Walking in the garden of the mind..

That’s the title of my newest book, which is a collection of my shorter pieces–essays, short stories and a few papers I gave at conferences–which has just been released by the small Australian publisher, Altair Australia Books. Nearly all of the pieces have been published before, in magazines, newspapers, anthologies and online, and as Altair specialises in ‘speculative’ literature–ie science fiction, fantasy and its many and diverse related cousins–the pieces all have a mythological/folklorical/fantastical bent, though some are straight-out imaginative works, others non-fiction explorations of things that have haunted and intrigued me over the years. Those who are interested can look further, and order the book, at Altair

It’s been an exciting and interesting venture for me. It’s exciting to have this collection published, and I’m really grateful to Robert Stephenson, the brave and dogged publisher at Altair, for believing in it. All my other books have been published by big publishers, like Random House, Hodder, Harper Collins, and so on. The experiences there have mostly been pretty good, and continue to be so–but though I’ve had no trouble getting novels accepted, the idea of having a collection like this was an impossible dream until Robert’s proposal. You see, the publishing ‘wisdom’ is that collections of short pieces, like collections of poetry, don’t sell. And that means a great deal of literary diversity is lost, at least by the big publishers–which is where small publishers can take up the slack. That’s especially so now, that new technologies have come to the rescue of literary diversity. My book’s a part of that, because it’s been published as a POD–print on demand.

POD offers, it seems to me, a really good way of getting more difficult titles into print, especially in a timid publishing atmosphere such as the one we’re in in Australia at the moment. The books look good, sell for the same kind of price as a paperback–mine retails for $25.95–they cost much less to produce, don’t take up warehouse space, and can stay in print much longer. They are much easier to read and access than e-books, and they are easy to market. They can be sold internationally easily as well, and royalty percentages are generally higher(in fact, double) than for ‘normal’ books. Of course, authors have to be fairly committed to helping to make the venture work, and have to be flexible as well (for instance, I received no advance on this book, though my royalty percentages are very good). It’s obviously not the best way for all books. But for collections like this, as well as poetry, plays, academic work, and out-of-print titles, it seems a very good way indeed to go. And it’s great to see people like Robert–who care about books and writing and ideas–having a go and helping to re-inject some daring and freshness into our literary culture, and the publishing world.

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Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

As an advertisement, shouldn’t you get Robert’s permission to post one ‘teaser’ piece up here?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

What sort of retail model is involved, Sophie? Presumably if it’s POD it’s not stocked in bookstores, so do people order via the internet? And is the marketing effective?

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

Will try and do that, Nicholas, with one of the shorter pieces..
And Mark, the book is ordered through the website, either directly by readers or it can also be done by bookshops ordering it for their customers(presumably at a discount rate). The marketing is done the usual way–sending out books for review to newspapers and magazines, and also through the internet, also at science conventions, festivals and conferences and through the author lining up interviews, reviews, etc. Bookshops are also sent a press release announcing the book. Because there’s not a big publicity department handling all this, the author has to be involved much more(in fact, you need to anyway, even if your book’s published by a big publisher, as marketing budgets are often tightly focussed on a few titles only, and the rest can sink or swim!)

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

oops, that should have read ‘science fiction and fantasy conventions’, not ‘science conventions! Doubt this particular book anyway would get a guernsey there!