WHEN THE CROCODILE PRIZE kicked off in 2011 it was the intention of the organisers to involve as many Papua New Guinea businesses as possible in the process, including the printing and distribution of the anthology.
Following many problems with printing, it is likely that the 2013 anthology will be printed in Australia. This is unfortunate but, under the circumstances, understandable. Having the anthology ready on time and at a competitive price is only fair to the many contributors.
This development is one of the lessons that have been learned through experience, which is always a wonderful and pragmatic teacher.
Another lesson brought home firmly is that publishing in Papua New Guinea has no future in the short term. Given the worldwide revolution occurring in publishing and the growth in popularity of the e-book the long term outlook is not very encouraging either.
This truth was not only demonstrated with the experience around producing the anthology but also through involvement with other books, like Sil Bolkin’s groundbreaking Flight of Galkope.
This means that the future for writers in PNG hoping to publish their work will be probably be electronic or nothing. This is not as bad as it sounds. Among other things it dramatically increases the potential readership.
I am informed that it is now possible to very economically digitally publish a book through avenues like Amazon’s Create Space. An e-book can be run on Amazon for virtually no cost and hard copies produced through print-on-demand technology for authors to sell for an average price of US$6-8 each.
We will shortly be testing this system with Francis Nii’s new and confronting book set in the Simbu and Eastern Highlands Provinces.
However, it is not just in publishing that electronic and digital technology can offer viable alternatives to the traditional ways of doing things.
The recent writers’ bung involving Bob Cleland is a case in point. More bungs are being arranged for Port Moresby and soon in Goroka. This is great but it leaves a lot of writers outside Mosbi and Goroka out of the mix.
Michael Dom has made the point in PNG Attitude and in emails that interaction between poets and writers is an extremely valuable tool and can make the difference between motivation and despair.
Michael is a world class poet and has shared many of his ideas in articles in PNG Attitude and constantly logged supportive comments on other poets’ work. Jeff Febi and Jim Drekore have been doing the same.
Despite their efforts it is noteworthy that articles and commentary by this golden trio seem to attract little remark. I don’t think this means that people aren’t reading what they write. Writing, particularly poetry, is a very personal affair and most writers work in isolation. They read the comments, take them on board and, as is their wont as society’s silent observers, say nothing.
However, I think they also secretly appreciate interaction with their fellow writers and value their advice. I know that one of the first things that I do when I’ve finished a major project is give it to all and sundry to read and provide feedback. Sometimes I even take notice of what people say.
This sort of feedback is what is behind the idea of the writers’ bungs. I can’t see why this shouldn’t also be possible to do by remote control electronically.
All it would need is for a bunch of writers, preferably members of the Papua New Guinea Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers, to exchange email addresses and volunteer to offer advice to each other. They could do this in general terms or for specific genres.
It might be possible to get Keith to publish the list.
What do you reckon? Any takers?
And by the way, what’s happened to all those fabulous entries everyone was promising in 2013?
Times a-wasting folks!