Bravo, Charlie Foxtrot

bravo charlie4 foxtrolKapiti Writing and Publishing feature at Friends of the Libraries Event

By Leslie Clague

Mercedes Webb-Pullman launched her new book, Bravo Charlie Foxtrot, at the latest  Friends of the Kapiti Coast Libraries event.

The evening at the Paraparaumu Library also included a panel discussion with local authors– focusing on the independent writers’ and readers’ movement , and  small publishers and self-publishing.

Mercedes read several poems from her work, which is a book of memoire, through poetry, about her family.merc edes webb pullamn

Her language was rich and graphic; many of the stories shared were deep0ly moving.

Independent publishing: the way of the future?

The panel that followed included local authors Annabel Fagan, Sylvia Bagnall and David McGill, as well as Mercedes. Their focus was on independent publishing which they see as the way of the future for all publishing.

When you think of the world of web sites, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, as well as the new technologies which make publishing easier, both in print and electronic format, this future is easy to see. The debate might be about finding quality in the plethora of stuff available.

Kapiti has an independent writers group that aims to launch a new website later this year. Called KiwiReads, it will promote quality reads by New Zealand authors with the idea of getting the word out both nationally and internationally.

Self publishing: getting it right

Discussion by both panel members and the audience (approximately 40 to 50 attended in the library meeting room) looked at key points to small and self-publishing.

Firstly, the importance of good proofreading – doing it over and over again – was stressed.

Also the need for a good book designer was highlighted. Some printers have designers in-house; at other times an independent one needs to be found. One writer in the audience said she preferred to design her own books – selecting paper, type face, finding the right art for the cover.

A third key to success was getting books reviewed, spreading word-of-mouth stories about the book, as well as overall promotion.  As Sylvia Bagnall pointed out, producing books was much easier than the marketing and promotion of them.

The use of a small publisher, as opposed to self-publishing, was the focus on marketing: launching the book through an event, getting the book reviewed, getting it placed in bookshops, sending two copies to the National Library to be retained in the national collection of New Zealand published works, as well as creating information sheets about the work.

It was stressed that it’s also important to get the book in schools and promoted through web sites — overall, ‘publicity is key.’

It was suggested that approaching foreign embassies with one’s work was a good tactic, as embassy staff are interested in New Zealand culture (an author could get invited to embassy functions; and could  invite embassy staff to launches, it was pointed out).

DSCN1147While noting that e-books are much cheaper to produce, speakers said the need for quality proofreading remained equally critical.

Finally, it was noted that avenues to approaching large publishing houses are now almost all closed and that getting reviewed in the press can also be difficult.

Selling out the quantity of books printed is one measure of success, as is covering the costs of producing the work. But actually making money from the publishing was not discussed.

Librarian Jane George promoted Paraparaumu Library’s ‘open mike’ sessions as the evening came to a close. Held the third Friday of every month from 5:30 to 7 pm, independent poets, song writers and writers can come and share their work.

Overall, it was an evening of quality information for writers and some good poetry as well.