Tag Archives: Australia

An ode to independent booksellers

Image courtesy of Anusorn P nachol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Anusorn P nachol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

I’ve noticed something in the air over the past few years, which seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. It’s the scent of revisionism; the aroma of awareness; the whiff of responsibility, and it’s come in part from the largely global nature of commerce these days. Multinationals are omnipresent and we all support them in some way or another. Me, I had a can of Sprite with my lunch today, I read a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, my mobile phone was made on behalf of Google, and I am typing on a Dell computer that runs Microsoft products.

What I’m noticing, though, is that despite the ever-increasing presence of multinationals – and even just national organisations which seem to have agents on every second street corner – in our lives, people are starting to realise the worth of the small corner store. They are conscious about where their money is going: sure, they want to get value for money, but they are prepared to pay an extra dollar or two in order to keep the profits local. A good example of this is the number of farmers’ markets which keep springing up, around Australia at least. Every second suburb seems to have one every few weeks, where locally grown seasonal produce is sold to eager buyers. Sure, it might be more convenient to buy your fruit and vegetables at the big supermarket down the road, but at least with the farmers’ markets you have more idea about how fresh it is, and you’re helping local producers.

Well, the same goes for books. We all buy books, don’t we? (At least, if you’re reading this, I assume you do.) And it’s probably cheaper to go to Target or Big W or Walmart or whatever your local equivalent is, but wouldn’t you rather your hard-earned money went to a local, independent bookseller rather than whatever company it is that owns Target (or Big W or Walmart)? There are a lot of people for whom this is important, and those are the people I’m reaching out to today.

Today, we’re going to plug our favourite independent bookseller. No matter where you are in the world, no matter whether you buy all your books from them or just a selection (and I admit I’m guilty of going to Amazon or Target or whatever when I’m looking for something cheap or convenient), today I want you all to link to an independent bookseller who means something to you. Who knows exactly what books they have and where to find them, and can offer recommendations based on what you’ve already selected. Who love the books they sell as much as you love reading them. Who inspire their customers to try new things and don’t mind if you sit down and start reading something off their shelves. And who get an enormous thrill out of seeing a young child empty their piggy bank onto the counter to buy a new book because that’s what they want to spend their savings on. (Be honest. Is the teenager staffing the checkout at your local discount department store going to react like that?) Go on. Give them a plug. Because the more of us who keep shopping at our independent bookstores, the more likely it is they will stay in business to inspire other people.

I’m going to start. My favourite is Imprints Booksellers in Hindley Street in Adelaide, South Australia. They’ve been there forever and they always have exactly what I’m looking for, with a smile and a helping hand if I need it. And seriously, check out the photo on the link. Wouldn’t you love to shop for books there?

I’m also giving a special mention to Annie’s Books on Peregian at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. I met Annie at Writers’ Week last week and her enthusiasm was contagious, and if she runs her shop with anything like that enthusiasm it’s bound to be worth a visit. (And checking out the photos on her website, I’d say she does.)

Right. Your turn. What is your favourite independent bookstore? Come on, don’t be shy. We’re all helping each other, and who knows? You might help someone else find a new favourite. :)

 

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Writers’ Week, Adelaide style

writers week 1

Adelaide Writers’ Week (photo by me)

This week is Writers’ Week in my home town of Adelaide, part of the annual Adelaide Festival of Arts. It’s a week I always take off work so I can make the most of the opportunity it offers – surrounding myself with people who love reading and writing, and hearing straight from the authors’ mouths what makes them tick, where their ideas come from and how they turn those ideas into the books on offer in the book tent.

It’s autumn in Australia and this week the weather is fine and ranging from 24-34 degrees Celsius (75-93 Fahrenheit), which can be a little warm on the hotter days but there is plenty of shade to be had. And people are making the most of it – I’ve not been to other writers’ festivals but we do seem to be bursting at the seams here at times. Most of the authors offer book signings after their sessions and if you try to get into the book tent between sittings you’re fighting a hundred other people to find what you’re looking for. And you know what? It’s fantastic. While  I was lining up to meet Elizabeth Gilbert yesterday I found myself in conversation with a bookseller from Queensland who had come down for the week to see what all the fuss was about; the family days on the weekend were packed out with kids dying to hear Mem Fox or Andy Griffiths read their works aloud (and can I say there is very little more satisfying than seeing a hundred eight year olds with piles of well-thumbed books, hoping to meet the author); Hannah Kent was still signing copies of Burial Rites a good 45 minutes after her session ended; and Alexander McCall Smith was seen wandering around enjoying the atmosphere before his first session today. Yes, we have an embarrassment of riches here this week, and the best part is it’s all free. So everyone can come and enjoy a session under the trees, listening to some of the best authors the world has to offer.

(As an aside, this is Australia’s ONLY free literary festival. If you are interested in helping it stay free, then please buy some books from the book tent on site, or if you are not in Adelaide (which I expect is most of you) then please consider making a purchase or two at the online e-book retailer associated with the event, which can be found here. Funds raised from book sales are what enables the Festival to continue to offer this event at no cost.)

The west stage

The west stage

I’ll be able to offer more commentary on it next time because I’ll have seen more of the sessions by then, but in the meantime I urge anyone reading this, who has a writers’ festival anywhere near them during the year, to go check it out. It’s fascinating, it’s eye-opening, and you may just discover a new favourite author or two. :)

 

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The Friday blog-hop (part 3)!

Latte_Blog

Latte_Blog (Photo credit: digitalrob70)

Hello again! It’s time to once more trawl through the many worthy and excellent blogs out there to recommend five that you might find interesting to follow. These are blogs that I enjoy reading, and if you follow my blog then chances are you could do so too. Remember, they are in no particular order and the list is by no means exhaustive. :)

  1. South Australian Writers’ Centre. This is my local writers’ centre and their blog is very new, so it’s only fair of me to give them a shout out. The posts so far have been useful and I expect that the ones to come will be too.
  2. Booktopia. Yep, a book shop rather than a writer. They do an awesome blog though and you learn heaps about what other writers go though from reading it. Or, at least, I do. :)
  3. Making Baby Grand, the novel, by Dina Santorelli. I have been known to cringe at blogs that only talk about one piece of work (what happens when you write another book?) but this is particularly engaging, especially as it follows her journey from (self)publication to trying to attract and keep a readership, get herself known and establish herself as an author. It’s a good read.
  4. Cresting the Words, by Wordsurfer. A lovely blog to read, with a nice blend of the personal and the professional (so to speak). I always enjoy reading this one, though I don’t comment nearly as much as I should. But then again, that’s my fault, not hers. :)
  5. Rachelle Gardner. She’s an American literary agent who does regular posts on the agent’s life – as opposed to the writer’s life. It’s engaging, it’s entertaining and it’s incredibly useful to newbies like me.

So, that’s it for this round. I hope you find some of these blogs interesting enough to follow on a regular basis – and if you haven’t seen your name on one of these lists yet, it’s not because I don’t want to list you, but probably because there are so many blogs I want to recommend that I just haven’t got to you yet. All the best, and happy blogging!

 

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Best Australian Blogs 2013

BB2013_Nominee

Today’s post is about blogging, hayfever, and blogging when you have hayfever.  Well, really it’s about blogging, but if I suddenly become strangely incoherent it’s probably because the summer scourge is upon me. Which is a shame because we’re well and truly into autumn now and this is the first really bad attack of the sneezes I’ve had. Sigh.

Ignoring that, I have once again signed up to participate in the Best Australian Blogs competition, which is run annually by the Australian Writers’ Centre (formerly the Sydney Writers’ Centre). I don’t necessarily think that my blog has what it takes to even make a dent in this great competition, but if I don’t put my hand up I’ll never know, right? Whereas if I do, then more people might discover my blog and think it’s worth looking at occasionally. *crosses fingers hopefully*

What does this competition entail? Well, really, it’s a nominate-oneself-or-hope-someone-else-does-it-for-you type of thing. There are different categories and special awards for outstanding individual posts, but essentially it’s a way for bloggers to discover what other blogs are out there, and for people who like to read blogs to go through the entrants to find ones they like. And it’s all about group hugs and supporting each other and generally being nice to other internet-people.

Anyway, like I said I’ve put my hand up, and I’m hoping that someone notices it. And if you like my blog, there’s a People’s Choice round coming up next month during which you can vote for me, so bear that in mind too. :)

And that’s it for me today. Sorry for the brevity of the post, but I’ve sneezed approximately one hundred and fifty times since I started writing it, so I think my body is telling me to stop. Now all I need to do is think of some incredibly interesting things to post about in the next few weeks that might increase my chances, hahaha.

Best of luck to all other nominees, and if you let me know you’ve entered I’ll look for you in the voting round. Cheers!

 

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The Australian Women Writers challenge 2013

awwbadge_2013

Today, I’m officially announcing my participation in the Australian Women Writers challenge. The what?, I hear you ask. Well, it’s a reading challenge that was established last year as a way to stop the gender bias that exists in so many book review pages, particularly in the established media. This bias isn’t necessarily deliberate, but it does exist, and so the AWW challenge is a way to help change that. You can read about the background here.

Now, to say that I’m taking part in this doesn’t mean that I’m ONLY reading Australian women writers. Heck, I read over 100 books in a year, and only a small proportion of those are going to fit the criteria. But some are better than none, and a lot are better than some. I’ve already read two books by Australian women this year so I don’t see it as being a particularly onerous idea.

Here are the categories (from the AWW challenge website):

  • Stella – read 4 – review at least 3
  • Miles – read 6 – review at least 4
  • Franklin – read 10 – review at least 6
  • Create your own challenge – do you plan to specialise in a particular genre or interest area, e.g. Science Fiction, self-published or Indigenous literature? Are you aiming for a high number, e.g. all the books you can read?

Last year I signed up for Stella, which was easy enough. This year, to push myself a bit, I’ve decided I’m going to go for the Franklin – read ten books, review at least six. With all the great Australian women writers out there, it should be a piece of cake, right? :)

And now, I am going to ask you to consider signing up to this challenge as well. Below I’ve listed a few common objections to participating, with my solutions.

  • Not female? Well, who says you have to be a woman in order to read a story by a woman? I certainly read a heck of a lot of stories by male authors, Australian or not.
  • Not Australian? Why should that be a problem? Is there a rule that says you can only read books by people you share a country with?
  • No time? Hey, if I can do it, so can you. What’s the big deal in reading four books in a year?
  • Don’t review books on your blog? No problem! If you have a Goodreads account you can just review on that site.
  • Don’t know any Australian women writers? Well, luckily for you the people behind the challenge have set up a bookshelf on Goodreads for you to have a look at, with over 1000 books listed on it. That should be enough for anyone. :)

So, this is both my announcement that I’m participating, and my plea for you to consider it too. Just go to the AWW website and sign up.  It’s free, it’s easy and you might just discover a new favourite author.

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Book review: Who Will Save the Planet? by Peter McLennan

Who Will Save the Planet? by Peter McLennan

This is a review of the book Who Will Save the Planet? by Peter McLennan. You may remember Peter from his three part series on my blog a few months back (part 1, part 2 and part 3), where he talked us through the self-publishing process. Well, I’ve agreed to review his debut novel, and let me say it’s a fine read.

The story centres around Jason Saunders, a fourteen year old boy from small-town Australia. Still smarting from losing the school debate on whether global warming is indeed an issue that needs to be dealt with, Jason goes to his local beach for some me-time, sees a man floundering in the water and swims out to rescue him. The man turns out to be the Australian Prime Minister, who in front of a bunch of media tells Jason he can have anything he wants. The answer? Emission control targets, which is topical not only because of the school debate, but also due to an upcoming global meeting on climate change.

It’s a well-written and engaging story, told not just through Jason’s eyes but also through the prism of Cabinet meetings and, well, let’s call it “secret leaders’ business”. The Government – which by the way could be either of Australia’s major political parties, as it’s not specified which one they are – isn’t necessarily sold on the idea of emission control targets, and wonder if it’s possible to make Jason change his request. After all, with the promise of whatever he wanted caught by the television cameras, they’re in a bit of a hard place politically.

The ups and downs of politics, the personal charm of the leader and the stubbornness – or otherwise – of a fourteen year old boy caught in the middle makes for an engrossing story. Engagingly written, I found myself unwilling to put it down, even when I had to.

That said, of course, I’m not saying that the book is without faults. Early in the book a girl in Jason’s class called Emma makes a few appearances, and it’s implied that Jason has a bit of a thing for her. This would generally make one think that she would have a role later in the story, but past the first few chapters she doesn’t show up again. To me that feels like a loose end – why include her if she’s not going to have a role?

The other thing that bothered me was Jason’s desire for a large, petrol-guzzling SUV. Sure, I can see a fourteen year old eyeing off something like that, and encouraging his father to buy one, but for a boy who staunchly claims over and over that “if it’s bad for the environment I don’t want it”, it does seem an odd preference. Maybe if he planned to convert it to run on used vegetable oil from the local fish and chip shop that would make more sense, but if he did it’s not mentioned in the narrative.

Overall, though, it’s an entertaining story for a young adult audience. Those from outside Australia might find some of the politics confusing, but then again it’s explained pretty well in the text (the PM does have to make sure Jason knows how the system works) so that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Sure, if you’re one of the climate change skeptics you might take issue with Jason and his convictions, but then again I wouldn’t expect a climate change skeptic to pick up a book called Who Will Save the Planet? anyway. Assuming, though, that you’re not turned off by a few paragraphs of political explanation and a theme around fighting global warming, I would say it’s well worth a read.

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Who Will Save the Planet? by Peter McLennan
200 pages (paperback)
Published by Peter McLennan
Available on Amazon.com as e-book and paperback.

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Olympic fever

 

Big Ben&London eye

Big Ben&London eye (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

I feel it would be remiss of me to let the London Olympics go by without a mention on my blog. After all, I live in a sport-obsessed household (of which I am no minor contributor) and there’s something so tribal about dressing up in national regalia, plonking yourself in front of the television and cheering on your country on the sporting field. Or in the sporting pool. Or whatever.

 

The Olympics mean, in the context of this blog, that very little writing is going to get done over the next fortnight. It is, after all, the greatest show on Earth, and it only comes by every four years so it seems a little wasted to not try to make the most of it. Sure, my team has been a little disappointing so far with some of their results, but that’s also what it’s all about, isn’t it? Seeing someone unexpected come from nowhere and take the prize. I only hope that these unexpected victories are due to hard work rather than anything synthetic, if you know what I mean.

I figure that it’s not worth beating myself up about missing a self-imposed deadline (see this post) if it means missing the Olympics to do so. Sure, I’ve disappointed myself in that regard, but it also occurred to me over the past couple of weeks that it was less than six months ago that I scrapped about 70,000 words that I’d already written, when I decided to restructure the story. So I haven’t been all that idle, really, since then. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself, hahaha.

But yes, the next fortnight will consist of sitting in front of the telly, national flag in hand, watching the highlights. (I’d watch the Olympics live, but my time zone means that about 80% of competition happens when I’m in bed. Sure, I’ll try to get as much live action as I can, but I’m being realistic here.) I’ll be experiencing the highs and the lows, the ecstasy and the disappointments, the pride of hearing the national anthem being played and seeing our athletes tearing up as they sing along. I’ll be watching sports that I only generally see every four years (European handball, anyone?), cheering people I’ve never heard of and watching as the superstars either justify the hype or crumble beneath its weight. And I’ll be loving every minute.

Writing? What’s that? For the next fortnight, at least, I’m afraid that I’ll be doing very little. And I don’t mind a bit.

Oh, and go Australia!!!  :)

 

Disclaimer: I have no association with the International Olympic Committee, any national Olympic Committee, or any of the sponsor partners of the 2012 London Games or any other Olympic Games. All views portrayed are strictly my own.

 

 

 

 

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Has it really come to this?

Woman-power symbol (clenched fist in Venus sig...

Warning: political opinions ahead.

I want to talk today about sexism. I don’t usually get into this very much; not that I don’t think it’s important, but more because once you establish yourself as a feminist, there seems to be a bit of an expectation that you’re going to be active and vocal about it. I am perfectly happy to be active and vocal occasionally, but to be honest, constant outrage is just so exhausting. But some of the things I’ve been reading lately have really got my goat.

For example, did you know that I’m considered a “mummy blogger”? This isn’t because my blog is focused on my family, because, if you’ve read any of it, you’ll know that’s not the case. No, it’s because I’m a woman and I blog. Apparently the fact that I have children isn’t even relevant, I would still be called a mummy blogger, if you believe this article. And this bothers me, not only because I’m being stereotyped based solely on my gender, despite any other evidence that doesn’t support the hypothesis.

The thing about “mummy bloggers” is that, by their very nature, they are not taken seriously. Our society doesn’t value the domestic, attaching social value only to things outside the home. Everything that happens inside, it seems, is only useful because it facilitates the external, the professional, aspect of our lives. And the implication with “mummy bloggers” is that they only exist within the domestic sphere, and therefore anything they have to say about anything isn’t worth listening to. What would they know? They’re just mummies.

Naturally, “daddy bloggers” is a phrase that has yet to find a home, probably because men are not defined by their familial status. Listen to missing person descriptions and you’ll hear women described as mothers or grandmothers; men are listed as lawyers or landscape gardeners. But that’s not even what I’m annoyed about, despite the fact that this sexism is still rife within western culture.  (I’m not even going to mention other cultures, no matter how much parts of them horrify me. That’s another fight for another day.) No, what I’m annoyed about is the fact that there seems to be this tacit acceptance of it all; that this is all there is, and as far as we’re going to get. And we should be happy with that.

Of course, here in Australia it’s not nearly as bad as the US. When did birth control get controversial again? I thought we had fought those battles forty years ago, and can’t see why they have to be fought again. Why is “feminism” suddenly a dirty word again? Right-wing media types revel in calling any woman who stands up for her rights a “feminazi“, and get applauded for it. Again, in the US, a Republican governor quietly repeals equal pay legislation with the argument that “it’s happening anyway, so why bother keeping the law on the books?” Why indeed? To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, everyone drives on the right anyway, so why bother keeping the law that requires that on the books? The whole thing is ridiculous.

Closer to home, one of my previous guest bloggers, Holly Kench, wrote a post on her own site about her internal battles about whether she should call herself a feminist. Holly recognised that not everyone saw feminism in the same light as she did, and was wary about alienating people, but it’s an important part of her identity so she kept the word. For the record, this is how she defines feminism (quoted from the post linked to above):

Seeing that there are imbalances in community, societal and cultural values, and wanting to do something about them.
Refusing the suggestion that any one person has a right to control any other person’s body, identity, or mind, or what that person chooses to do with their body, identity, or mind.
Believing that everyone’s choices and views are their own.
Accepting that everyone is different, and celebrating that fact.

That’s something to be proud of, right? At least, I would think so. But then again, the second point would probably have some people up in arms and calling her a “feminazi”, because her world view doesn’t match their own. Sigh. Feminism has even become such a reviled term in some quarters that perfectly sane, logically-minded women avoid organisations that promote women’s rights.

There are a number of high-profile people who label themselves feminists, and who actively lead the fight, who I admire deeply. Tara Moss, the former model and now best selling fiction author, is someone who never misses an opportunity to educate people and get the message out there. I admire that, I really do. But doing it all the time really wears you out.

I don’t want to be up in arms about the labelling of women’s writing, women’s fiction and what women read. I don’t want to rebel against the term “chick lit” despite how un-professional it sounds as a genre and how derided it is by other (particularly male) authors. I don’t want to be fighting for validation as an author simply because what I write is designed to appeal to 51% of the population. I also don’t want to live in a society where any labels used primarily for women seem to be derogatory and undervalued. But the fact remains, despite what I want, I think I will have to. The world simply hasn’t caught up yet.

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Guest post: Online Self Publishing, by Peter McLennan

Hello all! Today we have a guest post by YA author Peter McLennan, who has recently entered into the foray of online self publishing and has volunteered to share his experiences. This is something that a lot of writers will find very interesting and, I hope, most informative, as it gives hints about the best way to go about things, pitfalls to avoid and the like. Useful stuff, right? I thought so too. Peter’s Australian, so this is from an Australian’s perspective; however, it’s relevant to everyone I think. This is the first of three parts, the second of which will be posted three weeks from today, and the final three weeks from then. They’re separated because Peter wrote too much for one post and I didn’t want to cut it down, and the three week gap is so (a) you don’t get overwhelmed by having them all together, and (b) to keep you coming back to see what’s up next. :) So, without further ado, here’s Peter.

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English: Photographic composition of Granmata ...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

On-line Self-Publishing: Some Gory Details

I recently self-published my first novel, Who Will Save the Planet?, via CreateSpace (Amazon print-on-demand), Kindle Direct (Kindle eBook) and Smashwords (other eBooks). Since there are a lot of overviews of the process already out there, this series of articles will concentrate on some specific tricks and traps I encountered (some of which are relevant to those outside America and, in some cases, specifically Australia). It’s divided into three parts:

  • I: Laying the Foundations
  • II: Formatting and Uploading
  • III: After Uploading

Part I: Laying the Foundations

For non-Americans, publishing through modern high-tech channels requires some ironically Draconian steps, such as snail-mailing forms to America and handling cheques. These things can take months to organise, whereas uploading and distribution can take only minutes. Therefore, you might want to get some of these preliminary steps started before getting your hands dirty with your manuscript.

Selecting Distributors

Unlike traditional publishers, many on-line self-publishing sites don’t insist on exclusive rights for the distribution of your work. As a result, you can publish simultaneously with more than one of them, and this obviously maximises your sales. There are exceptions, such as Kindle’s Select program, so check the fine print.

Factors to consider when selecting distributors include reach, royalty rates, payment arrangements, attitude towards DRM and ease of conversion.

Study and Mindset

You’ll need to study the documentation provided by the site(s) you’ve chosen and be prepared to learn some new skills. It isn’t really hard, but does require some diligence and perseverance.

Tax Evasion—Legally

The longest lead-time task, and therefore that which should be started first, is sorting out the payment arrangements. It sounds like counting your proverbial chickens, but if you start making money before getting a few things in place, the US tax department (IRS) will happily take 30% of your earnings and you may not be able to get it back.

Australia, like many other nations, has a tax treaty with USA. This can be invoked to reduce the IRS’ cut to 5% (although why it remains above zero, when the local taxation department is going to tax you on it as well, remains a mystery). To avail yourself of this, you have to get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Some of the advice you’ll read on this says that you have to send a Form W-7 and your passport(!) to America and wait a couple of months. However, it can actually be done over the phone—or, better yet, Skype or Yahoo! Messenger Voice so you don’t have to pay a fortune. For details, see here and here, as well as the advice on the publishing web sites. Before calling the IRS, I recommend filling in the form W-7 so that you won’t be caught by surprise by any of the questions asked.

Once you’ve got your magic number, you have to fill in another form (W-8BEN) and snail-mail it to your distributor(s). Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to short-circuit this. If you wish to proceed with your publishing without waiting, CreateSpace and Smashwords will let you defer their payments to you so your royalties will just accrue while the paperwork catches up.

Cheques and Balances

Amazon (CreateSpace and Kindle) will only pay international authors by cheque. Since banks (at least those in Australia) typically  charge AU$25 or more to process an overseas cheque, you could find yourself paying about 25% of your royalties to your bank. CreateSpace lets you defer payments until you’ve accrued enough earnings to justify the fees, but this isn’t possible for Kindle.

Some other sites, such as Smashwords and Lulu, provide the option to pay via PayPal—but unfortunately they don’t have Amazon’s coverage.

A possible way to get the best of both worlds, at least for your eBook version, is to publish via Smashwords only in the first instance. Once your sales reach US$1000, Smashwords can then sell your eBook via Amazon, but could still pay you via PayPal. Unfortunately, most of us will never achieve that level of success, but hopefully Amazon will relax the $1000 threshold in the near future.

If you can open an account with a US bank, or possibly even a local bank that has a retail branch in USA (if there are any), you may be able to avoid the cheque fee problem by receiving royalties via direct deposit.

If you decide to go with payments via cheque, consider opening an account with a bank that will process your cheques relatively cheaply. I’ve found charges ranging from AU$15 to AU$60. Shop around!

ISBN

Some distribution channels require your work to have an ISBN, and it can take a few weeks to get one organised.

Some self-publishing sites can provide you with an ISBN for free. I eschewed this option because I didn’t want the distributor to be registered as the book’s publisher and because it would have complicated my publishing of the book through other channels: an ISBN obtained from one site can’t be used elsewhere.

The DIY route requires you to buy an ISBN (tip: they’re a lot cheaper if bought in bulk), assign it to your work in the official ISBN database, then tell your distributor(s) about it.

Marketing

You might also want to get a head start on some marketing activities so that, when your masterpiece goes live, interested parties will be able to find out more about it—and you. Each site provides some recommendations and facilities to help with this.

Shameless Advertisement

And speaking of marketing…

Who Will Save the Planet? by Peter McLennan

If you’ve found this information useful, then you probably wouldn’t like the novel that yielded it. But you might have kids, nephews, etc, who would! It’s about a fourteen-year-old named Jason who can’t work out how to get climate change fixed—until he saves the life of the mysterious and powerful Graham. Graham promises a reward, and Jason asks him to do something to stop climate change. The request is caught by the media, so Jason thinks the man’s trapped and has to keep his word.

But Graham’s got other ideas.

Jason’s got a fight on his hands.

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Peter McLennan

Peter McLennan served for 28 years in the Royal Australian Air Force, where he focused on strategic planning. He has tertiary qualifications in engineering, information science and government, and a PhD in planning for uncertainty. He has had several non-fiction monographs and papers published.

Peter now writes fiction from his home in country Victoria, Australia. His hobbies include playing computer games badly and developing software badly. You can find Who Can Save the Planet? online in print versionKindle, and other eBooks.

Thanks, Peter! This has been most informative. I’m definitely looking forward to the next instalments.

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Book review: The Mountain, by Drusilla Modjeska

The Mountain, by Drusilla Modjeska

This is a review of the book The Mountain, by Drusilla Modjeska.

Drusilla Modjeska is a highly respected Australian non-fiction author, and this is her first foray into fiction. I had read a few of her earlier works (Poppy, in particular, stands out, though I also enjoyed Stravinsky’s Lunch) so to be presented with this book was like a special treat.

The story is in two parts. The first, set in 1968 and the years following, tells the story of Dutch-born photographer Rika and her English anthropologist husband Leonard, as they come to Papua New Guinea to make a film about the indigenous population, in the process falling in with the locals, both indigenous and colonial, who are making lives for themselves in this Australian colony seeking independence. The second part, set in 2005, looks at the experiences of the next generation as they try to make sense of what their country has become.

I’m hesitant to say too much because most of what I say could be considered spoilers, but at the risk of ruining things for others I will make some comments. Modjeska is very good at hinting at things without saying them outright, therefore making exposition seem more natural, but there were times that I wished she would just come out and say what she meant. The second part of the book, for example, seeks to explore why the tight friendship between Rika, Australian expat Martha and local Laedi fell apart and why Rika felt betrayed by the others, yet even when the events were revealed I still wasn’t really sure what the issue was. I had trouble with some of the clan relationships, too; Jacob and Aaron were said to be brothers, yet were from rival clans. It’s possible that this was explained away and on both my read-throughs I just missed it, but I did feel that the occasional clear explanation would have been merited.

Furthermore, I felt that the experience would have been enriched if there was more description of what the bark-cloth paintings actually entailed; how the bark-cloth was made, its texture, and maybe even a photograph of similar art on the back cover to really give the reader a feel for it. I spent much of the story trying to work out what bark-cloth actually was, and while the illustrations on the inside front and back covers give an idea, they still don’t really indicate what a work of art the finished product is.

That said, though, it was certainly a haunting book. Rika’s experiences with Aaron, her estrangement from his clan (whether real or imagined initially, it was obviously there at the end) and I could feel Jericho’s frustration in the second part as no one seemed to be able (or perhaps willing) to explain things to him. Milton’s story, for a while seeming to be there almost as comic relief, became much more poignant as the book went on, and the progress of not only Laedi and Jacob during the years of independence, but also Bili (and, across the seas, Jericho) felt only fitting to how they had been depicted in the first part. There was a real sense of place; Port Moresby, the Mountain of the title, the fjords and Collingwood Bay – I could picture them all, and almost felt I had been there. The setting, and the characters within, are nothing if not evocative. The clans, too, were real and very human, from the subjects of Leonard’s film on the Mountain, to Aaron’s family in the fjords. All had strong characters and easily understood motivations, even if their cultures were unfamiliar. In that, she did an incredible job.

Equally, the politics of the time was captured incredibly well,with the reluctance of some of the indigenous population to accept a relationship between a black man and a white woman, the violence, the move towards independence and the struggles some of those living outside the capital had in making sense of what was happening. Modjeska truly captured the feel of a country torn in two as it tries to establish itself.

All in all, The Mountain is a very well-written and researched book, and I have certainly learned much about Papua New Guinea and its history from reading it. There was something missing, however – whatever it is that makes you want to read on at any cost, that need to know more. I appreciated this book and I respect it. I only wish I could have enjoyed it more.

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The Mountain, by Drusilla Modjeska
Published by Random House Australia
432 pages (paperback)
Available from Amazon.com as ebook, or Booktopia (Australia) as paperback

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