Welcome to our final issue for the year where we farewell
2003 in typical IP style. Throughout October we celebrated
the launch of our Spring Season and the release of five new titles.
Two of these,
Howl Before you Bury Me by Liam Guilar and Paul Mitchell’s
were winners of IP Picks 2003 Awards for Poetry. It has been extremely
satisfying to follow the progress of these works from
manuscript to book release and to share the authors’ pleasure
in their accomplishments.
We focused on two poets and a biographer in our previous issue; now
it’s the turn of our prose writers. Molly
Guy writes us a ticklish
invitation to delve into her work, Terminal
certainly be scratching! And David Reiter lures us into the private
lives of his characters in his novel, Liars
We’re Out and About this issue with the IP Spring Season 2003
tour. As we publish more and more authors from around the nation,
such tours are likely to feature more prominently on our calendar.
Retiring Arts Minister Matt Foley has
been dubbed “the Minister
for Poetry” by authors here who will long remember his vocal
support for our oft-marginalised art form. I would like to add my
personal thanks for all his efforts. In bidding adieu to Minister
Foley in his Editorial, David summarises many key arts funding issues.
It’s a perspective from the publisher’s coal-face of
dealing with bureaucracy as well as a timely reminder that an incumbent
Minister is just part of the picture.
We preview a 4MBS-FM co-production of David Reiter’s play,
Paul and Vincent. The production will take place in January
2004 at the 4MBS performance studio in Coorparoo, with Eugene Gilfedder
and Michael Churven as Gauguin and van Gogh. The play will also be
published next year in IP Digital’s Audio
+ Text Series, along
with an audio version of Swelter by
Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford. This series continues to produce
work of quality and dynamism since
the release of The
Fickle Brat by Chris Mansell. Other titles are
at the planning stage.
In Bestlinks there’s a cheeky promotion of my own web publishing
efforts, as I discuss how the web can assist authors in “doing
it for themselves”. This compliments David’s reality
check on Assisted Self Publishing. For festival junkies there’s
also a brief review of the 2003 Queensland
Poetry Festival and a
whisper from the grapevine about what’s in store for the festival
It’s been another rewarding year for me as IP’s Editor
and your newsletter editor. My thanks to Assistant Editors Morag
Kobez Halvorson and Heidi Keefer for all their hard work at Treetop
Studio. My heartfelt gratitude to David for giving me so much credit
when he does so much of the work.
Before I sign off, greetings to the most important people of all
— those of you who buy our books and CDs and keep the company
afloat! Be sure to visit the store to pick up some holiday bargains
down to our fabulous specials in Your Deal.
eNews will be back in February
with a preview of our Autumn list and all the results from IP Picks
2004. Meanwhile, keep those entries coming
Sara Moss, Editor, IP eNews
the Director's Desk
is a breather for me between major trips: a southern tour in support
of our five new titles released in Spring Season 2003, and a trip
to North America, where I will visit with family, but also have a
reading at Cleveland State University’s Poetry Centre and a
retrospective at my old high school, where I confess I did not write
a single poem or story. I was intent on a career in medicine back
then, before bio-chemistry did me in, but a search on my name on
Google will reveal a couple more Dr David Reiters who did hang in
there through medical school to become surgeons (I wonder how they’re
doing with indemnity insurance!)
We have had a tremendous response so far to IP
Picks, our national
literary competition, now in its third year, if the number of requests
for entry forms is anything to go by. The winning entries to date
have been doing very well for us, and I was pleased to showcase the
latest two winners — Liam Guilar’s I’ll Howl Before
You Bury Me and Paul Mitchell’s minorphysics — that had
their Gold Coast and Melbourne launches, respectively during the
Seasonal tour. As one of the few national competitions for unpublished
poetry and fiction books, Picks should have a strong place in the
writing calendar, and we’re hoping for something more tangible
than verbal support from Arts Queensland in the upcoming grants decisions
so we can offer more than royalty publication to the winners! For
those of you still tweaking your submissions, remember that they
must be postmarked no later than 1 December.
2004 is shaping up to be another bumper year for IP, with our publishing
program nearly full at this stage. Our Autumn
Season will release
a novel by Melbourne author Merle Thornton, poetry collections from
Sydney authors David Musgrave and Jenni
Nixon, and from Queenslander
Liam Ferney (Jenni and Liam’s mss were Highly Commended in
IP Picks 2003 and were subsequently offered publication). Finally
IP Digital will be releasing a new Audio + Text title, based on Louise
Waller and Kristin Hannaford’s Swelter. Judging by the very
positive response we’ve had to Chris
Mansell’s The Fickle
Brat, the first in that new Series, we’re on a winner.
And, given the enthusiasm I found during my southern
tour, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Tasmanian authors
and South Australian authors joining our list before long.
I’ve got to get through my portion of Thanksgiving turkey at
my mother’s before even thinking of Christmas, but I’m
sure I’ll manage!
Dr David Reiter
Adieu to Our
Minister for Poetry
Long time Queensland Minister for the Arts Matt Foley has decided
to step down. Reactions are mixed about this, and very little has
been said in public, so let me be one of the first to offer an
opinion about if this is a fitting end to the latest season of Yes,
If support in word and presence are important, then certainly this
Minister scores very highly. As a poet himself, the Minister has
spoken very positively about literary writing in this State. One
of his lasting achievements will be the creation of the Judith
Wright Centre for the Arts, naming it after one of Australia’s
greatest poets. Unfortunately the running costs of the building
have made it difficult for any organisation dedicated to writing
to be housed there, e.g. the Queensland Writers Centre remains
in the less salubrious Metro Arts Building. Few writing-related
events other than those directly funded by the Government, e.g.
the Queensland Poetry Festival and National Poetry Day, have happened
there. We once thought about holding a launch there but were told
it would cost $400 just for the space. You’ve got to sell
a lot of books to recoup that.
The Minister can certainly point to several other significant capital
works projects intended to enhance the arts scene in this State.
New spaces have been constructed at Performing Arts Centre, and
the Queensland Conservatorium moved from cramped quarters at the
Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point campus
to a new building at South Bank where it’s now a part of
Griffith University. La Boite Theatre could see the handwriting
on the wall with nearby Suncorp Stadium looking for more lebensraum,
and after drawn-out negotiations with the Government will soon
have a new home at QUT’s Kelvin Grove Cultural Precinct.
Of course, there’s more to supporting the arts than having
a credible Edifice Complex, and Minister Foley has been aware of
this. The major performing arts groups continue to enjoy substantial
Government funding, as do our arts festivals. On the writing side,
the Brisbane Writers Festival, despite a few bumps lately with
three new Directors in the past four years, played to huge crowds
this year, despite — or perhaps because of — the skimpy
numbers of local talent involved. The future of the Queensland
Poetry Festival is less assured, with numbers sliding over the
past two years, despite generous support from the Government, access
to venues at the Judith Wright Centre and the Minister’s
generous donation of his time to launch the festival.
Minister Foley will certainly claim to have invested more funds
on writing, especially over the past three years. One of the more
visible break-throughs has been the annual Premier’s Literary
Awards, but these have been a mixed blessing, with very few winners
from the Queensland ranks. And doubtlessly the Premier would claim
credit for establishing the awards in the first place. However,
from a bottom line perspective, Queensland taxpayers are subsidising
interstate winners to the tune of $100,000 +, and the presence
of an Emerging Queensland Author’s prize in the ranks is
only minimal consolation.
It’s questionable that this cultural “foreign
aid” does much to develop a stronger writing industry
in Queensland. The Minister has been outspoken about indifference
from the big publishers and the Australia Council toward Queensland
talent (though both would dispute his claims), so why support an
awards scheme that bankrolls so many interstate authors?
For years, I have argued for parity between the high profile Premier’s
Award categories and the annual Judith Wright Calenthe Award for
poetry (again named by the Minister) and the Steele Rudd Award
for the best short fiction collection, to no avail. Best selling
novels and non-fiction find plentiful corporate and media support
without Government largesse, but poetry and short fiction need
greater visibility. Hopefully, his successor will see the sense
Taming the Sir Humphreys is every Minister’s dream, and this
Minister has had more success than most. The Arts Queensland (AQ)
bureaucrats are earning their money now more than ever before.
New processes are now in place for peer review of funding applications,
with Major Grant rounds being held twice yearly rather than once
a year. Grants under $5,000 can be sought monthly.
opportunities to apply have not led to greater support for individual
artists. The average amount of grant awarded per person has dropped
during this Minister’s time in office. $30,000 grants were
common years ago; it’s not unusual to see authors getting
$10,000 or less to write a book from scratch. The unspoken business
plan at AQ seems to be getting more artistic bang for the Minister’s
Increasing access to the funding process has not been good news
for the AQ staff, who now have to administer many more grant rounds
in what must be an administrative nightmare (though Sir Humphrey
would doubtlessly understate it as a “challenge”).
Previously, an artist had an identifiable arts officer at AQ to
a senior project officer in writing. Now, the bureaucrats have
been repurposed and redeployed and none are responsible for a single
arts discipline. If an artist is bold enough to seek an appointment
there, there’s no guarantee that the staff member will have
sufficient expertise in the area under discussion. And this ad
hoc approach has already led to some “interesting” policy
The movement away from disciplines toward a business-centred model
in AQ’s structure has not been good news for their clients.
The new CIP system is rife with reporting requirements, supposedly
intended to ensure accountability and viability among prospective
clients. Even those groups seeking project funding have to supply
termite mounds of supporting material.
The process will certainly
exhaust any organisation not large enough to employee specialist
in strategic planning and accounts, not to mention those AQ staff
expected to review this documentation in detail, but it’s
questionable whether the new system will benefit artists at the
grassroots or return benefits to the taxpayers. It could be suggested
by those with political motivation that this state of policy over-complication
is intended to distract the populace from the issues that really
matter, such as dollars and cents, but I would be loath to endorse
such a view here. (Thanks again, Sir H!)
However, cultural foreign aid aside, writing does remain the poor
cousin in arts funding in this State. Minister Foley has said much
in support of his pet art form, and he has certainly created new
policy intended to increase access of worthy artists to funding.
he hasn’t delivered the money where it’s needed most.
More worthy artists and projects are going without, or having to
make do with less, and his department is less part of the solution
than a creator of problems. In a climate where “outcomes” is
a favoured buzzword in Government and the bureaucracy alike, we
need new funding, not new processes.
It took nearly three years for AQ to “study” the policy
implications of allowing more organisations access to CIP funding.
Even with the pent-up demand state-wide, the Government was only
prepared to commit $40,000 extra to CIP. Most current CIP clients
regard themselves as sacred cows, so what Minister would be bold
enough, despite Sir H’s best advice, to authorise their removal
from the inner sanctum? In the case of this Minister, we’ll
So, does Matt Foley leave the arts scene better off than when he
took control of that portfolio? Without a doubt. And we are grateful
for most of his victories and even more of his rhetoric. But it
is questionable how much he and his stress-ridden bureaucracy have
assisted in the
of artistic activity in Queensland. Based on the shifting demographic
away from the magnets of Sydney and Melbourne, and the stimulus
of Expo years ago, much of what is new and exciting probably would
have happened regardless of who was in office. It may be sacrilege
to say so, but the arts were
already gaining momentum under the Coalition under Mike Ahearn
and then Arts Minister Joan Sheldon. This Minister has spent too
much time shifting the deck chairs and too little effort delivering
the funds needed to assist his clients.
Sir Humphrey reminds
us more than once that it’s a mistake to let a Minister
get in the way of sound policy development. Unfortunately, Matt
[In this issue we look at the other
two titles from our
Spring Season 2003 (see the previous
issue for the Focus on the
other three titles). Molly Guy talks about her second collection,
Velocity and David Reiter bares all about his update to the
novel of manners, Brisbane-style, Liars
To be honest, I’m unhappy
about writing “300 to 500 words that will make people want
to read (or at least pick up)” Terminal
Velocity. I’ve never
consciously analysed my own work. My practice has always been to
move on from completed stories without ever looking back.
I guess it wouldn’t hurt to mention that, when I was very young,
I was into ‘breaking and entering’ in a big way. I was
at least six years old before I understood doors were for knocking
on. I was always letting myself into stranger’s houses, eavesdropping
on their conversations.
I’d always loved the way reality ‘shifted’ in other
people’s homes. No two households ever had exactly the same
teacups, loo paper, salt cellars, prejudices.
The house I liked most in my neighbourhood had doors
that hung off their hinges, it had a very lumpy lounge suite. The ‘lumps’ in
the sofa turned out to be the dismantled parts of a stolen motor
I was also fond of wardrobes and cupboards at this time. The fact
that they were often filled with moths and silverfish didn’t
worry me at all. (I remember my mum attempting to vacuum a moth out
of my ear after I’d spent a particularly enjoyable afternoon
crouched inside a linen press in a house miles away from my home).
My favourite wardrobes were filled with frocks lightly dusted, around
the collars, with pink face powder.
My dad was a prolific story teller.
(My dad’s stories often
involved ancestor worship). Offered the choice of pocket money or
a story, I’d go for the story every time.
Unfortunately, when I first began telling stories in my own right
I found the process disappointing in two ways.
Firstly, good story telling (oral) involved a considerable amount
of creative energy at the end of which I had nothing tangible to
show for my efforts.
Secondly, nobody believed a word I said! The word “bullshit” was
I began writing things down. A weird kind of alchemy occurred. The
extraordinary became almost believable.
On paper I was plausible (very nearly).
Terminal Velocity could
well be described as one more exercise in voyeurism. (Real or imagined).
As well it appears as words printed on paper.
I hope Terminal Velocity is about social isolation. It’s possible
I’ve allowed myself to be distracted at times.
I hope it’s about substitution.
(If you’ve finally climbed OUT of your wardrobe — and,
even so, perversely chosen to isolate yourself from your community;
it make a lot of sense to substitute loving relationships with friends
and neighbours with a growing attachment to your pets, your potted
plants? Your lap top computer?)
Essentially, Terminal Velocity is
about the wackiness that creeps up on us when we spend too much time
alone. (It’s possible, at
first, that we may not notice we’re drifting downstream at
a rate of knots. When we at last
hear the thundering of rapids ahead, it may already be too late.)
Ask yourself this question — is
it unreasonable to suggest that (like beauty) craziness/wackiness/aberrant
behaviour might not be in the eye
of the beholder?
On my recent tour to points
south, I was asked the same question about Liars
and Lovers, which
of the five titles we’re promoting in our Spring Season 2003:
how long did it take you to write it? The answer is five
years — off
and on. But in the end it was a story that just had to get out there,
so finally I had no choice but to find the time to finish it.
It’s my first published novel. A couple of earlier attempts
lie in a dusty drawer, never to surface, even if this one wins the
Booker. Part of maturing as a writer is coming to recognise work
that will never be more than an undercoat for a more public product.
You might very well take the view that waiting 25 years from the
publication of my first story in Canada’s prestigious Fiddlehead
Review to ‘become’ a novelist should lend the work an
oaken aftertaste, but that’s only part of the story.
I’ve always known that I was capable of writing a novel if
I set my mind to it. Yet, when I approached some major publishers
with a draft of Triangles years ago, I wasn’t particularly
motivated by their view that I should wait on releasing that collection
until I’d produced a novel. I understood the practical reasons
why they would suggest that; however the fact was that Triangles was ready to go, and I had no plans to write a novel. I still thought
of myself as a poet, and fiction as a sideline, so I saw no reason
to follow a career path set by a publisher.
Triangles was a critical success, as first runner-up in the Steele
Rudd Award in 2000, so I thought again about fiction. There were
a few stories in the collection that served as the starting point
for Liars and Lovers, and certainly the satiric mode of the novel
is in keeping with that found in Triangles. Within a few months I
had a draft of a novel, as yet unnamed, but I wasn’t satisfied
with it. I actually sent it off to Allen & Unwin, who had nibbled
around the edges of the Triangles ms, but the reception was a bit
cool. Their view was that the novel hadn’t decided whether
it was a work of popular fiction or something more serious. I didn’t
have to agonise over that — I agreed with them.
Over the next two years, I came back to the ms from time to time.
I would tinker with it, as was my habit in writing stories, using
my word processor to best advantage. But I found progress very slow
indeed. I was always losing my place, forgetting what the point was.
Finally, I abandoned the draft altogether. I already knew my characters,
and what I wanted to ‘say’ in the novel. So I wasn’t
really starting with a blank slate — or should I say screen.
My view was that the really important things would surface when I
Forbes Holbrook, the main character, is a would-be novelist,
too, and his halting attempts to draft a satisfying storyline mimicked
mine. Like in his case — though for different reasons — at
a particular point in time it all made sense, and the prose came
so quickly I could hardly keep up. The premise was that Forbes’ relations
with the two key women in his life inform the writing of his Great
Australian Novel. For him, love — and to a lesser degree, lust — sets
him free from his inhibitions about letting the words come out and
the characters take form.
The ending came to me about three-quarters of the way through the
main draft, which only accelerated the process. And I had set myself
a print deadline, which helped keep my focus, despite outside competing
demands. A month out from the deadline I had a draft, and I gave
myself the remaining four weeks to work through it once a week, incorporating
changes suggested by my readers, as well as finding things myself.
The novel is a piece of popular fiction, a modern novel of manners
set in Brisbane, but like all satire it has a serious sub-text. Few
of us have the guts to live our dreams, and to deal with the consequences
of simply floating on our backs throughout our lives. There’s
a womanising secondary character by the name of Lenny, who earns
a crust as a psychologist, but dreams of being a composer of symphonies.
Finally he gets Rigby, one of the main characters, to hire out a
hall for him to present the premiere of his opus, The Moreton
Bay Symphony. It’s less than a success, but he has at least acted
on his dream, and the other characters have to respect him for that.
How many of us, the novel asks, would put our self-respect on the
line to pursue a dream?
More to the point, it follows the exploits of Forbes and Rigby — sexual
and otherwise — and how their unlikely bond prepares them for
dealing with the challenges the novel presents. To a degree, this
is not particularly sacred ‘men’s business’ but
perhaps there’s room in the shops for a male equivalent to ‘Chick
Lit’ for those who want more out of life than a tattoo. I certainly
— David Reiter
Over the many years I’ve
worked for IP, it’s been no secret that my special interest in the
my passion, has been for our poetry publishing program. I
came to the press originally as an author. In 2000, my first collection,
Deep Fear of Trains, was released as the first title in the Emerging
Authors Series. It was an accomplishment for me, the culmination
of over five years of writing poetry and two years intensive editing
and rewriting of the collection. It was a time I learned some valuable
lessons as an author. Writing poetry for myself was enjoyable and
rewarding, writing poetry that other people might want to read was
also enjoyable but involved some hard work. In this time, I was working
towards something, the publication of a slim volume of poems in book
form, an end “product” that someone else could “sell” to
Publication in book form is still the goal of many authors. It retains
the prestige of the “seal of approval”. There is still
a perception that if an author’s work has been published, by
someone else, it must be good, or at least have some objective value.
This persists despite historical evidence that many “self publishers” have
produced work of exceptional quality.
With the proliferation of web
publishing, our preconceptions are challenged on a daily basis. It’s
not unusual to find work on the web of remarkable quality from unknown
and previously unpublished authors. It’s also common to find
a load of crap. With increasing access to the means and methods of
web publishing, we’re all becoming content providers. The position
of gatekeepers and filterers is under increasing scrutiny: where
people can write, publish and promote their own work, what is the
role of the professional editor and publisher? The covers are off
it seems and the “O” word is everywhere – you see
it’s all a matter of opinion. Well-informed opinion, perhaps,
Well-educated opinion, most certainly, but opinion nonetheless. Increasingly,
authors can choose to either take or leave that opinion.
As a poet, I see publishing in book form as just one of the goals
of my writing. I’m increasingly interested in the potential
of multimedia and the mixing of art forms. I have, with digital artist
Shane Carter, formed an artistic collective, the Synaptic
We blend poetry with flash animation, digital art and
sound. We publish work on the web and present it in live multimedia
performances. We do hope to produce a CD in the future but are presently
opening the collective to new members. Graham Nunn, an accomplished
writer of poetry and Haiku and founder of the Brisbane group, Speedpoets
is joining us, along with Rowan Donovan, a fellow Speedpoet.
on the lookout for people to join us who share our basic values – a
passion for creative work and an interest in wider social and political
movements. The collective allows us to explore avenues that might
not be available in traditional or mainstream publishing. Our goal
is not necessarily an end “product” such as a CD or book.
The process of creating the work together, of scripting and performing
to live audiences is an end in itself.
I have also, with Shane’s assistance, developed a website which
encompasses all my current writing interests, including Synaptic
Graffiti. In doing this, I’ve joined the ranks of millions
of authors worldwide who are “doing it for themselves”,
compiling their own work and publishing it online for anyone to read.
One of the advantages of this kind of publishing is that, aside from
obvious costs of hosting and internet access, it’s free. All
it takes is time.
There’s also an opportunity with web publishing to share more
than the end “product” of a polished piece of writing.
You can share elements of the writing process, the shaping of ideas.
One area of the website is devoted to poetry on the experience of
living with Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve titled the work Primary
Condition, which refers to a question on a federal government
application for a disability pension. I’ve published a small
selection of poems on the web with accompanying information for readers
the disease. This information is optional: if readers want to
know more about the context of a poem, they can run their mouse over
question mark and a text box appears with the information.
and choice are something the web and CDs provide that a book
does not. It’s not a second rate choice; it’s actually
more useful and appropriate for producing work of this nature. A
longer term goal for Primary Condition is publication in book
and CD format, but, for now, I’m happy to develop the idea
online, where I can share the poetry with readers and welcome “guest” contributions
from other authors writing on the subject of illness.
I am so excited by the whole web publishing experience that I’ve published
some of my older work online in a special collection titled Poetry
From the Drawer.
When you publish a collection of poetry professionally in book form, it needs
something to tie it together, some sense of cohesion. Poetry
From the Drawer is more random and chaotic. These are poems that never
found their way into a
book. NOT because they weren’t individually good enough, but they didn’t
fit my first collection, and as time passed, didn’t fit the new directions
of my writing.
I’m decidedly proud of many of these poems and I’ve
enough ego not to publish them if I didn’t think they were good enough!
All publishing involves a decision from the author to let go. I’d held
on to this work for long enough; it was time to bid it adieu. On the guest pages,
other authors to do the same. A few brave souls have already risen to the challenge
and I’ve assembled some diverse content for the next site update.
All this takes time, which is not a commodity too many of us have in spades.
If we feel our time and our work must be rewarded monetarily, then publishing
on the web is clearly not the best option. But poetry is not generally a lucrative
exercise: even if we can manage to sell the modest print runs of our professionally
published works, we can hardly give up our day jobs. Given this, why not share
our poetry openly on the web, at least in part? I don’t believe by doing
this that we give up our goals of publishing; we just open our minds to other
Oh, and if we don’t have the werewithall ourselves, it does help to work
with someone else. I lucked out, I live with a graphic artist!
Is there a bright future for self-publishers
right around the corner? That was certainly the question in the
the recent incarnation
of the NSW Writers Centre Independent Publishers’ Book Fair.
The weekend kicked off on Thursday, oddly enough, with an awards
ceremony for the best “self-published” books in several
categories. The quality of the competitors varied considerably,
and I suspected that some were on performance enhancing drugs — that
is, they’d received more than a little assistance on the
way to final production.
That’s not to say that I think that self-publishers shouldn’t
try to get a leg up by calling in the experts when need be. Producing
a book is every bit as complicated as carrying and then delivering
a healthy baby, so I wonder sometimes why people think they must
go one way or the other, getting a publisher to do it all for them
or doing it all for themselves.
So the meaning of the term “self publishing” is a bit
misleading in this context, and those who aspire to DIY projects
should realise that those who seek out the experts where they are
needed are much more likely to succeed.
The crucial thing is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Are you
an editor, as well as a writer? Do you know enough about what people
are reading to decide how many copies of your book you are likely
to sell in a year or so, and hence how many you should print? Alternatively,
do you have a large, waterproof, silverfish-proof shed for storing
the surplus until the Grim Shredder winks at you? Do you know what
it takes to design a cover that will suit your book and capture the
eye of the passing trade in a bookshop — if you’re lucky
to have your cover displayed? What about getting it into libraries?
(It’s not as simple as fronting up at the desk and saying ‘Hi,
I’m your local self-published author!’)
Some self-publishers dream that recognition is just around the corner,
once Borders agrees to let them have a reading on a wet Sunday afternoon.
They will quote the stories of unknown authors who are discovered
by big time agents browsing the fiction shelves of a Dymocks store.
When that doesn’t happen within the first few weeks of the
book’s launch, they may send the book off to a few mainstream
publishers in the hope of signposting the pathway to the Eureka Effect.
Their chances here are little better than winning Gold Lotto on an
ordinary Thursday (if you find that statistic encouraging, think
A few self-publishers do succeed. These are for projects that have
a ready-made audience, sizable enough to help the author turn a modest
profit. Still others “break out” through word of mouth,
creating demand on unchartered ground where soliciting editors normally
fear to tread. (But they do know how to catch a good wave when they
The bad news is that raw talent is only one element contributing
to the success of a book. Being in the right place at the right time
and finding an audience have a lot to do with it. More important
is knowing how to refine the work to widen its appeal and then having
the business sense to get it out there and spread the word.
Maybe we should coin a new term: Assisted Self-Publication. ASP has
a nice ring to it. Most DIY authors are better off seeking help from
the specialists — unless they do have a very large shed.
[there’s more information about the pros and cons of self-publication
elsewhere on this site — Editor]
Our activities for this issue
focus on Spring Season 2003, our busiest season yet, so let’s
get on with it!
In our first event on the Gold Coast, we launched Liam Guilar’s
I’ll Howl Before You Bury Me at St Hilda’s School in
Southport. David had previously visited St Hilda’s to talk
to a senior English class about publishing, so he at least knew his
way there. Liam’s position as Head of English promised to deliver
a good audience, and the school community did not disappoint.
The highlights, aside from Liam’s
spirited reading from the book, were warm-up acts from Peter Dravidian
on sitar and Dave Fernandez
on tabla, followed by a musical duet with Liam on lute and Chen Yang
on violin. Being the shy Head of English that he is, Liam hadn’t
spread the word about his poetry too generally, so curiosity proved
a good motivator in the brisk sales of the book that followed!
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The next day was the Brisbane Launch
at the Performance Studio of 4MBS-Classic FM, Brisbane’s community
classical music station. Though we launched all five titles in the
Season there, David and Liam Guilar were the only authors of the
five present in body to read.
Cr Sharon Humphreys launched the event
and our national literary IP Picks 2004, now in its third year. Charlie
of Inge, was very well represented by his ex-wife Kirsty, who shared
her fond recollections of Inge Moessler, a fascinating subject. Then
our Editor Sara Moss launched Paul Mitchell’s minorphysics,
which, like Liam’s book, was an IP Picks 2003 winner. Finally
David read from his satire Liars and Lovers, which should be required
reading for anyone who enjoys al fresco dining and which features
paid testimonials from Daph du Maurier, Jimmy Joyce and the like.
Then the Spring 03 tour began in earnest,
with stops in Sydney, Tasmania, Melbourne and Adelaide. David was
a guest at the annual
Self-Publishing Competition on 16 October, which announced winners
in several categories, and gave rise to David’s reflections
on self-publishing above.
IP had a stall at the
NSW Writers Centre Publishers and Authors Bookshow that
weekend and business was quite brisk, especially for titles from
our new season.
Liam Guilar flew down to feature in
an IP Showcase Saturday afternoon, in which he read with David. The
audience was keen to learn more
about the latest developments with IP, and David was only too happy
to oblige. He was particularly pleased when Irina
Dunn, the Centre’s
Director, complimented us on our first-class cover designs. Way to
go, Irina, your cheque’s in the mail!
Hobart was David’s next stop,
with the launch of Molly Guy’s
Terminal Velocity at the Hobart
Bookshop on historic Salamanca Square.
Editor of Island magazine gave an excellent review of
the title — which we hope he’ll reprint in Island — before
turning the microphone over to Molly. Those of you who’ve noticed
that Molly’s photo has yet to appear on anything in connection
with her book — including the back cover — will be pleased
to see that David’s digital camera caught her in action. Her
mini-site now has a photo! Thanks to Chris and the Hobart Bookshop
staff for a delightful launch!
David continued on to Devonport — through snow at Lake St Clair! — for
an evening with Fay Forbes’ writers group up there, and a spirited
lot they are! Molly wasn’t able to make that event, but that
only gave David an excuse to read one of his favourite stories from Terminal
Velocity, as well as selections from Liars
and Lovers. The group
must have been pleased, because we’ve received an open invitation
to come to Devonport on our next trip to Tassie. We also have a new
bookshop partner in Devonport
Books, so do say hi to Tim Gott for
us if you’re in town!
Launceston was next on the list. After a brief detour to Cataract
Gorge — well named for the effect on the eyes of an unfit Director
after a trek on the Zig-Zag Track — David and Molly had a reading
at the Academy of the Arts, Inveresk,
which is part of University of Tasmania’s Launceston campus.
He also welcomed Clive Tilsley, owner of Fullers Bookshop,
as a new bookshop partner.
Then back to Hobart, for contact with more bookshops — Fullers
Hobart, Dymocks (Centrepoint
Shopping Centre) and Book
now stock IP titles. The last Hobart event was a reading at the Tasmania
Museum, hosted by Joe Bugden, Director of the Tasmanian Writers Centre,
who David was pleased to meet after all those emails.
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day it was off to Melbourne for Paul Mitchell’s launch
of minorphysics at
the North Melbourne Town Hall, which was packed to the rafters.
Kevin Brophy launched the book, and Paul performed a generous
selection from the book without reading from it at all. We were all very impressed!
The following evening, David was a panellist on the Victorian
Writers Centre’s session on writing online. The
panel also included one of David’s former students from
the University of Canberra, who has gone on to great things with
his own poetry, having been
short-listed for The Age Book of the Year.
The final whistlestop for Spring Season
03 was Adelaide. As was the case with Tasmania, this was the first
IP had visited there,
people were quite interested to learn more about what IP might
have to offer prospective authors, as well as our achievements
David met with Plain Central Services, which assists South Australian
libraries with their collection development, and Plain’s
senior staff were very impressed by our list.
On Friday of that week, David held Meet the
with ten authors who came to pitch their project to him. He’s
awaiting further submissions from several of them. Then he was
a guest reader
Bookshop, where he hit it off with Rob Scott, the owner/
manager. Apparently, David’s not the first to see some
resemblance between Rob and one of the stars of Black Books,
a black humour TV
show from the UK about a used bookshop of the same vintage. David
also had a chat with some people from Friendly
a group that produces fine anthologies of South Australia poetry,
them to form some ties with IP to our mutual benefit.
The last event on his schedule was a Reiter Interactive workshop
at the South Australia Writers Centre, hosted by Barbara Wiesner,
its Director. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Barbara and the Centre
staff, the event was attended by about 20 people eager to learn more
about online publishing. There
cons of non-linear works like David’s The
Gallery and Sharpened
Knife, but most people were relieved to hear that David doesn’t
anticipate the death of the printed book for some time! Barbara
attended the full-day workshop, then invited David to return
to lead a master
class in writing, which he will certainly do before long.
We encourage you to revisit the mini-sites devoted to our Spring
03 list and either order them online or drop by your local bookshop
to order them.
We mentioned some time ago that
IP was exploring a partnership with 4MBS Classic-FM here in Brisbane.
been two developments on that front. First, we held our Spring 2003
Season Launch there on 11 October (see Out & About). More recently
4MBS has agreed to mount a production of Paul and Vincent, David
Reiter’s script, which is based on the relationship between
Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, and particularly the Gauguin’s
ABC Radio National originally aired a radio script version of the
work in their PoeticA program
two years ago, in a production that interspersed
with the script. Response from listeners was so positive that the
ABC rebroadcast the program a year later to a similar response. Many
listeners asked if a CD of the production was available, but it wasn’t.
The ABC had only arranged for first broadcast rights and had no plans
to produce a commercial version.
In the context of possible collaborations between IP and 4MBS, some
months ago, David met with the station’s General Manager Gary
Thorpe to explore the possibilities of a new production. Gary thought
it was a good idea, so it’s now scheduled as an event in 4MBS’ annual
Summer School on 11 January.
4MBS staff will record the play for mastering
and production as an audio CD, and we are exploring the possibility
of filming it as well. Paul and Vincent will be published as a new
title in IP Digital’s Audio + Text Series, which will make
it possible for viewers to listen as they read the script on screen,
or simply listen to it as they would to a music CD.
The plan at this stage is for people to come early for a backgrounder
on the two artists and their stormy relationship. A curator from
the Queensland Art Gallery will give a brief talk, and David will
field questions about the composing of the work, first as a radio
play based on his source book, Letters
We Never Sent, then as a theatre
script. We also plan to have participants have a play with his multimedia
work The Gallery, which deals with the two artists and their work
in a very different way.
Prominent Brisbane actor Eugene Gilfedder will
act the role of Paul Gauguin, with Michael
Churven (pictured here) as Vincent van Gogh. The venue will
be 4MBS’ Performance Studio, 11 January 2004 from 5pm.
are $18 for 4MBS subscribers and $20 for the general community. For
tickets and further information, please contact
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From 12-14 September, the Queensland
Poetry Festival once again took place in Brisbane’s Fortitude
Valley at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts and Belushi’s
Café (formerly the Latin Café). As with previous
festivals, a good handful of both past and current IP authors attended,
Swelter poets Louise
Waller and Kristin Hannaford.
For me, the festival provided a great opportunity to present multimedia
work from the
Synaptic Graffiti Collective, with the aid
of the first-class technical facilities of the Centre.
The festival kicked off on Friday night with announcement of the
winners of the Val Vallis Award for Unpublished
Poetry and the inaugural
Thomas Shapcott Prize – which offers a cash award of $3000
and a publishing contract with the University of Queensland Press.
Lidija Cvetkovic won with her manuscript War is Not the Season for
Figs. I’ve long been a fan of this poet’s work and her
moving personal insights into the Balkans region and the effects
of the conflicts there. She’s been widely published in journals,
but this is her first long-awaited collection. Jaya
Savige won the
Val Vallis Award for his poem “Skirmish Point”.
Of the sessions I attended at the Centre a standout was the performance
of a guest from New Zealand, Lynda Chanwai
Earle. David Malouf, better
known as a novelist, pulled the crowds, but I felt his poetry was
somewhat overshadowed by that of his fellow readers, including the
lesser-known Judith Beveridge. The always-entertaining Brisbane poet
Ross Clark hosted a session on the “poetics of sin” featuring
some of Queensland’s most talented voices, including Rebecca
Edwards and Samuel Wagan Watson.
I was unable to attend the sessions at Belushi’s, but from
all accounts a highlight was the Speedpoets. The group includes some
emerging talents from Brisbane who perform regularly at this venue
to healthy crowds. The group focuses strongly on poetry in performance
for public entertainment. Its founder, Graham
Nunn, takes the reins
as Director of the Festival next year. If Speedpoets is anything
to go by, we can look forward to a return of the Festival to its
grassroots. I spoke recently with Graham who said he envisions a
truly public festival with a focus on special events that are both
thought-provoking and entertaining for audiences.
The outgoing committee can be justly proud of their achievements.
They have built on the success of their predecessors and enhanced
the national and international prestige of the event. My own view
is the future success of this festival depends on taking the best
from the past but not attempting to create another Brisbane Writers’ Festival – but
one for poets – on the other side of the river.
a different and special identity. Its future lies in the hands of
current and future generations of poets, not those of arts bureaucrats
Christmas begins at home!
Buy any title from the IP Shop via our order page for 10% off the cover
price and we’ll
throw in free postage and handling. Buy any two
for 20% off, any three for 30% off, any four for 40% and pay a flat
$5 for postage. How far can we go to rekindle the Christmas spirit?
by email, quoting YD:20_1. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only.
card orders, add $2 per title.
Deal 2: Let us play Santa for you!
Sick of the pre-Christmas crowds? Aunt Martha can’t wait for
the Boxing Day sales? Have we got a deal for you!
Order any IP title for someone else (even someone in your household)
and we’ll take 20% off, send a nice card in your name and post
it to that lucky person for free! Order as many titles as you like,
but you must specify the recipient and any special message you want
us to include.
by email, quoting YD:20_2. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT
only. Credit card orders, add $2 per title.
FIPC members get a further
10% discount off the cost of either package
plus free postage. Sign up now and get the benefits of Club membership today.
Offers available only to individuals, and
excluding Santa Claus!