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/