In the stampede by the various factions to have their say on the proposed de-regulation of book imports, one group seems to have been overlooked: The self-publisher. It may come as a surprise to some, but more books are self-published in Australia, than are published by the mainstream publishing houses. Self-publishers are writers who self-finance the publication of their books because nobody else will. As one literary Agent put it to me recently: “Self-publishers are a conundrum for the industry and we don’t really know how to deal with them.”
To analyze this “conundrum” more closely, one needs only to understand the industry in simplistic terms. The major publishing houses are essentially commercially based entities. Like any business, they only want to back winners. Books, be it novels, biographies, self-help, non-fiction, are all products a publisher wants to sell; no different from a cosmetics manufacturer wanting to sell lipstick. And, they invest big money in the hope of getting bigger money back. In many ways they are not unlike a Football club that carefully selects a list of players to win them a premiership, but also cultivates a rookie list for the future. Most writers on the other hand do it because we love it. It’s a passion. Therefore it will not surprise anyone to hear that there are far more writers out there, than there are publishers willing to publish their work. Publishing houses could receive up to 5000 manuscripts a year, from which they may choose one or two for publication; most will not even be read.
So, what do you do when you have a product you believe in and nobody to produce or market it?
In the past, the majority of writers in this position filed their manuscript in the bottom draw of the cupboard at home and started on something new. However, since the introduction of Print-on-Demand technology, all that has changed. Now, a self-publisher can publish her/his work, develop some simple computer skills and design her/his own cover and enlist the assistance of a number of self-help websites to have their work edited, and reviewed free. They then have access to a world-wide market by submitting their book to Google Books and Amazon and Lulu’s websites, all available for a start-up cost of less than $100. They can then join a plethora of author websites offering assistance and encouragement to promote their work. Some of these sites act as a sort of union with members buying each others’ books. The entire publishing industry including newspapers is on notice. The internet has changed our way of life in ways unimaginable, two decades ago.
Self-publishers explain this revolution in two words: The future!
So where do you think the self-publisher stands on the issue of de-regulation of publishing and parallel importing? I won’t speak for others; they can do that for themselves and not everyone will necessarily agree with me. But for me, the bottom line is: I couldn’t care less! Publishing houses have never shown an interest in me. Literary Agents ignore me and bookstores only call me when someone makes an inquiry. Yet my books sell here and overseas in a cut-throat market. A book doesn’t have to be something special to be published. Books are bought on the basis of interest and value, not literary merit. The reader doesn’t know if the book is good until it has been read. Most books today are purchased on-line. The very nature of competition has been turned on its head and the once revered retail bookstore is staring its use-by date down the barrel just like the neighborhood hardware store. But it isn’t the threat of de-regulation that places it in this invidious position. The internet already has!
One can debate the positive and negative impacts of this development, but it has nothing to do with government regulation.
Taxi Driver, Julian Knowles takes a distraught early morning passenger home only to begin a day that will change his life forever. His thoughtful, caring commitment to an intellectually disabled client gradually exposes him to the members of the dysfunctional Stewart family. Their bizarre behaviour following the death of their sister leads to lies, deception, blackmail and extortion on an unprecedented scale. Set against the background of a family tragedy and a deceased estate this intriguing drama demonstrates the destructive heights sibling rivalry can climb when ambition meets desperation on a level playing field.
A casket containing a remarkable relic of a 17th century nun, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, is stolen from a devout society in France by one of its members, a priest from Sydney. The priest, Father James, secretly entrusts the casket to two women in Monterey Creek, a small country town in New South Wales. The Society immediately sends Monsignor Henri Pascal from Paris to Australia to recover both the relic and a manuscript written by the nun, which describes her final revelation. When one of the women dies suddenly, and her house is ransacked, the Monsignor becomes embroiled in the town’s affairs, including the young parish priest’s involvement with a single mother whose daughter claims to have had a vision of the Virgin Mary. When tragedy strikes during the Monterey Creek annual Festival of the Flowers, events threaten the Monsignor’s quest to find both the relic and the manuscript.
Set in a small country town in New South Wales, and complete with
an assortment of colourful characters, this intensely human story poses questions for devotees of saints and relics, confronts long standing theological convictions, and articulates a major dilemma for the Catholic Church: What to do when a priest falls in love.
A powerful and absorbing drama about ordinary people, played out in
Australia and France, it captures the essence of human frailty,
and that unique Australian spirit of scepticism.
Australian author, John Kelly gives us this delightfully funny, yet poignant, bittersweet account of life in Australia both past and present as he confronts and tackles his demons both real and imagined.
“I grew up in East Kew in Melbourne; there’s probably a plaque there somewhere to mark the event. Back then, the world of actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, malignant cutaneous fibrous histiocytomas and melanomas were a lifetime away.
Back then there was just the Sun.”
A very clever fusion of the past and present told with vigour, humour and a healthy dose of scepticism as broadside after broadside is fired off at religion, the media, world politics, and football. ‘An Accidental Atheist’ encapsulates the pathos of a restricted Catholic upbringing, with its outrages and absurdities; yet between the lines one detects resilience, strength and a determination to overcome adversity and break through the barriers.
A great account of a life lived, the highs, the lows, the pain and sorrow along with expressions of great joy and happiness.
Available at: http://amazon.com
While watching the demolition of his old school Placidus College, Simon Hickey looks back on ten turbulent, life defining years, when the first crop of Australia’s baby boomers were awakening to their sexuality. Seduced by the power of the pulpit, the Aquinine Brothers, and an ever¬present fear that Satan would snare him in an unguarded moment, Simon’s attention is directed toward a religious vocation. At the vocational training college, he encounters a serial paedophile, with far reaching and shocking consequences. A few years later, Simon becomes one of the `unlucky ones’, balloted into the Army for two years National Service in 1965.
A heartfelt, humorous, and poignant story, these two vastly different experiences are linked by a tender romance that defies Catholic conventions of the day, and reveals how two people who choose not to be conformist, cope with the social, religious and political nature of their time.To buy in North America, go to: http://amazon.com
Available at: http://amazon.com
In 2007, self-publishing author, Amanda Blackburn accepts an assignment in Japan to help exonerate the name of a former soldier who served in the post-war Australian occupation army in 1946. The soldier’s damning exploits are revealed in a journal written by an unidentified veteran. On arrival in Japan however, Amanda soon discovers that things are not quite as she expected.
A tender love story set against the background of the all-but-forgotten Australian military contingent, which made up the bulk of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, sent to Japan in February 1946 following Japan’s surrender at the end of WW2. Assigned responsibility for the Hiroshima prefecture by General Douglas MacArthur, thousands of Australian soldiers disarmed the Japanese war machine, and helped repatriate Japanese soldiers returning home. They were ensconced into an area devastated by a nuclear bomb, where civilians were suffering serious physical and psychological trauma. Inevitably, some of the soldiers fell in love. This is one such story.