Vol 3, No. 3 ISSN 1442-0023
The past few months saw me out of the Studio almost as much as in. With the support of Arts Queensland and the sponsorship of Arts Nexus, I conducted the first PPP (Pitch your Project to the Publisher) sessions up in Cairns more on that later. I also spent a week in the seclusion of El Kumanand Press rainforest retreat on the Atherton Tablelands where I completed a novella, Sharpened Knife, soon to be a new work of multimedia fiction, with some of the video footage I was able to shoot on site. David de Vaux, EKPs publisher graciously arranged for a constant rain, which kept me focussed on the tasks at hand. I also made substantial headway on the text component of The Planets, an interactive fictive memoir Ill be tackling once our Spring Season has been launched in mid-September.
I had just enough time to catch my breath before heading for true winter down in New South Wales. The Country Library Association of New South Wales is a hardy lot, and they are to be commended for organising their latest annual conference at Orange, which rivals Canberra as Australias cold spot and thats saying something! I was one of the featured speakers, presenting a well-attended session on e-publishing, where I unveiled our new-look web site, gave a demo of The Gallery, and spoke about my vision of where libraries will fit into the New Economy Publishing scene.
After the conference, I travelled to Sydney and met with the staff at several major metro libraries where I continued to talk about the prospects for partnerships between IP and libraries as we move into a phase in which e-books will become more widely accepted and even read. I was pleased to note that several library managers outside as well as in Sydney are committed to working proactively to ensure their libraries anticipate the demand of their readers.
Most recently, I have been speaking with senior staff at Arts Queensland and the Brisbane Library system about forming a Working Group to determine if it would be feasible to set up a portal to encourage the publication and distribution of digital work. Adobe has a new system called Content Server that apparently does it all. It doesnt come at a cheap price, though, so a joint venture will be needed. I will continue to make contact with key staff in NSW to see if we can set something up that has a wide participant base from the outset. More on that in future issues.
We have been quite active on the publishing front, too. Our Spring Season will be launched at the Philip Bacon Gallery, New Farm, on 18 September, from 6 p.m., featuring Phil Browns new book An Accident in the Evening. Also in evidence will be the two other print titles we issued in March The Ventriloquists Child by Clayton Hansen, and Frankensteins bathtub by Tricia Dearborn which havent had their Brisbane launch as yet. But we will remedy that in October watch this space!
Also newly released are CD and pdf versions of The Ventriloquists Child and a CD of Tasmanian author Tony Kearneys delightful A Frolic in Fiction. Much has been written of late of how the over-55s are just starting to see the advantages the Internet can offer them, but Tony, at 81 years young, has been out there at the head of the pack. His pioneering creative spirit has had wide coverage by the media, so by all means order the work so you know what theyre raving on about! Its humourous stuff, and I guarantee youll laugh out loud many times.
It also gives me great pleasure to announce the establishment of a new division of IP: IP Sales (IPS). More and more authors are approaching IP to provide them with distribution and sales support, and IPS will fill the bill. The idea behind IP has always been to support good writing through activities like the publication of this newsletter, so it makes sense to expand our efforts in this very important area, too. Of course, we only take on quality titles and authors, as youll see from the examples featured below.
Finally, I want to welcome Sara Moss to her new post as Newsletter Editor. You may know of Sara from her excellent book A Deep Fear of Trains, which got our Emerging Authors Series off to a fine start. But she has been working quietly behind the scenes for many months as my Assistant Editor, helping with assessments and maintaining contact with prospective authors. Sara is dedicated to making IP eNews an even better read in the future, and she looks forward to your feedback and feature article submissions. She lives down at the Gold Coast, where you can contact her by email, or messages can still be sent to IP eNews mailbox. For those of you interested in attribution, youll now find the editor (blame?) for each column indicated at the end (DR=me, SM=Sara).
Dr David Reiter
[At a recent New & Selected reading in Brisbane, Brett Dionysius, founding Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival, announced that the Subverse collective he runs will soon be disbanded and that the Poetry Festivals future is in doubt.]
Ive been a long-time supporter of the Queensland Poetry Festival and have often commended Brett and his staff on what I believe has become the best festival of its kind in Australia.
This hasnt been just out of good luck. The Subverse team have worked damned hard, sometimes with little or no funding, to make the Festival what it is the poetry event on the Queensland calendar. Too often literary festivals succumb to the imperatives of time and energy too little of either and the same tried and true writers appear as guests, simply because the organisers havent got the resources to scout for new voices. When the same stars are invited year after year, new talent goes undiscovered and acknowledged, and this surely is one of the key reasons for having Festivals in the first place.
By and large, Brett and his team have avoided this pitfall. Theyve set up a consultative structure whereby lots of people have input into who should be invited. And Brett has taken the time to travel extensively throughout Australia to other festivals and venues to hear those new voices first-hand. Its a necessary, if exhausting, part of the job.
But one that comes with few rewards. There are those in society who feel that the pursuit of art is its own reward, and that poets and other endangered species should be able to live on air and what crumbs of recognition they are offered by an indifferent media and the wider community. The arts take their place well back of the queue for funding and few voices of substance come to their aid.
There are of course grants offered by federal and state bodies, but these are no more than tokenism when compared with the vast sums wasted on high-profile projects that supposedly provide jobs.
Consider the recent semi-annual round administered by Arts Queensland, the Queensland Governments arts funding body. The report indicates that of the $3 million or so requested, less than $700,000 was granted, despite many worthy projects that went unfunded. Now $700,000 may seem like a lot of money, but that amount was divided 44 ways, across all artforms, meaning the average grant would be less than $16,000.
The argument is always that there is no money in the Government coffers for more generous funding of the arts, but this is simply not true. Recently, the Premier made headlines offering an incentive of $100 million to a company to ensure a new mine would be established in Central Queensland. This was doubtless in addition to other incentives that were already on the table. How many jobs would be created for that $100 million of tax-payers money? I wager that the cost would be far more than $16,000 per job.
The arts benefit all of society, not just company executives, shareholders and a few hundred employees located in a single region. More people attend arts-related events in a year than sport events in this country. While it could be argued that we need mining projects like this to ensure a healthy economy, a healthy arts community could potentially employ many more people in non-polluting, sustainable work.
It is a shame that dedicated artists like Brett Dionysius and his crew are not afforded the financial recognition they deserve. We take them and other artists too much for granted. Its time that our decision-makers realise that words of support are not enough.
There is much debate in the media now about tax cuts versus spending on needed social programs. Polls reveal that many people would prefer that government spend more to improve our health and educational services rather than offering tax cuts to those who least need them. Perhaps its time that art workers were seen as just as deserving and essential to our community as workers in those other under-funded sectors.
For too long, the arts have been considered a luxury by government. There are no votes in funding artists or dedicated workers like the Subverse team. The wisdom seems to be that artists will continue to do what they have to do despite lack of funding. Somehow, the story goes, van Goghs art was the better for his poverty. The artist went mad and suicided but the commodity lives on.
If the system works, why fix it?
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In early June, Director David Reiter travelled to Cairns in Far North Queensland for a series of events billed as Reiter Interactive by Arts Nexus, the sponsoring organisation. IP is committed to providing better access to its publishing program for authors from regional Queensland, and this provided them with a chance to meet a publisher first-hand and ask the hard questions about the state of the industry.
There were how-to events like Moving from Text to Multimedia that showed how IP produces digital versions of existing print publications, with a close look at IPs innovative web site that now features Flash and Fireworks content as well as MP3 audio as enhancements for its list.
A special session looked at the making
Reiters literary multimedia title, The
Gallery as a case study of how the new technologies can be exploited
by artistic teams to create commercially viable content.
But perhaps the most rewarding time for all concerned was spent during the PPP (Pitch your Project to the Publisher) sessions in which Dr Reiter met with twelve authors to discuss the prospects for their manuscripts, which included collections of poetry and short fiction, several novels and a work of travel fiction.
Were pleased to report that IP has already made a contract offer to one of the participants, based on our viewing of her complete ms. One other author has had a formal assessment on her novel, which she is now busily revising, and a third author has asked us to do a formal assessment of her project. Given that IP only takes on projects for assessment that we feel have artistic and commercial merit, this speaks well of the pool of talent in Far North Queensland.
Special thanks to Eve Stafford and Christian Green for their assistance with the logistics as well as the sumptuous spread during the soirée. And also to Dosia and Anthony Reichardt who shared their Daintree home with him during his stay.
IP looks forward to new partnerships in other regions of Queensland as well as interstate. If your group would be interested in hosting events like these, please get in contact with us.
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[Phil Brown's new book, An Accident in the Evening, will be launched at IP's Spring Season Launch on 18 September 01 at the Philip Bacon Gallery, 2 Arthur Street, New Farm.]
It seems passe nowadays to suggest that poetry can be found in the ordinary, everyday aspects of life. To say so verges on stating the bleeding obvious. But so it is for me, as for many others. In my new collection, An Accident in The Evening, (which, I must point out has nothing to do with the fact that we have an infant in our house), many of the poems deal with the generally unromantic facts of modern urban life.
Satori at Seven-Thirty and Thoughts While Waiting
for a Pizza in New Farm, the subject, baldly put, is take-away
food. In Video Night and Super, Man, inspiration
comes from the small screen that lurks in the corner of the lounge
room. The Afternoon Drags, Afternoon Reverie
and The House at Night derive from Thoreaus idea
that many of us lead lives of quiet desperation. Well, I may feel
desperate occasionally but Im seldom quiet.
This is probably a direct result of
the fact that I am not an academic and that I work as a journalist.
Nowadays thats on the Murdoch press lifestyle magazine Brisbane
News but in the past I have had a strong career in daily newspapers.
Believe it or not they demand a certain clarity of expression from
their writers and this is evident in the narrative reportage (with
a poetic touch, I hope) which is a feature of much of my poetry.
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It is with pleasure that we recommend
to you RetortMagazine.com, a monthly
online journal of contemporary art and literature. This brilliant
site has recently been awarded a Golden Web Award for content and
design excellence and it certainly deserves this accolade and your
Have you heard the one about the recent IT graduate and the librarian? It isnt all that funny. The IT grad predicted with glee that with the e-book revolution libraries will soon go the way of banks that are being replaced by automatic teller machines.
The logic isnt all that warped. As more and
more people go on the Internet and feel less threatened by online
commerce, soon, the argument goes, e-book readers will be as common
as crows and mobile phones. Who will need bookshops or even libraries
when we can download whatever we want online?
Its enough to make a librarian scream, or at
least consider early retirement.
But perhaps were getting a bit ahead of ourselves. The fact is that most people, given a choice of text-receptical, will still go for the physical book, even if it does breed dustmites. That may change as younger readers enter the marketplace with their allergies and screen-fixations, but not for a while yet.
In the meantime, librarians have time to adapt before that ultimate meteorite hits.
For one thing, even as our brassy IT grad must concede, as the number of Internet users goes up, the size of the Net expands exponentially, making it more and more difficult for casual surfers to find what they want, let alone download it. And even if they know how to use a search engine, it can still take ages or at least hours to sort through all the possible links. Whats a geek-in-waiting to do?
Enter the Reconfigured Suburban Reference Librarian (RSRL). Thanks to her proactive partners at the national and state libraries, theres now a gateway dedicated to texts in their various guises physical and digital. Our confused surfer arrives at her desk or perhaps finds her in her library's cosy chatroom and asks the question that Google failed to answer: where can I find an interactive e-book on hula-hoops?
An expert in keyword formulation, our RSRL comes up with 20 URLs in a nanosecond. Another happy customer.
But theres more. Hula-hoop Kid downloads a demo version of the e-book, which entitles him to a week of unrestricted use sorry, no printing after which he either uses Mums credit card to pay for the work or watches it dissolve into cyberspace.
If he decides to pay, through clever application of encription technology, the library gets a percentage of the take. Across the continent, a thousand potential RSRLs look up: suddenly libraries can make money...
Theres nothing wrong with this, ethically or otherwise. Companies and individuals get paid referral fees by companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble if someone clicks on a banner and later buys something from the e-bookshop. This is not like police who get spotters fees from tow truck drivers. This is something with a higher calling almost spiritual. The preservation of a noble species: your local librarian.
Seriously, the future could be bright for libraries if they see the digital revolution as providing opportunities rather than a threat. But the time is now. Libraries need to work with New Economy Publishers to embrace the new technology as it emerges. They have always played an important role in providing access to information to the general community, and, with a minor retrofit in attitude and skills, they can continue to fill this niche.
Libraries can provide a comfort zone for people who are new to the Net as well as those who are overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. They can be first port-of-call as new technologies appear, providing venues for demonstrations and for contact with FCCs (Famous Content Creators better known as artists these days!).
Did we hear someone scream Eureka!? Shhh...
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Were pleased to announce the start-up of IP Sales (IPS), a division devoted to marketing titles here and overseas. IPS will work with authors to develop effective strategies for getting the word out about their work, then it will provide the support required for achieving sales.
The business side is not a subject that interests most authors, but its certainly near and dear to the hearts of publishers. Even more so these days with the apathy of the reading public toward literary work, and the quiet desperation of many small booksellers.
IP has always taken the promotional side of the business seriously. Creating a distinctive identity for a marketing wing of the company should help focus our energies on doing the best possible job for our authors.
Increasingly, published authors outside the IP stable are asking us if we can help them with distribution. The answer is a qualified yes. We ask that authors query us in the first instance so we can determine if their work is compatible with our list of titles. We may ask for a copy of the work so we can assess its commercial potential and our likelihood to achieve significant sales.
If we think we can help, well recommend a marketing strategy and order a modest number of copies on consignment to test the market. If the demand is there, we may then purchase quantities outright.
How will IPS compare with existing distributors? Favourably, we hope! With few exceptions, the established distributors are not interested in literary titles. They want work that sells itself, with a minimum of effort and expense on the companys part. If your name is not immediately recognisable by booksellers, most distributors will refuse your offer.
IPS will place a heavier weight on artistic merit in deciding whether to take on a new title. For example, we had no problem accepting Michael Saribans A Formula for Glass, published by UQP, because hes already part of our stable with his more recent work Facing the Pacific.. And we were also pleased to take on MTC Cronins latest work, Bestseller, because we are already representing her on behalf of her American publisher, Balcones International Press.
But we are also moving further afield. We promote Tom Collins classic of life in rural Queensland, Walk a Mile in My Shoes (published by Central Queensland University Press) and his daughter, Cynthia Lindenmayers sequel, Reflections of a Queensland Country Girl, because we feel both titles fit well with our list and we have no hesitation in recommending them to our customers.
And we have just accepted Dorothy Bridges moving work of non-fiction, Death the Final Challenge for promotion, because it is so well-written in its treatment of the deaths the author has had to face in her life. Its a how-to book that has a literary feel about it.
So we certainly wont take all comers, but IPS will be approachable. If you want more information on IPS, check out its mini-site.
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MTC Cronin has fulfilled Dorothy Porters prediction that she would vault with exciting ease over her contemporaries. A familiar face on the festival circuit, Cronin has since the publication in 1998 of Everything Holy, on which Porters remark appears, published four new books including Bestseller, her most recent, for a total of six titles since 1995.
Her list of awards and commendations is equally breath-taking, including the James Joyce Foundations Suspended Sentence Award, the Stand International Poetry Competition (UK), the Gwen Harwood Award, the Age Book of the Year and the Judith Wright Calenthe Award to name just a few.
IPS is delighted to add Bestseller (Vagabond Press) to our distribution list, where it will sit very comfortably, thank you, with Everything Holy (Balcones International Press).
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Phil Brown is no stranger to the Brisbane poetry scene, and he has a foot firmly in both camps as a reviewer for Brisbane News and The Courier-Mail, as well as an oft-published author of individual poems in his own right. If MTC Cronin is prolific, Brown is certainly not. His first book Plastic Parables, Metro Community Press, appeared in 1991. But as a working journalist, perhaps he is aware of market forces at work, and the pent-up demand that can be expected after ten years.
His new book, An Accident in the Evening, is due for release on 18 September from Interactive Press, as the latest title from our Emerging Authors Series. It represents the best of Browns work over the past decade, so its no wonder the reading engagements are already piling up.
Brisbanites can catch a sneak preview on 30 August at Wordpool, sponsored by the Queensland Writers Centre at Jamisons Restaurant. The American Bookshop will be hoarding a few rogues copies, so youd better be quick if you want a copy before the launch!
For more information on the launch and Phils visions of his own work, read the column next door. Booksellers and libraries are welcome to place their pre-orders online.
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In our previous issue of IP eNews we had a feature by Tasmanian author Tony Kearney on The Importance of Not Always Being Ernest.
Kearney, who has a tongue firmly in cheek at the best of times, has since shown that he is quite capable of ernestness, even at the ripe age of 81. Hes instructed us to make a CD-ROM of his latest work, A Frolic in Fiction, and weve been happy to oblige.
So for those of you who arent quite ready to download Tonys work from the Net, and who would prefer to have something in hand to show for your purchase price, for a mere $15.40, you can have a copy of Tonys CD. Like all titles from IPD, the CD is Windows and Mac compatible and will work like a charm as long as you have Adobe Acrobat Reader© installed on your machine. If you dont have Acrobat, simply go to the Adobe site, where you can download it for free.
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When Dorothy Bridge was 21, she almost died. In the same year, she lost her baby daughter, mother and grandmother. Both she and her husband struggled with cancer for years until he finally succumbed to his in 1994.
Overcome with grief, she wanted to die, too, but decided that life was more important. In her book Death The Final Challenge, she shows the reader how to endure hardship and pain to the point where you are ready for a new and fulfilling life, taking each day as it comes.
For all who grieve the widowed, divorced or separated this well-written and compassionate book will be compelling reading.
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Hello and welcome. Some of you may
already know me from my IP title A
Deep Fear of Trains. Others in the Brisbane writing community,
particularly the poets out there, might know me from my reading appearances
at the Subverse Queensland Poetry Festivals.
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