Elektra String Quartet on electric violin, non-fiction, children’s information books, ghost-writing an autobiography and then professional writing (business writing, advertising copywriting, public relations and promotional writing and journalism for magazines, newsletters and websites).

Because I know from experience now that writing a book takes up so much energy and time, I’m very careful what I choose to spend my energy on. These days I’ll spend longer assessing an idea for a book – or even a short story or a poem, because they all take such a long time to do – instead of just plunging in like I used to.

These days too I’m much more likely to consider the idea while I’m literally plunging in – to the sea. Particularly on a Friday afternoon I just love diving under those waves and thinking about things. I’m finding too that my work is becoming a lot more creative and that I’m able to have ideas and make them happen in a way I couldn’t do when I was younger.

SN: Are there any strong social or political messages that you hope come through Live by the Bottle?

MM: There is a strong message there about alcoholism and what it does to people, but all I’ve done is to tell a story. It’s not my job to preach or give messages to people. I can only tell it like it is. I do feel that not enough is done for people in alcoholic or violent relationships and I don’t personally know what the answer is. Most people don’t want to get involved, and more often than not they turn a blind eye.

SN: What is the main impression you want to leave the reader of Live by the Bottle with?

MM: That addictive behaviour is dangerous, that leaving people with problems alone and isolated can make it worse, that society needs to deal differently with people who are under pressure, depressed, or in a low state for any other reason. I don’t know what “differently” means but currently there’s only really the religious model or the psychiatric/psychological model to deal with the problem of alcoholism and all that it entails, when it’s really a whole-of-society issue. Like I said before, I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve only told a little bit of my own experience and how it’s affected my life and then pushed it to its utmost extreme in a fictional form.

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up

Our national writing competition for unpublished manuscripts closes on 30 November (post-mark deadline, 1 December).

The email and postal enquiries are running hot on Picks, so we’re expecting a bumper-crop of submissions in the three categories of Best Unpublished Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction.

The winners are guaranteed royalty publication with one of our imprints, and more often than not we offer publication to some of the Commended entries, too.

All entrants receive their choice of a free IP title as a part of the entry fee.

Remember that all submissions must be accompanied by the Picks entry form, which you can get from us instantaneously (or nearly so).

We announce the winners by the end of January in the first issue of eNews for 2005 and also send out a press release to the media and to the State Writers Centres for distribution as they see fit.

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“Self-publishing” is now within the reach of most people who have a decent computer, a sound editorial instinct, a decently padded wallet, and, oh yes, a marketable…product.

The term product itself suggests compromise, meeting the marketplace. But this is what you will need to do if you have a hope of recouping some of your investment, or, more happily, even making a profit.

Everyone knows that it’s not enough to write a brilliant work and then let the world beat a pathway to your in-tray with piles of orders. You’re up against an industry of competitors, especially established authors attached to mainstream publishers with battalions of publicists nurturing contact lists of media types who interview and otherwise promote marketable commodities to the hilt. That’s where the five-figure sales come in.

This is not to say that an unknown author who self-publishes a work that is right for the times will not succeed — so long as people have a way of hearing about the work amidst all the noise about the hundreds and thousands of titles clamouring for their attention. We all cling to the scenario: the modest first print run sells out and the editor of a mainstream house happens to pick it up in Dymocks and rings you on her mobile to beg you to sign with her for the next edition, with the enticement of a fat advance.

But it doesn’t happen often; certainly not often enough to make it Plan A for your book.

More likely, you’ll have to get your hands dirty with distribution just to free up some space in the shed or garage, while dreaming of that editor with enough time on her hands to be scouting the spines at Dymocks.

Let me suggest an opening game plan for you, one followed by many independent publishers — at least the ones who keep a watchful eye on their warehouse space when they publish new titles. You can pick and choose between the key elements, depending on your time and psychological readiness to engage with the activities they entail. The more of them you meet head-on, the better your chances of success with that initial print run.

The launch. To which you invite everyone in your address book — and then some. There are several good reasons for having a launch, and gaining a fighting fund for later activities in support of the book is only one. It’s a tremendous psychological boost, especially for authors doubting their sanity in taking the plunge in the first place.

Your friends and associates will know better than to use the occasion as an opportunity to point out the missing full-stop on page 59, or the inconsistency in gender of your main character. Lubricated with your champers they will celebrate the occasion with gusto, motivating you to charge into the next phase.

Getting coverage in the media. Did you forget to invite them to the launch? No matter, they seldom turn up unless absolutely nothing else is on. However, space-allowing, they may provide you with free coverage of sorts. Generally speaking, the closer to home the media are (local radio station, local tabloid) the better your chances are of landing some attention. But don’t depend on them to get it right: write your own feature and offer it to them as a “backgrounder” — you’d be amazed at how often these are inserted in whole or in part. And at least they get the name of your book right!

Advertisements. Generally, these are a waste of money. But, if you must, go for inserts in writers’ newsletters, which will help get out the word for anyone who missed the launch.
Websites. What was that URL again?

The reviewers. As a independent publisher I know how important obtaining good reviews — any reviews — is for the morale of an author. Every time we get a decent review in ABR or The Australian the optimism around here is palpable. I wish I could say that it makes a big difference in sales, but generally there’s hardly a blip on the Richter Scale. A solid feature in a major paper or an interview on prominent radio station always delivers more of a punch.

Booksellers. Start local, then go global. Sadly, most individuals don’t get much further than their neighbourhood. Booksellers prefer to deal with businesses that understand the niceties of Tax Invoices. They also prefer to deal with titles that will sell by the boxful rather than the handful. They will want details about how the title is being promoted, so bring your media releases and paper clippings.

Bookshops will usually take your title on consignment, which in reality means they give you shelf space for as long as you like until the title sells out or you get tired of waiting for it to sell. Publishers like IP, with our added muscle, generally manage to get a sale-or-return deal, where the bookseller has the responsibility to put some cash on the table within a reasonable amount of time. Once they’ve paid, they have the option, again within a reasonable amount of time, to ask for permission to return the unsold stock for a credit.

Libraries. This is an increasingly difficult market, even for independent publishers. Some libraries will only deal with major suppliers like James Bennett, who offer them discounts and provide the new titles “shelf-ready”, i.e. no need for the time-strapped librarian to catalogue and barcode the title. The library systems in Australia are variable as the railway tracks used to be: some libraries purchase on their own; others congregate into regions, with a central purchasing authority; still others contract out purchasing to a library supplier, or in the case of WA, SA or Tasmania, they defer to a State purchasing authority. Unless you live in one of those States, your chances of even talking to those authorities is slim.

If there’s a lesson in all this for the self-publisher it’s have a clear idea of what’s possible and what’s not. You can certainly organise your own launch and, if you have a journalistic bent, write at least some of your own promotional material. Put your faith in events where you are a featured reader, rather than one in a hundred competing for attention in the book tent. Ferret out book clubs who might buy several copies of your book and share some wine and cheese with you to discuss it.

Don’t set yourself up to be discouraged. If you want access to the wider community of booksellers and libraries, call in the experts. Send potential distributors a free copy of your book and ask them if they’d like to take it on. Some will offer to buy copies at 35% of RRP. What? You’ve done the math and found that this would mean a loss for you on each copy sold? I guess you got the cover price wrong, but that’s another story!

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[We begin at the beginning, with the launch of our Spring Season 2004 in Fremantle, but with a personal view of Wendy Evans on her launch at Fremantle Hospital, which turned out to be something less than the well-greased event she had in mind!]


YOU’VE GOT TO LAUGH

The best laid plans etc...yes, there IS something to be said for cliches. I said a few of them myself when forces beyond our control threw the carefully scripted launch of The Diggings Are Silent and its companion CD into chaos.

The sound system, which had been working fine at 3.30pm, on Friday, October 1, threw a hissy-fit by 6.30pm. It refused to play the CD at anything beyond a rat’s whisper. And, of course, it was a long weekend in Western Australia and the man who knew about the controls for the hospital lecture theatre was long gone.

Luckily we had brought a portable CD player and an extension lead. It gave us sound of sorts, though that was in doubt when my husband tripped over the lead and sent the brand new machine crashing to the ground from the podium. Sticking the assorted fragments together, he obtained some amplification by holding the ghetto blaster close to the microphone on the lectern.

It was all too much for the wee gadget, which came out in sympathy at odd times thereafter.


The next disaster was a misunderstanding about controlling the house lights; a click on the wrong touch pad plunged the celebrity, Anna Jacobs, into total darkness, bar a tiny reading light above the lectern. She proceeded to launch the book, nevertheless, and was gracious enough to laugh at the incident.

The readings went fine and Rusty Christensen, boss cocky of the WA Bush Poets and Yarnspinners, gave a fine rendition in the style that has won him national recognition.

Everyone was very forgiving and had a great time, but the musician and his wife were in despair. It’s understandable. It didn’t do a very fine musical narration justice.

David Reiter was kind enough to say it was the worst launch he’d ever attended!

Ah, well, that’s what comes of associating with a bulldust artist! Funnily, though, after feeling utterly mortified, I now feel a short story coming on! At least my knicker elastic did not give way at a crucial point! But what if...?

<title>IP eNews</title>

It’s every author’s nightmare: the microphone that doesn’t work, tripping up the steps to the podium, forgetting her cue cards in the taxi... Not all of those happened to Wendy and Alan at Fremantle Hospital – but certainly enough to make for a few laughs, after the event was over.

Actually the crowd was quite patient through the comedy, Alan_Falmost as if they weren’t certain if Wendy and Alan had scripted it from the beginning, but we got through it – just – and Alan resisted the temptation to stand up and sing when the ghetto blaster finally spat the dummy!


I’d come out to WA several days before that, to meet with the State Library about getting more IP titles out there, and to be a guest speaker at events hosted by the Society of Women Authors, FAW WA and the Katharine Susannah Pritchard Writers’ Centre. We managed to get in a day or two of recreation, during which I considered the possibilities of setting up a branch office at Dunsborough on the south coast, which must have one of the best beaches in Oz – and that’s saying something!

I’m pleased to report that my speaking engagements sparked considerable interest in our far-flung State for what IP is doing, and I’m confident that we’ll be hearing much more from our cousins out there from now on.

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It’s not every day that I take the train – aside from the occasional sortie from the Studio into the Brisbane CBD. This was scheduled to be a leisurely two-hour trip from Melbourne to Benalla, which took an extra hour due to delays that must be fairly common. For example, at one point our train had to pause to wait for the southbound train to pass because the track at that point was only a single-line. As it turned out, I had plenty of time to get caught up on work on the laptop and to solve a murder mystery on the side – but it was relaxing, and we’d built in plenty of time till Cate’s first event.


It was in the Rambling Rose Café, a nicely renovated place in the centre of town, and a friendly crowd had gathered. It was a good place for a ‘dry run’, although Cate is very experienced at public readings, having done an extensive tour for her first book, Signs of Other Fires, which was Highly Commended in the Victorian Premier’s Awards. She came off as a seasoned performer, and the audience went away with armfuls of Joyflight.

Cate is as skilled in promoting her books as in writing them. At the Rambling Rose, several people who bought more than one copy of Joyflight received a free bottle of premium red wine with a commemorative label of the event. I almost bought two books myself!!

The next event was less of a sure thing – the Melbourne launch at the Victorian Writers Centre. Given all the distractions in the Big Smoke, would people turn out for yet another poetry event? They did, and the place was overflowing.

It seems that Cate has contacts all over Victoria, and having lived in a number of places does have its advantages when you have a book to promote. She lived for some years in Daylesford, which has become quite the place to go for a weekend if you want to escape Melbourne. I drove up there on my own to meet her for an afternoon event at the old court house, which was an excellent venue, although Cate was torn as to whether she should read from where the judges used to preside, or a witness box. At length, she decided it was best to be on the same level as her audience.

We had a good time in all three places, and Joyflight was well and truly launched. Cate has earned and deserves a wide audience for her work, and I hope you will agree.

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Merle Thornton continues to be a publisher’s dream as ambassador for her book, After Moonlight. Of course, her profile as a leading light in the Women’s Movement opens a few extra doors!

MerleTIn October alone, she was a featured panelist at the Brisbane Writers Festival and guest speaker at the annual Janet Irwin Dinner held at Parliament House here in Brisbane. I wish I could tell you more about the latter, but the event is for women only! She assures me it went very well.

Just recently, she returned to Brisbane as a guest of the Women’s Legal Services, Qld conference at the Hilton, where IP did have a display of Merle’s book and other recent releases. If the tempo of book sales and signings afterwards is any indication, she made quite a hit.

An event at the UQ Bookshop is expected in the new year, which will be kind of a homecoming for Merle, who taught there for many years, after setting up the first women’s studies program in Australia.

Cheers, Merle!

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On the home stretch to the festive season, I will driving to Sydney in mid-November, hoping to renew acquaintances with a few regional libraries on the way there and back. (One disadvantage of cheap airfares and high petrol prices is that it’s tempting to fly rather than drive!) But the New South Wales Writers Centre Annual Publishers’ Book Fair beckons (20-21 Nov), and it’s easier to pile boxes in the back of the faithful stead than arrange shipping to and fro.

We’ll have a table at the Book Fair, of course, and I invite Sydneysiders to come out to Rozelle and say hello and have a browse of our new Season list. We’ll have a double launch of Joel Deane’s Another and my novel Liars and Lovers on Saturday at 1 p.m., as well as the launch of Nora Krouk’s Skin for Comfort, which will be the final event at 5 p.m. on the Sunday.

Joel and I will also appear at Ariel Books, 42 Oxford Street,Joel_Deane Paddington, for the official Sydney launch of our books on Thursday the 18th from 6 p.m., with readings, signings and refreshments. All welcome, but please RSVP the bookshop on 02 9332 4581 or by email.

Continuing in reverse order, I will have a special session at the Writers Centre on Wednesday evening the 17th from 6 p.m. entitled “Repurposing Content: From Print to Multimedia”. I’ll talk about how I began with narrative poetry on the relationship between the painters Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, was then commissioned to adapt the poetry into a radio play by the ABC for broadcast on Radio National, then collaborated with 4MBS Classic-FM in Brisbane to adapt the work into a live multimedia theatre script for performance, and then finally produced the work as a multimedia CD, Paul and Vincent, which I will present to the group as a highlight of the session at the Centre.

Paul_VincentThe script continues to have legs: there’s talk of a longer theatrical season at the Metro Arts Theatre in Brisbane next year, and Janelle Evans, who directed the 4MBS production has applied for development money from the Cannes Film Festival to make it into a film. Watch this space!

The evening promises to be a chance for writers to talk about the ways and means of breaking out into more collaborative ventures. So RSVP the Centre for Wednesday, and have your say.

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Melbournians needn’t feel left out because Monday, 22 November will be the Melbourne launch of Joel’s book at the Aura Lounge, 12 Bourke Street from 6 p.m.

Given Joel’s position as chief speechwriter for Premier Bracks, there should be an interesting mix of politicians, journalists and maybe even a few writers in attendance.

Bookings are essential, so please get in those RSVPs straight away, or you might have to join the media scrum outside!

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It has become something of an eNews tradition for me to provide a review of the local poetry festival. This year, under the directorship of Graham Nunn, the Queensland Poetry Festival, Spoken in One Strange Word, moved very clearly in the direction of providing entertainment for public audiences. Although there was ample space on the program for the usual literary book launches and some readings by established authors, the emphasis was very much on poetry in performance and the blending of poetry with other artforms including music, dance, visual art and multimedia. As such, I thought it was one of the most enjoyable festivals of recent years.

There were two defining features of QPF 2004 for me: The first, a celebration of poetry and music which included an appearance by headline act Elixir and one of the “stars” of the festival Steve Kilbey (from popular Australian band, the Church); the second was the prolific use of multimedia and the blending of poetry with other artforms. Poets are clearly embracing the not-so-new technologies to extend the reach of their work and define new poetries in a public space.

I’m really proud to be part of this movement and to have launched the Synaptic Graffiti Collective: Slam the Body Politik CDROM at this year’s festival. (I introduced this project in a previous issue of eNews.) We were in very good company, sharing our session with Rosanna Licari whose performance featured visual projections by Marika Sosnowski and the music of Kenny Floydd. The engaging nature of Rosanna’s work saved me from my usually overwhelming pre-performance anxiety, which prevented me from attending the preceding session in which David demonstrated his own multimedia work, Paul and Vincent, to an enthusiastic gathering.

The final “cabaret” of the Festival provided some highlights, including performances by local hip-hop act Julez and a very funny performance from Melbourne poet, Ed Burger. I have to say, it was a relief to actually laugh on Sunday night after the disastrous federal election result. I will not make any apologies for bias, this is my column!

I think the committee this year did a great job of putting together a program that was varied and inclusive. They also learned the lessons of previous years, programming space between sessions for festival goers to catch their breath, grab a bite to eat or just socialise. Despite this, it seems the words poetry and “crowd” just won’t go together. It leaves me wondering if this will always be the case regardless of what committees do to attract audiences or is it an issue of promotional budgets? In so many areas of the arts, including independent publishing, we work for nothing or next to nothing and the question of the “public appeal” of our work leads to an inevitable Catch 22. Of course, I am basing my observations only on the sessions I attended during the day on Saturday and Sunday.

Finally, even with all the music and spectacle, poetry ultimately comes back to the words and my pick for the wordsmith of this year’s festival is IP author Cate Kennedy. I think we are seeing some exciting developments but there will always be a place for the pure unadorned words and the quiet act of listening. This festival proved there is room for everyone’s perception of what constitutes “poetry”.

< title>IP eNews </title>

Deal 1: Order any two IP titles and get the third for free.

Scrooge, Smooge! Buy any two titles from the IP Shop via our order page to qualify. Do it before 1 December and and we’ll throw in free postage and handling (a flat $8 charge applies thereafter).

Quote YD:24_1. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only. Credit card orders, add $2 per title.


Deal 2: Order an IP Six-pack for $66 + $6.

Your choice of any six IP titles published before 2003 for just $11 each, GST-inclusive, plus a flat $6 postage and handling

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uoting YD:24_2. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only. Credit card orders, add $3.

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.

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