Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fantastic Accidents - Publishing in NZ

It has been an honour to be a part of a closed NZ writers and illustrators group on Facebook. I believe I was accidentally accepted into this group but what a fantastic accident. Already in the few short months that I have been silently reading in on their conversations, I've learned so very much from these great writers and illustrators.
I have learned how the withdrawal of one minor and two major publishing houses from NZ shores has affected some of the writers and published authors in our home land. I have read the highs of awards won turn into sadness and backlash as the events turned sour. I have participated in giving US tax information to traditionally-published authors still learning how to become 'hybrid' authors. And I've read how one publishing partnership turned to custard as the director skipped the country owing thousands to would-be published authors, leaving a huge mess in her wake.
It has been wonderful learning so much from these amazing men and women, some prominent leaders in this industry in NZ, some award winners, some new themselves to the highs and lows of writing, but all published and all with a voice at different stages and levels in our publishing industry. Some of these writers and illustrators are in leaderships roles in influential places.
I've enjoyed learning what makes them celebrate, what upsets them, what makes them rally together to support each other, and I've enjoyed seeing the advice and encouragement shared. They are real people with real thoughts and ideas, real world-views, real value systems, and real enthusiasm! They love our country, they love our people, they love writing and illustrating for New Zealanders.
My biggest excitement is seeing this group who represent authors in NZ start to see the importance of accepting authors who publish ebooks. Not only into groups like the one I was accepted into, but allowances are being made for published ebooks to be accepted for consideration in some pretty major national awards next year. There is also talk to allow authors who write ebooks to apply for funding and grants that traditionally-published authors are entitled to apply for. This could really open the door for so many more people who would like to 'give up their day job.'
Because of the shake-up that is happening with the major publishers moving offshore, I think these traditionally-published authors are seeing the industry in NZ going 'hybrid.' I believe these authors who have few-to-many books on shelves already are beginning to see the value in self-publishing due to the smaller 'pool' of publishing contracts now available here in NZ. I think others are going to submit in Australia, where the above-mentioned publishing companies have moved.
I love it! It is a fantastic season to be a writer. I do feel for these traditionally-published authors though, who feel their solid ground turning to sand a bit, but it won't be long before they see the value in self-publishing themselves. I believe that with more and more of them starting to self-publish, we will begin to see a different scene, a new identity and a new landscape that is our NZ publishing industry.
My only concern, and I know I'm not the only one concerned about this, is that our cultural identity as a country will be watered down in the mix as we all try to find our footing on a worldwide platform. Even those submitting to publishing houses in Australia will probably find their uniquely NZ books being looked over for more whole-world-themed stories. Sad really, but it makes me all the more interested in self-publishing uniquely NZ stories!
I think that because I already have a good name for myself on Amazon, I can get away with introducing characters that are uniquely NZ, themes that are important to NZ families, ideas, values and characteristics that make NZ a fantastic place to call home. And I think I can do well selling these stories too! So stay tuned as I'll have a couple ready for publishing before Christmas – fingers crossed!
With these major changes shaking up publishing in NZ, we will find ways to adapt and rise above the circumstances. We will find that in the thick of all the changes we will have accidentally show-cased NZ to the world in a greater way than ever before. I do not doubt that with these changes we will begin to see more and more of our uniquely Kiwi stories read to families all over the world. Now that is what I call a fantastic accident!

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