All systems GO!

It’s release day here at the desk, with a great deal of leaping about to celebrate the Actual Bookness of The Pale. Click here to see the announcement by my favourite publisher.

It is also slightly surreal to know that such a thing exists.Β  Oh my goodness!



A reflection on dying be degrees

One of the things that makes me sad amidst all the excitement of my novel being published is that my mum doesn’t know it’s happening. I will show her the book once I have it in my hot little hand, but given that she now has no idea what day it is or what time it is, events and dates have become completely meaningless. If by next week she is still as (comparatively) alert as she is today, then she will look at it kind of blankly and nod. If I then put it into her hand, she will very probably say ‘Thank you.’

I am grateful, though, that she still recognises me. That’s a blessing in all the sadness.

So it begins

Just this week, I have fabulous news that the lovely, lovely Readings Carlton are going to host the launch event for my novel The Pale. Such exciting news! So I’m spending this week making sure that I invite everyone I can think of, anyone who might be even remotely interested in having a glass of wine, hearing me read a page from the book, and watching me sign copies! More details as they come to hand πŸ™‚

One of the best-est things about Readings (as if thousands of books, masses of music, fabulously useful book reviews and conversible, knowledgable staff isn’t enough!) is The Readings Foundation, to which they devote 10% of their profits. To date, Readings has contributed over $120,000 to causes that pormote literacy and education to the most disadvantaged groups in our society. Gotta love that!

Beastly ideas

The Pale (SO excited! very close to publication day!), as you might know, features dog/wolf-like creatures who can think, talk, debate, take action, and make decisions about how best to live in the damaged post-Cataclysm world they have inherited. These characters are called canini and they are very close to my heart.

Talking dogs is not such a new idea, I know, but I am forced to ponder my protagonists in the light of two books I have just read. (And in considering the canini’s part in the two planned sequels to The Pale!)

These two books are separated in genre (philosophy vs fantasy) and in time (2002 vs 2017), reflecting quite different understandings of the place of sentient non-humans in our lives and in the physical world.

In one, JK Rowling, channeling that delightful wizard Newt Scamander, wonders about the status of ‘beasts’ versus ‘beings’:

“We now ask ourselves, which of these creatures is a ‘being’ – that is to say, a creature worthy of legal rights and a voice in the governance of the magical world – and which is a ‘beast’?”*

In the other, philosopher Raimond Gaita outlines his thinking about the consciousness of animals, dogs in particular. Gaita avers that one fundamental difference between human consciousness and that of dogs is knowledge of death:

“Because animals have no reflective knowledge of death, they cannot dread it and if they could, they could not take comfort from the fact that they are not alone in their mortality. It is a fact utterly basic to human life that we are consoled by the knowledge that others suffer as we do and die as we must.”**

I know that the canini function more as beings than as beasts in The Pale, because they are certainly worthy of rights and of a say in their future. They also think about the value of their lives, the work of a good life, and the inevitability of death. The human-ish characters in The Pale – at least some of them – are perhaps more beastly. I need to ponder and reflect a bit more. The fundamental beast/being contrast is an idea that I am already exploring.


*Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander (JK Rowling), Bloomsbury, London, 2017, p. xviii.


**The Philosopher’s Dog, Raimond Gaita, Text, Melbourne, 2002, p. 72.


Five learnings from the ABA conference

ABA = Australian Booksellers’ Association – a pretty important group for authors to access.

Thanks to the good offices of my lovely publisher at Odyssey Books and our dynamic distributor Novella, I was able to join the stand at the Sunday afternoon trade exhibition. This is where booksellers meet distributors and publishers. Our task was to interest booksellers (ie the folk who sell books to the reading public) in the books we had on display, so that they would consider stocking Odyssye titles (and titles from other publishers in the Novella stable).

I had a wonderful time and learnt many things about the book trade and about book folk. Here areΒ  five major learnings that could change the way you approach marketing and self-promotion:

1. It’s hard to give away books

Even though all the sample books were free, it is quite difficult to persuade a bookseller that they need to add any specific 500g of brilliance to their luggage for the flight home. They have to be convinced that it’s worth their while. I hadn’t expected this – I mean, put me in a room full of free books and I’ll pay excess baggage any time!

2. About giveaways and gimmicks…

Some of the stands offered all manner of freebies, including champagne, chocolates, cupcakes, pens, notepads, neck massages and canvas bags. The neck massage included a chance to sample an e-book on an iPad. My impression is that the stands with canvas bags gave away most sample books, especially at the start, because folk could put the books in the bag. I wasn’t sure that the other giveaways resulted in more books being taken – but they certainly helped to stop the traffic so that booksellers actually looked at the stand.

3. Being an author counts

I had the best success when I was able to tell the person I had waylaid that the book I was offering had been written by ME (pointing to cover and to name tag so the connection could be made…). Booksellers appeared to be impressed by the fact that I actually had written a book that was being published! Congratulations flowed (more so than the champagne). Giving away review copies of my own soon-to-be-published book was comparatively easy, and indicating that I would be (more than!) happy to visit book stores to do readings/signings created a warm glow that I will definitely follow up πŸ™‚

Being there to sign the actual book also worked for another Novella author who was present, Harrison Craig whose book Harrison’s Song has just been published by Wombat.

4. Folk won’t wait

At other events, I have also experienced this conundrum – either there’s nobody at your stand and you look sad, or else your stand is crowded with people and other potential contacts walk away without a backward glance. This is inevitable at such an occasion, but I wished for an easy (and light-weight) take-away for such people, along the lines of those tear-off contact details you see pinned to notice boards.

5. Books ARE judged by their covers

It’s quite true. Not saying that good books might not dwell inside dodgy covers, but it was definitely the cover art that made folk look at my book. (PS I love the cover art!) Another cover that drew interest on the day was for the children’s book The Whirlpool by Emily Larkin, also published by Wombat. High quality, attractive images that clearly indicate the book’s genre seem to be the way to go.

6. Bonus learning: say YES

OK, I said five learnings, but here’s number six: whenever you are offered a chance to spruik your book, do it! You and your manuscript have already survived the seas of rejection and heartache, so what does it matter if some people think your book is not worth its weight in their suitcases? Someone else will tell you they love the look of it – and just one of those comments is worth any number of ‘no thanks’-es!