to our first issue of 2006 — and what an exciting issue
Many of you will be keen to see the results of IP Picks 2006, but
please hang in there for a few moments to see what other news is
Now in our ninth year of business, IP is gearing up for our tenth
anniversary in 2007, and we’re looking for ideas on how to
celebrate. Read about what we’ve come up with so far, and let
us know if you have a better idea!
Up till now, IP has been a fiercely independent distributor of our
own titles, but our rapid growth and the continuing challenge of
getting access to as many resellers as possible, has led us to sign
on with Tower Books, who will now distribute our print titles to
I’m also pleased to announce that IP has joined the Australian
Publishers Association as its seventy-first member. The APA offers
far more than networking opportunities, as you’ll see below. And
I suspect, as a leading player in digital publishing, the benefits
won’t be flowing in just one direction.
The end of last year saw a changing of the guard in IP staffing. We
sadly bid farewell to Sara Moss, our Poetry Editor and your Newsletter
Editor for several years. Sara will be
a while and thereafter devoting herself to her own work (lucky her!)
Assistant Editor Lisa Reynolds graduated from QUT and has shifted up
to the Sunshine Coast, but she may well slip in to IP
help with our digital projects. Lauren Daniels soldiers on as Prose
Editor, and Anne Marshall will be our Newsletter Editor once she returns
from Europe (LUCKY HER!!) We have two new staff members: Michelle Yan
and Matthew Wilmett, from QUT and UQ, respectively, will be our new
Assistant Editors. Welcome to Michelle and Matt!
The IP.Digital Buzz gives you the latest on IP’s plans to distribute
some of our digital titles on the iTunes Store and online elsewhere.
Will IP be the first Australian publisher to sell digital content in
Out and About shows me renewing contacts in North America and making
new ones in New Zealand, addressing a Meet the Publisher seminar at
the Queensland Writers Centre, as well as updating you on the activities
of some of our authors like Tilly Brasch
and Michael O’Sullivan.
In my feature on Writing Tips I cover initial and follow-up contact
with publishers — at least for those, like IP, who still talk
to authors they haven’t yet agreed to publish.
In Review covers commentary on Barbara Winter’s The Australia-First
Movement, Geoff Gates’ A Ticket for Perpetual Locomotion and
Joel Deane’s Subterranean Radio Songs.
OK, you’ve been patient enough: you have permission to look at
the Winners and Commended in IP Picks :). We’ll have a bumper
crop of new titles arising from the list over the next 18 months, so
the ground for a launch or tour coming your way!
Dr David Reiter
Literary Growth Industry
New authors dream about being
invited to read from their book at a host of literary festivals.
Most don’t make it onto The Circuit, but is it such a big deal
if they don’t?
Once upon a time, literary festivals were local, casual,
even friendly gatherings of those genuinely interested in writing.
to read and be listened to, or, in just listening, to be inspired
by the work of others.
The festival organisers were volunteers whose only reward
was to see authors and those who love literature getting together in an event
that gave writers an excuse to escape however briefly from their
solitary existence. The event was run on a shoe-string in a bowling
club hall after hours,
the only refreshments you could hope for was cask wine or lukewarm
beer, stale crackers and cubes of cheese that had lost all memory
But you went for the love of writing
and that made up for the thin crowds, modest venues and the headaches
the night after.
Is this a fairy tale view of the way festivals used to be? Not entirely.
The goal now is the bigger the better. Festivals are bankrolled
by Federal and State governments, and the piper must be paid. State
premiers try to outdo each other in the prestige game to see which
literary awards will be the richest. Professional artistic directors
to deliver the most ‘bang for the buck’ for corporate
sponsors, which is why many need to flit around the world to find
the best talent, and the key performance indicator used to measure
the success of the
delivered this year as opposed to last year?
If you doubt this, try to recall the last time you saw a review
of the quality of a particular festival in the media or
in the literary magazines?
Festivals are big businesses and have to conduct themselves as such.
There’s no question you need big bucks to attract international
stars, and it’s generally accepted that the crowds won’t
attend unless the big names appear. The
merit of particular authors has something to do with who is invited
hear about is how many larger publishers get an inside track at every
through their sponsorship, i.e. dollars paid to get their authors
on the program.
It’s all part of pushing the product.
Big festivals are the literary version of the advertorial. And they
recur across Australia and overseas. No wonder we see the same names
up on the circuit. True, some of them are first-time authors, but
most of these look VERY good in the publicity photos and the arts
columns of the papers. Next stop New Idea.
IP got a taste of how the industry works a couple of years ago when
we were invited by the Melbourne Writers Festival to sponsor one
of our new authors. We would pay a certain amount to reserve
a time to launch her book, then pay all the other expenses connected
with holding a launch, and then the festival committee would consider
whether she was significant enough to invite on the program. It was
all a bit rich for us at the time but it gave me an insight into
how the program decisions are made, at least in Melbourne.
But at least Melbourne offered to put one of our authors on. The
same cannot be said for other State festivals. We have never had
on at Sydney, Adelaide or Perth, and the only IP authors who have
been invited to the Brisbane Writers Festival in recent years have
either served on the
festival committee or otherwise made such a nuisance of themselves
that it was easier to let them on the program than say no.
The point of all this is to say that, when you attend your local
State literary festival, you’re more than likely to see what
the marketing department of the major publishers think you should
be reading. So much the better if she looks like Nicole Kidman — or
whomever Nicole is dating this week. Authors
from independent publishing houses seldom get on
the program — unless
they know the right people.
As Chef Rick Stein says, if you throw enough money at an event it
turns into show-biz.
Maybe we need to get back to basics and start up some festivals that
are literary, rather than mass marketing, exercises. There are a
few around that still are, though most specialise in poetry. Pass
me the cask, mate!
The judges have voted. We have the envelope here. So who are the winning and
commended entrants in IP Picks 2006?
A bit more tension and suspense is called for. First
here’s what the judges had to say about the overall calibre
The overall number of entries in this year’s
competition was slightly down from 2005, despite a record number
of enquiries prior to the closing date. We were very pleased by the
standard in the Best Poetry category. Some fine entries had to be
overlooked due to the stiffness of the competition.
The standard in the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories was more uneven, with
only a few entries receiving an award. There were several promising entries
into the new Best First Book category, with three of them winning a placement.
Remarkably, the winners in all four categories were first-time authors in their
chosen genre. This says something about the competition’s attraction
to emerging talent.
There were a number of entries in the speculative fiction area, but none of
these came sufficiently close to publishable standard. Acknowledging the market,
the judges encourage writers in this area to consider Picks in future years.
IP has already offered contracts to nine of the winners and commended entries,
and will be announcing the results soon.
IP thanks all of the entrants to Picks this year and wishes them well with
their future writing projects.
And now to the heraldic trumpets and those envelopes…
IP 2006 Award for Best Fiction
Winner: House of Given by Bill Collopy,
Highly Commended: Easter at Tobruk by
Michael O'Sullivan, Yass, NSW
IP 2006 Award for Best Creative Non-Fiction
Winner: Terania Creek: Rainforest Wars by
Nigel Turvey, Darwin NT
IP 2006 Award for Best Poetry
Winner: Imagining Winter by
Paul Dawson, Sydney, NSW
Highly Commended: Fresh News from
the Arctic by Libby Hart, Brentford Square, VIC
Commended: The Possibility of Winds by
Rosemary Huisman, Wollstonecraft, NSW
Commended: Dark Husk of Beauty by
Andrew Leggett, Coorparoo, Qld
IP 2006 Award for Best First Book
Winner: The Accidental Cage by
Michelle Cahill, Wahroonga, NSW
Highly Commended: Musket by
Harry Jones, Ballajura, WA
Commended: Inflations by Jan
Dean, Cardiff, NSW
[In this issue, we have a closer look at the
winning and commended entries in IP Picks 2006]
IP 2006 Award for Best Creative
Creek: Rainforest Wars by
Creek: RainforestWars strikes a brilliant balance between
artful story-telling and objectively woven historical fact. Nigel Turvey’s
winner of IP’s Best Creative Non Fiction category is a successful crafting
of literary journalism’s tried and true methods of total immersion
and scene sculpting, with echoes of beloved Bruce Chatwin and Truman Capote’s
juicy, creative non-fiction narrative style.
And like all of the best works of literary journalism, the ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ are
not apparent. That’s not the point anyway. The real issues are far
more complex and Turvey arranges opposing views with
The author’s timely angle of one Australian rainforest’s “spiritual
landscape - the living archaeology of Gondwana,” reflects the contemporary
struggle and surrounding political climate of many. Terania Creek stands
as a model for forests everywhere, and Turvey explores this representation
skillfully with a work supported by a rich, thoroughly researched perspective.
The historical montage begins 45 million years ago with a glance at a primal
volcanic era, reflecting on a system that has evolved to survive drought
and fire for eons before the emergence of humanity’s political climate:
The womb-like basin
of Terania Creek with its narrow cervix of an entrance faces south. In
embrace is a rainforest little-changed
than 45 million years. On the eastern-most part of Australia, it survived
the drifting continent’s climatic shifts and 150 years of timber-getting.
In 1979 some claimed it was the last un-logged rainforest and should be
saved, but for the foresters and sawmillers it was the last rainforest
plan to log. This story is about the people who fought over the rainforest,
but the enduring player in the story is the rainforest itself.
We glimpse James Cook and Joseph Banks as we vault over 150 years before
Turvey sets us down in 1979, when “a war broke out in this most peaceful
of landscapes; it was the Rainforest War. It started with a battle over the
rainforests of Terania Creek, the forests just across the Nicholsons’ boundary,
and it spread to rainforests across the whole State of New South Wales.”
With the rainforest of Terania Creek’s as his main character, Turvey
asks us to think and to observe for a moment, to plumb our current understanding
of environmental issues, despite deeply polarised political pulls, labels
and arguments. Terania Creek asks the audience to
work a little harder on an inner level than most non-fiction books, but
worth it. The result of our efforts can foster a broader consciousness
actively regarding the larger forces at work within our world:
Now, a generation later, the Rainforest War is close enough to today to
display its pertinence, but far enough in the past for an objective autopsy.
At the broadest perspective the story is about the forest and timber industry
under siege from growing environmental activism. At a middle view it is
about slow-moving institutions outmanoeuvred by small, flexible and proactive
groups who managed the media and the message with alacrity. And close-up
it is about individuals who were devoted to their cause and believed implicitly
in the justness of their actions; be they conservationist, forester, sawmiller,
bush worker or policeman.
— Lauren Daniels
This story of the Forestry Commission,
the sawmillers, and the ‘build-up of hippies’ who defied them,
is as even-handed as it is engrossing. The logging industry and the self-appointed
defenders of the forest are profiled, examined and critiqued, revealing
good intentions, flaws and hubris on both sides. It is a story of the changing
of the guard, when the people who had prided themselves on a long history
of economic forest management fell from favour before the rise of environmental
Exploring grassroots, commercial and legal efforts to resolve
the conflict, investigating the role of the media in distorting and simplifying
the true complexity of the issue, and identifying the deep spiritual
significance which the image of the rainforest holds for the human imagination,
Creek is a fascinating tale of conservation and change.
— Matthew Willmett
About the Author:
As an environmental scientist and professional forester for
more than thirty-five years, Dr Nigel Turvey has done research in tropical
forest soil science and good forest practices, and developed forest
plantation and biotechnology businesses in Australia and Asia.
is currently involved in a Queensland-based business promoting employment
of indigenous people
in the expanding forest plantation industry.
Nigel’s first book Terania Creek: Rainforest Wars was
stimulated by his passion to find out what happened to the once noble
reputation of the forestry profession.
Nigel and his wife Monica currently live in the Northern Territory,
and have two adult children.
IP 2006 Award for Best Fiction:
House of Given by Bill Collopy
Bill Collopy captured the judges’ attention
with his powerful style and playful, innovative
prose echoes of dear old Faulkner and is, in a word, daring.
The novel begins with the question of perception. Considering his uncertain
place in the world as well as within that of his family, the young, reclusive
protagonist Finbar is revealed as one whose own sanity teeters a fine, unfettered
At the dining table Finbar refused to talk. Taking meals underneath, he gazed
no longer at faces, only boots and sandals. He spoke to ankles, answered questions
from legs. After meals he scampered back up the tree to sharpen pencils. His
shavings curled like a summoning finger.
Through his gifts of acute memory and sensitivity, Finbar steps tentatively
into the role of central witness to the Given family’s unfolding as he
treads the shifting sand of this poetic narrative. The protagonist’s
interior evolution effectively mirrors the instability and gradual maturation
of our own perceptions of what is truly real within the collective thoughts,
feelings and memory of our own families.
As the story progresses and more hints are given regarding the tangled nature
of communal history, the question of an individual’s sanity evolves into
a sympathetic vision of how families are also quite simply “a comical
mad chain of fools” where, according to Finbar’s Gran, “Enduring
isn’t everything. But I grant you that some people are better at looking
after others than themselves.”
House of Given reflects on the gentle insistence of love with a sparkling
lyricism. Despite the strains and impositions people place upon it, especially
the close confines of family—despite secrets, guilt, sorrow and silence—Collopy’s novel illustrates a belief that love’s essential nature
beckons revelation. And sometimes revelations emerge through the very notion
that, “Families have a way of scratching each other’s sores.” Lineage
and living collide, offering sacrifice, reconciliation and truth as an answer
to the question of identity within family:
Then they came.
Running towards him, pouring from doorways: old and young, wearing sandals
and headscarves and shawls, their ears and fingers ringed, limbs painted, wrists
bangled, spears in hands; with clubs, knives, tinkers and gypsies and black
men and horsemen, whipping the air, and crying out his name. Each one had a
story and he met them all at once, tales layered as no music could be, springing
from a grave in reverse births, from a time before the oldest of tongues, Pict
and Celt and Persian, eyes bloody with greed, voices offering to take him to
Slán abhaile, they shouted. Cad is ainm duit.”
The characters of House of Given reveal a story of family as we all know it
to one extent or another, and of life, the fragile kind in which we all sooner
or later, find ourselves.
— Lauren Daniels
About the Author
Born and educated in Melbourne, where he lives
with his wife and children, Bill Collopy fights a losing battle with time;
trying to squeeze in family, friends, books and music while writing, and making
from managing welfare programs. Recently he has been teaching creative writing
He has won many literary prizes and seen some two dozen of his stories
published in Australia and overseas, including various short fiction anthologies,
on-line magazines and print periodicals, such as Dublin Quarterly, Going
Down Swinging, LinQ, Eclectica and Verandah. This is his first novel.
IP 2006 Award for Best Fiction (Highly
Commended): Easter at Tobruk by
An enticing work peppered with a glistening sense of magic realism, O’Sullivan’s
prose paints lush, dimensional scenes with literary brushstrokes:
The beaches to his left and right were deserted at this
early hour at the end of summer. Even the seagulls ignored him. The light was
clear and gentle, the lazy sun slowly hoisting itself over a liquid horizon.
And that too was a kind of freedom. He had the world to himself - well, nearly.
Down below, hidden in the rocks, two teenagers were screwing where they imagined
no one noticed. They thought they were free in their nakedness, but Rob knew
it didn’t compare to his lightness of heart.
Living, breathing characters crafted by archetypal essences of poet, priest,
good mother and old soldier propel a storyline supported by the strong themes
of war, freedom, mateship and a kind of reconciliation that transcends time and
place. Easter in Tobruk quite literally bends the passage of time.
The sea drew him in an endless repetitive pattern. Early
in the mornings, at sunset or late into the night he might be there, staring
into the horizon. Often he’d see that place Tobruk out there, and was
content to squat in a hole with uncouth fighting men, passing around the tobacco
tin and reciting the soldier’s psalm.
— Lauren Daniels
Two Easters fifty years apart become one in Easter at Tobruk as family, religion
and wartime memory intertwine.
Rob, a young lawyer, emerges from a road accident
utterly changed in personality. As his mother and the local priest attempt
to counsel him, they begin to realise that all is not as it seems. The
story he relates to them – of a man who appears on Rob’s doorstep claiming
to be his grandfather, and of another Easter, at Tobruk in North Africa during
the Second World War – reveals the truth to be something far stranger,
traumatic, and perhaps miraculous.
Michael O’Sullivan’s novel blends
elements of the fantastical and mundane to create a powerful exploration
of mateship, war, Christianity, and Australian values past and present.
— Matthew Willmett
About the Author:
Michael O’Sullivan lives with his wife and
three children in a small town in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.
Before becoming a full-time writer he held several occupations, including fencing
contractor, carpenter and builder, university tutor, librarian and archivist.
He has written three novels and numerous short stories and is currently working
on two new novels.
< title>IP eNews </title>
IP 2006 Award for Best Poetry: Imagining
Winter by Paul Dawson
Dawson’s work has tremendous scope and agility.
In the title poem, in a single breath he ranges from the Renaissance to postmodern
sunsets in trying to imagine a metaphor for winter:
Shall I compare thee to
a summer’s day?
Stars squint and yawn, unfolding, the moon bleeds dry
Why try to describe it?
In every imaginable context, the poems dare to
drive readers out of their comfort zone, questioning the value of things we
like the benefits of the Internet:
Post all of your work on the greatest democratising
Medium of ephemeral pulp in history and
See if anyone cares, see if it survives,
See if it makes a difference...
Dawson juxtaposes the unlikely in depicting the insecurities of our time. The
chaos of the health system held for ransom by the multinational drug companies
is compared to the ever-present threat of a terrorist attack:
that soft focus surreality of a silent film migraine
tunnelling down aisle three
like the damaged underbelly of a descending
spin-drying your vision, terror alerts pulsing at the back of your eyeballs
This is intense but rewarding work that tests the boundaries at every turn.
— David Reiter
Harsh. Cutting. Uncomfortably touching. This poetry
collection delves into the darkness of the modern world.
issues such as racism, homophobia and terrorism, or turning a
wickedly scathing eye on the failings of writers and other misfits,
poems are angry and unforgettable.
He explores the bleakness of city landscapes,
seeks meaning in the heat of eroticism, and lays bare the things
not admit to thinking, even to themselves.
— Matthew Willmett
About the Author
Paul Dawson was born in Sydney in
1972 and has been writing poetry for the last fifteen years.
This is his first collection. Paul’s poetry and fiction
have previously been published in a range of literary journals
and newspapers, including Slope (US), Southerly, Blue
Poetry, Meanjin, Island, Imago: New
Writing, and The Sydney Morning
Herald. He is also the author of Creative Writing and
the New Humanities (London/New York: Routledge, 2005).
Paul is a lecturer
in the School of English at the University of New South Wales,
where he teaches Creative Writing and literary studies.
< title>IP eNews </title>
IP 2006 Award for Best Poetry (Highly
Commended): Fresh News from the Arctic by Libby Hart
Dramatic, minimalist and lyrical, Libby Hart’s
poetry invites the reader in to her intimate view of place, myth and memory,
deftly modulating from the immediacy of the physical to the mystery of emotions
I whispered: Arctos
and felt the ground beneath me fall.
I observed the swelling of the earth.
I was leaving the known, the traceable.
Heading out to climb the goal
to swing and hitch the rope.
She juxtaposes surprising elements, for example,
in her examination of a relationship under stress compared to cloud formations:
She: like a bird hiding itself in cloud
He: like soft, patient rain
this, being the ocean of air in which they live
No subject is beyond scrutiny. In “Darwin’s
Walk” she compares the enduring quality of genius in a time when there
was time to “traipse” for inspiration as opposed more contemporary
theories such as Einstein’s, which is “doomed for revision”.
— David Reiter
About the Author:
Libby Hart was a recipient of a D J O’Hearn
Memorial Fellowship (2003) at The Australian Centre, University of Melbourne.
Her suite of poems, Fresh News from the Arctic, won the Somerset National Poetry
Prize (2005). She has also won the Greater Dandenong National Writing Awards
(2002) and received commendations for the Broadway Poetry Prize (2001) and
the Daffodil Day Arts Awards (2004).
Libby’s poems have appeared widely in such publications as The Sydney
Morning Herald, Eureka Street and sunweight: 2005 Newcastle
Poetry Prize Anthology.
Her poems have been broadcast on ABC Radio National and Radio NAG.
Award for Best Poetry (Commended): The possibility of winds by Rosemary
About the Author:
Rosemary Huisman (née Lowe) was born in
1941 at Casino in Northern New South Wales, where the (now defunct) Richmond
River Express printed her childish verses. In 1970 she was awarded a prize
for poetry (under 30 section) in the Captain Cook Bi-Centenary Awards. She
has published poems in Southerly, the Bulletin, the Sydney
Morning Herald but—a familiar story—home and work (as an academic
in English at the University of Sydney) consumed much of her time till her
retirement. Poems were written
but not submitted. She now thanks her husband, Tony Blackshield, for urging
her to assemble the present collection.
IP 2006 Award for Best Poetry (Commended):
Dark Husk of Beauty by Andrew Leggett
Andrew Leggett’s collection is stark, bare
and unforgettable. In these interconnecting poems, by equal measure serious
and darkly comic, the ugly is united with the beautiful to produce a unique
Popular culture provides the surreal framework for meditations on
death, loss and loneliness, creating a moving overture to playfully grim explorations
into religion and the afterlife.
— Matthew Willmett
About the Author:
Andrew Leggett is a Brisbane poet who works as
a psychiatrist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist. His work has been widely
published in magazines, professional journals, newspapers and anthologies here
His first collection, Old Time
Religion and Other Poems, was published by IP in 1998. The manuscript
of Dark Husk of Beauty, was short-listed in the Arts
Queensland Thomas Shapcott Award in 2005.
IP 2006 Award for Best First Book: The
Accidental Cage by Michelle Cahill
Cahill creates a stunning world of images and
personas in her first collection of poems. In the title poem, the speaker transforms
suburban living beings into objet d’art:
Butterflies with mechanical lips balanced on weeds.
The windsock was a gesture of excess
and giant cockroaches glistened, waving wands.
Here the mosquitoes had been bred by dentists.
As is the case with many younger writers, Cahill
finds inspiration in exotic places like India where she traces her roots back
to her grandfather:
How he’d smoke his
pipe on the sun-licked verandah, his toothless grin,
the gleam in his eyes as he read the Times of India
I followed him on his daily walk along the back roads to the fishing village
with its rows of desiccating skins
But she has a maturity of vision that maintains
tight control over dangerous ground like the erotic lyric, avoiding clichè:
When I touch you it rains
Cats walking the streets at night
Your scent petals yield like broken
wisteria scattering their promise.
— David Reiter
About the Author
Michelle Cahill’s poems and reviews have
appeared in journals like Cordite, Urthona (UK), Blue Dog, Verandah,
Ulitarra, Imago, 4W, Poetrix, Vernacular, Meusepress. More are forthcoming
in Callaloo (USA), Divan, JAS & Going Down Swinging.
With a Creative Writing
Arts Major from Macquarie University(1998), Michelle attended the Bread Loaf
in Vermont and the Catskill Poetry Conference in New York in 2004. One of three
poets selected to tour southern NSW for the 2005 Poets On Wheels, she was also
the recipient of a scholarship from the Poetry Australia Foundation for its
2006 Poetry Workshop.
She works as a part-time GP in Sydney where she lives
with her husband, David, and daughter, Tegan.
IP 2006 Award for Best First Book (Highly
Commended): Musket by Harry Jones
An elaborate work of fiction set in the tumultuous
times of the early 1800s, the novel spans from the Ngapuhi territory of New
Zealand’s Bay of Islands
to the shipyards of Connecticut and whaling industry of Nantucket Island, and
sets sail back down the Atlantic, round the “Cape of Good Hope… across
the Indian Ocean towards the Australian Bight.”
Awash with crisp, historical language and an array of cultural detail, perspectives
are shared by multiple characters as English, American and Maori lives entwine
throughout this journey. The layers of plot draw individual motives coupled
with the themes of whaling, conquest, religion and tribal identity together
in a time marked by struggle, violence and uncertainty.
Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord, but at the dawn of the nineteenth century
the Maori people had yet to hear it. To them vengeance had nothing to do with
any God; utu, retribution, was a duty incumbent upon men, upon any man of honour.
About the Author
Harry Jones was born in New Zealand in 1925, receiving his early education
in a small school with many Maori fellow students. He is married with three
adult children, each an uninhibited critic of his fiction. He joined the Public
Service in 1940, saw war service, training with the RNZAF as a bomber pilot.
He returned to the Public Service until 1970, enjoyed a year in Antarctica
and thereafter held engineering administrative positions. Throughout this time
he spent holidays and weekends deerstalking and pig hunting in the central
North Island. He retired to sail a ketch in the Hauraki Gulf.
2006 Award for Best First Book (Commended): Inflations by Jan Dean
About the Author
Jan Dean, a former visual arts teacher, believes
the six- months as an exchange-English teacher in Japan, prior to her retirement,
was instrumental in her reconnecting with poetry in 1996. Since then, she was
runner-up in the 2002 Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award, and has won several
Jan spent six years as President/Publicity Officer of
Poetry at the Pub (Newcastle) Inc. Her work has appeared in numerous publications,
including Blue Dog, Hecate, sunweight (the 2005 Newcastle
Poetry Prize anthology), The Best Australian Poems 2005 (Black Inc.), The
Best Australian Poetry 2004 (UQP) and The Weekend Australian Review.
If you find yourself addressing
your covering letter to publishers like this, THINK AGAIN.
We get many letters of enquiry, as well as emails, from authors with
a proposal or manuscript to offer, and some invariably go the wrong
way to impress.
You’re unlikely to get there by addressing
the correspondence “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear
Publisher”, or, if you’re inclined
to use an American turn of phrase: “Hey There!”
Going generic in your manner of address is the first clue to an editor
that you haven’t done your homework on the publishing house.
If you don’t address the letter to
the proper person, a couple of things may happen, both of which will
end up bad for you. The reader will conclude that you don’t
know who the editor concerned is and can’t
be bothered to find out.
This is not mere vanity on the part of the publisher, it’s
mostly just good business sense. If we get a generic letter like that,
entitled to think that you know nothing about IP and the type of material
we publish. Worse, we usually conclude that this has been sent to every
publisher under the sun that you know about.
The vanity comes in when we decide not to read the submission because
we think that, even if we like it, we could be competing with the likes
of Harper-Collins and Penguin — if they get past the
To Whom It May Concern. Since their pockets are much deeper
than ours, we would be wasting our time reading it. And if the manuscript
is weak, we would be wasting our time anyway. Either way, you lose.
The first Commandment should be KNOW THY PROSPECTIVE PUBLISHER! If
you can’t afford a recent copy of
the The Writer’s Marketplace get
on the phone and ring the publisher and ask for the name of the prose
or poetry editor (match your book to the editor).
Some authors have the confidence to take the direct approach by ringing
the publisher to discuss the project. This can be a dangerous
strategy, too. It suggests that you think that editors have nothing better to
do than to wait for calls from authors they’ve
never met. A sort of literary blind date.
If the editor is too polite to hold up her hand to stop the traffic,
she’ll soon be grid-locked into a
long narrative of plots, undeniably endearing characters and a marketing
plan that’s already been run by a
PR specialist she’s never heard of.
If you ring IP, our editors will refer you to our
Guidelines page, which has everything you need to know about putting
together a good submissions package. Our Contacts page has the
names of editors to whom you can address your letter. It’s
OK to call and introduce yourself, but keep your pitch short.
In your letter or email never ASK if the publisher is interested in
children’s books or fantasy fiction.
You should know their areas of interest BEFORE you write to them. Better
yet if you can refer to one or two books in your genre by the publisher
that you admire it will show that you’ve
done your research and are a reader as well as a writer. An
amazingly large number of novice writers think that there is no relationship
between having a solid ground in reading and understanding what works
or doesn’t work as a writer.
By far the most impressive thing you can do is to show that you know
the market for your book. What other books are out there on the same
subject? What does your book do that the others don’t? If there
aren’t any books to compete with yours, it could be that other
publishers have already concluded that there’s no market for
your subject. You’ll have to convince her otherwise.
prefer authors who show either that they write to the market or know
how to create a demand for something that hasn’t yet appeared
It’s only a small first step toward
being seriously read by an editor, but a good covering letter will
put you streets ahead of wannabes who write in a vacuum, churn out
form letters by the dozen and then hope for the best.
The thing about being an independent
publisher is that you believe in making your own way, sometimes against
the current of the way things have always been done in the industry.
But IP has now reached a stage of growth where it makes sense to be
talking to others. For one thing, we think libraries and
bookshops need to pay more attention to titles coming out in digital
form, and it’s also high time that agencies like ELR, PLR and
CAL found a way to compensate us and our authors for use of our digital
titles in the schools and libraries.
Advice coming from a single publisher is easy to ignore, but if it
comes from the APA it will carry more weight.
The APA actively promotes the efforts of its members to increase their
export activities, and that’s a high priority for IP as we head
into our ninth year. We hope to use our membership to access seminars
on export opportunities and to begin making our presence known at international
book fairs and so on.
The APA recently set up TitlePage, an online database that booksellers
can search to find titles. TitlePage claims to list 75% of all available
titles in Australia today. Joining the APA will give us access to TitlePage
through our new distributor, Tower
Books (see story below).
So we recently signed on the dotted line and fully expect to become
the APA’s seventy-first member by the end of February.
Effective immediately, Tower
Books in Sydney will be distributing IP print titles to bookshops
Australia. Dr David Reiter, Director, IP, and Tower
Michael Rakusin signed the agreement in January.
“We are happy with the job our distribution section, IP.Sales has been
doing with individuals and libraries,” David commented, “but some
bookshops are reluctant to deal with independent publishers who don’t
work through an established distributor. I’m
thinking particularly of chain stores such as Collins and Borders, but also those
shops away from the capital cities, who tend not to respond to our email circulars
and the like.”
The agreement between IP and Tower is specific to bookshops and non-exclusive
to libraries. So libraries can choose to order either through IP.Sales or Tower
And Tower Books will be distributing only our print titles at this stage. These
will be listed for sale on TitlePage, the APA’s
new database of available titles in Australia, to which all bookshops have free
We urge all bookshops to have a close look at the IP list when your Tower Books
rep comes by.
Sara Moss was something of an
institution in her own right at IP, being the longest serving staff
to Director David Reiter. Her contact with IP began as an
author of the first poetry book in our fledging Emerging Authors
Series, A Deep Fear of Trains, which in turn became one of IP.Digital’s
first e-books. Sara was always there for David in the early days
of IP, encouraging, offering mid-flight corrections, and he almost
always accepted her advice — or so he says!
Sara and her partner Shane — whose design expertise we have
to thank for IP’s spinning logo — have
put the furniture in storage and are thinking of travelling for a
while. Sara hopes to return with a new sense of purpose and energy
for her own work.
We join the numerous poets who have benefited from Sara’s
advice as our Poetry Editor in thanking her for her years of excellent
service and wishing her well in her renewal, and we look forward to
her new work
Sara will be succeeded in her role as your newsletter editor by Anne
Marshall, who is, even as this is written, busing her way around
the snowy hills of Italy! A Brisbane girl, Anne hadn’t
seen snow before this tour of Europe, and she now reports that she’s “definitely
over the whole concept” (we assume she means snow, rather than
travel in general!)
IP continues to rely on student interns as our Assistant Editors, and
our incoming crop are very well qualified to hit the ground running — or
whatever one does at an editor’s
We’ll let them speak for themselves.
Matthew Willmett is about to begin a Masters in Writing,
Editing and Publishing at the University of Queensland. Anticipating
a large amount
of theory coming his way, Matthew feels that undertaking work experience
with IP will give him crucial real-world knowledge of the publishing
industry to complement his studies, and vice versa.
He completed a Bachelor of Arts at UQ in mid-2004, majoring in English Literature and History, with electives including diverse science
and cultural studies courses. He recently spent a year in Japan, writing
fiction, teaching English and learning as much about the nitty-gritty
of grammar and communication in two languages as about Japanese culture
Matthew has been known to swear whenever he finds a typographical error
in a junk-mail pamphlet or on the back of a cereal packet. He hopes
to further develop his editing and proofreading skills while at IP.
He finds himself constantly tormented by the need to turn mediocre
writing into good and good writing into great. Working at IP will
hopefully give him the chance to make that happen.
Matthew is a member of the Queensland Writers’ Centre and fears
for his sanity whenever he can’t find the time to write.
Michelle Yan is a Brisbane based writer and editor
who has previously worked behind-the-scenes at New Matilda, as an editor
of Vibewire.net’s print projects portfolio, sub-editor of Plasma
Rag Magazine, and a staff member of the 2005 National Young Writers’ Festival.
Michelle is currently a journalist for Citigold Corporation and editorial
assistant of Lip Magazine. Her writing, which covers a range of genres
including profiles, social commentary, reviews and lifestyle pieces,
features regularly in a range of publications including Lip Magazine,
Frank Magazine, Graduate Life and the Queensland Writers’ Centre’s
publication, Writing Queensland. Michelle holds a bachelor’s
degree with studies in communications and cultural studies, and is
currently undertaking a Master of Journalism.
In her role with IP,
Michelle hopes to bring widely acclaimed recognition to IP’s
authors and associates.
It was billed as your chance
to get “insider information from the crème-de-la-crème
of Australian publishing heavyweights” for anyone ready to
submit their work for publication. So of course IP had to be there!
On the 9 February, our indefatigable Director
joined up with Sue Hines (Allen & Unwin), Stuart
Neal (ABC Books),
and Anna Crago (UQP) at the Queensland Writers Centre to enlighten
authors about the current state of play in the publishing industry. A
crowd of 70 people attended.
David gathered these impressions from his hot seat on the panel.
Allen & Unwin is certainly one of the major
players on the Australian publishing scene. Sue made no apologies — nor
should she — for
their commercial orientation. She made light of it by relating the
tale of how her daughter, when asked what her mother did for a living,
replied that she was a bookmaker. Commercial publishing is like that,
Sue remarked. You use your best judgement about whether or not a
book will succeed, and after that it’s a gamble. She confessed
that large publishers are often driven by their sales and marketing
departments, and that she, as Publishing Director, has to know what
the market for a particular book is before she can direct her editing
staff on how to go about assisting with the revisions. While Allen
& Unwin increasingly relies on “agented” authors,
and accepts on average only one unsolicited manuscript per year from
the thousand or more unsolicited submissions they receive, she hopes
that there is still room for them to discover talent from the slushpile.
Stuart Neal is a prose editor
at ABC Books, and he spent some time disspelling misconceptions about
ABC Books’ list and what they are interested in. In the 160
titles they produce annually, ABC Books now goes well beyond material
that has a direct ABC connection, though
they do look for material consistent with their charter as the national
broadcaster, especially topics dealing with regional areas, where
their market share is larger than that of the commercial networks.
While ABC Books recently announced its interest in compiling a strong
fiction list, with its new national fiction award, their slant is
still very strongly on the non-fiction side and slanted toward mass
sales. Stuart pointed to True Crime as one of the publisher’s
priority areas for expansion. Interestingly
enough, ABC Books distributes through Allen & Unwin.
Anna Crago has been with UQP for only six
months, but she comes with a strong track record from the UK publishing
industry and had much
to say about the differences between the industries there and here.
For one thing, UK publishers can rely on a stable export trade for
most of their titles, including books that are shipped to Australia,
whereas Australian publishers like UQP have to put in the hard yards
finding overseas sales for their titles. UQP is under pressure from
several angles: having to serve the interests of faculty, since they
are still seen, at least on the UQ campus as a university publisher;
wanting to publish titles that they “love” sometimes,
despite their dubious commercial potential; and the imperative to
survive, which faces all publishers. UQP’s publishing program
is already filled through 2008 in most areas.
saw my role as representing the viewpoint of small independent
publishers as well as IP’s niche in the digital publishing
area. Few people there seemed to understand the potential of the
technologies for reshaping the face of publishing, the nature
of the book and the place of the writer in the scheme of things.
When the inevitable question was asked about the future of the
book, the other three panelists gave the pat answer that the
book will still be around 20 years from now. I didn’t disagree,
but I suggested that the channels for publishing content will
dramatically increase, and that we will see repurposing of content
from the physical book into digital forms, including multimedia.
This will be good news for publishers and authors prepared to
adapt to the new environment, and especially for those wanting
easier access to global markets.
This is of course only a few highlights from what was a very
stimulating session, and we congratulate the QWC for sponsoring
it and ensuring, in Kate Eltham’s capable hands as Chair,
that all ran smoothly. The session was recorded, and the QWC
from their website, which will be good news for people who were
unable to attend this conclave of the “heavyweights” of
the publishing industry.
New IP.Digital titles will
be up there with the print ones for our Autumn Season 06 releases.Here’s
First up, we’ll have the eagerly awaited DVD of Hemingway
in Spain, a multimedia adaptation of David Reiter’s poetry book
of the same title, which was runner-up for the John Bray Award at the
The poetry book features a sequence on Hemingway brought back
to life where he finds instant attraction to Maria, a receptionist
at the Hotel
Florida in Madrid, who reminds him of a character from For Whom
the Bell Tolls. The attraction is mutual and instant and the two go on
to meet people from Hem’s past, as well as people from the distant
past and future who the author actually never met in real life.
But this is not
just a tale of love. It becomes a quest for the killer of Maria’s
boyfriend whom she suspects is a reborn fascist. Hemingway is searching
for answers from his dead father and the antagonist of the piece, Franco,
the ultimate fascist.
Hemingway and Maria pursue their elusive goal through the cities and
towns of Spain, ending up in the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the
a huge monument to the Civil War that Franco had blasted out of a mountain,
for the final confrontation.
The DVD will feature spoken word performances, music, visuals and video
clips from David’s two trips to Spain authored in Final Cut Pro
Second up will be The Last Laugh, which
could well be the first example of chick lit in hypertext. The author,
Monique Choy, describes it as follows:
It has a light-hearted, upbeat tone and quirky characters, set in a village-like
street in Brunswick, Melbourne.
Mary-anne, my heroine, has a strange ability to make the people around her laugh.
She is annoyed by this talent at first, but gradually comes to enjoy tickling
the fancy of others. However, her attractive but moody neighbour, Stanley,
thinks she's selling out. Will Mary-anne see things Stanley's way, and the promise
of romance that this might bring? Or will she ignore his advice and risk losing
him forever? That's up to the reader to decide.
Poking a bit of postmodern fun at the conventions of romance writing, I nevertheless
stick to the genre rules, including a strict three-act structure, because
I wanted to try something I haven't seen in interactive short stories elsewhere. I
wanted the reader to have some investment in the choices made while navigating
through the story. Unlike most interactive fictions, the narrrative builds momentum
up to the final turning point and many readers have found this final decision-point
quite confronting, as it can reveal a great deal about the reader when they're
not quite expecting it.
The Last Laugh will be available on CD and possibly by
download. We’ll keep you posted.
author of No Middle Name,
has been speaking at conferences and specialist groups about
the issues surrounding youth suicide
health system. Here’s what she has to say about her upcoming
address to the Royal Flying Doctors’ conference:
As a response to my book, the Royal
Flying Doctor Service has invited me to address fourteen doctors
who provide medical care to people in remote areas of Queensland.
I have adopted two themes for my presentation, the first being the
tyranny of distance, likening the geographical distance of RFDS mental
health patients from services and resources available in urban areas
to that of Australia’s geographical distance from Mother England
in our colonial history.
My second theme refers to Mother Teresa’s quote that “loneliness
and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty”.
In the context of mental illness, inherent loneliness and isolation,
and feelings of being unwanted and worthless can so easily lead a
mentally ill person to suicide.
Although I cannot offer answers and solutions to the problems of
mental illness and the tragedy of suicide, I hope that my insights
will assist the medical officers in providing compassionate assistance
to those in need.
Michael O’Sullivan opened
the 16th annual Boorowa Balladeers festival
on Australia Day, January 26. The festival regularly attracts an audience of around one hundred
to hear ballads and yarns, priding itself as being “the sound
of the real Australia”. Michael spoke on the role of ballads
in contemporary Australia, and read a brief extract from his novel
His story “The Puzzler” was Highly Commended in the Marjorie
Graber-McInnes/ACT Writers Centre 2005 Short Story Award. Well done,
Winter’s book The
Australia-First Movement has raised considerable interest in
Western Australia where much of the political intrigue takes place. Rod Moran, Literary Editor
of the West Australian, referring to his feature article on the book
calls it an “important book” on the Ultra-Right movement
Barbara has been interviewed
on ABC Radio National’s Perspective program by Mark Finnane, Professor
of History at Griffith University, and
on Perth’s radio station 6PR.
IP.Sales is now distributing her earlier book, The Intrigue Master, which is
page-turning exposé of Australia’s role in the Pacific campaign
during World War II. Email us for a fact sheet on the book, which retails for
$35 in hard cover.
Barbara tells us that she’s all but completed her PhD, which was based
on her research for The Australia-First Movement. We’re sure that will
be a relief!
David headed overseas to visit relations
in Canada and the USA and renew contact with the ubiquitous Thanksgiving
turkey, but he also had a reading at Cleveland Heights Library and
of libraries in the Cleveland area where he was raised.
The libraries were quite receptive to our quality Australian content,
and one librarian remarked about how hard it was to find good material
from overseas. At least as hard, he replied, as getting the word
out from overseas to the US market!
By the way, the turkey in the photo is a wild one that had
the good sense to stay under cover in the ravine behind David’s
mother’s house until Thanksgiving and Leftovers Day were past.
Watch your neck next year though, mate!
Only a few weeks later, during IP’s annual holiday period,
he took the family off to New Zealand, but couldn’t resist
meeting up with librarians on the North Island to spread
the good word about IP. He had an extended chat with the staff at
Total Library Solutions, New Zealand’s largest library supplier,
and they are keen to show IP titles around to their member libraries.
David’s son Alexander took it upon himself to lobby some of
the local booksellers at Rotorua about what they were missing by
[Snippets from full reviews that
we’ve posted elsewhere on the site (click the link to read the
Deane’s book is an autobiography in two parts, with the first
section (‘South’) taking us breezily through his childhood,
to his first marriage and tragic loss of a child, then a traumatic
break-up. ‘South’ concludes with the brilliantly energetic ‘Under
Westgate’. In this virtuosic ‘poem in motion’,
the hard, jerky, foot-down rhythms and kinaesthetic imagery convey
a visceral experience of driving under the site of the famous bridge
disaster, while everything spins emotionally out of control.
Finding the words Perpetual Locomotion engraved on the back of his
girlfriend, he inches his way into the perpetual locomotion movement.
Perpetual locomotion is an image of travel as a form of imprisonment.
— Michael McGirr, Sydney Morning
Herald and The Age
At a time when our freedoms are again
being curtailed in the name of national security, and Australia has
returned to the detention of “undesirables” on the basis
of the flimsiest of evidence, an examination of past conflicts between
freedom of the individual and the rights and requirements of the
nation state such as Winter’s prodigious work are an essential
tool in learning from, and avoiding, our past mistakes.
— Emma Dawson, JAS Review
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