How is everyone else hanging in? At Fremantle Press, we’re taking it page by page, hard at work on books while adapting to this new world we find ourselves in by providing even more online content to keep you connected.
Our Business of Being a Writer seminar, which involved 300 new and emerging authors gathering in a room without air conditioning, feels like two lifetimes ago. Craig Silvey dubbed it the ‘sauna of knowledge’ and, in this mid-pandemic world, the idea of running another feels frankly illicit. We can, however, bring you the broadcast version online for ‘free’.
I hosted this first panel with Craig Silvey and Alan Carter, in which we delved into the world of contracts, rights and copyright for authors. It is one of four 2020 Business of Being a Writer podcasts that we’ll be releasing over the coming months. We hope these will provide a forum for new and emerging writers to learn from their peers during this period of self-isolation.
But I want to talk about that word ‘free’ in relation to online events. Though the podcast is brought to you for nothing, we paid our authors to participate in the original event, and underwrote that cost through ticket sales. Many of our writers make ends meet by promoting their books at festivals, to school students and at community libraries – these paid gigs provide a vital source of income, sometimes more than they receive in royalties from book sales.
Are writers complaining? No, they are as worried as you about their kids, their mortgages and their parents, but when the bushfire relief campaign was on, they all donated experiences and books to raise money. When booksellers and libraries asked them to go online with virtual readings, they answered the call. When they heard kids might be stuck at home, they made free materials for them for study and play, and put them online for downloading. They make us proud every day we work with them
So, what can we all do to give back?
Keep your event bookings
If you are a librarian, teacher or programmer with a budget, consider booking an author for a virtual presentation via Skype or Zoom. The Australian Society of Authors has the rates of pay for online appearances on their website and we can help you make contact with authors to set that up.
The time to read is now
The Easter long weekend is here. After the Easter egg hunt in the lounge room is over, consider sitting down with a cup of tea and a hot cross bun to check out independent Australian publishers’ websites for new and interesting local titles. You can order those books online through the usual channels, or phone your local bookstore (even though their doors might be closed, many are offering postage or free local deliveries). If you have a book club, consider inviting an author to join you online. We have a whole article on how to Zoom your book club here. Though most authors will go to book clubs for the price of a glass of wine, make sure you 'pay' them by having all the members buy a book.
Tag us @Fremantle Press
Australian publishers and their authors are headed for a really tough time, and none more than the smaller independents. When you share your reading experiences with us using the hashtags #FremantlePress and #AustraliaReadsAtHome, you give us an enormous boost of energy.
One day all this will be behind us, and I am hopeful that the gifts we will keep from this time will be the rediscovery of slowing down, the stopping to talk to each other and to escape into stories, and the appreciation of those things we didn’t even know we took for granted.
Our connectivity in isolation is the greatest strength we have.
Till next time, Jane