From May 24 to June 3, writers from all over Australia took to Melbourne for the Emerging Writers’ Festival, known locally as the Festival for Writers. The festival offered 11 days of amazing workshops, panels, discussions, and events aimed at providing writers with the tools and knowledge to navigate the complexities of becoming a writer in the age of self publishing. At the center of the event was the 240-page festival publication, The Emerging Writer, a beautifully designed insider’s guide full of valuable advice, stories, and inspiration from fellow literary professionals. Blurb was chosen as the festival’s first-ever self-publishing partner. We caught up with a few members of the Festival team to hear their thoughts on self-publishing their festival book.
Festival director Lisa Dempster explains, “Although we have had minor success with the book (in the past), independent publishing is time consuming and has narrow profit margins, so we began exploring new publishing models that would work better for the festival.
Print on demand seemed an obvious choice, however it was something we had rejected four years ago as the quality of the books we had seen was too low and the unit prices too high for the print runs we were doing. However, POD has changed rapidly in the space of just a few years, and we found that Blurb had started doing business in Australia. Upon investigation, Blurb proved to be everything that we were looking for”
The sale of the book:
Lisa Dempter describes, “We printed an initial print run to sell exclusively at the Emerging Writers’ Festival – after all, that’s where our audience is – but now that the festival is over it will become available to buy as a print-on-demand title from Blurb. No longer will we have to guess the number of books we hope to sell, store those books in our office, and deal with shipping them ourselves. And the quality of books is just as high as if from a traditional printer, which just furthers our belief that using print on demand is a smarter way to publish.”
Response to The Emerging Writer:
Book Editor Karen Pickering says, “So many have commented on the sheer beauty of this object and we couldn’t agree more strenuously.”
Creation of the Emerging Writer:
Book designer Cate Furey answers, “I used Adobe InDesign CS5 to make the book, and used some vintage illustrations from various image collections that I have.”
Cate Furey explains, “The final cover is the third concept that I presented. I had a chat with the project editor who told me about her maps idea. Her editorial was all about maps and journeys. So, I kept with the vintage theme, and paired the eccentric balloon image with some retro maps which feature the words “Unknown Territory” – which has significance for the creative process. When you embark on a creative journey you rarely know where you’ll end up, which is what makes it difficult and a bit scary.”
Cate Furey says, “While self publishing is great, it shouldn’t be treated as a quick way to realise your project. You still need to work really hard to get a good manuscript happening. Share it with people. Show an editor. Hone it and shape it until it’s ready to be made in to a book. It’s so satisfying having your work in such a final little package, but don’t rush it.”