TUMBY BAY - Pukpuk Publication’s highest circulating book by a longshot has been My Walk to Equality, edited by Rashmii Amoah Bell.
I emphasise ’circulating’ because the bulk of MWTE’s distribution has been not through over the counter sales but through free circulation.
This was made possible through the generosity of many sponsors, especially the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea which alone provided funding for 5,000 books to be distributed free of charge.
But lining up sponsors for this book – which now has distributed about 7,000 copies - was never going to be enough to make it successful.
My Walk to Equality also required solid, well edited content – and energetic promotion.
Rashmii and a group of women around her have worked tirelessly to promote the book because they are driven by a firm belief that it represented a way forward for the women of Papua New Guinea.
Promotion is a crucial activity for any writer interested in making sure readers are aware of what an author has produced. Even authors who publish with established traditional publishers are expected to hit the road (and the bookshops and country libraries) to build that awareness.
When I published my first book I attended several book launches and travelled up the east coast of Australia doing radio and television interviews and attending a wide range of functions as a guest speaker.
When it was all over I calculated I had just broken even financially but had a good time mixing with readers and learnt a lot about publishing.
The CreateSpace-Amazon enterprise is designed for writers to produce their own books and then promote and market them.
The books I publish for Papua New Guinean writers using the CreateSpace platform require, more than anything else, much dedicated time - mostly in editing and design.
There are financial costs too: printing drafts, fixing photographs, buying proof copies, supplying new writers with half a dozen free copies as encouragement, arranging promotion and so on.
I try to cover these costs by asking writers to donate the royalties from the first 150 copies of their books sold on Amazon but it never seems to work out that way and I kick in the money required.
Still, I don’t mind helping writers, even lazy ones. A published book is reward enough.
By the way, Rashmii Bell happily donated royalties from My Walk to Equality to supporting new Papua New Guinean writers, who now owe thanks to the enthusiastic team that produced the book and which continues to promote it and – more importantly perhaps – the ideas it contains.
Photo: Vanessa Gordon models the Tania Basiou-designed tee-shirt taken from the cover illustration of My Walk to Equality and sold to raise further funds for the publishing project