Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Putting Australia first.






American National Pride is indeed a palpable thing, compared to how we Australians view ourselves.


Do we as Australian's get caught up in this American nationalism?


We adopt their tv shows, and their slang, to the point of changing our language to reflect more Americanisms than Briticisms. For instance, peanut paste is now peanut butter and 'dead horse' is becoming widely known as ketchup.


Are we losing our own identity?

America is most certainly the super power, so perhaps we are seeking the approval of the powerful parent.


As it pertains to fiction writing, we spend considerable monies to join and partake in American writing groups and organisations, attend their conferences etc.


Do we therefore consider American fiction superior to Australian fiction, and as a result we are trying to expand our knowledge, or by joining these groups are we trying to achieve a sense of equality?


Do we sincerely believe, through membership in these groups, that they offer the potential to enter the American market place, or to be blunt, are we just rubbing shoulders with what we consider successful authors, editors and publishers? And hoping this will rub off?


Should not Australian writing enterprises, have a greater propensity to assist Australian authors?


Depending on your perspective, should we be spending our hard-earned financial resources through memberships or subscriptions to these American enterprises?


How often have you heard that in order to publish in the Christian market, you need to have an agent?


Not in Australia.


How often have you heard that Christian publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts?


Not in Australia.


How often have you heard that to be accepted by an American Christian publisher, you need an American hero/heroine or part of the book must be set in America.


Not in Australia.


Australian Christian authors are blessed to be in on the ground floor of this emerging industry. We have the ability to be able to stand on our own feet and be proud about what we do.

However, in order to achieve growth within our own industry, perhaps we need to mirror some of that same nationalism displayed by American's, here, at home!






Lee Franklin is a director of HyalineHouse, an Australian publishing company. www.HyalineHouse.com


30 comments:

  1. I hate how many kids now celebrate Halloween (in the southern hemisphere is should be six months earlier) I know that when I chat on a website with American writers I have to try to not use Aussie slang (uni and ute are a couple) Come on Aussies lets have pride in our country. Let us write with Aussie hero/ine and let us show the rest of the world what we have to offer. (I guess the same for Kiwis too)

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    1. Agree, Mel,

      I do find it annoying how our own culture and history appears to be slowly diminishing.

      We are unique and should stay that way.

      Lee

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  2. Agree 100%. Unfortunately, the writing scene is a lot smaller in Australia, perhaps only due to our smaller population. This means that there are less Australian-based support services for writers, which encourages our use of overseas services. I wasn't comfortable with that, which is why I started the Australian Writers' Forum (http://forum.catplace.net).

    Just this week, I was disappointed to discover a new Australian publisher whose submission guidelines explicitly state that they do not like Australian-based content. I'm tempted to submit my very Australian WIP to them just to waste their time!

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    1. We're so conditioned to everything from over seas being the norm, that it's a sad day when a publisher doesn't want Aussie content.

      I don't think the writing scene is smaller, when you look at relative sizes, but that we always look to the overseas market first.

      Sad.

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  3. As a new writer, I'm very glad to have found my writing road at this point in the Australian story. I can't wait to see how the industry takes off here. Some say we are behind our US friends by about 20 years. But I have a feeling we are going to catch up sooner than later. Exciting times and opportunities ahead. Thanks Lee and everyone else, for your hard work and vision. :)

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    1. You're right, we are behind the eight ball, but that's slowly changing.

      Perhaps one day it will be American authors looking at us, and wanting to go to conferences and writing retreats here?

      We can only dream. :)

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  4. We have a unique culture of which we should be very proud.God has a future for the Aussie book industry. I love the way we are working together. I have had sooo much help from amazing Australian authors, publishers and editors. Lets continue to grow our own flavour, as we grow in excellence and expertise. Thanks Lee.

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    1. Yes, we are unique and really do need to pray that God has his hand on not only our writing but our country as well. Before we lose our identity completely.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jo.

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  5. Thanks Lee for that great post. I fully agree that we have to develop our own successes and not try to please an American 'parent' in the publishing world.

    God is doing great things among us. I too am a new Writer like Dorothy. I am excited as to what He is doing among us and glad to have joined in the Aussie writers story at this stage of the journey. We don't have to compete! After all - the same Lord is at work here and overseas. May we all be faithful to God's call on our lives and glorify Him not as Australian writers competing to be heard in an American world.

    But as Aussie writers who shine for Him in our own right!

    Thanks Lee for opening new doors for us,
    Blessings,
    Anusha

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    1. It is exciting, isn't it, Anusha?

      The only thing we should be doing is improving our craft. When we've learned all we can and diligently applied it to our work, we can only improve. After all, not one of us was born knowing everything.

      Our wicks need to be trimmed in readiness, as I believe in the next few years the world will start watching us closely. :)

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  6. Lee, interesting post! I don't actually perceive this question as a matter of patriotism. I belong to overseas writing organisations because they provide the valuable resources I need to improve and grow as a writer. I don't have an unlimited writing budget and I do my own cost-benefit analysis to decide where to invest money in my writing career. I also pray for direction and we all have our unique journeys to walk. Some of us will feel led to write for the Aussie Christian market, others for the US Christian market or secular markets. I think it's important for writers to find organisations connected to their target markets that will provide them with relevant and affordable resources and opportunities.

    I've recently self published my first Bible Study eBook using Smashwords. Smashwords is based in the US and unfortunately we don't have an Aussie equivalent that provides the functionality I wanted.

    The rise of eBook publishing is rapidly changing the market. There are now more opportunities for small presses, indie authors and international publishers/authors to access not only the US market but the international market. There is infinite shelf space for eBooks and there are amazing opportunities for downunder Christian writers and publishers to tap into the booming eBook market and grow our local market.

    I buy books in my favourite genres based on quality and I always download the first chapter or read the first few pages in a book store before buying a book. The quality of writing varies in both the US and Aussie markets. In recent years there has been a deluge of traditionally published eBooks from the US available for free for short periods of time and the emergence of very cheap self-published eBooks of varying quality.

    I think if the downunder authors continue to strive to write excellent books, work together to network and market their books, and provide their books at a competitive price, then the local market will grow. We live in exciting times :)

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    1. Agree completely, Narelle, we do have to be careful where we spend our money.

      However, there's nothing new in the craft of writing; no new way to perfect deep PoV, or flesh out characters, etc.

      After that, it's putting our rear on that chair and getting down to business.

      In a lot of cases it isn't about learning the craft at all, it's socialisation , which I have nothing against, however it is a shame when this knowledge isn't passed on to newer writers, here in our own backyard.

      I also agree that some are called to write for the Christian market and others for the general market. Forgive me, but I dislike the term secular market! ;)

      I'm not sure about being called to the Australian or American market though, but then I have been wrong before! After all, I've yet to see an American proudly shout they've been called to write for the Australian market..perhaps that will change one day.

      Thanks for stopping by, Narelle, as usual you bring interesting thoughts to the table. :)

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  7. I have a real respect for Australian publishing, especially in the children's market. I think, unlike other places in the world where content is censored, we Aussies push the boundaries. I know this can be a negative with so many books especially for YA's now stepping into territory I might not want my daughter to read just yet, but it can also be a strength. It means we can tackle the big issues, the ugly questions etc. It means we are willing to take risks outside what is the norm. I like that.
    Until recently Aussie Christian Publishers haven't felt childrens books worth investing in. It's been sad and Aussie authors have HAD to look overseas for publishing options. (My first publisher was CFP in the UK)I'm so excited these days to see a real shift in the mentality, and I think the shift must also be occurring in the market or else the publishers would still hold back.
    Personally I don't feel the need to be on the shelves of the US - it's good for sales (I like their big fat market!), and I think it's good for them to read a different perspective so I'm thrilled when my books are sold over there.
    But I write the books I need to write. They happen to be Australian, because that is part of who I am, and I'm glad to offer local children a more relevant option on the shelves in a Christian bookstore.
    Thanks Lee for asking the questions, and keeping us continually searching our hearts for the hidden motives behind how and what we write.

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    1. Thanks for opening your heart, Penny. It's wise to keep searching within, otherwise how can God speak to us? After all, most of us write because we want to be noticed by the big-wide-world, and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with wanting to see our names sitting next door to those we admire so well. But, let's be honest with ourselves, and God, about why we write.

      I believe the reason Aussie Christian Publishers are taking on childrens books, is that the quality in very recent times has dramatically increased. Authors are realising that in order to have their books noticed, they have to be of a high standard. It's exciting to see this happen. Storylines are becoming more involved, there is more layering and characters are being developed as never before.

      It's wonderful to see.

      You're right, children here need to read stories which are relevant to them. They need to see that our God works not only in other countries, but here in small communities too.

      The first book I ever read that impressed me with wanting to know God, was Seven Little Australians. To this day, I can't listen to Abide With Me without being instantly taken back to the scene of Judy's death. I'm tearing up just writing about it!

      That's the power that our authors have, and our children need.

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  8. "For instance, peanut paste is now peanut butter"

    You Aussies! It's peanut butter in England too, and always has been here in New Zealand, so perhaps you are just copying us!

    Seriously, you raise good points. Having travelled extensively throughout the US, I can say that when they listen to the song "I'm proud to be an American... God Bless the USA", they mean it.

    I suspect that Down Under, we are too busy trying to maintain our individuality to work together to build those things that unite us, both as Christians and as Australians and New Zealanders. Christian Writers Downunder is doing a good job at attempting to change that, so keep it up!

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    1. LOL, I never knew you called it peanut butter, here it was always peanut paste when we were growing up. It's true when they say you learn something new every day! :)

      I love the American nationalism, and whenever I hear their anthem and the gusto in which it's sung, I have to fight the urge to stand and sing too. Very powerful.

      You're right when you say we're too busy trying to maintain our individuality. We complain when companies take call centres overseas and shut down factories because manufacturing is cheaper in other countries, yet think nothing of doing the same with our writing.

      Also, the majority of our general market authors made in in Australia first before turning their attention to overseas markets. Their writing was good enough to stand on its own merits here. Why is that not happening with our own authors? Why do we feel the need to prove ourselves in our own country by being published overseas? Very odd indeed.

      Christian Writers Downunder is going to be around for a very long time, and we're looking at having our first writing retreat in Bali. "Come with the flicker of an idea and go home with your book aflame!"

      Perhaps, Iola, you should start your own Christian Writers Downunder group in New Zealand? THAT would be pretty cool!

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    2. Coming from NSW it was always peanut butter, I think there was some place that the dairy industry didn't like that.

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    3. I've lived in NSW all my life too Melanie and it's only ever been peanut butter here. And my jar still says peanut butter.

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  9. On an american blog for Love inspired range they said that books set in foreign countries dont sell as well as ones in america. with the exception of regency. They have published several to see how they go. They were wanting some views. It was then I posted population figures. Part of the issue is America is huge in population compared to here. But On the flip side another forum asked where readers want to read books set (historical) and its surprising how many mentioned Australia although a couple said they would struggle to get out dialect right. I said if its early days it was more British than anything. It was here Lee, I mentioned how a new publishing house was looking at an aussie line like LI and got a positive response. Was asked to let them know how it goes and when its up and running.
    I think Australian readers are also sold short many of the bigger publishers assume we would rather read American books. Just talking to libraries they are excited when they hear about Aussie fiction saying readers want more of it. We need to get the bookshops to realise we want the choice.
    (gets off soapbox and goes back to the background)

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    1. You do so much for the Australian writing market, Jenny, we're all deeply indebted to you. Without readers/bloggers like you, we'd have no one taking up the banner of Australian Christian authors.

      You deserve a medal! :)

      I know a lot of people dislike historical writing, but I like it. I'm also very excited about HyalineHearts and the potential it has.

      It is odd how bigger publishers assume we want to read American stories, even our general market authors like their settings in other countries, especially the suspense/thriller genres. Perhaps that's because we don't have Quantico or the FBI and are conditioned to seeing them on tv.

      Thanks again for all your hard work, Jenny.

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    2. At the love inspired historical goodreads forum we are talking about times in history and places to set a book and so many want an Aussie one. (I know of an author who is considering it) On suggestion I gave them was war brides that way they only have half the aussie side. They also want to get it right unlike authors of earlier times.
      I love historical but then I love history. I never got to study it at school but do love learning about it. That I think is why I love Gilbert Morris so much. I learnt trivia I am still waiting to use from him.

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    3. I love history. So does hubby, but he prefers to read text books rather than fiction. :)

      An Aussie war-bride one sounds intriguing. Would love to read one.

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  10. I get so much out of reading our blogs and comments. It's great to be able to share our ideas and points of view. I'm sure the more we write the bigger the market will be. And yes, bring on the Aussie/Kiwi stories so our readers will have more choice.
    If you do hanker to publish in the US market you may have to use American characters, but bring them over here for the Aussie touch. However that can have quite a few pitfalls. But "stone the crows" we've gotta sound authentic in whatever setting our characters find themselves!

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    1. I'm itching to read more books set in Australia/New Zealand with our own unique flavour. I do believe in the next few years we'll have a large influx of these stories, and written by exceptional authors. Authors who have taken the time to really study and learn the craft of writing, and can shine just as well as our American counterparts.

      It's interesting to note that on Amazon forums, there is a growing trend of people who are turning away from self-published books. It's become far too easy to publish a book without doing all the hard work, and it's shown. A large number are now only buying books which have a publisher stamp on it.

      That has to be only good news for us.

      Looking forward to reading your book, Rita, I'm sure it's going to be a winner!

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    2. Lee Interesting about the self published books. I have reviewed a few and will admit One in particular while a good book had alot of errors like the wrong name for a hero.

      I know of one book we ended up selling in our shop for awhile was self published full of errors both grammatical and spelling and was totally off in regard to Biblical truths. It was the authors thoughts and no way would a christian publisher ever publish it cos of the content. The shop didn't realise it was self published. They thought a small press had published it. This is one of the pit falls of these books (its non fiction).

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    3. Did you know that, on average, an author writes three or more books before they've honed their writing skills enough to be published?

      A lot of self-published writers don't understand that concept, they believe it's easy to write a book and as for editing...well it's not even needed.

      Unfortunately, God telling someone to write a book doesn't give that person the license to not do their best, regardless of whether it's a self-published work or not.

      I have to add, too, that not all self-published books are rubbish. Matthew Reilly is one who springs to mind. He self-published his first book, and it's potential was recognised by an acquisitions editor. It still needed a substantial rewrite before it was published.

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  11. I get annoyed by a the adoption of so much Americianism in our culture (though I admit I had no idea that the term 'peanut butter' was an Americanism).

    The Aussie industry is a fantastic environment for somebody like me who is trying to get started. We have a lot going for us, and much to be proud of - plus the books I've read by Australian authors have been truly brilliant.

    I do get some assistance from some American online sources, such as christianwriters.com, and blogs like K.M. Wiland's Wordplay, but more and more I am seeking to learn from locals using resources like this blog.

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  12. I believe I will make what I want to write into a Blog next week. I hope that it will open the eyes of many. Yes, we sure do need to become more nationalist, and proud to be called Australian.

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  13. I meant to say I loved the pic of the Emu quill set in Vegemite, but oh dear, that's gone American too! Now I buy Dick Smith's Ozziemite. (Not sure if I spelled it right.)

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  14. Hi Lee, Sorry for coming in a bit late here (busy, busy!). I must admit to loving America, but even thought I have American characters, my stories are about the love I have for my country. Australia has so much to offer, and it's hard to get noticed here, but we are making inroads. This latest Koorong promotion show us some possibilities. Exciting times ahead.

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