There is so much wonderful news
this month, particularly with regard to Libby Hart winning the
Anne Elder Award for her poetry collection Fresh
News From the Arctic. Congratulations, Libby! You can find out more about Libby’s
More big news comes with the release of IP’s first children’s
picture book Real Guns. David tells us all about it and the road in
getting it to publication in this issue. We also celebrate the release
of IP’s tenth anniversary CD Rainshadows, which showcases some
of our best talent over the last ten years!
Make sure to check out Your Deal for a great deal involving Rainshadows and our other IP titles!
the Director's Desk
the New Year, much of our attention has been focussed on activities
outside of Australia. For the first time, we’ll be publishing
titles from our Autumn list offshore. This was partly due to
the publication of our first children’s picture book, Real
Guns, which was simply too expensive to publish here. You might
find my reflections on getting it into print illuminating.
to advice from Angela Namoi at Allen & Unwin, who’s
been acting as our export mentor, we located an excellent printer
in Hong Kong, and we’ve been working with them to make
the process of producing our first hardcover as painless as possible.
Angela’s time has come courtesy of an Australia Council
program to support the export activities of select independent
publishers like IP.
Our partnership with Lightning
Source is up and running, with 29
titles uploaded to their site so far and now available for distribution
in Europe and North America. Now that we have the system up and
running, we’re extending the opportunity to other small publishers
and individual authors who might want to use us as a portal to
Lightning Source and benefit from the cost savings of doing it
through us. Check out the IP Sales column here, or go directly
to the Your Book to the World site for all the details.
Our export push will be assisted this year by DA
an international distributor, who will be displaying several of
our recent titles at the upcoming Beijing Book Fair. We hope that
that will be the first of several international book fairs where
we will sell IP titles, and we have our eye on the London Book
Fair and Book Expo USA in 2008.
I ran my Selling That Book! workshop up at Airlie Beach and was
delighted by the enthusiastic response from local authors, several
of whom had projects to pitch to me in one-to-one sessions in addition
to the workshop days. These sessions are working so well that we’ve
decided to give them a name: the Inside Track. Our Prose Editor
Lauren Daniels and I will offer them in Brisbane and other regional
centres we visit on our workshop circuits as a part of our new
Our 10th Anniversary CD Rainshadows is now officially released,
and we’re very pleased about it, especially Courtney, who
did so much of the postproduction legwork here at the Studio. Several
lucky subscribers got advance copies for free in an email comp
we ran recently. If you missed out this time, keep an eye on your
Inbox because we’ll be giving away other copies throughout
Or have a look at Your Deal this issue if you’re especially
keen to get your hands on a copy of Rainshadows now.
Finally, warm congratulations to Libby Hart, whose book Fresh
News from the Arctic was this year’s winner of the Anne Elder
Award. We know that our Emerging Authors’ Series is terrific,
but it’s always nice to have that acknowledged elsewhere.
You can hear Libby and our other Spring Season ’06 authors
in performance on our podcast
Dr David Reiter
the MA15+ Bookcase?
Trouble’s brewing on the horizon. Recently, the Government
tabled a draft Communications Content Amendment Bill that would
see print publishers subjected to the same rules that apply to
filmmakers if their titles go digital. Essentially, the
Government wants The
Office of Film and Literature Classification to
review and label any titles with visual content. It’s a small
step from requiring review for digital versions of texts to requiring
it for print
originals. The OFLC can already rightly say that LITERATURE is
their middle name!
The Australian Publishers’ Association has been lobbying
strongly against the Bill for a number of reasons. It certainly
smacks of censorship. The last thing a publisher wants, after having
spent good money putting a manuscript through the editorial hoops
is to have an external agency rate it as MA15+, which would put
it off limits to libraries and bookshops that are sensitive to
community opposition to explicit creative work.
The last thing
the public should want is further constraints on publishers that
currently take a punt on socially controversial subject matter.
A ratings system on books would adversely affect distribution,
and if the marketing and promotion gurus at the big publishing
houses go limp at the prospect of weak sales for a marginal title,
it won’t get published—at least by them.
How would such a Bill affect publishing decisions at independent
publishing houses like IP? It certainly wouldn’t be good
news for us on several fronts. It can take months for a film to
be rated by the OFC, and it can cost $700 or more per title in
processing charges, even for films that aren’t destined for
general release. Add $700 to the cost of producing a book of poems,
and it won’t happen. That dust on the horizon would be a
wagon train of niche literary publishers heading anywhere else
Fortunately, the Government is having second thoughts. Senator
Helen Coonan, who, as Minister for Communications, Information
Technology and the Arts, has carriage of the Bill, agreed to have
her chief advisors sit down
of such a Bill. Here’s the APA’s retrospective on the
[We] met with Senator Coonan’s Chief
of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor. They were open and honest and
indicated that during
the course of drafting the Bill, no one in the bureaucracy or the
Ministerial office had determined that this would impact on publishers,
particularly book publishers. There was not an understanding that
publishers had moved or were moving to the digital space and that
e books would be part of the business of current print publishers.
There was no understanding that e books could be delivered via
the web and the mobile phone or convergent devices or that some
publishers would publish on line before or instead of in print.
We outlined the issue of moving the current printed book into an
online format and gained a guarantee that publishers would not
have to seek classification.
However, if a publisher moved to an online format that had interactive
links or moving pictures, then the government would require them
to seek classification as it was no longer “a book” but
contained elements of film and computer game like qualities.
We also ascertained that educational publishers who might move
to “e” formats with moving pictures or interactive
links, particularly in the area of science and health, would be
covered by an exemption.
Senator Coonan’s staff gave an undertaking not to introduce
the replacement Bill, until publishers, through the APA, had been
able to read it and were satisfied that it did not penalize them.
You’ll forgive me if I’m less than reassured by the
Minister’s advisors. Their system assumes a neat divergence
between print and interactive publication. There isn’t one.
And whatever is there currently will be less if publishers like
me have our way.
There’s no way of legislating that print titles
remain linear. I look forward to seeing new projects where writers,
visual and sound artists and animators create hybrid works that
may begin as text or multimedia and reform into different spaces.
This Bill would have the effect of stifling creativity, experimentation
and innovation. It will still happen, but without the explicit
support of well-heeled publishers. The work itself will be hit-and-run,
appearing on blogs, podcasts or self-destructing websites. You’ll
have to be there when it happens, or you’ll miss it.
Attending more workshops these days but enjoying
it less? Want high-powered advice from experts in the field
what it takes
to move from idea to manuscript to the publisher’s
desk? Our upcoming Pro Series will be for you!
IP already offers assessment services through IP
Assess as well
as some mentoring services. Both are pitched at people who know
what they want rather than browsers. We believe there’s
room in the market for a series of workshops and seminars specifically
geared to publication and beyond.
So Director David Reiter and our Prose Editor Lauren Daniels,
each with many years experience offering top flight workshops,
have mapped out a Pro Series for authors and people interested
arranged space at Red Hill TAFE, and an
inaugural program of workshops will be advertised soon.
plan is to offer not only face-to-face workshops but also online
courses, mentorships and podcasts for people who can’t
attend in Brisbane or at regional centres we tour the workshops
have our own ideas on what courses should be mounted first, but
be happy to hear from YOU about what you’d like to see
put on in the second wave and so on. And if you think you have
what it takes to offer a Pro Series workshop yourself, by all
established, the Pro Series will invite experts from interstate
to give workshops and master classes. If that describes you,
get in contact and let us know your interests, and we’ll
see if we can include you in the program.
As a part of the Pro Series, we plan to expand our mentoring services.
Inside Track (IT) sessions will give
prospective authors a no-holds-barred hour consultation with Lauren
or David. You come with an idea or
manuscript to pitch, and we tell you what to do with it.
An IT session may lead to a mentoring arrangement with
Lauren or David, or one of our freelance experts. Or we may
recommend that you have the manuscript assessed or attend an upcoming
workshop. If your
manuscript is the next Harry Potter, we may invite you to submit
it to us straight away. You’ll be on the Inside Track,
in any or all of this and want to know more? Drop us a line. Or
check out the Pro Series site for more information.
up, we let Director David Reiter sound off about his new children’s
picture book Real Guns, which is the inaugural title for our
new IP Kidz imprint. It’s an interesting example of how
personal experience can give rise to a story idea, without slavishly
directing how it should be written.]
The story about how Real
Guns came to
be published is almost as interesting as how it came to be written,
but let me start at the beginning. In a sense I had to write it.
It’s based on my childhood, on one of those incidents that
changed my life—to use a worn-out expression. But it did.
I don’t remember much from those years, but I still remember
this, like it happened just yesterday. Like most boys, I was fascinated
by guns. They were, and still are, a part of everyday life in America,
and many people would fight to the death to defend their Constitutional
right to “bear arms”.
Children still grow up with the
sense that Might makes Right, and that America is usually the Good
Guy. Guns simplify the dialogue between the forces of right and wrong,
and are a means to enforce the will of God, who is invariably on
the side of America.
Guns could be found in homes—if you knew where to look. Many
people still see them as the only way to defend themselves and their
families against home invaders, a necessary part of a security system.
A way to prevent harm.
It’s no surprise to me that a representative
of the gun lobby said most of the murders at Virginia Tech would
have been prevented if students had had the right to carry weapons
with them on campus.
Guns are a necessary part of war, but we fail to confront the consequences
to those who use them and live on. When all is said and done, we’re
more interested in who wins than on the effects felt by people who
previously would not have contemplated killing another human being.
Those who suffer posttraumatic shock become invisible as the mainstream
tries to move on. Unless the returned soldier resorts to a gun in
the wrong context to assert his presence. So much for the glory of
My father never went to war. He had a heart problem that exempted
him from active service. But, as a working class man, he accepted
the need to bear arms to defend his family, even though we hardly
had anything that needed defending. For him, you had to be prepared
just in case chance went against you.
He never told me about the gun, and I never actually heard my parents
arguing about it, but somehow I knew it was there. It was part of
the fabric of our family; it hovered in the tension that I felt between
my parents like humidity on a summer’s night. And it was inevitable
that I would go looking for it.
The germ of Real Guns is not my father’s past, or the palpable
antipathy between my parents. It was the instant I held the gun,
feeling the weight of the cold blue metal. It didn’t go off
as I cradled it, but it was only good luck that it didn’t.
Many others aren’t so lucky. I had to write about that.
Several years ago I sent the story, in draft, to an Australian publisher,
and it was accepted straight away. It had an illustrator, but unfortunately
he failed to deliver the goods. Eventually I terminated the contract,
and the story sat there for a couple of years as I got on with other
Then, out of the blue, I got a call from a prominent author/illustrator
who said she had come across the story and wanted to urge me to get
it published. “It’s important,” she said. “You
need to get it out there!”
It was an omen I couldn’t ignore, so I started thinking of
it again. Soon after, an email arrived from this Irish artist Patrick
Murphy pitching for work. I checked out his website and was impressed
by his art. It was bright, brash and emphatic—just the thing
to complement my words. Patrick and I clicked straight away and I
quickly learned to trust his instincts on what would suit the story.
I hope we can meet someday, perhaps over a Guinness or three at his
Belfast local as the first stop in our UK tour. In the meantime,
let the kids and the other critics have their go. It’s certainly
a story for the times.
[Michael O’Sullivan’s Easter
at Tobruk is his second novel with IP. It was
Highly Commended in IP Picks 2006 and will be released in June.
Assistant Editor Katia Nizic had a chat with him about the
book as the basis for this feature.]
Where might one find a work, a piece of literature,
which combines the notions of God, war, time travel and what it means
to be an Australian today? These elements can all be found in writer
Michael O’Sullivan’s Easter at Tobruk.
It is a novel about collisions: the inherent contradictions
between war and Christianity; between generations and their differing
values; and between contemporary Australia and Australia during the
Second World War. It is equally concerned with understanding the
perspectives of all parties, in regards to these collisions.
The novel is set during two Easters: that of 1941 in Tobruk where
Australian infantry and British artillery and tanks dispelled the
myth of the invincibility of Blitzkrieg; and another Easter fifty
years later, where a young man, his mother and the local priest are
confronted with their national and personal pasts, and compelled
to re-evaluate what they value, and why.
The work originated from Michael O’Sullivan’s association
with the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, where he worked both
full time and as a consultant for twelve years. For much of that
time, he worked as the Curator of Private Records. This is one of
the world’s finest collections of the personal papers (diaries,
letters etc.) of ordinary men and women during times of conflict.
Michael confesses that the diaries of chaplains on active service
always interested him greatly and that they became solid influences
Michael says, “I set out to communicate the experience of reading
another’s personal thoughts and feelings, and how they might
affect future generations. I chose the Easter battle at Tobruk as
a focal point because it brought into the equation the question of
how does one reconcile war and belief in a ‘good’ god?”
“Easter is about life through death. A whole truckload of opposites and
contradictions. So it provided a scenario where war and Christianity collide
in an Australian context. It seemed appropriate to bring these issues to the
fore,” explains Michael. These issues are brought forward not only in the
historical context of 1941, but also in a future setting, enabling the work to
explore the effects of war not only on the participants, but also on their friends
and families, and future generations.
In the novel the protagonist, Rob, a successful young lawyer, is suddenly confronted
by a man claiming to be his grandfather, who presents him with diaries he wrote
while on active service with the army during Would War II. Rob becomes totally
absorbed in reading the diaries, to the extent that he is drawn into the events
being described. After being knocked down by a car on the morning of Easter Monday
he regains consciousness not in a hospital ward, but in a weapon pit along the
perimeter line at Tobruk in 1941, with the German Afrika Korps about to attack.
The situation Rob finds himself in mirrors that of many people, shouting in a
wilderness, unheard and unheeded. In contemporary Western society many of us
are nailed to crosses, of personal relationships, work and mortgages, and conflicting
senses of identity. Rob’s dilemma, and the resolution he finds, is an awareness
that he alone can save himself.
The novel is a surprising mix of third and first person accounts. It also employs
cinematic techniques, immersing the reader in the moment and leaving them a little
shell shocked, just like Rob. This is the work of an ambitious writer, who reaches
out to the often forgotten cultural agenda of Australia that many Australian
novels seem to dismiss or avoid.
Michael says, “In general all my work is focused on Australia and Australians,
but I hope the basic human experience means that people anywhere can relate to
Editor Courtney Frederiksen interviews Jan
Dean about her IP
Picks 2007 Best First Book for her poetry collection With
One Brush, scheduled for publication by IP this November.]
CF: In what way does living in Cardiff,
NSW, affect your writing?
JD: Cardiff is reputedly situated in
the mouth of an extinct volcano, which may account for its hilly
and strange residents. Places,
like people, have spirit. Sometimes it’s interesting to view
a familiar place as a tourist might, but it’s also valuable
to put down roots, absorbing qualities that a tourist would overlook.
I am conscious of Cardiff’s peopled past, going back over 40,000
years. After colonization, it was an area of orchards and coalmines.
My visitors include native beauties like lorikeets, rosellas, lizards
and possums. Cardiff is diverse enough to support an interesting
lifestyle, and its close proximity to bushland, the vineyards, lake
and beaches provides me with subject matter. For a change of pace,
Sydney is approximately two hours south by car, or two and a half
hours by rail.
CF: As well as writing very visually, you make a lot of references
to art and artists. Are you an artist as well as a poet? What kind
artist would you call yourself?
JD: I’m a Jack-of-All-Trades. When I trained as an Art/English
teacher we didn’t specialise: we covered a number of areas
like painting, printmaking, sculpture, design and ceramics. Later,
I pursued photography, weaving and drama. I had imagined that after
I retired from teaching I’d concentrate on one art form, but
the writing bug bit me. In a sense I’ve played with art forms
through writing. The meditative process and elements involved in
making poetry and art are similar.
CF: Your use of colour is very strong. What does colour mean to you
personally and what does it bring to your work?
JD: I am drawn to colour. Perhaps I use it intuitively. Your red
hat in the photo on the website suggests you are a spirited person,
Colour provokes an immediate response and understanding, often through
association. It is a powerful element symbolically, and as a connector
for memory with a wide repertoire ranging from drama and invigoration
to calmness. Colour depends very much on light. I love the way colours
change according to juxtaposition, affecting mood, just as music
does. Think of how much easier it is to name a hue than describe
CF: In the poem “The Body and
Brushes With Blood” you wrote ‘I
felt my difference early, when I heard/ the call of the crows as
music.’ Do you believe creative people view the world differently?
How would you say you view the world?
I wrote “The Body and Brushes With Blood” in the voice of Artemisia
Gentileschi, a 17th century Italian painter. She has become a feminist
icon, credited with being the first female artist to support herself
through her artwork. Imagining myself in the body of another allows
freedom to express things I may not otherwise be brave enough to
say. Eventually I removed the reference and claimed the poem as,
in essence, it relates to me. It was longer originally: one hundred
lines to achieve thirteen.
Given that everyone views the world differently, according to age,
gender, race, education etc. when it comes to aesthetics, creative
people see the world in a special way, which involves heightened
sensibilities. I’m sure they are aware of subtleties others
miss, although complete focus is needed for this. Creative people
have an eye for detail, and excellent works know no borders.
I like to think I’m an optimist. Still, that has become difficult
in the face of issues like climate change; reduced biodiversity through
denuded habitats, and numerous injustices, including exploitation.
How does anyone exist without hope?
CF: You look to the past, to grandparents, ancestors and great artists.
What do you think we can learn from those gone before us?
JD: We’re each only a tiny part of the long history of human
existence, and there is oneness to life. We need the past to chart
going in the future. The great myths and legends are repeated in
our own lives. Knowing who and where we come from is a comfort: a
sense of connection stimulates, and is stimulated by, memory and
imagination. Our forbears and certain artists are models, imbuing
values like love, faith, goodness, modesty and enthusiasm, despite
difficulties. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to possess all these
in the right balance? It’s also important to learn from mistakes.
I am enamoured with famous artists, including the brothers David
and Arthur Boyd, and those of their ilk. They were risk-takers and
innovators. I’m not so naïve to think we know everything
about them, or they had all the answers to life, yet they were so
patient, industrious and generous; no problem seemed to faze them.
Their commitment is worth emulating, whatever we aim to accomplish.
Editor Courtney Frederiksen interviews Kathy
Kituai about her IP
Picks 2007 Highly Commended tanka collection Straggling
into Winter, which is scheduled for publication by IP
CF: What were the challenges in transforming
a traditionally Japanese form of poetry successfully into English?
KK: The challenge, as much as the delight
of writing tanka, is the discipline of compressing ideas that would
have taken me hundreds
of lines to
write, into five lines. The enormity of what can be said in 21 syllables
or less without losing emotional truth is thrilling.
Most of all I love the challenge of contrasting two ideas or placing
unrelated images side by side and gaining the same effect as I do
in free-verse with simile or metaphor. The skill of course is to
say just enough for the reader to make the connection between the
two. I love the indirect nature of tanka, that ‘pointing to the moon’ and nothing else, so that readers can see the moon for themselves.
I could talk about the Japanese syllabic count of 5/7/5/7/7 not being
the same length in English, how 3/5/3/5/5 is closer and has bought
about healthy debate among tankarist, and challenging as that is,
branches too much into technicalities. Correct syllabic length in
five lines is not necessarily the ingredients that make a tanka.
My last word on the subject of being challenged? If not challenged,
I am most uncomfortable as a poet.
CF: Given that the tanka is a very personal poetic form, did you
find it hard to gain the distance necessary to convey the problems
by another person?
KK: I never distance myself from problems faced by either the subject
I’m writing about or my own grief. However, this is but the starting
point for me. I write from personal experience, search for what exist
in myself that I see in others, identify and exaggerate it if need
be. The challenge is to make the personal universal. Each writer
has their own way of doing this. Because tanka embodies both nature
and our human-ness, as the reflection of the other, its success rests
on the aha! moment where universal understanding is suddenly obvious.
This is the point of tanka, the target as tankarist for which I aim.
So much depends on what you leave out without rending the poem to
a shopping list.
Being a diarist for twenty years has helped.
CF: How important is nature
to your life and poetry?
KK: It’s vital. especially
our bird life. I write in bed first thing in the morning and observe
the coming and going of flocks, their
pecking order, am awakened by magpies. Upstairs, my bedroom acts
as a hide. I boo the bully boys (sulphur crested cockatoos), am empathetic
when they arrive old and featherless, swoon over the latest fledglings.
They teach me about my own flock’s strengths and weaknesses.
is not that different you know. Because of this, tanka is the perfect
vehicle for me to convey what I discover. As I’ve already said, tanka
dovetails nature with human emotions.
CF: Do you find writing to be
an effective way of dealing with life's problems?
KK: Yes. My pen does the thinking for me and leads me to the depth of
what I feel. Seldom do I know what I’m about to put on the page;
that in itself is endlessly fascinating, is what keeps me writing.
I also facilitate this approach in creative writing courses in the
ACT and the surrounding regions.
CF: Did Rose-Mary’s involvement change your plans for the book?
KK: It would be truer to
say that her death changed my plans for Straggling into Winter;
we had planned other books beside this, Rose-Mary as
illustrator, myself as poet.
Was it coincidental that this is the
news that the cancer
growing in your uterus
must be pruned ----
I write a requiem
for cut flowers
Although this collection embraces other subjects like Australian
wild life, older relationships and aging, in retrospect the whole
journal is a requiem for Rose-Mary. Kind of makes me shiver at the
prophetic nature of that first tanka. I had no idea she wouldn’t
survive her battle with the original and her secondary cancer.
When working in a cross-art endeavour, so much depends on your relationship
with the “other” as much as your relationship (and theirs)
with your own art. Rose-Mary’s involvement enhanced my artistic
process. She was acquainted with Japanese poetry and shared my love
of it. Because
of this sensibility, I knew that her work would do more than illustrate
mine; she would have added her own unique angle and expression to
the book. Sadly this was not to be. I'm hoping that the tanka about
our artistic life together reflect this anguish, this thwarted
and honours her.
you may have read above,
nearly 30 IP titles are available for purchase from Lightning
Source UK and USA. It
was all hands on deck in March since LS had a promotion on that
waived their normal set-up charges for publishers who listed
25 titles or more by the end of the month. We did that and more,
with the cooperation of a host of IP authors who signed up to
The work’s not over. It’s one thing to be listed on Amazon or with
Barnes and Noble, but people have to know your book is there before they’ll
buy it. So we’re poised to spread the word to as many bookshops, libraries
and individuals as we can reach. Hopefully that will complement LS’s
We’re not expecting a flood of orders overnight, but a few ripples next
week will be fine!
Information Services, a global distributor, has invited us to display
a selection of recent IP titles at their booths at the upcoming
Beijing Book Fair. DAS reckons the time is right to ramp up the
export of Australian books to China, which has a growing appetite
for English language books.
We’re happy to fill the gap!
that note, we’ve put another bid for support from the Australia
Council in their International Marketing and Presentations. We
think it’s time we got out more—to international bookshows
like the London Book Fair and Book Expo America. And we hope they
welcome Craig Tuck to the fold this issue as our new Assistant
other duties, Craig’s
been beefing up our database of libraries and schools and learning
to love Bowkerlink ahead
of our marketing push for our new imprint, IP Kidz. He files
this as his bio:
In 2006 Craig finished his studies at the University of Queensland,
completing with Distinctions a Graduate Certificate in Writing,
Editing and Publishing.
Previously, Craig completed a dual undergraduate degree in Journalism and
Arts, majoring in Media Studies and Creative Writing in the Arts component
of his degree, while also training in Journalism as a reporter and feature
Craig is passionate about communications and the media, is an avid film buff
and terribly excited to have joined IP. As a creative writer, Craig draws from
a range of influences from the worlds of music, literature and film, but counts
as particularly valuable the long-term influence of colourful children’s
authors such as Roald Dahl, a writer he hopes to emulate in the world of children’s
literature. Craig is currently working with his artist father Graham Tuck on
the illustrated children’s novel “Nothing Dandy”.
Enjoying original and powerful story-telling, irrespective of the medium,
Craig looks forward to immersing himself in the world of media publishing
at IP and
helping IP’s authors reach their potential.
do our best to help him realise those aspirations!
More and more people are
writing memoirs these days. And earlier in their lifetime, it
this has something to do with an urgency borne out of a pessimism
that they might be blown up before the next Dr Who series goes
to air. Or maybe they just find themselves—and their life
In that lies the key to successful memoir writing: making the subject—you—intensely
interesting to a reader who doesn’t know you from the proverbial
bar of soap.
It’s harder than you think. Sure, your friends may skim the
first few pages of your polished draft and declare it publishable,
but are they just being nice? Probably. Most people prefer to dwell
on their own peak experiences than that of others, unless the other
either has a celebrity profile or a story to tell that would keep
an accountant on the edge of his chair.
What about your relations, blood, or otherwise? Can you depend
on them for an honest assessment of what you’ve written?
Not likely. It’s a lose-lose proposition to tell your husband
what you really think of his life story, especially if it’s
dull. The other problem with polling your significant other or
your Mum is that they may have shared some of the experiences with
Isn’t that a good thing, I hear you say, asking someone who’s
been there how well you captured the episode or whether you were
a bit hard on Uncle Louie? Maybe yes, maybe no. If you see their
opinion as part of your research into what happened back then,
it can be valuable. We all filter reality—some of us in stranger
ways than others—and it’s hard to remain objective,
especially when we have an emotional stake in what happened.
Most of the memoirs that arrive at IP are hopelessly self-centred.
The authors assume that, because they found the contents of the
in the attic engaging, the whole world will be enthralled by the
state of a moth-eaten Barbie. Sorry, it ain’t necessarily
So how do you avoid the snake pits of memoir writing? Here are
a few pointers.
1. Your life story, told off-the-cuff, is unlikely to be a best
seller unless you distil it down. Do your research, revisit those
diaries, talk to Uncle Joe, camp out on the doorstep of the house
where you spent your childhood. But then ask yourself what’s
important about this? What aspects of the story or the personalities
involved would make for compulsive reading.
2. Sometimes you can capture the essence of a time or place in
a single line. Bill Bryson, in a recent interview, summed up his
feelings about growing up in a prairie town by saying of the fact
that he came from Des Moines: “someone had to!” The
background to that remark was that he and his friends all wanted
to escape from Des Moines as they were growing up, but Bryson was
the only one who actually got away. That told him something important
not only about himself, but also the friends he left behind. The
fact that so many people stayed also led him to revaluate Des Moines
years later and conclude that he might have been too hasty in his
youth to dismiss Des Moines. But he never moved back!
3. Resist the temptation to put everything in. Even in non-fiction
writing, it’s always wise to leave space for the reader.
Be selective: less is more. Let her fill in the blanks. Suggest
attitude or motivation by means of body language. Lead the reader
to a conclusion about what you thought of a place from the evidence
you present rather than lengthy editorials about the pros and cons
of living there.
4. Treat yourself and everyone else as you would expect to be treated
if someone else was writing your biography. Even Nelson Mandela
has his weaknesses. Acknowledging yours will give you credibility
in the mind of the reader. But don’t go to the other extreme
and take the blame for all the world’s problems. The key
is balance: weaknesses and strengths make us human and easier for
readers to identify with.
5. Exercise your authorial license. You will have to trim your
dialogue and cut back on some description. Editors hear this complaint
all the time: “But that’s what really happened!” and “Those
were her exact words!” The art of successful non-fiction
writing is presenting description and dialogue faithfully but not
necessarily to the letter. You want to immerse readers in your
life story without exhausting them.
6. Consider the timeline. It’s only natural to work from
a to z when writing a memoir. However, shaking up the structure
a bit may be a good way of reflecting on the importance of the
details you’ve included. You may want to start with a climactic
event that ‘changed your life’ then flashback to elements
that led you to that crucial episode. Some daring authors start
at the end, then move along the timeline thematically rather than
7. Above all, transcend your material. Writers of memoir reflect
on rather than transcribing experience. They invite readers to
recreate a life story that will have implications for the many
instead of the few. A good memoir tells us as much about ourselves
than the person being profiled in the book.
our run to glory from last issue, Libby Hart has won
this year’s Anne Elder Award for her IP poetry book Fresh
News from the Arctic. She received the cash award on Friday
30 March at a ceremony in Melbourne hosted
by the Federation of Australian Writers, Victoria.
The book has already won the Somerset National Poetry Prize and
was Highly Commended in IP Picks 2006 for Best Poetry.
The Anne Elder is a competition for the best first book of poetry
by an Australian author. Last year, IP author Joel Deane was first
runner-up for his book Subterranean
Veteran poet and academic Chris Wallace-Crabbe says of Fresh
are poems attuned to our tough yet fragile planet. Feelingly, they
celebrate its loam and snow, traveled seas, and the inexhaustible
theatre of sky.”
Libby was one of six new IP authors who performed their work at
our Gala Launch in Brisbane last November. We’ve posted a
podcast of the performance you can enjoy if you click here.
Congratulations, Libby, for a win amidst some very stiff competition!
Reports of the Death of the
Book have been, as they say, premature. E-books may
have found a second wind with the proliferation of multi-function
consumer devices that
can “play” text and multimedia, snap photos, organise
your next RSVP date, and soon, thanks to Apple Inc, check him or
her out via a video call before turning up at the inevitable café in
Real Time. But consumers show no signs of turning their backs on
the physical book.
The printing industry, faced with possible extinction, has reinvented
itself to deliver books more efficiently and cost-effectively than
ever before. This is music to the ears of an independent publisher
like IP poised to enter the export market, hopefully in a big way.
The biggest hurdle that small Australian book publishers continue
to face is accessing overseas markets. It’s fine to have
an online shop with 24/7 shopping facilities, but if customers
have to wait weeks to receive their books and pay exorbitant freight
charges we probably miss more sales than we gain from visitors
to our site.
Some indie publishers dream of signing on with distributors overseas.
The reality is that most of these distributors are reluctant to
take on publishers with authors who have not achieved international
celebrity status (writing ability is a bonus!) Even if they do
risk it, we’re still faced with the cost and delays of shipping,
not to mention the hefty discount we have to offer the distributor
to represent us.
IP’s found a solution to this problem. We recently signed
with Lightning Source (LS), a print-on-demand (POD) company who
will print our books at source in North America and Europe to meet
orders, with quick fulfilment time, and at local freight rates.
Instantly (or nearly!) our titles are listed on Amazon and in other
big catalogues like Ingrams and Barnes & Noble. Overseas distributors
are taking us out of the too-hard basket.
We believe that this strategy will offer our authors, and others,
better access to international markets for their books, which should
translate into increased royalty income.
Of course, print-on-demand is nothing new. There are POD companies
in Australia, so why haven’t we gone with them? The main
reasons are the cost of POD locally and poor distribution channels.
LS is a division of Ingrams Book Group, one of the largest distribution
chains in the world. LS also has plants where we need them—in
the United States and the UK, which services the European market.
Soon after titles are listed on LS, they get listed with Barnes & Noble
and Amazon, and the major distributors are also informed about
them via data feeds.
Although LS acts effectively as a distributor
for us, they only charge us for the unit cost of printing the books
that have been ordered, less any discount they have to offer to
wholesalers and retailers. The even better news is that the cost
of printing even individual copies is hardly more than what we
pay locally per book for larger print runs!
As a publishing partner with LS we can upload our titles to them
via the Internet in a matter of seconds. We have the option of
paying them to produce a sample copy of the book before making
it available for order. It took less than a week from the time
we uploaded our first title to them for the advance copy to arrive
in Brisbane from their UK plant, and the quality was excellent—as
good or better than the quality of printing we get locally.
LS is also flexible in the packaging of their books. You can choose
to publish in several sizes, although A4 and A5 are not among them
(you have to go with the closest American equivalent). Hardback
as well as paperback editions are available, and these can be in
they have added the option of quality photo books. POD certainly
has come a long way!
So far IP has uploaded nearly 30 titles to LS from our front and
backlists. We plan to make LS a part of our printing strategy for
most of our future titles, with printers closer to home meeting
our needs in the Australian market.
IP is now ready to offer packaging service to other independent
publishers and individuals who would like access to these international
markets. This service, which we call Your
Book to the World (YBW),
will act as a portal to LS, formatting titles into the standard
they require Lightning Source and then handle the accounts. You
then gain the advantage of preferential pricing that we have as
a LS publishing partner.
Interested parties have to register with
us then prepare their books to our
specifications. Alternatively, we can handle the design, layout
and formatting from a Word file on an hourly basis.
Authors will get a 10% royalty on sales revenue paid semi-annually.
IP will promote their book through our website and via our email
lists. Authors also can order stock of their book through IP for
a flat handling fee per order.
Suddenly there could be a whole lot more room in the garage for your
from full reviews that we’ve posted elsewhere (click
through to read the full review)]
Nigel Turvey’s Terania
Creek: Rainforest Wars was reviewed by Lesley Synge in Writing Queensland.
She read it in a day, saying that “Dr
Turvey has deliberately chosen to write for the general reader—for
the sake of story he feels should be told—and there’s
humour and pathos in Terania Creek, a refreshing change from the
stodge and density of much academic writing.”
Libby Hart’s Fresh News From The
Arctic has been
receiving a lot of press lately—very fitting considering
it just won the prestigious Anne Elder Award. Louise Waller from Foame called
Fresh News From The Arctic a “distinctive first
collection” and found that her poems were “a pleasure
to read”. She said that “Her poems are striking evocations
in lyric form. Using various metaphors from nature to extend the
range of emotions portrayed within many of the poems, Hart constructs
an interior and exterior landscape with palpable resonance and
Cahill’s The Accidental
Cage was reviewed in Stylus.
Patricia Prime says that “All the poems, no matter their
subject, exhibit the fine control, which characterizes Cahill’s
writing. This is writing with a purpose. Weighty in subject but
never weighed down by it. The brilliance of this collection lies
in its view that life, though never wholly comprehensible, is spellbinding.”
Jacket also reviewed The Accidental Cageand Adam Aitken says “A
Sydney poetic preoccupied with hedonism, sensuality and decadence
pervades the book. Cahill explores the stunned wreckage of history
and morality piling in the form of media imagery, but the real victims
know what is real, real in the sense of what is organically present — what
lives and dies — in this space.”
This is raw, unrefined narrative poetry, demotic, energetic and
ultimately optimistic. It has strong rhythm, some fine imagery,
ironic objectivity: above all, it is first-hand and unpretentious.
It’s poetry in primary colours.”
Brasch’s No Middle Name was
reviewed in Writing
Queensland by Erica Sontheimer who felt that “overall, No Middle Name succeeds
as a readable tribute and an optimistic force for change.”
We’re pleased to announce the
release of Rainshadows, a CD celebrating IP’s 10th Anniversary
year. We invited past and present IP authors to send us work from
new work as well as slices from their IP titles and we were delighted
with the response. Featuring nearly 400 pages of text, plus stunning
multimedia, audio and even a trailer from David Reiter’s
Hemingway in Spain DVD, there’ll be plenty to keep you and
your laptop warm during the coming winter months, with or without
the mulled wine!
The CD retails for $27.50, but, if you’re cunning, you can
get it right now for next to nothing. Check out Your
or turn up to one of the various 10th Year Celebration events we’re
planning at the moment.
We were so impressed with Basil Eliades’ performance skills
that we quickly published his 3rd i book with our latest Text
+ Audio CD. There’s no stopping Basil when he gets up a head
of steam, and we’re sure you’ll agree when you hear
his eclectic blend of poetry and soundscapes, the latter composed
in collaboration with music engineer Alfred Abraham.
From the tour
de force “why” to the painter-laid-bare in “brett
whitely, internuncio” to the reverent irreverence of “for
the nuns, St Monica’s, Footscray” Basil will impress
you with his dramatic instinct and his ability to strain language
to the snapping point. As John Marsden says: ‘This is heroic
To showcase Basil’s work, we’ve
teamed him up with Liam Guilar (I’ll
Howl Before You Bury Me) for our newest
podcast. If you haven’t checked out our podcasts yet, what
are you waiting for—they’re free! You can see them
here, or on the iTunes Store (select podcasts then search on Eliades
or Guilar). And you can subscribe to the podcast series either
on our site or at iTunes. That way, you’ll be notified as
soon as a new podcast goes to air.
Initially, we plan to upload our e-books in pdf format. Since
most of our titles are prepared for print publication as pdfs,
will cut down on reformatting time. At a later date, we may decide
to send files that will work on Microsoft and Palm Readers.
We also plan to set up a dedicated
store on our site where you can purchase e-books directly from
David took his popular Selling
That Book! workshop up to Airlie Beach in March thanks to support
the Whitsunday Shire Council. The Saturday afternoon and all day
Sunday sessions were sold out, and the responses from the participants
were uniformly positive.
This is the first time David has held
the workshop over two days, but it provided more time for questions
practical exercises in developing a marketing plan as well as other
David was also booked out for Pitch
to the Publisher sessions in which he met one-on-one with authors
to discuss their projects. David was encouraged by the standard of
work of several authors up there, and we look forward to seeing manuscripts
Library Manager Anna Derham wants to bring David back
to run a writers’ retreat on one of the Whitsunday Islands.
That would be hard, but somebody’s got to do it! The retreat
would be open to writers from across Australia who are keen to combine
intensive writing work with a bit of sailing and diving in one of
Australia’s most scenic destinations.
SpeedPoets returns to The Alibi
Room (720 Brunswick St, New Farm) from 2:30pm, Sunday, 6 May. Features
include Brisbane songstress Claire Whiting and Poetry UnEARTHED winner
As always there will be hot sounds from Shooting People, Open Mic,
Free Zines, Prizes and much, much more... Be there to experience
Brisbane's longest running spoken word event! Entry is a gold coin
Dangerously Poetic Press is
excited to announce the upcoming Portraits and the Pen Competition:
A Poetic Response to the Australian Portrait
Collection at the Tweed River Art Gallery, in Murwillumbah. Poets
are invited to write on any of 10 designated portraits in the permanent
collection. Closing date for submissions is 9 July, 2007. Brisbane
poet and Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival 2007, Graham
Nunn will be the judge.
The award ceremony will be held at the Tweed River Art Gallery, in
conjunction with the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture.
Overall First Prize of $200, and best poem for each portrait will
be displayed next to the inspirational portrait. The Riverside Receptions
Peoples’ Choice Award will be announced at the poetry reading
in late August. Winning poems will also be listed online.
A workshop, Portraits and the Pen: When Art Inspires Poetry will
be held at the Tweed River Art Gallery on Saturday, the 19th of May
and 2nd of June. This is especially designed to support and encourage
poets who might like to submit poems for the upcoming contest but
is open to all.
For information about the workshop and competition submission forms
Shore or Pam Smith 02 6680 1626.
planning to send David and perhaps Prose Editor Lauren Daniels on
tour to regional Queensland
in July for more workshops and readings. Lauren and David
will be teaming up to start a new Pro Series of workshops in Brisbane,
these regional workshops will complement those in the Big Smoke.
Certainly Selling That Book! will be high on the agenda, but we’re
open to other suggestions from writers’ groups and libraries
David also plans to showcase Rainshadows,
our 10th Anniversary CD, as well as his new children’s picture
so we’d be happy to hear from bookshops, libraries and schools
that would like to reserve a slot during the tour.
In mid-June, David teams up
with author Michael O’Sullivan
around the ACT to launch Michael’s second IP title, Easter at Tobruk as well as Real
Guns. Events confirmed at this point
include Wednesday 13 June at Goulburn Library from 6pm, in Canberra
at Smith’s Alternative Bookshop on Thursday evening from 6pm,
and then in Yass Library from 6:30pm. We’re working on stops
in Queanbeyan and at schools and libraries in the ACT.
On Saturday 28 July, David
returns to the NSW Writers’ Centre
for another Selling That Book! session. It’s also likely that
he’ll be running a two-hour workshop on current trends in digital
publishing for the Australian Publishers’ Association earlier
in the week, as well as meeting with librarians and touring Rainshadows
and Real Guns.
Again we invite you to email us with expressions of
interest if you’d like David to stop by at your library,
school or bookshop while he’s in Sydney. The APA also hopes
to brings David to Melbourne for a repeat performance of his digital
10-28 August, David will be in Artist-in-Residence as a children’s
author at Bundanon,
The Arthur Boyd artists’ retreat on the
NSW South Coast. Plans are still to be finalised, but David is
expecting to give a few talks about the writing and illustration
of Real Guns as well as his junior novel The Greenhouse Effect and perhaps a workshop during his stay.
1: Curious about Rainshadows,
Anniversary CD? Satisfy your craving by ordering ANY IP title,
and we’ll toss in a copy of the CD for $11 more (that’s
a dollar for each year we've been in business, and one more
as a going away present for Peter Costello :))
Quote YD:34_1 in the Comments field on the Orders page. You must order
from the IP Shop via our orders
page or by email to
qualify. Payment by cheque, money order or EFT only.
Deal 2: Order any TWO IP titles and we’ll include
Rainshadows as the meat in the sandwich for FREE. (Remember
that Rainshadows retails for $27.50, so that's a HUGE discount.)
YD:34_2 in the Comments
field on the Orders page. You must
order from the IP Shop via our orders
page or by email to
qualify. Payment by cheque, money order
or EFT only.
members get a further 10% discount off the cost of either
package plus free postage. Sign up now and get the benefits
of Club membership today. (See Your Deal in eNews
15 for full details.)