I note, with some angst, that it is many days since I last posted. Where does the time go? Well, in this case, it goes to finding a printer for ‘Southern Cross Safari’, my environmental travel narrative.
Most of the people involved in the production of the manuscript – author, editors, designer, map maker, formatter, proof- and beta readers – either live in Canberra, or once did, or have some connection with the National Capital.
So I was keen to find a local printer to maintain this strong Canberra connection, particularly as ‘Canberra’ is one of the threads running through the book.
My first discovery was that digital printing, while good for short runs of little books, doesn’t get much cheaper per unit book for long runs. As I wanted a long run for my big book, we – designer Debra and I – then inquired about offset printing. We found that for long runs (>500 to 1000 books depending on the printer), offset was the way to go.
About this time, I was offered a distribution contract with a Sydney-based company. The standard commission is 30 per cent of the book’s retail price, meaning I would be paid $10.50 for books sold at the RRP of $35. This was useful information as I could now compare potential income with the cost of printing. Unfortunately, the best local printing quote I could get devoured most of the commission, and as a financial venture, was not worth proceeding with.
I had to look beyond the ACT for a more competitive price, so approached Australia’s two biggest print houses, MacPherson’s in Victoria and Griffin in South Australia. Both were competitive but Griffin more so, hence got the job.
I am now waiting to check the printer’s proof copy before production can begin in earnest. Nearly there!
Now for something different.
For just $2, I recently purchased a second-hand book, Richard Huggett’s ‘The Wit of Publishing’, at Canberra’s famous Lifeline Bookfair. Although a slim book, its 160 pages recount scores of humourous anecdotes about all aspects of publishing.
One of my favourites – with a local flavour – concerns the late Monica Dickens, an English writer and great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens.
‘Monica Dickens was signing her latest book in Australia. She took care to find out the name of each customer. A horse-faced woman thrust a copy into her hands, and announced what the author naturally took to be her name. “Emma Chizzit”.
‘Thank you’ said Monica Dickens, and wrote, ‘To Emma Chizzit, with best wishes, Monica Dickens.’
Slightly disconcerted, the woman repeated her name, and it was only after several angry repetitions, that the author realised that the woman was enquiring after the price.’
Meanwhile, back in contemporary Canberra, we are only one month into autumn, but it feels like winter. We’ve already had a light frost that the basil and tomatoes screwed their leaves at, and today is a miserable, murky, drab affair with a chilly inside temperature of just 16. So, it was ‘flick, flick, flick’ this morning, and on went the in-slab heating. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be as warm as toast – but not as edible.