Memento Mori
the newsletter of IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)


Director's Welcome


I managed to survive car transport in India – but only just. And I thought drivers in Rome were dangerous!

This issue focuses quite a bit on our efforts at EXPORT, both on the digital and physical front. We realise that widening our market outside Australia and New Zealand is important, and we are determined to gain greater exposure for our titles elsewhere.

Several interesting Focus interviews for you to read this time around, with poets Roberta Lowing (Ruin) and B N Oakman (In Defence of Hawaiian Shirts) leading the conversation. IP Picks Highly Commended Daniel King (Momento Mori) talks about fantasy in short fiction on the even of his launch in Perth.

I always stress how important it is for our authors to be active and pro-active in promotion of their title in teamwork with us, and most of our authors are taking me at my word. Especially out there during the last few months have been Nadine Neumann, Hazel Edwards, Jess Webster and Goldie Alexander. If you're a bookshop manager, they may well knocking at your door!

My interest in matters digital is not only heading the agenda of activities at IP but also attracting attention in Australia with no less than six talks coming up across the country, including events in Wagga Wagga, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth, with Armidale and DayDream Island to follow. We are a bit behind the 8 Ball in Oz, but hopefully we're beginning to wake up to the thrill of the digital wave approaching our shores.

And don't forget our new look Your Deal feature in Column 2. In the vacuum left by The Chaser Team, we have stepped in to keep The Bs Honest, with some good satire and deals you won't want to pass up!

From now till mid June, I'll be on the road, ending up in Perth for a month long residency at the KSP Writers Centre. I'll selfishly be concentrating on a few writing projects burning to be started, so there may be some slight delays if you're making contact with us in Brisbane. The Studio will be staffed, and those staff are keen to prove I'm absolutely dispensable, but thanks for your patience in advance!





God Save the Book!

It's beginning to sound very much like God Save the Queen: God Save the Book.

Recently, I agreed to do a signing at our neighbourhood Angus & Robertson bookstore even though I feel that such efforts are largely a waste of time. Unless you're a household brand like Tim Winton or Andy Griffiths, you're unlikely to attract a queue. This has less to do with the quality of your work than brand recognition – and the fact that people have much more important things to do on a Saturday at noon than pause to chew the fat with an author they don't recognise.

The other problem was exemplified by one woman who DID stop to talk for a couple of minutes before excusing herself by saying "I don't have time to read".

I believe her. I believe this is increasingly true in the adult population world-wide, and it's not a cop-out. Most people don't have nearly as much time to read as their parents did. And if they do find themselves with discretionary time, it usually ends up being in front of a screen of some sort.

The signing session wasn't a total waste of time. I helped the shop sell several of my kids titles. These were to parents who spoke of children who were "keen readers" or simply as willing receptors of books.

I hope this wasn't wishful thinking.

The tsunami of shoppers swept past the bookshop. A few browsed the lucky few books that were showcased as 'perfect' for Mother's Day – but none were bought that I saw.

The store's manager had an air of desperation when she advised me that any stock I left for stragglers would have to sell within a week before the coming stock-take. One week of stock life. If they weren't bought for Mother's Day or some other whim, my books – and hundreds of others – were doomed to be returned.

Are physical bookshops like this doomed? Yes, I think so. Price, rather than shop loyalty, seems to be the driving force these days. People may BROWSE in the retail shops, but increasingly they BUY online or from non-bookshop stores that offer the same titles at 'drastically reduced' prices.

Ironically, this is good news for independent publishers like IP. Online shops offer a democracy and longevity of product that have not been seen in physical bookshops for decades. Since it costs online books nothing to 'stock' our titles (they only order them in when customers order the specific title), they have no reason to cull them. In cyberspace, the stock-take has gone the way of the wooly mammoth.

Bookshops cling to the hope that their salvation will be the urge of customers to receive personal attention and advice in their shop. In some shops, the staff even go so far as to read the titles they stock and make recommendations. But this only comes to the notice of the few customers who diverge from the tsunami to browse.

It's becoming not only easier but essential to do things online.

Stock-take, anyone?

– DR

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Focus: Daniel King

[David Reiter interviews Daniel King about his short story collection Memento Mori.]

DR: You are an accomplished writer of short stories. What do you like about the short story as a form?

DK: Thank you. I also write poetry (and am working on a novel); and in all my creative work I try to make each  unit of meaning - it may be a word, an image or some other "signifier" - do "multiple duty", that is, take on sufficient added resonances that the finished work is much greater than the sum of its parts. For example, the title of my story "Back to the Bars" on a literal level refers to a person who decides to return to a pub lifestyle, but on another level refers to someone who can't see that he is in a prison. Another example is provided by my story "Chat Room", where one of the chat room participants, who seems increasingly to be like God, goes by the name "Aleph Zero". Aleph Zero in mathematics is actually a name for infinity (the lowest transfinite cardinal number, to be precise).

DR: Many of your stories have a "surreal bite". What does surrealism as a fictional mode have to offer contemporary audiences?

DK:Slippery though the term is, I prefer to think of my work as "postmodernist", understood in the sense that it challenges the norms and assumptions of realist fiction. And our world seems increasingly DanielKable to be described accurately in those unfamiliar terms. It is surreal, for example, to see on television a news story about war and disease and for this to be punctuated by recommendations to buy toothpaste or to play lotto. Many of the stories in Memento Mori actually adopt such contrasts for their effect. For example, the title story asks the questions "What does it mean to be a person? Are you the same person if your
appearance is completely different? Are you the same person if your attitudes become completely different?" I start the story by presenting a middle aged couple, one of whom seems to be on the verge of a breakdown. Suddenly, he perceives that he is a seventeen year old again, and that his wife finds him more attractive as a seventeen year old than she did as a middle-aged man. Because there is this contrast, the reader is really forced to consider the essential question of what personhood is.

DR: Why do you prefer to present "gnarled relationships", despite the risk that your audiences may not identify with your characters?

DK: Well, I think most people can identify with gnarled relationships. I should think it would be exceptional to find any relationship that was not gnarled in some way; and it would of course be quite dull to read about a relationship where there were no problems. My story "A MementoDream Holiday", which is about two characters who decide to spend their holiday in an airport, depicts a relationship that is seemingly without problems, but the relationship between the characters and the rest of the world is gnarled. In my story "Semi-Detached" the central character finds himself in the situation that his partner is simultaneously spending more and more time away from him but lavishing on him, when she is present, kindnesses exceeding those he experienced at the beginning of the relationship. People are complex like that. They want to be free but also to be committed to someone; they feel they have the right to behave as they want but simultaneously feel guilty when they engage in that behaviour.

DR:Do you feel that West Australian writing provides a distinctive view of Australian culture and values?

DK: It should do, but sadly it hardly ever does. Most Western Australian writing that gets published tends to be of the "cottage craft" variety - something that would not be out of place in a country fete, along with the home-made jam and local history displays. I think this is a product of the pernicious and incestuous peer-review process, extending to the Literature Board itself, where parochial writers are rewarded by others of their kind. It is a worry that in this internet age, where coastlines are increasingly unimportant, that at least five of our literary magazines take their names from geographical locations - and publish narrow fiction to match. It is also well known that two of our most famous grant recipients write their manuscripts in longhand with a pen - although I wouldn't be surprised if it were actually a quill.

DR: Your fiction flirts with science fiction. How do you sustain a balance between science fiction and naturalism in fiction?

DK: I think science fiction and postmodernism both challenge the norms of realism. That is why they both often seem similar and sometimes intersect. Science fiction tends to alter one key aspect of a realist world and observe the consequences. Memento Mori includes a number of unquestionable SF stories, such as "Your Pain is My Pain", which has as its theme that some time in the near future people will be protected from the pain of relationship breakups; and "Going Back", which is about an attempt to extract information from the mind of a criminal by making him think he is a child again.
"Heaven and/or Hell", however, challenges one key detail of our metaphysics rather than our physics: the characters live in a world where they are literally told whether they are going to Heaven or Hell; and the reader is invited to observe their reactions to this

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Focus: Roberta Lowing

[David Reiter interviews Roberta Lowing about her novel Ruin.]

DR: To what extent did your experiences as a film reviewer and a community television producer inform your poetry?

RL: As a reviewer, I saw nearly every film released theatrically from 1986 to 2009 and I also reviewed videos during that time. So reviewing was crucial, especially in the impact on me of the images and information in Iraq-themed movies such as Taxi To The Dark Side, Redacted, Standard Operating Procedure, The Road To Guantanamo, etc. While volunteering in community television, I produced and directed 80 episodes of a current affairs-styled environmental program. So that influenced my decision to try to combine my journalist and poetic interests, and tell Ruin through the experiences of four very different characters over a number of years.RobertL

DR: What do think of the current Sydney poetry scene?

RL:As someone who had no previous interaction with poetry and who, out of that early enthusiasm, set up and ran a monthly poetry event for four years, and was managing editor of a journal produced from that event, I found audience support was fantastic. The readings averaged 35 people (in winter), 60 (summer) and 85 at Special Events. The support from the other poetry convenors and the Poets Union was energising. It is easy to be gloomy about poetry’s profile in Australian media but I am optimistic. Obviously, I’ll note our major Sunday newspaper – The Sun-Herald – which prints a poem every week.

DR: Some may view your depiction of the war in Iraq as one-sided. Is this the case?

RL: Absolutely, the collection is scathing about bureaucratic motives for this particular war. I deliberately selected George W Bush’s (now debunked) justification for war – his 16 word statement about the acquisition of Niger yellowcake uranium and the implication that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. But I also wanted to acknowledge other, complicated responses to war, in the character of the young poor American who needs a job; the Shia family who initially welcomed the Americans as liberators, and the cynical political manipulation of the public: do you remember those early years when it was ‘un-Australian’ to criticise the war?

DR: You adopt the voices of Americans throughout the collection. How did you ensure these voices were credible?

RuinRL: I met Americans through university; one of my closest friends is an American. So I constantly checked phrases and slang with them. From the 2003 invasion onwards, I read The Economist, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair; collected news clippings, photographs, etc. I watched (several times) the films Murderball, Coming Home and The Deer Hunter, which directly influenced the character of Luke. And Margaret T, the White House spokesperson, is the archetypal bureaucrat. She only thinks in terms of winners versus losers which I think exists the world over. But you write the character first and then you shade in the regional flavour.

DR: What were your poetic influences in writing Ruin and how did you ensure you maintained a respectful distance?

RL: Ruin was an attempt to alleviate my distress about the war. After the invasion, for absolutely no logical reason and despite never having read poetry by choice or written it, I did a short poetry course. The following year, I enrolled in Sydney University’s Creative Writing Program. Ruin is my Master of Letters thesis (along with my first novel, Notorious, which is published in September). As you will see from the end Notes, some poems extrapolate lines by Neruda, Levertov, etc, because those poets were a solace in that time. Hopefully, the integration is successful: someone else will have to judge that !

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Focus: Jess Webster

[Jess Webster was the 2009 IP Picks Best First Book Award winner for her Young Adult fantasy novel The Secret Stealer.]

DR: You are a medical student and an accomplished violist. Where does fiction writing figure into that equation?

JW: At the moment, whilst medicine truly is fun, it does seem to be engulfing the better part of my waking hours (and at times enters into my dreams, with terrifying nightmares of arriving late to exams). So I try balance the work out with play. After several hours of studying, I may pick up my viola and play for an hour or so. It's soothing – and a different kind of thought process, so works quite well as a study break. But how does writing figure into this? As well as my journey to understand the mechanics and physiology of the human form, I would love to understand people themselves, and their personalities, and how they came to be the person that they are today. Writing is one of the ways in which I attempt to do this. I try to imagine a whole person; their appearance, their character and personality, and I throw them into bizarre situations, and the storyline evolves simply with their reactions to those situations. These days I've even started to combine music with writing, with a few little recording experiments on Garage Band. I like to think that these kinds of creative thought processes keep my mind fresh, for the kind of learning that is required in medicine.

So, to answer your question: I look at art as a way to understand the world around us, and the people in it. And to me, science, music and the written word are all forms of art that I could not imaging living without.

DR: Where did the idea for The Secret Stealer come from?

JessWJW: One afternoon, waiting in some queue for something that I cannot recall (let's face it, it was probably food, I'm usually eating something), I caught myself staring at someone across the room. Only a moment later he caught me staring at him too, and gave me such a piercing look that I was quite embarrassed! And a sudden thought occurred to me. Wouldn't it be awful if someone could see all your deepest secrets just by looking into your eyes, just as that guy had just a moment ago? And the concept was born. All it took was several seemingly interminable minutes for that guy to become a man who had spent the last two hundred years wandering about stealing peoples' deepest secrets from them as they slept. Needless to say, I didn't make eye contact with him after that!

DR: Why a fantasy for young adults rather than adults? Is The Secret Stealer a stepping stone to a new book for adults?

JW: To be honest, I think The Secret Stealer would appeal equally to both age-groups. Adolescence, from my recollection, is that awkward age in which you are really starting to grow in maturity, and intelligence. I feel that many teenagers are just as intelligent (if not more so) than their 20s and upwards counterparts, and yet, it's a frustrating time because you have no power. Your life is still run by adults. In my mind, one of the main differences between the adolescent and adult mind is simply a lack of experiences in the former. I did not write it with the aim to appeal only to young adults, or only to adults – I wrote it to appeal to like-minded, intelligent people, with a sense of humour. This description applies to young adults and adults alike. In the future, perhaps when I am more temporally separated from my adolescence (being only 23), maybe then I might write something specifically for adults. I am sure that Medicine and my experiences with the Navy will give me plenty to write about in the future. But as it is, I am only writing to make people smile – irrespective of their age!

DR: You use footnote digressions throughout the book. How did you ensure that these digressions did not detract from the drama of the main story?

If you read The Secret Stealer, you may notice that the number of footnotes tends to dwindle when important things are occurring in the story. Footnotes are fantastic fun (and a nice little insight into my occasionally-odd thought processes) when the story is being set up, or when it is winding down, but too many during very active portions of the plot are a little impractical. I tried to avoid using too many footnotes during these times. Another thing I liked about the footnotes is that, if the reader is paying attention, they may pick up some clues as to what may happen later in the book (for example – what is really happening when Domenic is detained by airport security).

DR: What makes the difference between average and excellent fantasy writing?

JW: As an avid reader of fantasy, I like to imagine what I would like to see in a book, in order to help my writing.Secret Stealer
I want:
– likeable (and hate-able!) characters; such as the well-meaning but hapless James Winchester IV, and the not-at-all-well-meaning and generally-horrid Andrew Harrison VI.
an interesting initial concept; such as the ability to see and steal secrets.
– an interesting complication and, perhaps, an unconventional resolution – such as in 'The Secret Stealer', requiring sausage-dogs.
– to be left satisfied with the fates of those involved – such as … Just kidding – I can't tell you that! That would be cheating! You'll just have to read it to find out.
Even with the above a book might still be 'average'. I think the 'excellent' factor is the ability of the writer to be able to paint vivid pictures with their words and in doing so completely immerse you in their little fictional world; to make you care about the characters and their fates; and lastly, to leave you happy that you've spent the time in reading their words. There's nothing worse than getting to the end of a book and thinking, blinking heck, I want those hours back! Thankfully, The Secret Stealer is being thoroughly enjoyed by all who've read it thus far, and I've not had a single impossible request for a refund of the time spent in reading it!

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Focus: B N Oakman

DR: In Defence of Hawaiian Shirts is certainly a quirky title for a poetry collection. What made you decide on it?

BO: I like 'In Defence of Hawaiian Shirts' as the title poem partly because it's catchy and also because the poem itself conveys a distrust of servile conformity and a distaste for the consequences of such conformity.

DR: You've taught economics at university for a number of years. Is poetry a change of pace from this "day job" or does poetry arise from your academic work?

BruceOBO: I have always enjoyed and collected poetry. Also, I've an abiding interest in books, cinema and art. Because of my working-class background I felt compelled, unwittingly of course, to heed Auden's advice to aspiring poets: 'First secure an income'. Hence, at university I chose economics and not English and history, my preferred subjects. Circumstances converged after I moved to Bendigo which allowed me to start writing poetry. One stimulant was watching, quite by accident, the American poet Ted Kooser read a poem on television and thinking: 'Perhaps I might be able to write something like that'.

DR: You're the fourth poet IP has published from the Ballarat/Castlemaine region of Victoria. To what extent do you feel this region is a "hot bed" for poetry?

BO: I live in Bendigo which is north of Castlemaine. I wrote most of the poems in this collection as a poetic isolate and there was no cross-fertilization between the work of other poets in the region and mine. That said, Castlemaine , due in great part to Phee Broadway, the founder of the Castlemaine State Festival, and Ross Donlon, founder of 'Poetry Readings in Castlemaine', exerts a magnetic pull upon poets, writers, musicians, painters and other creative artists. I sometimes refer to it as Australia's Bayreuth. Not everyone's amused. Incidentally, to illustrate the strength of Castlemaine's attraction, the launch of 'In Defence of Hawaiian Shirts' will take place in the Castlemaine Art Gallery on Sunday 15 August, and not in the much larger City of Greater Bendigo.

DR: There's a strong political dimension in much of your poetry. Do you feel audiences still look to poets for political insights?

BO: Probably not. Politics flourishes in all forms of human activity. Even those who fail to see it or choose to ignore it are making de facto political statements. I look at the world around me and see, in addition to the many good things, imbalances of power, inequality, oppression and dispossession. Unsurprisingly these observations are reflected in my work although, it should be said, a great deal of my poetry is not overtly or directly political.

DR: In "The Last Time My Father Spoke to Me", you deal with Defence Hawaiian Shirtsunresolved relationship issues. How does a poet guard against sentimentality in poems like that?

BO: My approach is similar to that of an historian who asks: 'What happened?' Indeed, no less a poet than Robert Lowell challenged his fellow poets with the question: 'Why not say what happened?' Also, I believe that style should be employed to elicit feeling instead of attempting to drown the reader in a flood of emotion. Further, I'm a devotee of the principles of psychoanalysis and try to accept the inevitability of suffering, loss and sadness. I hope all these elements help navigate sentimentality's treacherous swamps .

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Hazel Edwards follows up her Indonesian launch of Plato the Platypus Plumber, illustrated by John Petropoulos with TV cooking classes for kids, featuring platypus themed dishes!
read more >

2009 IP Picks Best First Book winner, Jess Webster's The Secret Stealer was well and truly launched at a sell-out in Wollongong.
read more >

Former Olympian Nadine Neumann's memoir, Wobbles: An Olympic Story has been very popular with the media, with articles in the Sun Herald and Sydney Morning Herald.
read more >


Daniel King's short story fantasy collection Momento Mori will be launched in Perth in early June.
read more >

Harry Potter lives on in Harry Potter Power! Psychologist Dr JA Sykley's book was launched recently in Cairns with events in Melbourne to follow.
read more >


Poet Roberta Lowing's new IP book Ruin will feature at the Sydney Writers Festival later this month.
read more >


B N Oakman becomes the latest author from Regional Victoria to publish with IP. He talks about the hotbed of the arts that can be found outside Melbourne.
read more >




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Counting Backwards, or eBook Conversion Made Simpler (Part 1)

If you have Kindle and iPad on the tip of your tongue, spit them out: they're certainly made from toxic materials!

Only months ago, the press-ready Acrobat pdf file was the Holy Grail of publishers. Once polished and sent to the printer, the file had reached critical mass and had only to be archived in the hope of future re-prints. End of Story. Or is it?

Now, with several emerging eBook channels, and a growing number of eBook readers, publishers are having to retrace their steps to provide eBook distributors with content that has already been converted, or can easily be converted.

Let's make one thing clear from the start: if you decide to go digital, your precious, fine-tuned manuscript will NOT look the same on all eBook readers, and it will certainly not look the same as it does in print. eBook publishing for the near future involves compromise and a certain standardisation of presentation. That's because eBook readers are not as sophisticated as the computers we're used to. They go for efficiency and speed of display. So they have a limited repertoire of fonts and flexibility of layout. And the less sophisticated your eBook editing software is, the more compromises you'll have to make.

Most publishers are sticking their toes in the digital pond knowing this. They are banking on readers/viewers being satisfied with a less than optimal display as a trade-off for the lower sale prices offered. Unconsciously, they may be hoping that this phase in the development of eBook technology will see many readers opting for a more aesthetic choice: the printed version.

In the meantime, what can YOU do to make your manuscript more easily convertible into the key eBook formats. First of all, you need to know what these formats are.

Certain devices will display the good old pdf. So, if you have the desktop version that was used to create the press ready pdf, conversion is as simple as telling InDesign, for example, to export to a screen quality version. Easy? Yes! The problem is, not many devices accept the good old pdf. That's because even screen quality pdfs are much larger than other versions. Which means they take more space on storage servers, more time to download, and eat up more space on your eBook reader.

You'll probably need to provide one or all of the following formats to cover your bases: html, .doc or .rtf and ePub.

The Kindle Reader displays html files, similar to what you see on most web pages. If you set up an account with Amazon to deliver content to them, you'll find that you can upload a variety of formats, including pdfs, but those other formats have to be converted by Amazon into Kindle-friendly html. So if what you upload to them isn't html it may come back look very strange indeed.

When IP uploads to Amazon, we send them an html file pre-formatted, so it needs minimal conversion. And we generally use html friendly fonts like Geneva, Georgia or Verdana to ensure the converted file will resemble what we sent them on the Kindle with a minimum of fuss.

Other eBook distributors like ask for .doc or native Word files as the starting point, but you can send them other formats as well. Companies like this do no conversion; they expect you to do it, or arrange someone to do it for you. The more versions of your file you send them, the more outlets ContentReserve will distribute it to.

If you're like us, the final Word version of our files are not EXACTLY the final version of the file. We proofread and amend in InDesign and Acrobat. This means we have to to retrospectively convert from the InDesign version back to Word. This can be done, but the results aren't always pretty. And you do need to pay attention to font size (maximum 16pt for eBook readers) and type (again, web friendly fonts are best). Also remember to add forced page breaks where you need them. eBook readers tend to flow on text, resulting in awkward page breaks.

If you're serious about getting your word out in cyberspace, you'll need to create an ePub version. ePub is an open-source format, meaning that a variety of readers may be able to access and display it; whereas proprietary readers like the Kindle can only access Amazon processed html files. The good money is on the iPad being ePub friendly, as well as accepting html, .doc, and pdf – a flexibility that should ring warning bells at Amazon.

ePub files are fairly easy to create but not so easy to edit and fine-tune. If you have InDesign, you can export to ePub (as well as Word), but that's only the first step. You then need an editor and a previewer to see what your files will look like. We've found Sigil to be a good editor and Calibre to be a good previewer for a variety of devices. Both products are free and fairly easy to learn. ePub seems to be emerging as the key package here, so it's worth investing some time on this.

If this all sounds too hard, there are companies popping up all over India and elsewhere who will convert your file for you, for a price. But you'll still need to check over the converted files. Quality control still begins – and ends – at home!

There is another option, which you may find seductive. You can send a native Word file to a site like and let them do the conversion into a variety of formats. The company claims to have a muncher that spits out whatever version is required by the eBook distributors for the various devices. Problem is, you don't get back proofs and there's no preview feature on the Smashwords site. It's a leap of faith we haven't been willing to take without safeguards until we see the results on the readers.

It finally comes down to quality control, and whether you feel you can handle the conversions and fine-tune your work yourself to look as close as possible to the print version.

We set up the Digital Publishing Centre as the 'missing link' in the process. We can not only organise conversions of your files to the required standard but also ensure quality control standards are maintained – as only a publisher can. We're here if you need us, and we're definitely author-friendly!

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IP Kidz Update

We have several new picture books approaching pre-press. There are two by established author Edel Wignell. Long Live Us, a fractured fairy tale, illustrated by Brisbane-based Peter Allert. Trolls have had a lot of bad press over the years, and Edel's book will set the record straight. Her second book, Christine's Matilda, is a complete change-of-pace, with view of the classic song Waltzing Matilda from perspective of the composer's sister. The illustrations by Elizabeth Botté, who also illustrated The Giggle Gum Tree, are stunning.

Illustrations are also nearing completion for Robert Moore's About Face, which is a print/animation collaboration between Adelaide's MonkeyStack and IP. Facial features take on characteristics of their own, with humorous effects. MonkeyStack are also hard at work on character concepts for David Reiter's Project Earth-mend series, which is attracting interest as a film project from companies like Disney.

Author/illustrator Celine Einmann's work, is at design stage and her illustration of Anne Morgan's magical realistic story is also well advanced.

IP Picks 2010 Best Junior Prose winner Juliet Blair's Arlo and the Spindrift Connection is scheduled for release later this year or early in 2011.

We were especially pleased by the positive reception several of our children's titles received from Indian publishers during David's recent trip there to sell rights. For more details check out the IP Sales report.

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IP Digital Buzz

Creating, converting, convergence seems to be the name of the game these days. Via IP's new Digital Publishing Centre, we're keeping our finger on the pulse of digital publishing, whether it leads to print-on-demand, eBook, audio books or multimedia – or a combination of those through "multi-versioning".

Rather than adopt the defensive stance of many conventional publishers, IP is expanding our repertoire of tools and partners to enable us to place our titles on as many sites in cyberspace as in physical shops.

We've been busily converting our titles into eBook compliant formats, especially ePub and XML. More than a third of our front and back list is now available on the Kindle Reader, and we're poised to start sending content to the iPad Book Store. With our partner ContentReserve, and newest partner Smashwords, we're reaching more online sites, serving a wider range of devices.

We hope to have our own eBook Store up and running within a few months. You'll have a choice of formats: pdf, ePub and XML, with direct links to online sites where you can download your choice of title.

Close to 100 IP titles are now available on Lightning Source's Espresso printer, an ATM-device that can be located in bookshops, libraries or in open shopping malls. Customers browse online for titles they want, pay for them, and then, in less than five minutes, collect a professionally printed and bound book, with a four colour cover. The first Espresso in Australia is at a Dymocks in Melbourne, with further roll-outs expected soon across Australia.

On the home front, Jack Drake, our favourite bush poet, has sent us his new CD, Australian Bush Poetry Classics, which is, as you might expect, a survey of the great bushies like Banjo Patterson, Will Ogilvie, Henry Lawson and CJ Dennis. It's bound to be a favourite in the schools, as well as with bush poet aficionados.

James Laidler, winner of the 2010 IP Picks Best First Book Award is looking forward to the production of a Poetic Monologue, based on a segment of his upcoming CD version of Taste of Apple performed at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on 3 September. James' work has already been broadcast on the ABC, so we're looking forward to publishing his CD as well as his verse novel of the same title later this year.

Convergence was also on the mind of children's author Hazel Edwards, who was so impressed by the appearance of her first IP Kidz title, Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time), on the Kindle Reader, that she's offered us the rights for several other of her titles that are now out of print, with the idea being that IP would release them for POD and eBooks and possibly look at multimedia versions as well. We expect other IP authors to follow suit and also expect to open the door for other authors who have not previously published with us, to resurrect their out-of-print and single version titles for which they have rights into multiversions.

If you missed our circular inviting you to purchase your mum Dale Kentwell's witty art book & film Mum: speaking Latin with a singlet tan, I'm sure your mum won't mind a belated gift. Check out Dale's mini-site for a sample and a trailer from the short film we made of it.

Just after this newsletter goes to press, David will set off for the Nullarbor with his spanking new HD handicap to gather some footage for his next film, based on his sequence Nullarbor Song Cycle. He plans to perform and record sections of the cycle on location, thanks to a relocation camper van he's booked from Adelaide. Music will be composed by World Musician Nitya Bernard Parker, who collaborated with Kathy Kituai on her fine IPD CD The Heart Takes Wing.

The Nullarbor trip will follow David's meeting with animation studio MonkeyStack, who are getting stuck into character imagery for the Project Earth-mend animated film, as well as completing their illustrations for Robert Moore's About Face picture book, which they are animating.

And David will be presenting variations on his Retool and Remix: Get a Digital Life talk in Wagga, Sydney, Adelaide, Armidale and on DayDream Island over the next few months. Featured will be information on our new Digital Publishing Centre. which offers individuals and organisations a fast track to digital publication and sales – without sacrificing quality control. Check Out & About for further details and follow us on Facebook & Twitter for the latest breaking news.

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IP Sales Scoop

The big news for IP Sales is EXPORT.

We've noted a dramatic increase in sales via our print-on-demand (POD) partners Lightning Source and CreateSpace as well straight eBook sales via the Kindle and ContentReserve. Early sales figures from our newest partner Smashwords are also encouraging.

We expect these figures to improve as we release our eBooks in alternative formats such as ePub. To date we have been working mostly with pdfs, XML and Word.

We've expanded our list with our American niche distributor Small Press Distribution to more than 20 titles, adding YA books such as Harry Potter Power, Willow Farrington Bites Back and our latest YA release The Secret Stealer. We've also sent them a picture book, Hazel Edward's Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time) and may send them a few more in our next shipment.

In late April, David travelled to India to meet with several publishers in Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore to offer rights on a selection of our kids and adult titles. The trip was organised with great aplomb by Trade Queensland. Publishers visited included Hachette, Scholastic, Parragon, HarperCollins as well as independents like Zubaan.

The most challenging aspect of selling into India is the price differential in books, with Indian prices being 50% or more less than Australian prices. Printing costs are also less there, so the best way forward would seem to be selling rights for Indian editions rather than exporting books directly.

The titles that attracted the most interest from IP Kidz were David Reiter's The Greenhouse Effect and Global Cooling (Project Earth-mend Series) and Hazel Edward's Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time). YA standouts were Harry Potter Power and The Secret Stealer. Adult titles A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India by Josh Donellan and David's Primary Instinct were viewed positively.

We've already received an offer for David's Project Earth-mend novels but are anticipating further offers from the other publishers.

David also met with film companies Disney India, Big Animation, Turner (Cartoon Network), UTV and ACK Media to discuss possible co-productions for projects like Project Earth-mend. We're hopeful that some firm offers will come of that, and that other IP projects could then get up.

IP has licensed the Nurnberg agency, which has offices in Beijing and Taipai, to offer Chinese translation rights for about a dozen IP titles.

Our transition from the Australian Book Group to IP Sales for distribution is now complete, and, after a few initial hiccups, most retailers seem to know where to find us. Our new strategy for promotion and marketing includes regular email circulars coupled with the personal touch via phone, Facebook and Skype, and we expect this will give our titles much better exposure than the one-off approach of conventional distributors.

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In a bold new move, IP Sales is expanding its operations to cover all aspects of distribution for our imprints as well as distribution for select titles published outside IP. There's an old saying that if you want something done right, you'd better do it yourself, and this seems to apply to book distribution. Our experience with external distributors has been less than satisfactory. Our titles were not getting the exposure and promotion they deserved. We are determined that they will, henceforth.

This will require rethinking and updating our methods and strategies for distribution. If Old Century methods aren't working, why shouldn't we try something different?

Like other aspects of the book trade, distribution channels are changing. Fewer and fewer libraries want to meet with individual booksellers, and even bookshops have less and less time to meet with reps. When IP releases a title, within days it becomes accessible to people around the world via dozens of online sites offering it for sale. There are now more efficient ways of spreading the word about our new titles than relying on reps who know little about them. We can promote to Amazon, Google and other sites with enriched promotional detail that gives prospective buyers of our titles immediate access to complete and accurate information.

This new wave approach to distribution will see much more done online, with information being available 24/7 to physical and virtual booksellers and individuals globally.

The expanding market for eBooks will see more direct contact between buyers, authors and publishers, simplifying the supply chain and making books more affordable and accessible than ever before.

New Century Distribution will complement New Century Publishing, and IP Sales will be riding high on that wave.

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New Releases from IPS

IPS has been distributing publications by the Australian Society of Friends (Quakers) for some time, and we now have the latest from their James Finding VoiceBackhouse Lecture Series, Finding Our Voice: Our truth, community and journey as Australian Young Friends. It's a compendium of views from members of the Young Quakers, defining themselves as a special spiritual community within the larger Quaker movement. PB, 64pp, ISBN 9780980325867; AU$15.95

Also a familiar face – or should we say voice – on the IP list is Bush Poet Extraordinaire Aussie Bush PoetryJack Drake. We've been selling his original bush poetry CDs for some time – here and overseas via CD Baby. But now he's decided to compile a CD called Australian Bush Poetry Classics on which he performs the work of some of the traditional names like Banjo Patterson, CJ Dennis and Henry Lawson. His idea is to sell them into schools , complete with a teacher's guide, and we think he's onto something. CD-R, 65min, ISBN 9780957847767, AU$25.

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Do you have a new book to promote? Did you know that IP Sales has developed an extensive network of libraries, bookshops and suppliers to schools and libraries? Have a look at the IPS Page to see if we can help.

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Out & About

David returned to Far North Queensland in January to host several launch events for Dr J A Sykley's non-fiction book Harry Potter Power. After a well-attended launch at the Gallery, which was filmed for broadcast on YouTube

David gave the short version of his Retool & Remix: Get a Digital Life talk to the 9 March meeting of the Society of Women Authors (Qld) at Central Library in Brisbane. The talk was so well received that David has been invited to be keynote speaker on the same topic at the upcoming Logan Writers Week in August.

Then it was off to Far North Queensland on 25 March for our latest tour, this time featuring Harry Potter Power, life lessons for teenagers and their parents by Psychologist Dr Julie-Anne Sykley derived from the Harry Potter series. The launch at the Canopy Artspace was well-attended. David then gave a talk at Book Circle in Cairns, followed by joint talks with Dr Sykley at Atherton Library and Thurwingowa Library (Townsville). Our promotional team organised interviews for Julie-Anne on regional ABC and the key print media in Cairns, on the Atherton Tablelands and in Townsville.

Julie-Anne will have a signing event in Melbourne at A&R Bourke Street on Friday May 28 12.30-1.30pm.

David attended signings at Angus & Robertson Redbank Plaza and Carindale in early April and May, respectively. A&R Carindale will be hosting several IP signing events over the next month, which is good, since they are our closest bookshop! The next signing will be for Tilly Brasch (No Middle Name) on 30 May.

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On 8 April, Wollongong Library hosted the launch of Jess Webster's YA fantasy novel The Secret Stealer. Well over 100 people attended, and we sold 90 books – well-done, Jess! Jess was in theme dress for the occasion and read like a pro during her segment, which was introduced by her high school English teacher, who took no credit for Jess' native brilliance. For Jess, it was a brief moment of glory: now it's back to her medical studies!

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David left for India on 16 May for a whirlwind tour of Indian publishing houses and film companies, sponsored by Trade Queensland, who did an excellent job of organising the itinerary, as well as drivers in the cities en route. David met with Parragon, Hachette, Scholastic, HarperCollins, and Walt Disney Publications at the big end of the market but also met with independent publishers Zubaan Books, Pratham, and Pustak Mahal/Unicorn. While the publishers expressed interest in several of our kids and young adult titles, a few adult titles attracted attention, too.

On the film front, David met with Big Animation / Reliance MediaWorks, Walt Disney, Turner (Cartoon Network), UTV and ACK Media, focussing mostly on signing a deal that would see the Project Earth-mend Series (The Greenhouse Effect and Global Cooling) made into an animated film, possibly as a co-production with Australia.

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Hazel Edwards has been blazing trails here and overseas in support of her first IP Kidz title, Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time), illustrated by John Petropoulos. We were able to get stock to her in Indonesia for our first ever IP Kidz launch there at the International School, Pasir Ridge, East Kalimantan, which was followed soon after by Hazel's appearance at the All Saints Festival in Western Australia and several other bookshops and even on a kids TV cooking show thereafter where Platypus themed dishes were prepared!

Goldie Alexander has also been on the road promoting her most recent IP Kidz title, Hedgeburners: An A~Z PI Mystery with appearances on radio and a few Melbourne based bookshops.

Stephen Oliver has gone international with a poster campaign involving his poetry in the USA and segments from his IP Digital CD King Hit will be broadcast on Rustin Larson’s popular Irving Toast, Poetry Ghost program - kruufm, Fairfield, Iowa live streaming  May 23 at 10:30 am and May 24 1:30 pm Central US daylight savings time.

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On 13 May, David heads down South for a reading at Wagga Wagga Library that evening and a presentation on digital publishing at Charles Sturt University the next day. Then it's back to Sydney where he'll attend the Everything You Need to Know about Publishing conference hosted by the NSW Writers Centre and, on Sunday 16th, give his update on what's happening on the digital publishing front.

On Monday 17 May, David travels to Adelaide to meet with animation company MonkeyStack to talk about our collaboration with them on the Project Earth-mend film and the animation/book project About Face by give his short version of Retool & Remix: Get a Digital Life talk hosted by the SA Writers Centre.

Then, driving a relocation camper van, David heads for the wilds of the Nullarbor Plain to shoot some footage for the upcoming short film adaptation of his Nullarbor Song Cycle, which will have music composed by Canberra-based Nitya Bernard Parker. (The Heart Takes Wing).

On 22 May, David arrives in Perth to start his month-long stint as Established Writer in Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Centre. He'll be guest speaker at a Literary Dinner hosted by the Centre Tuesday evening, 8 June and give a half day version of his popular Selling That Book workshop (updated to include recent innovations on the digital front) on Saturday 12 June. David will also host the launch of one of our new titles, Memento Mori by Daniel King, at the Centre from 3pm on Saturday, 5 June. Otherwise he plans to be out of mobile and email range so he can at least draft the third book in the Project Earth-mend Series, Tiger Tames the Min Min.

David gets back to Brisbane on 19 June, but the following weekend he'll be in Armidale presenting a short talk on digital publishing at Armidale Library on Friday and a full day workshop on digital composing and publishing at the New England Writers Centre.

For breaking news on these events and others, please follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter. For FP, search for "IP".

In Review

[These are snippets from full reviews. Click on the link to view the complete review for each title.]

On Josh Donellan's A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India

Dying in India

"An enigmatic creative personality, Brisbane-based Joshua Donellan's work breathes exceptional talent and yells out for wide recognition."

Denis Semchenko, Rave Magazine

On Libby Hathorn's Zahara's Rose:

"The warm relationship between grandchild and grandparentprovides as welcome an anchor for young readers visiting an unknown land and culture as it does for Zahara."

Sharon Greenaway, MagpiesZahara's Rose


"The setting for this beautifully illustrated book is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon that overlook the Euphrates River, created by King Nebuchadnezzar for his new bride, Queen Amyritis, to alleviate any longing for her homeland, Persia. This delicate story on the birth of beauty is illustrated in both soft and vibrant watercolour, with pages and cover framed in attractive borders."

– Anastasia Gonis, The Reading Stack

NewtsOn Mark Carthew's and Mike Spoor's Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots

"Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots is a book that will delight young readers. It masterfully incorporates word and picture interplay into every aspect of book."

Vicki Stanton, Buzzwords

On Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand:

Voyagers is one of those Voyagersanthologies of poetry that makes you want to curl up with a toddy, more than a ray gun."

Hamish Wyatt, Otago Daily Times

On Goldie Alexander's and Marjory Gardner's Hedgeburners: An A~Z PI Mystery

Hedge"All the characters are individuals whose motivation and personal quirks are well rendered - and captured perfectly in the occasional humorous line drawings."

Elizabeth Douglas, Reading Time

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Your Chaser Deal

IP's Right of Reply

Did you notice how little (meaning NOTHING) was said about THE ARTS in the recent budget released by the Australian Government? This certainly means that the Arts won't be getting any extra money for being relatively non-polluting (if we keep our language and images clean).

Don't despair. Our Chaser Deal this issue will protect you against rising interest rates, faulty aesthetic insulation and poor rankings on the MySchool website.

LIST ONE (you buy one or more of these)

The Giggle Gum Tree, $24.95

Inspire Your Day, $29.95 (reduced by 10% from original RRP)

Mum: speaking Latin with a Singlet Tan, $32.95

The World Cup Baby, $32.95

Primary Instinct, $30

LIST TWO (you get one or more of these for free with each purchase)

Lame Duck Protest (Peter Garrett Special)

Over My Dead Body (Kevin Rudd contemplating wearing Speedos)

Blood and Guts (to celebrate the new Super GP clinic in coming to your neighbourhood)

Voyage of the Shuckenoor (to keep Tony Abbott's policy thinktank(?) on course)

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