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Publishing is many things (& don’t forget the power of promotion)

Vanessa Gordon models Tania Basiou's MWTE t-shirtPHIL FITZPATRICK

Want to buy your own MWTE tee-shirt? You can do that here

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


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Rashmii Bell

Perhaps easier other anthologies, but not in the case of MWTE.

As well as the Australian High Commission we had two generous minor sponsors in Paga Hill Development Company and Jo Holman for which we are ever grateful.

Promotion was done by keeping our heads down and getting the job done. Not wasting time on futile nitpicking.

Very happy with the sale of 7,000 copies. If we can go 7,000 more, I'll be super happy!

MWTE has been placed on the shelves of Mary Ryan Bookshop (Milton) and Sandy Pages Bookshop (Coolum). This week, MWTE will be stocked at State Library Queensland Bookshop (Southbank).

I'm still keen to get MWTE onto retail shelves in PNG so if anyone can help me out, please email me at [email protected]

Philip Fitzpatrick

That's an interesting thought about seeking sponsorship for Jordan's next collection Keith.

A writer could approach a company before a book goes to print and elicit financial support and their help in distributing it.

If successful the book could have the company logo on it and copies could be sold through their outlets.

Good advertising for the company and an outlet for the writer?

I'm sure it would work in the PNG context, after all, you and I have done it - KJ

Jordan Dean

Agree Phil. It's easier with anthologies because it's a collective effort and you have support from so many people, even sponsors throw in money to get you into the limelight quickly.

But if you produce your own book with no support or sponsor, you have do the hard yards. You have to dig deep into your pocket to promote your book. Unless You're Sidney Sheldon or Agatha Christine to be a best seller.

I for one am not too keen on selling thousands. So long as few of my books get on the shelves of Michael Somare Library, I'd be happy.

Nothing to do with getting books to readers or gaining sponsorship is easy. When any book is written (anthology, collection, memoir or novel), it requires lots of hard work by very few people to market it successfully. And why not seek sponsorship for your next collection, Jordan? - KJ

Rashmii Bell

Thanks, Phil.

Tania Basiou, writer contributor and cover designer, has done a terrific job in initiating and overseeing the merchandise aspect.

She's also been the photographer of the majority of MWTE related images across social and print media. An individual you'd definitely want on your team!

Also want to say a big thankyou to Leiao Gerega and Ogia Miamel - two fab journos who've been super helpful increasing awareness about our book through the national dailies throughout the past year.

Special shout out to that terrific gentleman, Bob Cleland, who has created opportunities for me to guest speak about MWTE throughout Brisbane.

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