Creating A Kidlit Series Outline

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Ever had to create a series outlines for kidlit books? That’s the subject of today’s post, and it’s what I’ve been busy working on since my last one.

I’ve been writing hard since the CYA Conference a month ago. When I say writing hard, I don’t mean in the word count sense. I’ve been strategising, plotting, and weaving!

Conference Follow Up

I had a ball at CYA this year.

  • It was the first time I volunteered, which was a fun experience. Such a great team.
  • I entered my WIP Winifred Weatherby Saves the Century in the Middle Grade competition and it won second place.
  • The cash prize was nice, but what really excited me was the request for a full from the judge, an editor at a major AU publishing house. Looks like it’s time to move Winnie from the back burner to the hot plate …

Meeting Editors

As much as I love the writing and business sessions at CYA, what I appreciate most at this stage of my writing career is the opportunity to meet publishing professionals face-to-face. As always, I take advantage of CYA’s editor sessions. I pitched a couple of my manuscripts to four Australian editors and got lots of encouraging feedback and a few requests.

One editor who liked The Temple of Lost Time asked for a series outline. She rightly pointed out that taking on a series is a big commitment for a publisher. They need proof that the story can be sustained before they’ll think about taking it on.

I’ve never done a formal series outline before, and the Internet is curiously silent about how to do it for middle grade books. What I’ve learned over the past five weeks mostly through trial and error is this: outlining a series is hard work, but it’s valuable work.

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Time to Rethink My System

As a plotting pantser (or pantsing plotter, not sure which. A plantser?), the scaffolding for my story is erected before I start writing the first draft, and I build as I go. I have a mud map in my head about what happens when. I keep an ever-expanding notebook of ideas and to-dos in OneNote. This system has worked brilliantly for stand-alone stories, but a series needs more cohesion.

Outlining Series

A series outline forces the writer to build cohesion into the plan. The weft of plot is woven onto the warp of theme. Or maybe a better way of saying it is the outline lets your discover the warp of theme. Either way, it’s really helpful work, but it’s challenging.

After lots of research and tinkering, I decided to include the following elements in my series outline:

  • A series premise (one to two sentences)
  • A list of the titles in reading order
  • World-building notes (I wrote about 600 words for a three-book Gaslamp fantasy series, ~60K each)
  • Mini-synopses for each book (two to three short paragraphs)
  • A table of Story Elements [External and internal goals, setting, MDQ (Major Dramatic Question), genre-specific elements]
  • A table of Characters [I based my list loosely on the Hero’s Journey because it’s a quest book]

The tables display how the elements and characters develop across the series. This was really helpful for me. It also lets you see who might be superfluous or who’s getting too much airtime or if there’s a thread that hasn’t been tied up.

T.M.I.

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If the series outline is for your personal use, go ahead: flesh it out as much as you want. But if you’re sending it to an agent or editor, pare it back. It has to be inviting, and there’s no turn off bigger than a tome of unnecessary text.

I honed in on the main story and ignored all my tasty subplots. It’s tempting to over-explain, but don’t. You want editors to read the outline and get the gist of your story in a couple of pages. You’ll probably be sending a sample of the MS, so let it do the talking about your style and level of complexity in your story.

Over to You

What do you think about my series outline? Would you include anything else? Or omit anything I’ve suggested?

Here’s where I gleaned some ideas:

Here’s Ali’s Kidlit Series Outline Template (PDF) for you to use. Leave a comment or get in touch with the contact form on my About pages if you’d like a Word version .

All images are CC.0, Public Domain

Social Media Make-Over

Spilling Ink has had a facial! A new colour palette, a new header image, and some jazzy fonts. There’s nothing like a make-over to make you feel fresh and pretty.

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Art Work Attribution

The new header image is the creation of German artist Mystic Art Design, and amazingly, it is designated Creative Commons CC0, Public Domain! I was thrilled to find such a lovely work that captures the whimsy and wonder of children’s literature. I did contact the artist to find out his or her name, but it seems they prefer anonymity.

I’ve carried the theme across to all my major social media platforms! I’ve taken advantage of the email option that goes with my custom domain, so now instead of Ali (at) hotmail (dot) com, it’s me (at) ali-stegert (dot) com. This branding refresher was in preparation for the CYA Writers’ Conference in Brisbane, where memorable business cards are an asset.

Thumbs Up?

What do you think? Have I managed to convey whimsy and a love of children’s literature?

Book Review: Gaslamp Anthology

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp FantasyQueen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy by Ellen Datlow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

According to Amazon, Gaslamp fantasy is “historical fantasy set in a magical version of the Nineteenth Century.” While its first cousin Steampunk emphasizes mechanics, science and steam power, Gaslamp plays with magical possibilities. Check out my exposé of the genre on Spilling Ink.

This anthology includes spinoffs of Dickens and references to real people of the Victorian era. Queen Vicki herself gets a cameo in at least two stories. One of her prime ministers, Benjamin Disraeli, stars in The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown while William Morris, textile designer, poet, translator and social activist, takes the stage in the story For the Briar Rose. This is definitely one of those books that whets your thirst for more information. I have a brand new fascination with both Morris and Disraeli and can’t wait to see where these rabbit holes lead me!

I listened to the audio version of this book. It’s one I wish I had read instead. Three of the stories are epistolary, which sometimes doesn’t lend itself to audio. The performance by narrator Kelly Lintz was fine, but it’s a book to dip into again and again. I will probably end up buying a physical copy for my shelves.

My Picks

The list below includes what I felt were the standout stories:

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells

by Delia Sherman (Epistolary – entries in a young Victoria’s diaries as she learns magic)

Phosphorous

by Veronica Schanoes (Some very interesting social history here.)

The Vital Importance of the Superficial

by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stervener (Epistolary, and superbly done.)

A Few Twigs He Left Behind

by Gregory Maguire (A fascinating epilogue of Scrooge)

Maguire’s offering in particular left me hankering for more of his writing (which surprised me because Wicked (the book) was not a big winner with me). I will also seek out works by Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner. Book one of the Tremontaine series has been ordered…

A Funny Little Aside…

I saw a newsworthy post  on Facebook about Australian illustrator Kathleen Jennings, whom I met a couple of months ago at a SCBWI meeting in Brisbane. I have since followed her blog and have become a fan of her gorgeous artwork. She does amazing paper cuts, water colours and pen and ink pieces.  She’s a very talented woman—and super-interesting, too.

So a couple of days ago on FB, I saw that her art was selected for a prestigious New York City art show, Point of Vision: Celebrating Women Artists in Fantasy and Science Fiction. I contacted her to ask if it would be okay to share her news and maybe a photo from her feed with the SCBWI ANZ network. She said yes, but the photos weren’t hers; they belonged to Ellen Kushner.

“No problem,” I said (ignorantly). “I’ll see what I can do.”

A little backstory before I go on: I’ve recently stepped into a new marketing and communications role, so I contacting “Ellen” to seek permission to use the photos was par-for-the-course. I searched for and found Ellen on Facebook and sent her a request. As you do (?)

The next morning on my drive to work, I was listening to my audio version of Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, and a new story started. The Vital Importance of the Superficial by … Ellen Kushner.

Hang on, I thought. Ellen Kushner, like … the lady I messaged last night?

Yep. Oh man. How weird is that? (How weird am I!?)

Anyway, enough with the weirdness. Check out Kathleen’s website. She regularly posts her art and thoughts. Congratulations to her for her achievement of a showing in NYC.

Here are a couple of the covers Kathleen did for Ellen Kushner’s Tremontaine Series. Aren’t they gorgeous? I’ve downloaded book one for a little sample.

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Buy the Tremontaine books here (among other places). You can buy Kathleen’s artwork here.

View all my reviews

Writer, Know Thy Genre!

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Genre choices are the most important decisions you need to make. –Shawn Coyne

Distinguishing sub-genres is important when you’re trying to pin down the genre of your own work. On the importance of genre choices, Shawn Coyne, author of The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know, says:

“Those choices will tell the reader what they are in for if they pick up your book… Deciding what Genre(s) your story will inhabit will also tell you exactly what you need to do to satisfy your potential audience’s expectations. Genre will tell you the crucial conventions and obligatory scenes you must have in your novel. …If you fail to abide by your Genre’s requirements, you will not write a story that works.” (45-46, emphasis mine)

Anybody can slap together a readable story. But to write a story that is satisfying (and, Coyne would add, commercially successful) an author has to know their genre and stick to its conventions. Miss one element and your readers will notice even if only on a subconscious level.

Writers must know mandatory scenes of their genre:

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  • If a detective novel starts with anything other than a dead body, it will flop.
  • If a superhero doesn’t battle an equally super villain, the story will fizzle.
  • Skip the torture-laden face-off between the antagonist and the hero in a thriller and readers won’t be thrilled—they’ll be miffed
  • A Gothic romance better have an ingenue, a sprawling manor (or equally impressive architecture) and a rampant lunatic or it just won’t work.

Writers must know the conventions of their genre. For example, murder mysteries include the following conventions:

  • A dead body
  • A sleuth of some permutation
  • A cast of extras, including a prime suspect, a ‘Watson,’ a witness, etc.
  • Clues and ‘red herrings.

Genre Resources

It would be handy if every genre and sub-genre had its own bible of conventions and obligatory scenes. Until that happens, writers are advised to read widely. The more intimately you know a genre, the better the feel you will have for its requirements.

Here are a couple of wonderful resources I’ve dipped into through the years–or that I’ve found and earmarked for future use. I hope you find these books and online resources helpful.

General

 

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Fantasy and Science Fiction

Narrowing this list down was really hard. I’ve included a few titles from the masters…

Romance

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Mystery/Crime

Historical Fiction

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  • Breverton’s Nautical Curiosities: A Book of the Sea by Terry Breverton includes historical and fantastical information…
  • Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer’s (and Editor’s) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, and Myths by Susan Alleyn

  • KateTattersall.com is a website dedicated to a YA series about a Victorian girl spy. Author RS Flemming offers an mind-blowing range of information about the Victorian era and more. I returned to the site a number of times while writing my Gaslamp Fantasy.

Superhero | Comics

  • The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios. This cool resource is helpful for crafting villains and heroes that fly (rather than flop).

Favourites?

Maybe you have a favourite genre resource! If so, do tell! Please leave a comment.

 

Image Credits

Book Covers from GoodReads, Fair Use

Cuppa-Sunshine Photo Montage by Mystic Art Design, CC0, Public Domain

Ivanos Detective 05 by Stekelbes, CC By-NC-ND 2.0

Genre Exposé: Gaslamp Fantasy

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Steampunk everyone knows. But how about Cyberpunk, Dieselpunk, and Clockpunk? Or Gaslamp? These are the specialist terms of the hard-core fantasy-fan. They are all sub-genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which are sub-genres of Speculative Fiction.

I love Gaslamp because it combines Historical Fiction with fantastic possibilities. A librarian from the New York Public Library described Gaslamp as “Jane Austen or Charles Dickens meets Harry Potter.” I like that.

lamp-294127_1280Spotlight on Gaslight

When I describe my book The Temple of Lost Time as a Gaslamp fantasy adventure for middle-grade readers, lots of people reply, “I’ve never heard of Gaslamp fantasy.” Maybe not, but I bet you’ve read it! (Read on for a list of classic and popular titles.)

Gaslamp (or Gaslight) is a sub-genre of both fantasy and historical fiction. It is usually set in Regency, Victorian or Edwardian times, and it’s generally set in England or its (former) colonies. It refers to the gas lamps of the time, which cast a peculiar, eerie ambiance. The fascination with faeries and spiritualism in the Nineteenth Century informs the genre. Comic series creator Kaja Foglio coined the term Gaslamp to describe her Girl Genius series.

Gaslamp fiction is often mislabelled as Steampunk, which doesn’t work because the literature lacks a ‘punk’ tone, i.e., disaffected, brash, irreverent. [Some people are quick to point out that much of Steampunk itself isn’t exactly ‘punk’ either, but I’m not going anywhere near that debate!]

Gaslamp incorporates themes, subjects, and tropes that aren’t found in pure fantasy (Tolkien) and faerie (MacDonald). While Steampunk emphasises (mad) science, clockwork mechanics, and steam power, Gaslamp explores magical possibilities and delights in supernatural elements, time-slip, alternate histories, parallel dimensions, etc.

Gaslamp comes in many flavours from dark and broodingly Gothic to swashbuckling and adventuresome, from polite and romantic to sassy and theatrical. It can include romance, espionage, boarding schools, sleuthing, piracy, and more. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Popular Examples of Gaslamp Fantasy

Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed or plan to read:

From the Classics:

  • Peter Pan and Wendy by JM Barrie
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker

Recent Popular Gaslamp Titles:

  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  • Drood by Dave Simmons
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
  • Kat Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  • His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Fancy A Gaslamp Sampler?

  • Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: a Gaslamp Anthology, edited by Ellen Datlow et al

My Gaslamp Fantasy Series The Toby Fitzroy Chronicles

A little Peter Pan and a lot of Indiana Jones…

I can’t wait for the day when my middle grade novel, The Temple of Lost Time, is added to the list of popular Gaslamp titles above. I like to describe it as a little Peter Pan and a lot of Indiana Jones because it’s a swashbuckling, adventure-filled quest laced with magic and danger. Real places and factual personalities mix with imagined characters and fantastical beings. Myths and legends intersect history as my characters sail out of this world into another, a place called Achronos.

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At first, I thought I had written a Steampunk story thanks to one critical scene that involves a pretty cool steam-powered device. However, while editing my third draft, I sadly conceded one scene doesn’t make something Steampunk. Steampunk is a tone, a theme and a philosophy, all rolled into one.

I did some research and concluded that I had the makings of a Gaslamp fantasy. With that bit of understanding, my redrafting became more focused. I rewrote the whole thing with the conventions and aesthetic of Gaslamp uppermost in my mind. My opening scene now shimmers with weird and wonderful possibility. My earlier, rather watery denouement has transformed into something much richer and more fantastic.

Allohistory – When History Becomes a Playground

Like many Gaslamp tales, my story takes place in an alternative Nineteenth Century England. It’s 1853, but Queen Victoria is not on the throne. Instead, I went to the annals history to devise another monarch—one far less benevolent and mild than our Victoria.

Victoria became queen when her uncle, William IV, died without producing a legitimate heir. Uncle Will had nine illegitimate children to his long-standing mistress, stage actress Dorothea Jordan, but his poor wife, Queen Adelaide, was not so fortunate in the motherhood department. She birthed two daughters who died within weeks. Between these girls, there was a miscarriage, and subsequent to the second girl’s death, there were twin boys who were stillborn.

I gave lives to those boys, and named them Augustus and James. I imagined England under the rule of Augustus. With one wave of my writerly wand, a puff of smoke, and a Hey-Presto! the Victorian Era becomes the Augustan Age. Augustus inherits more than the throne, namely the physical feebleness and mental illness of his grandfather, Edward III. What’s more, I made him riddled with paranoia and positively obsessed with the magical possibilities of myths and legends. Old King Augy is not a popular guy. He’s unpredictable and tyrannical, and is hell-bent on cheating death. To do so, he is desperate to find and raid The Temple of Lost Time

That’s all I’ll say for now. Fingers crossed, a publisher will quickly pick up my book so you can find out the rest!

[P.S. I’d love to know what you think, so please leave me a comment!]

More on Genre and Gaslamp Fantasy…

Check out the following resources:

Over to You!

Are you a Gaslamp Fantasy writer or reader? Got a favourite? Share below!

Image Credits

Big Ben Sunset by Graham V Photo, CC BY-NC-ND, 2.0

Vectors are CC0, Public Domain

Crafting Fictional Heroes – Karen Tyrrell’s Secrets

Terra OUT NOW

My friend Karen Tyrrell, award-winning children’s resilience author, is back with a brand new Sci-Fi adventure. Karen launches her second illustrated novel in the Super Space Kids series, Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra, an action-packed FUN space adventure for kids 7-12. Illustrated by Trevor Salter.

Jo-Kin Battles the It and Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra (Super Space Kids) are out NOW on Amazon and in book shops across the galaxy including Dymocks.

Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra

Blast off with gadgets, robots and funky food in a hilarious outer space adventure that enlightens you with STEM science, the power of teamwork, problem solving, and resilience.

“Reluctant hero, Jo-Kin never wanted to be a Super Space Kid. Not until Lord Terra kidnaps his Commander’s little sister and starts destroying the galaxy. Jo-Kin reunites the mighty Super Space Kids for an inter-planetary hunt for Lord Terra, finally meeting in a legendary winner-takes-all battle on Planet Deelish-us.

Can Jo-Kin defeat the all-powerful Lord Terra face to face?”

How to Create Powerful Heroes in Fiction

  1. Identify with the Reader: Introduce your hero on page one via his thoughts, dialogue and actions so the reader can relate to him instantly. The reader needs to know the protagonist’s goals and motivations straight away.
  2. Empathise: Allow the reader to empathize and sympathize with the hero, so they really care about him. Your hero could be an underdog with some endearing flaws.
  3. Humour: Let the hero character deliver humour on the very first page, to win the reader over. A character who makes us grin is a character we’ll like.
  4. Action: Heroes are characterised by action. The hero actually does things. He or she doesn’t sit around watching things happen, or waiting for situations to resolve themselves.
  5. Morality: A hero represents the values of the community. They defy evil and save the world. They stick up for the geeks, and believe in fair play. They hate bullies.
  6. Selflessness: We love heroes who go out of their way to protect others.
  7. Loved by Others: Give your hero a sidekick and a team. If your hero is loved by someone else, it establishes the character as someone worthy of love.
  8. Compassion: Your hero character must show an underlying kindness and desire to uplift and help others.
  9. Bravery: Even when scared and nervous, your hero needs to put his life on the line again and again.
  10. Determination: Your hero must never give up, no matter how many brick walls challenges he encounters.

Karen Tyrrell’s hero character Jo-Kin in Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra ticks all those boxes.

Check your hero against the hero checklist. How did your hero go?

Please leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra.

Blog Tour – Around the Galaxy & Back

Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra Blog Tour 23 May – 1 June

To celebrate Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra launch Karen is hosting Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra Blog Tour and Book Giveaway. Co-hosts will share out-of-this-world book reviews, interviews and blog posts.

Karen will zoom away signed copies of her book Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra and galactic prizes via the websites below. Please leave a comment on the websites to WIN.

23 May Amazon & Blog Tour Launch www.karentyrrell.com

24 May Writing Kids Humour, Melissa Wray

25 May Create a Powerful Hero Character, Alison Stegert

26 May Creating Teacher Resources, Romi Sharp

27 May Book Review, Robyn Opie Parnell

30 May Book Review, Jill Smith

31 May Creating Themes in Kids Books, Kate Foster

1 June Illustrate a Children’s Novel, June Perkins

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Book Giveaway

WIN two signed copies of Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra OR 3 eBooks OR signed artwork from illustrator, Trevor Salter.

For a chance to WIN prizes … Just leave a comment on any of the above websites.

REMEMBER: Leaving comments on more than one site, increases your chances to WIN a prize.

Winners announced on 6 June. Good luck!

Australia’s Copyright Wrongs

 

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It’s a good idea for writers to emerge from the garret every so often and take a good hard look around. In Australia, it’s not just a good idea, it’s a survival strategy. At the moment, our government is tinkering with copyright laws and importation rules. What’s at stake is the future of publishing in this country, the opportunities for emerging Australian literary talent, and the Australian identity itself.

In a nutshell, the Productivity Commission seeks to rejiggy three things:

  1. Shortening the term of copyright.
  2. Jettisoning “fair dealing” and adapting “fair use” instead.
  3. Abandoning parallel importation rules, and allowing bulk buying of materials published elsewhere.

This trifecta is ill-conceived and deadly. If it’s not stopped, the effects could drastically diminish the earnings of Australian writers, reduce the opportunities for young and new writers, and undermine the publishing industry. If you don’t believe me (and why should you without checking), visit the website of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), a peak organisation that represents authors and publishers, to see what they say.

Australian Identity at Stake

It doesn’t stop with financial hardship for creators. By disregarding (not protecting) Australian literature and publishing, the Australian identity takes another blow. Instead of reading books that project the unique and precious Aussie voice and spirit, our citizens—young and old—will have to ingest still more American culture.

I say this as a dual-national with no disrespect intended to my American readers. Every American book, TV show, song, clip, and movie chips away at the very things that make Australia special. As water carves stone, this cultural tide slowly wears away our Aussiness.

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A cute quokka from Rottnest Island, WA.

It’s important for our children to read Aussie books about the history of our Aboriginal ancestors of 20,000 years ago. Our kids should delight in stories about brolgas and spotted quolls, pademelons and quokkas. These creatures are (sadly) unlikely to make their way into American picture books. Australian school kids need stories about the tuckshop queue not the cafeteria line. Ya know?

When I arrived in Australia nearly three decades ago, I met Aussies with accents so broad I needed an interpreter. People said delightful things like “crikey” and “dunny” and “dinky di”. My husband introduced me as his “cheese and kisses” (missus).  Colourful Aussie-isms seasoned people’s everyday speech. These days, lots of Aussies (especially city folks) cringe at these sayings, and I think that’s a pity. Sadly, Steve Irwin, bless him, was the last bastion of ‘Strine.

But I digress…

Time to Use Your Words

To my Aussie writer-friends and their friends, family, and partners, I urge you to use your words at this time. Write to your member of Parliament and tell him or her the Productivity Commission’s proposal will have a seriously negative effect on writers’ livelihoods and the Australian identity.

I’m sharing (below) the letter I wrote to my MP. Please feel free to copy it to send to your member (after you’ve satisfied yourself that I’ve got my facts right). If you don’t like my letter, the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has another.

Click this link and this one to find out other ways you can use your voice to make your opinion known.

And please share this post and other articles (like this one by Thomas Keneally) in your social media. Those who truly love us will forgive us for a few weeks of spam about the UnProductivity Committee’s unfair and ill-conceived proposal.

My Letter:

Dear [Your MP] (You can find your electorate here and your MP here),

I am writing to you to express my grave concerns about the Productivity Commission’s proposed changes to copyright laws in Australia. As an author of children’s literature, a freelance writer, and an active member of the writing profession and community, I fear that the proposed changes will seriously reduce opportunities for new Australian talent to emerge and drastically affect my ability to earn a living from my writing now and later in life.

The Productivity Committee’s proposes to change the current copyright laws from 70 years after the death of the creator to 15-25 years after the creation of a work. The creation of a book can require years. This investment in a work is done with the hope that it will generate income for decades to come. Narrowing the earning window would reduce authors’ earnings now and deprive them of a livelihood in their latter years.

To put this in perspective, Jackie French, the 2014-2015 Australian Children’s Literature Laureate, wrote Diary of a Wombat fifteen years ago. The proposed changes mean that she will stop receiving exclusive earnings on her work. Someone else—someone who didn’t imagine the story, who didn’t toil over the words for months, who didn’t invest time and money into honing the craft and creating the opportunity—will earn from her creation. This is decidedly wrong. Clearly, she and her family alone deserve to earn from it for the term of her life and beyond.

Writers, like all Australians, have the right to establish a secure financial future for themselves and their families by retaining ownership of the intellectual property they have created. As it is with bricks and mortar, so it must be with the intellectual property of authors and other creatives. We don’t pour our lifeblood into building a house or business, only to give up ownership of it after a decade and a half. Imagine squatters moving in on the fifteenth anniversary of a home. This is what the Productivity Commission’s proposal amounts to for authors.

Similarly, the notion of “fair use” is categorically unfair. If the Productivity Commission’s changes are taken up, Australian authors’ income will suffer dramatically. When similar rules were changed in Canada, the cost to writers and the publishing industry was calculated to be in the area of $30 million since 2012.

Australian law sets out a series of clear exceptions to copyright restrictions known as “fair dealing“, as I’m sure you’re aware. What we have now is fair, a small fee paid to publishers and authors to allow for copying sections of their work without seeking permission. These payments, though small, mean so much to Australian authors, whose incomes average about $13,000 per year.

And finally, a change to parallel importation rules is unnecessary and unhelpful. If the current rules are abandoned, booksellers will be able to buy bulk from anywhere in the world, which will undermine the Australian publishing industry, as it has in New Zealand. Cheap imports are likely to contain American spelling, grammar and content, thrusting the Australian voice and culture still further into the background.

The Australian book industry is flourishing, producing 7000 new books a year and generating around $2 billion in revenue. This productivity is the result of the current rules, which help publishers manage risk and support the discovery of new Australian stories and talent.

Further information from reliable sources about how these changes would affect Australia’s books and authors can be found on the following links:

I urge you to reject the Productivity Commission’s proposed changes to copyright law. By doing so, you will be supporting our Australian writers and publishers, who through their craft shape, promote, and preserve Australian identity and culture.

Kind regards,

{You}

In the Interest of Balance…

…I include this link to the argument in favour of the Productivity Commission’s proposals. Read it, by all means, noting that they are keen to generate American-style competition here in Australia, a country with a market that is a fraction of the size of the US’s. It didn’t happen in New Zealand or Canada. Just sayin’…

Image Credit

Graveyard by Anne Austin, CC BY-ND 2.0