The Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged as Emma Neale was tagged so, while the title may not be apt, if tag’s a game, I’ll play along at this weird self-interview blog-meme thing (although I still don’t know what a meme is). I’ll adapt the ten questions to answer my own ends.

What is your working title of your book project?

Let me see … (gazing out at the sky, macrocarpas, wheeling gulls) … how about Making Books Fly Faster?

What genre does your book project fall under?

Cyber-nonfiction … How-To for Dummies … a travelogue, perhaps.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have trouble remembering actors, and I have left unwatched those movies I ought to have watched, so I nominate instead our three children as they might have been 20 years ago on a lawn with the grandparents’ movie camera: S as persnickety, alternately irascible and affable publisher; A as brilliant renegade designer; J as publicist extraordinaire, axing his way into the wallets of readers.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book project?

I think the provisional title says it neatly but I’ll add: ‘freeing the book from its material trappings’, or more prosaically, ‘working from a traditional publishing model to issue exceptional and original writing digitally’.

Will your book project be self-published administered or represented by an agency run by others?

Rosa Mira Books is entirely self-inflicted. Although many play a valuable part in its activities, I take final responsibility. However, I’m definitely open to finding a like-minded partner, preferably with PR and entrepreneurial dynamism, who is willing to share the joys and vexations of epublishing for an indeterminate income. Enquire in the comments or track me down as you will.

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How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript get your project started?

From the winter’s night when two stars tangoed across the sky above our house and the idea arrived fully formed (the idea, not how to carry it out) until the launch of Rosa Mira Books, two and a half years. The first 18 months I was floundering: I didn’t know a PDF from a Word document and there was little sense of urgency. I had a great ally in Carolyn McCurdie, who attended digital seminars with me and brainstormed, but we gained little traction. When my job with a traditional publisher ended abruptly at the end of 2009, the wheels began to grip. I had a website designed, got the name trademarked, read up, visited business consultants, fretted, negotiated with Dorothee, edited her fine novel, and took the many now-invisible steps that begin a brand new enterprise. Rosa Mira Books and The Glass Harmonica were launched together on 11.1.11.

What other books projects would you compare this story to within your genre one with?

I seem to be the only publisher in NZ doing just this, although all publishers except those working on heirloom, handbound volumes, are digitising new lists and back-lists and even, if they can retain or regain rights, out-of-print lists. I suspect I’m not the only publisher beginning to put out shorter works, like our 10,000-word series of short stories, novellas and essays catering to the reader’s shortening attention span, true, but also freeing myself to tackle two or thee projects at once; the editing and preparation of a 100,000-word manuscript makes for a long engagement.

Who or what inspired you to write this book undertake this project?

Several vital and hugely capable women have fired me along the way. When I first began to write, and discovered the wondrous comfort of being amongst writers, I heard Paula Boock speak to a group about walking for the first time into a publisher’s office. What a fabulous place to work, she thought, and so I felt, viscerally, as she told the anecdote. ‘One day,’ I told myself. Paula, by then at Longacre Press, was my first editor, for the children’s novel Three’s a Crowd. Barbara Larson, her partner and publishing director of Longacre went on to put out seven more of my books and to employ me as editor. I shared an office with Emma who instigated this post. Longacre (in 2009 subsumed by Random House) was a model of good publishing, a fact I appreciate ever more as my involvement in the industry deepens. Relationships with writers were cordial and respectful; editors and designers were given the time required to do a thorough job; books were beautifully turned out. Barbara was a multi-tasking model of cool efficiency and warm encouragement to staff and authors alike, while to work alongside an editor and writer as skilled, meticulous, funny and brilliant as Emma added to the privilege. Gosh, what am I writing here? Testimonials? And why not. These are terrific women, as are invaluable friends Claire and Pam who have never doubted my choices, always encouraged, and who run their own chosen endeavours to the hilt. Coral Atkinson has nourished me with enthusiasm, flowers, apt quotations, apt urls, good sense and sage publishing advice. There are other fine men and women with their fires burning at every turn of the road. Self-started it may be, but this is a truly collaborative enterprise.

What else about your project might pique the reader’s interest?

Rosa Mira’s five shimmering titles (did I say, RMB publishes terrific writing, which means 30 terrific writers represented thus far); Ratty who swans, dangles, swoops and splashes about on the Rosa Mira Blog — employed a year or so ago as the PR Dept, he’s done hardly a hand’s turn since.

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The fact that I’m ever on the lookout for exceptional writing, particularly right now essays of around 10,000 words, also that I’m pondering a second list this year, of pre-published books given new life in digital form.

Phew. Thanks, Em.

Now I tag … let me see if I can find writers with blogs who are not yet pinned and not about to go AWOL … I’m going through my FB list, in no particular and Pat Deavoll order … Coral Atkinson, Dorothee Kocks … I’m going through my FB list … Kay Cooke, Pat Deavoll, and Paul Hersey

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