Vol 3, No. 1 ISSN 1442-0023
From the Director's Desk
Welcome to the New Millennium especially those purists who had to delay their celebration parties for 12 months! The New Year finds us busier than ever, with more exciting works heading your way. The Harvest Festival in Sydney sponsored by our friends at the New South Wales Writers' Centre will be the venue for our Autumn Season 2001. This is our first initial launch of IP titles outside of Brisbane, but we felt this was appropriate since Tricia Dearborn, author of Frankenstein's bathtub, is a native of Sydney. And Clayton Hansen, whose work, The Ventriloquist's Child, will share the billing, hails from Warwick, a Queensland town just north of the NSW border.
I am delighted to see both of these authors publishing with IP, and I am sure that you will be impressed by their work. But this also signals a new phase in IP's growth, as we establish credibility as a truly national publisher.
We try to include features by our new authors here, and this issue is no exception. Have a look at Tricia's feature below.
The past few months has seen us adding to our digital list of works under the IP Digital banner. Almost all the works we've published in print are available now either as e-books or on Windows/Mac compatible CDs. With the support of Arts Queensland, I will shortly be starting work on a new multimedia work, The Planets, which we hope to launch at the next Brisbane Writers' Festival. I have been especially encouraged by the support shown by many libraries who have been ordering works on CD as well as in print. If you haven't yet tried one of our e-books, I encourage you to do so. At only 60% of the cost of print versions, for pdfs sent to you by email, it's an excellent way to keep current with some of the best Australian writing!
We are especially pleased by the reception our first literary multimedia title, The Gallery, has enjoyed. On my previous tour to NSW and the Australian Capital Territory, it was a best seller, attracting attention from individuals and libraries alike.
Over the next few months, we plan to redesign our website so that it works better and faster for you. There's no better time than now for you to tell us what you'd like to see in the redesign. We also expect to extend our e-commerce features to include an online shop to compliment our catalogue and to allow for payment by credit card. Though we don't plan to handle actual payment online via a secure site until we're convinced that there's sufficient deman to justify the added expense to us. But by all means let us know if you'd like to see this feature, especially if it makes the difference between you ordering or not, or placing a larger order.
Aside from the trip to Sydney I also hope to spend some time in Regional Queensland in April. That's because IP is serious about encouraging regional authors to publish with us. I've written to a variety of writers' groups asking them to contact me if they're interested in being included on the itinerary. If we've missed you, please contact us as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we wish you well and happy reading, in print, online or on CD. Read, and read often!
Like most publishers, IP receives many unsolicited submissions and calls from prospective authors. Most sincerely believe in the quality of their work, and often these people have been encouraged by friends and relations who think 'there's a book in it'. But few have done their research about what it takes to get a manuscript published, and more importantly what factors publishers look at before committing to an ms and its author.
That's why we've posted guidelines on our website to save you time and effort. Here are several points drawn from the Guide to keep in mind:
are impressed by authors with a track record.
You need to put in the miles or kilometres if you prefer before submitting a whole manuscript to a publisher. Send out individual pieces to magazines, newspapers or broadcasters that have a good reputation. Save clips of reviews or commendations that you get from editors, authors of note, or reputable assessors.
need to impress
There's no shortage of people who want to be published, but only a handful know much about the process of getting their work accepted. You need to invest time in writing a serious proposal that demonstrates you understand what you are writing about and for whom. In today's tight market, publishers must put audience first. Raw talent attracts, but work that speaks to a definable audience convinces.
it easy for your work to be accepted
Gone are the days when publishers could afford to have worked keyed in. Getting the work from draft ms to final artwork stage can be expensive. Offer your work on disk as well as in a clean, professional looking hard copy. But don't waste time by formatting your ms beyond providing basic and consistent layout in a standard font. And offer to do whatever needs to be done to promote your work.
prepared to make it better
Submitting your ms is only the start. Even once an ms is accepted it will need to be refined with your audience in mind. Some elements will be cut; or new material may be added. Authors who regard their work as sacrosanct will quickly find themselves outside the church.
Few authors get their first ms published. Or even their second or third. Writing takes time, but writing well takes even longer. You need determination as well as talent. If you have something to say and are passionate about saying it well, you'll keep at it until the writing catches up. Judging artistic work has always been subjective, and sometimes what it takes is just showing your work around until you find one editor who believes in your work enough to fight for it. But if you keep hearing the same criticisms, perhaps you need to redraft the work and go on to something else.
Interactive Press' first two titles of the year will be in our Emerging Authors' Series. Our next issue will focus on the works in depth, but here's a sneak preview.
Frankenstein's bathtub is Tricia's Dearborn's first book. A resident of Sydney, Tricia works as an editor for an educational publisher. She has a background in the sciences, and this gives her a fresh perspective on her material, and yet her work is never cold and detached.
Here's a sample from 'learning balance':
there are many theories
there are those who prefer to walk bare-fisted
and those who use the pole as a pendulum
swinging them always back to the centre
there are those whose senses are so refined
they can pivot on the point of a chair leg
juggle knives and pineapples with their line stretched taut
across a city canyon
The Ventriloquist's Child is by Clayton Hansen, who, in his other life, is a primary school principal in the country town of Warwick, south of Brisbane. The book blends short fiction and poetry to produce a magical effect that has already won Hansen several awards and commendations in major literary competitions. Even his prose is poetic, as you'll see in this paragraph from his story 'A Box for the Sand Country':
I contemplate the sweetness of dates and the touch of fresh linen. These thoughts are destroying me. The land is punishment enough. Wild ravines with perpendicular faces often intercept our course. The horses are skittish at such obstacles. If God intends distracting us then he is at home and we are visitors.
IP will launch both books at the New South Wales Writers' Centre Harvest Festival on 24 March from 5 p.m. The Ventriloquist's Child will have its Warwick launch on 17 March from 6:30 p.m. at the Warwick Art Gallery (further details from Audrey Hoffman, 07-4661-8588 or by email). We also expect to have launches later in the year in Brisbane. If you'd like an invitation to any of these events, just let us know.
[Editor's Note: As a regular feature of IP eNews, we invite our new authors to tell us something about their work and why they write. This issue is devoted to Sydney author Tricia Dearborn, whose first book, Frankenstein's bathtub is scheduled for release in mid-March.]
it comes to poetry, I'm not interested in theory. I'm interested in what
a poem is, and does; what it makes me feel, think, consider, perceive; how
it opens me to my own life. How it helps me see.
I remember most of what I think is the first poem I ever wrote, at 7; but the first poem that I could say, in retrospect, feels like an ancestor to what I write now was written on a school excursion when I was 11. Up till then, most of my poems owed quite a lot to the style of L M Montgomery's 'poetess' heroine Emily. Wellington Caves was the first poem I wrote that was based solely on my own perceptions, ideas and feelings.
As I got older, I used to wonder (and occasionally agonise over) why I didn't write more, when I so badly wanted to. In my twenties I finally realised that I wrote when I felt, and that feeling wasn't something I'd had much practice at. (Let's just say it wasn't encouraged at home.) Reclaiming the right-and the knack-of feeling fully has been a crucial part of my coming home to writing.
my development as a poet so far, I've certainly been influenced by the poets
I've read. Those that I love include Margaret Atwood, Sharon Olds, Mary
Oliver, Anne Carson, Marge Piercy, Dorothy Porter, John Donne, Raymond Carver,
Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Vicki Feaver. I love poetry that has blood
in it (metaphorically speaking). I love a fierce blend of intellect and
passion. I love to be moved. I bought Vicki Feaver's The Handless Maiden
because the last lines of the first poem I'd turned to ('Beauty and the
Beast') made me gasp out loud. There is a poem of Raymond Carver's-'Cherish'-that
I can't read without weeping. There are books of poetry I want to eat.
been interested in science for about as long as I've been interested in
writing. I have a science degree, but worked in science only briefly. I
wrote one of the poems in Frankenstein's bathtub ('the biosynthesis of 3-nitropropanoic
acid in penicillium atrovenetum') because I missed the language of science.
There are words you just don't hear unless you're working in a lab.
I write, I try to be open to discovering the words and form that each particular
poem needs. I'm just now beginning to write more poems in sequences, liking
the idea of exploring a subject from different angles, the richness, complexity
and depth that that can allow.
When it comes down to it, writing has always seemed like magic to me, one of the most exciting things you can do.
E-books. Do you believe the hype? Or are they just a fad?
With the recent uncertainty about dot.coms in general, you could be forgiven for having a lapse in faith in the future of digital publishing. But it seems that the major players like Microsoft and Adobe are serious about the future of publishing on the Net and on portable readers. Several companies are putting the final touches on the software that will allow publishers to produce digital versions of text and multimedia work, and they are banking on public taste changing to embrace these new technologies.
Until publishers know which technology will emerge as the preferred choice in the marketplace, you will probably see versions that can be easily adapted between authoring packages. For IP Digital, this means staying with pdf (portable document format) for most projects. PDF's main attractions are that it has been tested and refined through several versions, up to Acrobat 4.05 currently. It's a brave publisher indeed who would risk precious funds on a new package.
For authors, e-books can be a great opportunity to see their work published in a package immediately accessible to a global market. They offer more flexibility in design and format, too. While the cost of introducing colour into print versions is prohibitive for short print runs, in digital versions colour costs no more than black ink. Multimedia elements can be included as well, so authors who read well can add audio and even video enhancements to their work, making it more attractive to audiences attracted to works that appeal to all of their senses.
Since e-books can be easily updated, the costs of publishing new editions are lower, and those irritating minor typos you missed in the final proofs for your print version can be corrected in seconds.
For new work or untested authors. e-book publication can be a way of testing the work in the marketplace without spending thousands of dollars on production. E-books can be produced 'on demand', lessening up-front costs for publishers and reducing the demand for storage space.
The potential of e-books as a creative resource is infinite. Authors and their creative partners can now do things such as producing high quality video content with only modest technical credentials. This brings control over creative content closer to the originators of that content. Particularly with experimental work, it is much more feasible to "get it out there" via niche publishers such as IP Digital, avoiding the usual cycle of disappointment authors experience in dealing with 'mainstream' gatekeepers.
Yes, there will always be a place for printed books. But literary artists should realise the potential offered by e-books on several fronts, and seriously consider it as an option for their work.
A new feature to IP eNews will be the occasional showcasing of other sites we think our readers might like to browse.
ArtMedia, from Sydney, is such a site, especially if you're interested in what's happening in the world of digital creativity and publishing. Alan Clay, who runs the site, is very democratic about letting his readers have their say, and sometimes his newsletter borders on the chatroom. But that's not a criticism: most of the contributors provide a thoughtful perspective on the issue at hand.
The site maintains a links page, with valuable information on the Who's Who of the digital publishing world, from online magazines, to organisations who support digital work, and even competitions devoted to promoting cutting edge work.
We urge you to have a browse and to subscribe to his free newsletter.
New literary forms require some lateral thinking in more than one way. It seemed to us that a multimedia work might be better sold in places that people look for multimedia work. And that isn't generally in bookshops.
So we've been in contact with a number of art gallery shops, including The National Gallery of Australia, who were delighted to stock The Gallery. Given the title, and its lavish use of visual art work, graphics and video, it seems right at home. This supports our view that one of the most exciting things about literary multimedia is the opportunity to bring literary work in contact with other artforms. Our slogan for writers could very well be out of the hovel and into the art gallery!
So keep an eye out for The Gallery at an art gallery near you.
We also had it suggested to us that we should try selling it through Harvey Norman stores, which can be found throughout Australia and New Zealand. This made sense, too. Harvey Norman stocks a wide range of multimedia titles, games and software. And we think it will appeal to people who are looking for something different from the usual shoot 'em up games. If you can't find it at your local Harvey Norman store, ask them to order it in.
Or you can always order it from us directly.
Following its successful debut at the Brisbane Writers' Festival, David Reiter has been asked to give similar demonstrations elsewhere. Some of these will include The Art of Publishing Forum at the Sunshine Coast University on 17 February, two presentations at the New South Wales Harvest Festival on 24-25 March, for Arts Nexus in Cairns at the end of April (to be finalised soon), and at the Ipswich Library on 15 May.
The interest in The Gallery and IPD's other digital titles has been very strong among the libraries, many of whom are ordering digital versions of our print works as well as a copy of the printed work itself. Their attitude seems to be that libraries should anticipate what their clients will want. We couldn't agree more.
For those of you who live outside of Queensland, you may not realise that the public education system here is in the process of a major overhaul. One of the key parts of the plan is the New Basics Project, initiated by Education Queensland.
The first phase of this Project is already under way at a group of trial schools throughout the State. In contrast to traditional modes of instruction, the New Basics team has sought to identify 'rich tasks' that can be used to teach 'trans-curricular' skills that relate directly to real world experience. An important part of the process has been to invite industry representatives to set up a dialogue with the Project Team and teachers from the trial schools to better prepare them to set up the rich tasks for their students.
Recently, our Director was invited to talk about how multimedia could be used to achieve some of the goals set by the Project. Setting students projects that involve authoring and refining multimedia work is a great way to teach them creative as well as practical skills, and to show them that art and creative thought still plays a very important role in our daily lives.
We feel confident that immersing students in an environment that brings together technology and art will strengthen our educational system and produce better, and more well-rounded, graduates, who can think beyond the fences that define traditional disciplines.
Projects such as The New Basics will help Australia take its rightful place among the "New Economies". We were very pleased to be invited to participate at the planning stage and look forward to even greater involvement as the Project evolves.