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Want to help a PNG writer? Send them their own books

Pukpuk PublicationsPHIL FITZPATRICK

UNLESS you are extremely lucky there is very little financial reward attached to being a writer.

In Australia the average annual income of a full-time writer is currently $12,900, well below the poverty line in our money driven society.

In Papua New Guinea, it’s fair to say writers’ incomes are not far above zero. That doesn’t help Papua New Guinean literature.

This is one of the hardest truths to convey to new writers when they approach Pukpuk Publications for help in getting their books to market.

For some reason many new writers in both Australia and Papua New Guinea believe that the book they have just written will make them millionaires, just like JK Rowling or Wilbur Smith

Pukpuk isn’t a conventional publisher. We use Amazon’s digital platform CreateSpace to produce our books. The platform is essentially a self-publishing and distribution service, including an online retail outlet.

And Pukpuk is different from the old-style vanity publishers because it exercises strict editorial and quality controls.

It’s not dissimilar to traditional publishing. Normally publishers sell books to bookshops at a wholesale price and the bookshops sell them at a retail price. However, if you have no or few bookshops in your country, the only option is to do it yourself.

That is basically what our writers do. They promote and sell their own books.

Quite a few of our authors have little money and cannot afford even to buy the books for themselves. So the books sit on the Amazon website and, if they are lucky, the authors sell one or two a year. But at least they are there and available. That’s how we measure success at Pukpuk.

I’ve thought about this problem for a long time, as have other people. No one has yet come up with a solution. Very few bookshops in Australia and interested in Papua New Guinean books and in PNG there are few bookshops.

At the end of the day, the only way these orphan books will get to readers in Papua New Guinea is if the authors do the hard slog and sell them themselves. This is doubly hard if you are a writer with no spare cash.

The economics of self-selling and promotion are quite good. A Papua New Guinean author can theoretically buy copies of their own books at the wholesale price and then sell them for double or triple the cost to them, making a nice profit to spend on more books. It is getting that first batch of books and selling them that’s the killer.

We have quite a few authors in that position. I certainly can’t afford to send them books on spec and gamble on them being sold.

So, if any of our readers feel inclined to give an author a helping hand by sponsoring, no strings attached, an initial purchase, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with one of our struggling authors.

You won’t need to send any money to Papua New Guinea. The ordering and shipping is done from your own PC in Australia. You just need to have the authors’ grateful OK, their address and an idea of how many copies they want.

For an up-to-date list of Pukpuk Publications Papua New Guinean books, link to its website here - http://pukpukpublications.com/

Comments

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Philip Fitzpatrick

Drop me an email Roseanne and I can give you the names of a couple of deserving authors. You can then correspond with them and come to an arrangement. I'm at pacificasene@westnet.com.au. Check out the Pukpuk Publications website to see the range of books.

Roseanne O"Rourke

Hi Keith - Would you please pass this on to Phil?

We, that is my children and I, have had the privilege of having readings from the Crocodile Prize Anthologies (2014/ 2015) during our yearly Papua New Guinea Independence Dinners.

In 2014 we donated some of these profits to Crocodile Prize.

We had hoped to have our own project of supporting literacy in Milne Bay operating this year but are running behind.

In the meantime, we would love to support this proposal. I know Philip said no strings attached'' but we would like to ask the authors to sign one of the copies of the books we send which we would place in one of our libraries in the not too distant future.

Looking forward to hearing back.

Philip G Kaupa

Thank you Daniel, that settles my thought.

Daniel Kumbon

Even if our books don't sell now, at least we must be satified they are published and available on Amazon.com for anybody to excess. We have to applaud PNG Attitude blog and Pukpuk Publications.

But the information we provide now will be priceless to our future generations.

No, we PNG writers must not hope to be like JK Rowling or Wilbure Smith. They are from advanced countries where the literacy rate is high, where people read daily as a habit.

We are from a country which is rural based where the literacy rate is very low. A reading and writing culture even at our schools is yet to be encouraged and nurtured. Money must not be our focus in such a situation.

We must be patient and keep on writing as a hobby hoping that one of our future generation novelist or science fiction writer will make it to the national, regional or international bestseller lists.

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