Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Self-publication looks up?

 At the risk of repeating myself, Rosa Mira's new website is millimetres away. It's just a matter of the two busy people responsible (yours truly and sib) coordinating over the last few details.

Meanwhile (I wonder if that's my most frequently used paragraph starter), I read this article called 'Self-publishing matters' about the popularity and destigmatisation of DIY. What do you think? I think that, even so, not every writer wants to go it alone. Many value a publisher's editorial judgment and input, design capabilities, ebook production and marketing know-how ... and that's where Rosa Mira comes in — with traditional publishing values and an innovative, collaborative model.

I'm currently reading a promising manuscript, one author is making small structural changes to hers, and two are waiting for me to pull my editorial hat down hard and get started.

It's always a thrill to see Rosa Mira authors (possibly not how they describe themselves primarily, but I'm entitled) out doing beautiful things in the written world. In April Carolyn McCurdie is going to have her first (ridiculous that her work hasn't been in mass circulation for the last decade) book of poetry Bones in the Octagon published by Mākaro Press. More when I have one in my hand.

Sue Wootton recently won the 2015 Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize for her poem 'Luthier'. I happen to know she's just completed her Masters (submitted — that's 'completed', right?) so we might see more of her poetry and fiction out on the streets in the near future.

There's more but my skin is coming of age and I shortly have an appointment with a flask of liquid nitrogen.

Meanwhile, carry on: Writing is its own reward, wrote Henry Miller.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Winds and novels

In two days, Cyclone Pam will bear down on New Zealand's east coast bays, islands and promontories. Already the waves south of Whangarei are huge and forceful. As I wrote in my novel Island, "… it [the storm] has no designs on any of these [objects in its path]; it moves according to its intrinsic energies and those devolving upon it from the greater systems of the earth." However, Pam is the greatest weather system currently on earth so perhaps that should read 'evolving'. Whatever, however, it made for an exciting swim just now: should I dive through this looming monster or race to shore before it crashes? 

Distractions! I have manuscripts to edit — several novels, even though I saw myself write recently that they're too unweildy and time-consuming for a solo publisher. Nevertheless, as I also wrote more recently, I've been changing my model and the new one is about sharing — energy, input, skills, marketing and income — with the author. Self-publishing has become respectable, but it's still a hard and lonely road, too often with a product that lacks the quality checks of traditionally published work. Publishing in the new (it might be said chaotic but certainly unpredictable) publishing climate is also a bit lonely and hazardous. Teaming up makes good sense to me, and this particular handful of novelists concurs. (One didn't and has beat a retreat, thriller in hand.) Thanks to those who go on believing that a novel's worth writing, and those who go on reading them.

May all in the cyclone's path find safety.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Oh those grants

Hmm, no publishing grant forthcoming this round. I hadn't realised how heavily I was resting one elbow on that presumed ledge. I've been walking a bit lopsided since it fell away yesterday. I'd put a strong case for two strong novels. But then, every applicant believes passionately in what they're doing or they wouldn't have the fortitude to jump through the application hoops. All strength to those who received and even more to those who didn't. Let us carry on regardless!

I'll be asking authors to share more responsibility for ebook production (and receive the same proportion in revenue) or I'll sizzle up in the anxiety of doing all and paying all myself. I think that is the way forward — somewhere between the traditional model of publisher footing all bills and author earning ten percent, and the hard-work, lonely model of self-publication. Collaborating, and having as much fun as possible in the process. More of this will be covered on the new website, to be uncovered shortly, if you believe me.

By the way, it's a year since Pam and Annie's gorgeous, brave journal was published. I'd love you to buy it. That will help in all kinds of ways.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Back on deck

I'm so suggestible. I read an article yesterday by an inveterate blogger who said You must do it every day — in the way others say You must meditate every day — and something magical will happen — promise. Well, it won't be every day but here I go again. Mostly to tell you that I'm excited about the ebooks to be published here this year. I'd thought of flagging novels for being too long and unwieldy but when four cross your path within a few months, each credible, powerful and finely written (and editorially straightforward), that can feel like a gift you shouldn't turn down.

I've told you before that the new website will soon be ready — well, that's truer now than then. I'll be able to run it myself. Two biggish changes: first, I'll be more upfront in offering editorial services (whether or not those services lead to publication here) — I have to keep this show funded.  And the other (same reason) is that the publishing model will be more collaborative, with Rosa Mira and the author sharing (or seeking out) funding for the publication process, and sharing equally, too, in the proceeds. More about that in another blog. More about everything.

For now I need to potter along to the next bay to buy a copy of NZ Listener which I'm told has several of us chipping in about the NZ indie publishing scene, thanks to Tina Shaw. To quote the lead-in: How hard is it to set up your own book publishing business? It’s not impossible – and those doing it may just keep New Zealand’s literary culture alive.

How about that? Sadly, happily, it might be true.

Still house-sitting, elderly homeowners, tiny internet allowance run out, no  room for pic ...