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From the Director’s Desk

Editorial: Wheres the MA15+ Bookcase?

Libby Hart Wins the Anne Elder Award

IP Pro Series

Focus: David Reiter, Michael OSullivan, Kathy Kituai,

Write for Your Life

Staff Changes


Your Book to the World Project

IP.Digital Buzz

Out & About

In Review

Your Deal

About IP What's New? Store Orders Guidelines

Pro Series


Interactive Press Glass House Books IP.Digital IP.Kidz IP.Sales

Vol 9, No. 2— ISSN 1442-0023

Anne_MWelcome to another bumper issue of eNews!

There is so much wonderful news this month, particularly with regard to Libby Hart winning the Anne Elder Award for her poetry collection Fresh News From the Arctic. Congratulations, Libby! You can find out more about Libby’s win here.

More big news comes with the release of IP’s first children’s picture book Real Guns. David tells us all about it and the road in getting it to publication in this issue. We also celebrate the release of IP’s tenth anniversary CD Rainshadows, which showcases some of our best talent over the last ten years!

Our authors have been receiving wonderful reviews lately. As well as reviews for Fresh News From the Arctic, we have reviews for Terania Creek: Rainforest Wars, No Middle Name and The Accidental Cage.

Make sure to check out Your Deal for a great deal involving Rainshadows and our other IP titles!


Anne Marshall
Newsletter Editor


From the Director's Desk

DR_roofSince the New Year, much of our attention has been focussed on activities outside of Australia. For the first time, we’ll be publishing titles from our Autumn list offshore. This was partly due to the publication of our first children’s picture book, Real Guns, which was simply too expensive to publish here. You might find my reflections on getting it into print illuminating.

Thanks to advice from Angela Namoi at Allen & Unwin, who’s been acting as our export mentor, we located an excellent printer in Hong Kong, and we’ve been working with them to make the process of producing our first hardcover as painless as possible. Angela’s time has come courtesy of an Australia Council program to support the export activities of select independent publishers like IP.

Our partnership with Lightning Source is up and running, with 29 titles uploaded to their site so far and now available for distribution in Europe and North America. Now that we have the system up and running, we’re extending the opportunity to other small publishers and individual authors who might want to use us as a portal to Lightning Source and benefit from the cost savings of doing it through us. Check out the IP Sales column here, or go directly to the Your Book to the World site for all the details.

Our export push will be assisted this year by DA Information Services, an international distributor, who will be displaying several of our recent titles at the upcoming Beijing Book Fair. We hope that that will be the first of several international book fairs where we will sell IP titles, and we have our eye on the London Book Fair and Book Expo USA in 2008.

I ran my Selling That Book! workshop up at Airlie Beach and was delighted by the enthusiastic response from local authors, several of whom had projects to pitch to me in one-to-one sessions in addition to the workshop days. These sessions are working so well that we’ve decided to give them a name: the Inside Track. Our Prose Editor Lauren Daniels and I will offer them in Brisbane and other regional centres we visit on our workshop circuits as a part of our new Pro Series.

Our 10th Anniversary CD Rainshadows is now officially released, and we’re very pleased about it, especially Courtney, who did so much of the postproduction legwork here at the Studio. Several lucky subscribers got advance copies for free in an email comp we ran recently. If you missed out this time, keep an eye on your Inbox because we’ll be giving away other copies throughout the year!

Or have a look at Your Deal this issue if you’re especially keen to get your hands on a copy of Rainshadows now.

Finally, warm congratulations to Libby Hart, whose book Fresh News from the Arctic was this year’s winner of the Anne Elder Award. We know that our Emerging Authors’ Series is terrific, but it’s always nice to have that acknowledged elsewhere. You can hear Libby and our other Spring Season ’06 authors in performance on our podcast site.


Dr David Reiter


Where’s the MA15+ Bookcase?

Trouble’s brewing on the horizon. Recently, the Government tabled a draft Communications Content Amendment Bill that would see print publishers subjected to the same rules that apply to filmmakers if their titles go digital. Essentially, the Government wants The Office of Film and Literature Classification to review and label any titles with visual content. It’s a small step from requiring review for digital versions of texts to requiring it for print originals. The OFLC can already rightly say that LITERATURE is their middle name!

The Australian Publishers’ Association has been lobbying strongly against the Bill for a number of reasons. It certainly smacks of censorship. The last thing a publisher wants, after having spent good money putting a manuscript through the editorial hoops is to have an external agency rate it as MA15+, which would put it off limits to libraries and bookshops that are sensitive to community opposition to explicit creative work.

The last thing the public should want is further constraints on publishers that currently take a punt on socially controversial subject matter. A ratings system on books would adversely affect distribution, and if the marketing and promotion gurus at the big publishing houses go limp at the prospect of weak sales for a marginal title, it won’t get published—at least by them.

How would such a Bill affect publishing decisions at independent publishing houses like IP? It certainly wouldn’t be good news for us on several fronts. It can take months for a film to be rated by the OFC, and it can cost $700 or more per title in processing charges, even for films that aren’t destined for general release. Add $700 to the cost of producing a book of poems, and it won’t happen. That dust on the horizon would be a wagon train of niche literary publishers heading anywhere else but here.

Fortunately, the Government is having second thoughts. Senator Helen Coonan, who, as Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, has carriage of the Bill, agreed to have her chief advisors sit down with reps from the APA to discuss the consequences of such a Bill. Here’s the APA’s retrospective on the meeting:

[We] met with Senator Coonan’s Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor. They were open and honest and indicated that during the course of drafting the Bill, no one in the bureaucracy or the Ministerial office had determined that this would impact on publishers, particularly book publishers. There was not an understanding that publishers had moved or were moving to the digital space and that e books would be part of the business of current print publishers. There was no understanding that e books could be delivered via the web and the mobile phone or convergent devices or that some publishers would publish on line before or instead of in print.

We outlined the issue of moving the current printed book into an online format and gained a guarantee that publishers would not have to seek classification.

However, if a publisher moved to an online format that had interactive links or moving pictures, then the government would require them to seek classification as it was no longer “a book” but contained elements of film and computer game like qualities.

We also ascertained that educational publishers who might move to “e” formats with moving pictures or interactive links, particularly in the area of science and health, would be covered by an exemption.

Senator Coonan’s staff gave an undertaking not to introduce the replacement Bill, until publishers, through the APA, had been able to read it and were satisfied that it did not penalize them.

You’ll forgive me if I’m less than reassured by the Minister’s advisors. Their system assumes a neat divergence between print and interactive publication. There isn’t one. And whatever is there currently will be less if publishers like me have our way.

There’s no way of legislating that print titles remain linear. I look forward to seeing new projects where writers, visual and sound artists and animators create hybrid works that may begin as text or multimedia and reform into different spaces.

This Bill would have the effect of stifling creativity, experimentation and innovation. It will still happen, but without the explicit support of well-heeled publishers. The work itself will be hit-and-run, appearing on blogs, podcasts or self-destructing websites. You’ll have to be there when it happens, or you’ll miss it.

Write to Senator Coonan and your local MP and tell them this Bill is a bad idea.


<title>IP eNews</title>


Attending more workshops these days but enjoying it less? Want high-powered advice from experts in the field who know what it takes to move from idea to manuscript to the publishers desk? Our upcoming Pro Series will be for you!

IP already offers assessment services through IP Assess as well as some mentoring services. Both are pitched at people who know what they want rather than browsers. We believe theres room in the market for a series of workshops and seminars specifically geared to publication and beyond.

So Director David Reiter and our Prose Editor Lauren Daniels, each with many years experience offering top flight workshops, have mapped out a Pro Series for authors and people interested in the publishing industry. Weve arranged space at Red Hill TAFE, and an inaugural program of workshops will be advertised soon.

The plan is to offer not only face-to-face workshops but also online courses, mentorships and podcasts for people who can’t attend in Brisbane or at regional centres we tour the workshops to.

We have our own ideas on what courses should be mounted first, but we’d be happy to hear from YOU about what you’d like to see put on in the second wave and so on. And if you think you have what it takes to offer a Pro Series workshop yourself, by all means pitch the idea to us.

Once established, the Pro Series will invite experts from interstate to give workshops and master classes. If that describes you, get in contact and let us know your interests, and we’ll see if we can include you in the program.

As a part of the Pro Series, we plan to expand our mentoring services. Our new Inside Track (IT) sessions will give prospective authors a no-holds-barred hour consultation with Lauren or David. You come with an idea or manuscript to pitch, and we tell you what to do with it.

An IT session may lead to a mentoring arrangement with Lauren or David, or one of our freelance experts. Or we may recommend that you have the manuscript assessed or attend an upcoming workshop. If your manuscript is the next Harry Potter, we may invite you to submit it to us straight away. You’ll be on the Inside Track, then!

Interested in any or all of this and want to know more? Drop us a line. Or check out the Pro Series site for more information.

[First up, we let Director David Reiter sound off about his new children’s picture book Real Guns, which is the inaugural title for our new IP Kidz imprint. It’s an interesting example of how personal experience can give rise to a story idea, without slavishly directing how it should be written.]

The story about how Real Guns came to be published is almost as interesting as how it came to be written, but let me start at the beginning. In a sense I had to write it. It’s based on my childhood, on one of those incidents that changed my life—to use a worn-out expression. But it did.

I don’t remember much from those years, but I still remember this, like it happened just yesterday. Like most boys, I was fascinated by guns. They were, and still are, a part of everyday life in America, and many people would fight to the death to defend their Constitutional right to “bear arms”.

DR-ARChildren still grow up with the sense that Might makes Right, and that America is usually the Good Guy. Guns simplify the dialogue between the forces of right and wrong, and are a means to enforce the will of God, who is invariably on the side of America.
Guns could be found in homes—if you knew where to look. Many people still see them as the only way to defend themselves and their families against home invaders, a necessary part of a security system. A way to prevent harm.

It’s no surprise to me that a representative of the gun lobby said most of the murders at Virginia Tech would have been prevented if students had had the right to carry weapons with them on campus.

Guns are a necessary part of war, but we fail to confront the consequences to those who use them and live on. When all is said and done, we’re more interested in who wins than on the effects felt by people who previously would not have contemplated killing another human being. Those who suffer posttraumatic shock become invisible as the mainstream tries to move on. Unless the returned soldier resorts to a gun in the wrong context to assert his presence. So much for the glory of war.

My father never went to war. He had a heart problem that exempted him from active service. But, as a working class man, he accepted the need to bear arms to defend his family, even though we hardly had anything that needed defending. For him, you had to be prepared just in case chance went against you.

He never told me about the gun, and I never actually heard my parents arguing about it, but somehow I knew it was there. It was part of the fabric of our family; it hovered in the tension that I felt between my parents like humidity on a summer’s night. And it was inevitable that I would go looking for it.

The germ of Real Guns is not my father’s past, or the palpable antipathy between my parents. It was the instant I held the gun, feeling the weight of the cold blue metal. It didn’t go off as I cradled it, but it was only good luck that it didn’t. Many others aren’t so lucky. I had to write about that.

Several years ago I sent the story, in draft, to an Australian publisher, and it was accepted straight away. It had an illustrator, but unfortunately he failed to deliver the goods. Eventually I terminated the contract, and the story sat there for a couple of years as I got on with other things.

Then, out of the blue, I got a call from a prominent author/illustrator who said she had come across the story and wanted to urge me to get it published. “It’s important,” she said. “You need to get it out there!”

It was an omen I couldn’t ignore, so I started Real_Gunsthinking of it again. Soon after, an email arrived from this Irish artist Patrick Murphy pitching for work. I checked out his website and was impressed by his art. It was bright, brash and emphatic—just the thing to complement my words. Patrick and I clicked straight away and I quickly learned to trust his instincts on what would suit the story.

I hope we can meet someday, perhaps over a Guinness or three at his Belfast local as the first stop in our UK tour. In the meantime, let the kids and the other critics have their go. It’s certainly a story for the times.

— David Reiter

<title>IP eNews</title>

[Michael O’Sullivan’s Easter at Tobruk is his second novel with IP. It was Highly Commended in IP Picks 2006 and will be released in June. Assistant Editor Katia Nizic had a chat with him about the book as the basis for this feature.]

Where might one find a work, a piece of literature, which combines the notions of God, war, time travel and what it means to be an Australian today? These elements can all be found in writer Michael O’Sullivan’s Easter at Tobruk.

It is a novel about collisions: the inherent contradictions between war and Christianity; between generations and their differing values; and between contemporary Australia and Australia during the Second World War. It is equally concerned with understanding the perspectives of all parties, in regards to these collisions.

The novel is set during two Easters: that of 1941 in Tobruk where Australian infantry and British artillery and tanks dispelled the myth of the invincibility of Blitzkrieg; and another Easter fifty years later, where a young man, his mother and the local priest are confronted with their national and personal pasts, and compelled to re-evaluate what they value, and why.

Easter at TobrukThe work originated from Michael O’Sullivan’s association with the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, where he worked both full time and as a consultant for twelve years. For much of that time, he worked as the Curator of Private Records. This is one of the world’s finest collections of the personal papers (diaries, letters etc.) of ordinary men and women during times of conflict.

Michael confesses that the diaries of chaplains on active service always interested him greatly and that they became solid influences when writing.

Michael says, “I set out to communicate the experience of reading another’s personal thoughts and feelings, and how they might affect future generations. I chose the Easter battle at Tobruk as a focal point because it brought into the equation the question of how does one reconcile war and belief in a ‘good’ god?”

“Easter is about life through death. A whole truckload of opposites and contradictions. So it provided a scenario where war and Christianity collide in an Australian context. It seemed appropriate to bring these issues to the fore,” explains Michael. These issues are brought forward not only in the historical context of 1941, but also in a future setting, enabling the work to explore the effects of war not only on the participants, but also on their friends and families, and future generations.

In the novel the protagonist, Rob, a successful young lawyer, is suddenly confronted by a man claiming to be his grandfather, who presents him with diaries he wrote while on active service with the army during Would War II. Rob becomes totally absorbed in reading the diaries, to the extent that he is drawn into the events being described. After being knocked down by a car on the morning of Easter Monday he regains consciousness not in a hospital ward, but in a weapon pit along the perimeter line at Tobruk in 1941, with the German Afrika Korps about to attack.

The situation Rob finds himself in mirrors that of many people, shouting in a wilderness, unheard and unheeded. In contemporary Western society many of us are nailed to crosses, of personal relationships, work and mortgages, and conflicting senses of identity. Rob’s dilemma, and the resolution he finds, is an awareness that he alone can save himself.

The novel is a surprising mix of third and first person accounts. It also employs cinematic techniques, immersing the reader in the moment and leaving them a little shell shocked, just like Rob. This is the work of an ambitious writer, who reaches out to the often forgotten cultural agenda of Australia that many Australian novels seem to dismiss or avoid.

Michael says, “In general all my work is focused on Australia and Australians, but I hope the basic human experience means that people anywhere can relate to it.”


<title>IP eNews</title>

[Assistant Editor Courtney Frederiksen interviews Jan Dean about her IP Picks 2007 Best First Book for her poetry collection With One Brush, scheduled for publication by IP this November.]

CF: In what way does living in Cardiff, NSW, affect your writing?

Jan DeanJD: Cardiff is reputedly situated in the mouth of an extinct volcano, which may account for its hilly terrain and strange residents. Places, like people, have spirit. Sometimes it’s interesting to view a familiar place as a tourist might, but it’s also valuable to put down roots, absorbing qualities that a tourist would overlook. I am conscious of Cardiff’s peopled past, going back over 40,000 years. After colonization, it was an area of orchards and coalmines. My visitors include native beauties like lorikeets, rosellas, lizards and possums. Cardiff is diverse enough to support an interesting lifestyle, and its close proximity to bushland, the vineyards, lake and beaches provides me with subject matter. For a change of pace, Sydney is approximately two hours south by car, or two and a half hours by rail.

CF: As well as writing very visually, you make a lot of references to art and artists. Are you an artist as well as a poet? What kind of artist would you call yourself?

JD: I’m a Jack-of-All-Trades. When I trained as an Art/English teacher we didn’t specialise: we covered a number of areas like painting, printmaking, sculpture, design and ceramics. Later, I pursued photography, weaving and drama. I had imagined that after I retired from teaching I’d concentrate on one art form, but the writing bug bit me. In a sense I’ve played with art forms through writing. The meditative process and elements involved in making poetry and art are similar.

CF: Your use of colour is very strong. What does colour mean to you personally and what does it bring to your work?

JD: I am drawn to colour. Perhaps I use it intuitively. Your red hat in the photo on the website suggests you are a spirited person, Courtney. Colour provokes an immediate response and understanding, often through association. It is a powerful element symbolically, and as a connector for memory with a wide repertoire ranging from drama and invigoration to calmness. Colour depends very much on light. I love the way colours change according to juxtaposition, affecting mood, just as music does. Think of how much easier it is to name a hue than describe a smell.

CF: In the poem “The Body and Brushes With Blood” you wrote ‘I felt my difference early, when I heard/ the call of the crows as music.’ Do you believe creative people view the world differently? How would you say you view the world?

I wrote “The Body and Brushes With Blood” in the voice of Artemisia Gentileschi, a 17th century Italian painter. She has become a feminist icon, credited with being the first female artist to support herself through her artwork. Imagining myself in the body of another allows freedom to express things I may not otherwise be brave enough to say. Eventually I removed the reference and claimed the poem as, in essence, it relates to me. It was longer originally: one hundred lines to achieve thirteen.

Given that everyone views the world differently, according to age, gender, race, education etc. when it comes to aesthetics, creative people see the world in a special way, which involves heightened sensibilities. I’m sure they are aware of subtleties others miss, although complete focus is needed for this. Creative people have an eye for detail, and excellent works know no borders.

I like to think I’m an optimist. Still, that has become difficult in the face of issues like climate change; reduced biodiversity through denuded habitats, and numerous injustices, including exploitation. How does anyone exist without hope?

CF: You look to the past, to grandparents, ancestors and great artists. What do you think we can learn from those gone before us?

JD: We’re each only a tiny part of the long history of human existence, and there is oneness to life. We need the past to chart where we’re going in the future. The great myths and legends are repeated in our own lives. Knowing who and where we come from is a comfort: a sense of connection stimulates, and is stimulated by, memory and imagination. Our forbears and certain artists are models, imbuing values like love, faith, goodness, modesty and enthusiasm, despite difficulties. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to possess all these in the right balance? It’s also important to learn from mistakes. I am enamoured with famous artists, including the brothers David and Arthur Boyd, and those of their ilk. They were risk-takers and innovators. I’m not so naïve to think we know everything about them, or they had all the answers to life, yet they were so patient, industrious and generous; no problem seemed to faze them. Their commitment is worth emulating, whatever we aim to accomplish.

<title>IP eNews</title>

[Assistant Editor Courtney Frederiksen interviews Kathy Kituai about her IP Picks 2007 Highly Commended tanka collection Straggling into Winter, which is scheduled for publication by IP this November.]

CF: What were the challenges in transforming a traditionally Japanese form of poetry successfully into English?

KK: The challenge, as much as the delight of writing tanka, is the discipline of compressing ideas that would have taken me hundreds of lines to write, into five lines. The enormity of what can be said in 21 syllables or less without losing emotional truth is thrilling.

Most of all I love the challenge of contrasting two ideas or placing unrelated images side by side and gaining the same effect as I do in free-verse with simile or metaphor. The skill of course is to say just enough for the reader to make the connection between the two. I love the indirect nature of tanka, that ‘pointing to the moon’ and nothing else, so that readers can see the moon for themselves.

I could talk about the Japanese syllabic count of 5/7/5/7/7 not being the same length in English, how 3/5/3/5/5 is closer and has bought about healthy debate among tankarist, and challenging as that is, branches too much into technicalities. Correct syllabic length in five lines is not necessarily the ingredients that make a tanka.

My last word on the subject of being challenged? If not challenged, I am most uncomfortable as a poet.

CF: Given that the tanka is a very personal poetic form, did you find it hard to gain the distance necessary to convey the problems faced by another person?

KathyKKK: I never distance myself from problems faced by either the subject I’m writing about or my own grief. However, this is but the starting point for me. I write from personal experience, search for what exist in myself that I see in others, identify and exaggerate it if need be. The challenge is to make the personal universal. Each writer has their own way of doing this. Because tanka embodies both nature and our human-ness, as the reflection of the other, its success rests on the aha! moment where universal understanding is suddenly obvious. This is the point of tanka, the target as tankarist for which I aim. So much depends on what you leave out without rending the poem to a shopping list.

Being a diarist for twenty years has helped.

CF: How important is nature to your life and poetry?

KK: It’s vital. especially our bird life. I write in bed first thing in the morning and observe the coming and going of flocks, their pecking order, am awakened by magpies. Upstairs, my bedroom acts as a hide. I boo the bully boys (sulphur crested cockatoos), am empathetic when they arrive old and featherless, swoon over the latest fledglings. They teach me about my own flock’s strengths and weaknesses.

Humanity is not that different you know. Because of this, tanka is the perfect vehicle for me to convey what I discover. As I’ve already said, tanka dovetails nature with human emotions.

CF: Do you find writing to be an effective way of dealing with life's problems?

KK: Yes. My pen does the thinking for me and leads me to the depth of what I feel. Seldom do I know what I’m about to put on the page; that in itself is endlessly fascinating, is what keeps me writing. I also facilitate this approach in creative writing courses in the ACT and the surrounding regions.

CF: Did Rose-Mary’s involvement change your plans for the book?

KK: It would be truer to say that her death changed my plans for Straggling into Winter; we had planned other books beside this, Rose-Mary as illustrator, myself as poet.

Was it coincidental that this is the opening poem:

news that the cancer
growing in your uterus
must be pruned ----
I write a requiem
for cut flowers

Although this collection embraces other subjects like Australian wild life, older relationships and aging, in retrospect the whole journal is a requiem for Rose-Mary. Kind of makes me shiver at the prophetic nature of that first tanka. I had no idea she wouldn’t survive her battle with the original and her secondary cancer.

When working in a cross-art endeavour, so much depends on your relationship with the “other” as much as your relationship (and theirs) with your own art. Rose-Mary’s involvement enhanced my artistic process. She was acquainted with Japanese poetry and shared my love of it. Because of this sensibility, I knew that her work would do more than illustrate mine; she would have added her own unique angle and expression to the book. Sadly this was not to be. I'm hoping that the tanka about our artistic life together reflect this anguish, this thwarted possibility and honours her.

<title>IP eNews</title>

As you may have read above, nearly 30 IP titles are available for purchase from Lightning Source UK and USA. It was all hands on deck in March since LS had a promotion on that waived their normal set-up charges for publishers who listed 25 titles or more by the end of the month. We did that and more, with the cooperation of a host of IP authors who signed up to the project.

The work’s not over. It’s one thing to be listed on Amazon or with Barnes and Noble, but people have to know your book is there before they’ll buy it. So we’re poised to spread the word to as many bookshops, libraries and individuals as we can reach. Hopefully that will complement LS’s efforts.

We’re not expecting a flood of orders overnight, but a few ripples next week will be fine!

<title>IP eNews</title>

DAS Information Services, a global distributor, has invited us to display a selection of recent IP titles at their booths at the upcoming Beijing Book Fair. DAS reckons the time is right to ramp up the export of Australian books to China, which has a growing appetite for English language books.

We’re happy to fill the gap!

<title>IP eNews</title>

On that note, we’ve put another bid for support from the Australia Council in their International Marketing and Presentations. We think it’s time we got out more—to international bookshows like the London Book Fair and Book Expo America. And we hope they agree.

<title>IP eNews</title>

We welcome Craig Tuck to the fold this issue as our new Assistant Editor. Among other duties, Craig’s been beefing up our database of libraries and schools and learning to love Bowkerlink ahead of our marketing push for our new imprint, IP Kidz. He files this as his bio:

CraigTIn 2006 Craig finished his studies at the University of Queensland, completing with Distinctions a Graduate Certificate in Writing, Editing and Publishing. Previously, Craig completed a dual undergraduate degree in Journalism and Arts, majoring in Media Studies and Creative Writing in the Arts component of his degree, while also training in Journalism as a reporter and feature writer.

Craig is passionate about communications and the media, is an avid film buff and terribly excited to have joined IP. As a creative writer, Craig draws from a range of influences from the worlds of music, literature and film, but counts as particularly valuable the long-term influence of colourful children’s authors such as Roald Dahl, a writer he hopes to emulate in the world of children’s literature. Craig is currently working with his artist father Graham Tuck on the illustrated children’s novel “Nothing Dandy”.

Enjoying original and powerful story-telling, irrespective of the medium, Craig looks forward to immersing himself in the world of media publishing at IP and helping IP’s authors reach their potential.

We’ll do our best to help him realise those aspirations!

<title>IP eNews</title>

More and more people are writing memoirs these days. And earlier in their lifetime, it seems. Perhaps this has something to do with an urgency borne out of a pessimism that they might be blown up before the next Dr Who series goes to air. Or maybe they just find themselves—and their life story—intensely interesting.

In that lies the key to successful memoir writing: making the subject—you—intensely interesting to a reader who doesn’t know you from the proverbial bar of soap.

It’s harder than you think. Sure, your friends may skim the first few pages of your polished draft and declare it publishable, but are they just being nice? Probably. Most people prefer to dwell on their own peak experiences than that of others, unless the other either has a celebrity profile or a story to tell that would keep an accountant on the edge of his chair.

What about your relations, blood, or otherwise? Can you depend on them for an honest assessment of what you’ve written? Not likely. It’s a lose-lose proposition to tell your husband what you really think of his life story, especially if it’s dull. The other problem with polling your significant other or your Mum is that they may have shared some of the experiences with you.
Isn’t that a good thing, I hear you say, asking someone who’s been there how well you captured the episode or whether you were a bit hard on Uncle Louie? Maybe yes, maybe no. If you see their opinion as part of your research into what happened back then, it can be valuable. We all filter reality—some of us in stranger ways than others—and it’s hard to remain objective, especially when we have an emotional stake in what happened.

Most of the memoirs that arrive at IP are hopelessly self-centred. The authors assume that, because they found the contents of the musty trunk in the attic engaging, the whole world will be enthralled by the state of a moth-eaten Barbie. Sorry, it ain’t necessarily so.

So how do you avoid the snake pits of memoir writing? Here are a few pointers.

1. Your life story, told off-the-cuff, is unlikely to be a best seller unless you distil it down. Do your research, revisit those diaries, talk to Uncle Joe, camp out on the doorstep of the house where you spent your childhood. But then ask yourself what’s important about this? What aspects of the story or the personalities involved would make for compulsive reading.

2. Sometimes you can capture the essence of a time or place in a single line. Bill Bryson, in a recent interview, summed up his feelings about growing up in a prairie town by saying of the fact that he came from Des Moines: “someone had to!” The background to that remark was that he and his friends all wanted to escape from Des Moines as they were growing up, but Bryson was the only one who actually got away. That told him something important not only about himself, but also the friends he left behind. The fact that so many people stayed also led him to revaluate Des Moines years later and conclude that he might have been too hasty in his youth to dismiss Des Moines. But he never moved back!

3. Resist the temptation to put everything in. Even in non-fiction writing, it’s always wise to leave space for the reader. Be selective: less is more. Let her fill in the blanks. Suggest attitude or motivation by means of body language. Lead the reader to a conclusion about what you thought of a place from the evidence you present rather than lengthy editorials about the pros and cons of living there.

4. Treat yourself and everyone else as you would expect to be treated if someone else was writing your biography. Even Nelson Mandela has his weaknesses. Acknowledging yours will give you credibility in the mind of the reader. But don’t go to the other extreme and take the blame for all the world’s problems. The key is balance: weaknesses and strengths make us human and easier for readers to identify with.

5. Exercise your authorial license. You will have to trim your dialogue and cut back on some description. Editors hear this complaint all the time: “But that’s what really happened!” and “Those were her exact words!” The art of successful non-fiction writing is presenting description and dialogue faithfully but not necessarily to the letter. You want to immerse readers in your life story without exhausting them.

6. Consider the timeline. It’s only natural to work from a to z when writing a memoir. However, shaking up the structure a bit may be a good way of reflecting on the importance of the details you’ve included. You may want to start with a climactic event that ‘changed your life’ then flashback to elements that led you to that crucial episode. Some daring authors start at the end, then move along the timeline thematically rather than chronologically.

7. Above all, transcend your material. Writers of memoir reflect on rather than transcribing experience. They invite readers to recreate a life story that will have implications for the many instead of the few. A good memoir tells us as much about ourselves than the person being profiled in the book.

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Continuing our run to glory from last issue, Libby Hart has won LibbyH this year’s Anne Elder Award for her IP poetry book Fresh News from the Arctic. She received the cash award on Friday 30 March at a ceremony in Melbourne hosted by the Federation of Australian Writers, Victoria.

The book has already won the Somerset National Poetry Prize and was Highly Commended in IP Picks 2006 for Best Poetry.

The Anne Elder is a competition for the best first book of poetry by an Australian author. Last year, IP author Joel Deane was first runner-up for his book Subterranean Radio Songs.

Veteran poet and academic Chris Wallace-Crabbe says of Fresh News: “These are poems attuned to our tough yet fragile planet. Feelingly, they celebrate its loam and snow, traveled seas, and the inexhaustible theatre of sky.”

Libby was one of six new IP authors who performed their work at our Gala Launch in Brisbane last November. We’ve posted a podcast of the performance you can enjoy if you click here.

Congratulations, Libby, for a win amidst some very stiff competition!

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Reports of the Death of the Book have been, as they say, premature. E-books may have found a second wind with the proliferation of multi-function consumer devices that can “play” text and multimedia, snap photos, organise your next RSVP date, and soon, thanks to Apple Inc, check him or her out via a video call before turning up at the inevitable café in Real Time. But consumers show no signs of turning their backs on the physical book.

The printing industry, faced with possible extinction, has reinvented itself to deliver books more efficiently and cost-effectively than ever before. This is music to the ears of an independent publisher like IP poised to enter the export market, hopefully in a big way.

The biggest hurdle that small Australian book publishers continue to face is accessing overseas markets. It’s fine to have an online shop with 24/7 shopping facilities, but if customers have to wait weeks to receive their books and pay exorbitant freight charges we probably miss more sales than we gain from visitors to our site.

Some indie publishers dream of signing on with distributors overseas. The reality is that most of these distributors are reluctant to take on publishers with authors who have not achieved international celebrity status (writing ability is a bonus!) Even if they do risk it, we’re still faced with the cost and delays of shipping, not to mention the hefty discount we have to offer the distributor to represent us.

IP’s found a solution to this problem. We recently signed with Lightning Source (LS), a print-on-demand (POD) company who will print our books at source in North America and Europe to meet orders, with quick fulfilment time, and at local freight rates. Instantly (or nearly!) our titles are listed on Amazon and in other big catalogues like Ingrams and Barnes & Noble. Overseas distributors are taking us out of the too-hard basket.

We believe that this strategy will offer our authors, and others, better access to international markets for their books, which should translate into increased royalty income.

Of course, print-on-demand is nothing new. There are POD companies in Australia, so why haven’t we gone with them? The main reasons are the cost of POD locally and poor distribution channels. LS is a division of Ingrams Book Group, one of the largest distribution chains in the world. LS also has plants where we need them—in the United States and the UK, which services the European market. Soon after titles are listed on LS, they get listed with Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and the major distributors are also informed about them via data feeds.

Although LS acts effectively as a distributor for us, they only charge us for the unit cost of printing the books that have been ordered, less any discount they have to offer to wholesalers and retailers. The even better news is that the cost of printing even individual copies is hardly more than what we pay locally per book for larger print runs!

As a publishing partner with LS we can upload our titles to them via the Internet in a matter of seconds. We have the option of paying them to produce a sample copy of the book before making it available for order. It took less than a week from the time we uploaded our first title to them for the advance copy to arrive in Brisbane from their UK plant, and the quality was excellent—as good or better than the quality of printing we get locally.

LS is also flexible in the packaging of their books. You can choose to publish in several sizes, although A4 and A5 are not among them (you have to go with the closest American equivalent). Hardback as well as paperback editions are available, and these can be in full colour as well as black and white. Most recently, they have added the option of quality photo books. POD certainly has come a long way!

So far IP has uploaded nearly 30 titles to LS from our front and backlists. We plan to make LS a part of our printing strategy for most of our future titles, with printers closer to home meeting our needs in the Australian market.

IP is now ready to offer packaging service to other independent publishers and individuals who would like access to these international markets. This service, which we call Your Book to the World (YBW), will act as a portal to LS, formatting titles into the standard they require Lightning Source and then handle the accounts. You then gain the advantage of preferential pricing that we have as a LS publishing partner.

Interested parties have to register with us then prepare their books to our specifications. Alternatively, we can handle the design, layout and formatting from a Word file on an hourly basis.

Authors will get a 10% royalty on sales revenue paid semi-annually. IP will promote their book through our website and via our email lists. Authors also can order stock of their book through IP for a flat handling fee per order.

Suddenly there could be a whole lot more room in the garage for your car!

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[Snippets from full reviews that we’ve posted elsewhere (click through to read the full review)]

TeraniaCreekNigel Turvey’s Terania Creek: Rainforest Wars was reviewed by Lesley Synge in Writing Queensland. She read it in a day, saying that “Dr Turvey has deliberately chosen to write for the general reader—for the sake of story he feels should be told—and there’s humour and pathos in Terania Creek, a refreshing change from the stodge and density of much academic writing.”

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Libby Hart’s Fresh News From The Arctic has been FreshNewsreceiving a lot of press lately—very fitting considering it just won the prestigious Anne Elder Award. Louise Waller from Foame called Fresh News From The Arctic a “distinctive first collection” and found that her poems were “a pleasure to read”. She said that “Her poems are striking evocations in lyric form. Using various metaphors from nature to extend the range of emotions portrayed within many of the poems, Hart constructs an interior and exterior landscape with palpable resonance and charm.”

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AccidentalCageMichelle Cahill’s The Accidental Cage was reviewed in Stylus. Patricia Prime says that “All the poems, no matter their subject, exhibit the fine control, which characterizes Cahill’s writing. This is writing with a purpose. Weighty in subject but never weighed down by it. The brilliance of this collection lies in its view that life, though never wholly comprehensible, is spellbinding.”

Jacket also reviewed The Accidental Cage and Adam Aitken says “A Sydney poetic preoccupied with hedonism, sensuality and decadence pervades the book. Cahill explores the stunned wreckage of history and morality piling in the form of media imagery, but the real victims know what is real, real in the sense of what is organically present — what lives and dies — in this space.”

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Joel Deane’s Subterranean Radio Songs was SubterraneanRadioSongsreviewed in Island. Janet Upcher said that

“ This is raw, unrefined narrative poetry, demotic, energetic and ultimately optimistic. It has strong rhythm, some fine imagery, ironic objectivity: above all, it is first-hand and unpretentious. It’s poetry in primary colours.”

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No Middle NameTilly Brasch’s No Middle Name was reviewed in Writing Queensland by Erica Sontheimer who felt that “overall, No Middle Name succeeds as a readable tribute and an optimistic force for change.”

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We’re pleased to announce the release of Rainshadows, a CD celebrating IP’s 10th Anniversary year. We invited past and present IP authors to send us work from new work as well as slices from their IP titles and we were delighted with the response. Featuring nearly 400 pages of text, plus stunning multimedia, audio and even a trailer from David Reiter’s Hemingway in Spain DVD, there’ll be plenty to keep you and your laptop warm during the coming winter months, with or without the mulled wine!

The CD retails for $27.50, but, if you’re cunning, you can get it right now for next to nothing. Check out Your Deals below, or turn up to one of the various 10th Year Celebration events we’re planning at the moment.

We were so impressed with Basil Eliades’ performance skills that we quickly published his 3rd i book with our latest Text + Audio CD. There’s no stopping Basil when he gets up a head of steam, and we’re sure you’ll agree when you hear his eclectic blend of poetry and soundscapes, the latter composed in collaboration with music engineer Alfred Abraham.

From the tour de force “why” to the painter-laid-bare in “brett whitely, internuncio” to the reverent irreverence of “for the nuns, St Monica’s, Footscray” Basil will impress you with his dramatic instinct and his ability to strain language to the snapping point. As John Marsden says: ‘This is heroic poetry.’

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To showcase Basil’s work, we’ve teamed him up with Liam Guilar (I’ll Howl Before You Bury Me) for our newest podcast. If you haven’t checked out our podcasts yet, what are you waiting for—they’re free! You can see them here, or on the iTunes Store (select podcasts then search on Eliades or Guilar). And you can subscribe to the podcast series either on our site or at iTunes. That way, you’ll be notified as soon as a new podcast goes to air.

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Now that most of our print backlist is up on Lightning Source, we plan to start uploading as many titles as possible in e-book form. Lightning Source e-books are distributed through,,,,, and

Initially, we plan to upload our e-books in pdf format. Since most of our titles are prepared for print publication as pdfs, that will cut down on reformatting time. At a later date, we may decide to send files that will work on Microsoft and Palm Readers.

We also plan to set up a dedicated store on our site where you can purchase e-books directly from The Source.

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David took his popular Selling That Book! workshop up to Airlie Beach in March thanks to support from the Whitsunday Shire Council. The Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday sessions were sold out, and the responses from the participants were uniformly positive.

This is the first time David has held the workshop over two days, but it provided more time for questions and practical exercises in developing a marketing plan as well as other activities.

David was also booked out for Pitch to the Publisher sessions in which he met one-on-one with authors to discuss their projects. David was encouraged by the standard of work of several authors up there, and we look forward to seeing manuscripts from them.

Library Manager Anna Derham wants to bring David back to run a writers’ retreat on one of the Whitsunday Islands. That would be hard, but somebody’s got to do it! The retreat would be open to writers from across Australia who are keen to combine intensive writing work with a bit of sailing and diving in one of Australia’s most scenic destinations.

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SpeedPoets returns to The Alibi Room (720 Brunswick St, New Farm) from 2:30pm, Sunday, 6 May. Features include Brisbane songstress Claire Whiting and Poetry UnEARTHED winner Tessa Leon. As always there will be hot sounds from Shooting People, Open Mic, Free Zines, Prizes and much, much more... Be there to experience Brisbane's longest running spoken word event! Entry is a gold coin donation.

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Dangerously Poetic Press is excited to announce the upcoming Portraits and the Pen Competition: A Poetic Response to the Australian Portrait Collection at the Tweed River Art Gallery, in Murwillumbah. Poets are invited to write on any of 10 designated portraits in the permanent collection. Closing date for submissions is 9 July, 2007. Brisbane poet and Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival 2007, Graham Nunn will be the judge.

The award ceremony will be held at the Tweed River Art Gallery, in conjunction with the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture. Overall First Prize of $200, and best poem for each portrait will be displayed next to the inspirational portrait. The Riverside Receptions Peoples’ Choice Award will be announced at the poetry reading in late August. Winning poems will also be listed online.

A workshop, Portraits and the Pen: When Art Inspires Poetry will be held at the Tweed River Art Gallery on Saturday, the 19th of May and 2nd of June. This is especially designed to support and encourage poets who might like to submit poems for the upcoming contest but is open to all.

For information about the workshop and competition submission forms contact Laura Shore or Pam Smith 02 6680 1626.

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LaurenDWe’re planning to send David and perhaps Prose Editor Lauren Daniels on tour to regional Queensland in July for more workshops and readings. Lauren and David will be teaming up to start a new Pro Series of workshops in Brisbane, so these regional workshops will complement those in the Big Smoke. Certainly Selling That Book! will be high on the agenda, but we’re open to other suggestions from writers’ groups and libraries up there.

David also plans to showcase Rainshadows, our 10th Anniversary CD, as well as his new children’s picture book, Real Guns, so we’d be happy to hear from bookshops, libraries and schools that would like to reserve a slot during the tour.

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In mid-June, David teams up with author Michael O’Sullivan in MichaelOS1and around the ACT to launch Michael’s second IP title, Easter at Tobruk as well as Real Guns. Events confirmed at this point include Wednesday 13 June at Goulburn Library from 6pm, in Canberra at Smith’s Alternative Bookshop on Thursday evening from 6pm, and then in Yass Library from 6:30pm. We’re working on stops in Queanbeyan and at schools and libraries in the ACT.

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On Saturday 28 July, David returns to the NSW Writers’ Centre for another Selling That Book! session. It’s also likely that he’ll be running a two-hour workshop on current trends in digital publishing for the Australian Publishers’ Association earlier in the week, as well as meeting with librarians and touring Rainshadows and Real Guns.

Again we invite you to email us with expressions of interest if you’d like David to stop by at your library, school or bookshop while he’s in Sydney. The APA also hopes to brings David to Melbourne for a repeat performance of his digital presentation.

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ArthurBoydFrom 10-28 August, David will be in Artist-in-Residence as a children’s author at Bundanon, The Arthur Boyd artists’ retreat on the NSW South Coast. Plans are still to be finalised, but David is expecting to give a few talks about the writing and illustration of Real Guns as well as his junior novel The Greenhouse Effect and perhaps a workshop during his stay.

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Deal 1: Curious about Rainshadows, IP’s 10th Anniversary CD? Satisfy your craving by ordering ANY IP title, and we’ll toss in a copy of the CD for $11 more (that’s a dollar for each year we've been in business, and one more as a going away present for Peter Costello :))

Quote YD:34_1 in the Comments field on the Orders page. You must order from the IP Shop via our orders page or by email to qualify. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only.

Deal 2: Order any TWO IP titles and we’ll include Rainshadows as the meat in the sandwich for FREE. (Remember that Rainshadows retails for $27.50, so that's a HUGE discount.)

Quote YD:34_2 in the Comments field on the Orders page. You must order from the IP Shop via our orders page or by email to qualify. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only.

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. (See Your Deal in eNews 15 for full details.)

Offers available only to individuals.

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