Rise of the e-Book and What it Means for the Aspiring Writer…

Getting published is difficult, I know. When I began my quest to get published, I initially focussed on the traditional publishing houses, with little success. It was when a friend suggested I try approaching some e-publishers that my labours were truly rewarded.

The aspiring author is likely to face multiple rejections and heartbreaking critiques in their quest to achieve publication. Thankfully, the trend towards the “environmentally friendly” e-book has opened a window of opportunity for those struggling, aspiring writers.

Once considered the poor cousin of the paperback, the e-book has risen in popularity. Amazon sales indicate that kindle and e-book sales now outrank paper-back sales. This has lead to a staggering increase in the number of e-publishers. This is good news on many levels for unpublished authors.

As e-publishers specialise in e-formats, their subsequent production costs are lower. This makes them much more likely to take on a new, unsigned author. Most traditional publishers prefer to take on new authors only if they are represented by a professional literary agent, or have been previously published. This is because taking on a new author is a higher risk for them, as producing a run of paperbacks is a more expensive venture than producing a pdf or other digital format. Additionally, as it costs less to run an e-publishing business, e-publishers can afford to be a lot more genre specific. There are e-publishers who specialise solely in horror, paranormal, sci-fi, erotica, romance, and fetishism. You name it, if there is a market, then there is probably an e-publisher ready to cater to it. This is liberating for the aspiring author, as it allows them to submit to a publisher that caters to their own specific genre market. This in turn gives the author a greater chance of being accepted and given a contract.

Once published by an e-publisher, the benefits seem to keep coming. Authors are often given higher percentages on royalties for e-book sales. Then, once an author has published a few times with a reputable e-publisher (there are some cowboys out there, be warned!), the author will then have a greater chance at being represented by an agent and getting a subsequent contract with a traditional publisher if they wish. It seems like a win-win situation doesn’t it? Alas, there is the flip-side to the e-book revolution. E-book piracy is a rising problem – stealing the royalties that you’ve tried so hard to earn. Competition is incredibly fierce. Advertising and self-promotion is bitter and difficult, as a large portion of the promotion is left up to the author. Additionally, your readers must have the initial money to buy the technology to access the e-books. If they don’t have a kindle, or computer, then e-books are inaccessible. This removes a percentage of your potential readership. Then there is the loss of the tactile experience that holding a book gives, the smell and touch of its pages and the joy of holding a book with your name on it.

I am lucky, my publisher produces both e-format and paperback, giving me the best of both worlds. However, for the author starting off, submitting to a reputable e-publisher is an eco-friendly and realistic option – and the most likely way to get your foot into the door of the publishing world.

Words by Nicola E. Sheridan

Sustainability Report

Murdoch University – An analysis of its environmental awareness and implementation

Murdoch University publicises its sustainability objectives, which warrants an examination of how they are being achieved, as well as a comparison with other universities in WA, nationally and globally. Murdoch has listed sustainability as one of its four core values, alongside equity, social justice and global responsibility. I’m going to look at where Murdoch is meeting, falling behind and exceeding other universities in the area of sustainability.

A few things Murdoch is doing (that other universities in wa are also doing)

• Murdoch is buying green power.

Murdoch has been vocal in advertising its Greenpower program. As of 1st August 2010, Murdoch is purchasing 16% of its electricity needs from Greenpower, the only Government accredited renewable energy reporting organisation. Curtin is also doing this, purchasing 15% greenpower (ok, one percent less). Continue reading

[REVIEW] Griff the Invisible

Romance and action movies may seem like anathema to one another but no other combination of genres puts bums on seats like it. If a filmmaker can incorporate some impressively bombastic explosions, with a likeable hero who has to overcome impossible odds to save the day/girl/world from an apocalypse/alien invasion/ asteroid and win the heart of aforementioned girl who photographs well in slow motion it can be a licence to print money.

Films that do succeed in this often come masked, caped and with a secret identity. Emerging Australian director Leon Ford makes his full length feature debut this month with Griff the Invisible, a superhero movie with a difference. It stars True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten as a mild mannered office worker by day and a rubber suited crime fighter by night.

The premise may sound familiar but Griff is anything but your typical caped crusader. Griff is a socially awkward misfit with severely impaired social skills who believes that he has superpowers. When he meets his brother’s girlfriend Melody, (Maeve Dermody) a pretty scientist who believes in Griff’s abilities despite all rational evidence to the contrary, a romance begins.

With many references to other superhero films like Batman, Spiderman and even The Six Million Dollar Man, Griff the Invisible is an unusual Australian film that aims at high concept action romance on a shoestring budget. Ryan Kwanten stretches his range from his best known role as the sexually voracious Jason Stackhouse on the television series True Blood. As Griff he is shy and child-like and Maeve Dermody is nicely matched to him as the bizarrely clumsy Melody.

With well executed action sequences and possessing a charming sense of innocence lacking in many more cynical superhero films, Griff the Invisible is unconventional, funny and original and well worth checking out.

3/5

Griff the Invisible is Rated (M) and is in cinemas from March 17.

Review by Clinton Little

Behind the Screens Diary of a Student Filmmaker

A Few Guidelines…

If you’re a writer and don’t have children of your own or even a smallish furry domesticated animal to project your procreative instincts upon you come may to regard your words as your babies. You will need to get over it. And fast. Sometimes a favourite scene or a treasured line needs to be sent to the cutting room floor for the sake of expediency. And though it may seem like a cruel exercise in infanticide, as a student filmmaker you are limited for time and resources and if you go over your allotted time limit you will be marked down. Your tutors are not going to sit through a three hour epic, no matter how lovingly crafted, when they have specifically asked for a five minute short.

Have a fall-back option. Say hypothetically you are working on a documentary about a collection of vintage… (let’s call them cars). You have spent countless hours travelling, filming and editing until the owner of said collection decides/realises your preliminary results are unprofessional (though what did he really expect?) and removes access to your subject material before crucial aspects of filming is completed. What do you do? Always have a plan-B in place.

Actors are vain, insecure, and needy; they have huge egos/deep insecurities and are often quite good looking. Though these characteristics may be infuriatingly undesirable in a friend or partner, but if you’re a director they will be the puppets on your strings as they’re also very easy to manipulate. The trick is to alternate between effusive praise and cruelly hacking away at their self esteem which fills them with a confusing mixture of self loathing and furious need to prove themselves, leading critics to praise their “complex and layered” performances.

Be persistent and don’t be afraid to put your ideas out there. If you were a film producer and a nerdy young di- rector came to you with an idea for a film about a short, wrinkly 3000 year old alien obsessed with gardening that gets stranded on earth and just wants to go home it would be difficult to see the potential of such a project. But if Steven Spielberg had doubted himself E.T may never have become one of the most beloved movies of all time.

Filmmaking is a collaborative process. This means that sometimes you’re going to have to work with people that you are not going to like/have no talent/or are doing a screen unit for fun and don’t really care about the finished product. This is to be expected. The flipside to this coin is that you will also meet and work with others with many and varied skills with whom you find you have “creative chemistry”. Nurture these relationships.

Take yourself seriously even when no one else does. If you’re as talented as you think you are, they’ll get it eventually. If not, it may be wise to commit the following phrase to memory.

“Would you like fries with that?”

Originally printed in Metior Issue 1, 2011

Words by Clinton Little

Never have I dreamt of this before

Never have I dreamt of this before
by Phillip Ellis

Never have I dreamt of this before.
You are as a mystery of glory,
making me know this, beloved adored
never have I dreamt of this before.

Of your reveries I set store,
adoring alone the divine story
never had I dreamt of this before:
you are as my mystery of glory.

WARNING: This Could Be Your New Obsession

You may have heard of Roller Derby; women on skates with a touch of violence? It’s back with a vengeance, but not as violent as it used to be. It’s a contact sport played on four wheeled skates around a skate track, and is the fastest growing women’s sport at the moment. It has been for a while, with players from all walks of life getting their skates on and hitting the track.

Visually, a lot of people may associate it with tattooed girls in short skirts and fishnets beating each other up. Style is all part of the fun. Bruises become beautiful badges of honour. Fishnets, knee high socks and short-shorts or skirts are standard derby attire. And no, just because the girl is wearing fishnets and a short, short skirt, it doesn’t mean she’s up for it! Then there is the all important derby name of course which is a play on words such as Iron Maiden, Carmen Forya and Mince Meat Molly.

Roller Derby has its stereotypes including that (a) all players are gay, and (b) they’re all heavily tattooed, pierced and aggressive all the time. But in truth training sessions see women and men of varying backgrounds and sexual orientations building their derby skills. Some are tattooed and pierced, some are not; it has no affect on their skating skills. Mums, lawyers, photographers, office workers, engineers, photographers, teachers…the only requirement is that players be over 18. It is a contact sport after all. “The vast majority of skaters are clean cut, upstanding citizens and certainly I have never come across a more open-minded, intelligent group of women in my life.” says Morgan, the Media Officer for Perth Roller Derby. In fact the Derby community is amazingly supportive and hospitable. Players have been known to pack their skates when they travel and be welcomed to training sessions with a league on the other side of the world. As a sport, Roller Derby first popped up during the Depression, and was televised in the 1940s & 50s. It was huge in the 1960s and 70s in Australia, with sell-out crowds of over 5000 spectators a common occurrence, but then faded away. In 2000 the Texas Roller Girls re-invigorated the sport with a fresh approach of feminism and third-wave punk aesthetics, focusing on a grass-roots volunteer run approach. It’s been spreading like wildfire ever since. On each team you have a pivot, three blockers and one jammer. The jammers start from a little further back than the pack of pivots and blockers, and from there they have to get past the blockers from the other team and lap them. For every opposing player that a team’s jammer laps and passes, they get a point for their team. As tradition – dictates, most points win. Continue reading

Outpost

Outpost is not a grand work of literary art. It’s a bloody, gory survival story that offers some kind of insight into the human soul, yet refrains from ramming its intellectual concepts down your throat. It might not be a classic, but it’s worth a read for the experience of reading an author who knows how to find meaning in a nihilistic situation. Outpost is Adam Baker’s first offering to the genre of thriller/horror and offers a present day world beset by a deadly plague with the few apparent survivors isolated in the cold Arctic Circle. Throughout the book it’s unsure which will kill them first; the freezing arctic temperatures or the infected humans heading their way.

The survivors are located on an off-shore oil rig, about to return home, when channels on their television show scenes of chaos and death before going out one by one, leaving them stranded with limited supplies and the long Arctic winter approaching. Baker’s fairly original protagonist is Jane, a morbidly obese decan that is forced into the role of hero when encounters with the infected threaten her livelihood and that of everyone else on the rig. As for the key antagonists within the tale, it’s a fairly new twist on an overdone movie monster, less Dawn of the Dead and more 28 Days Later, so expect less feeding and more maiming. The origins of the infection itself are a little vague, though an alien metallic substance seems to take over the host in strange new ways; some are even lucid which gives the reader an interesting new perspective on life after infection.

As the general plot goes it’s pretty standard end of the world fare with a couple of twists and a few murky plot points that nag the mind a bit, but don’t interfere too much with the immersion of the story. The writing is fluid and polished with no jarring sentences or awkward dialogue. In fact most, if not all of Baker’s characters are fleshed-out with real flaws and personalities which can be one of the things that make or break an apocalypse story. Sure the survivors might live, but do you really care which ones make it out alive? Overall Outpost is very enjoyable, not too pretentious and provides a fresh twist on an overdone genre.

Review by Rhiannon Emery

Since the darkness

Since the darkness
by Sue Clennel

Since the darkness I have been on the wrong side, the listing side of the ship.

There are always new arrivals
who wait with me to watch the moon suck us in.
Balancing, balancing.
Scared of the flick knives of cold Januarys.
Scared of the barbed kisses of fished out Mondays.

On shore, beefy voices tell us to sing,
commend a new glue for this crew of scraped knees,
sigh navigator wise at our silent impasse.

The New Day

The New Day
by Phillip Ellis

I will drown in the new day
as though it, too, were an ocean.
And there’s more than to just say
I will drown in the new day:
I’ll seek beauty, float away
on the high tide’s sweet emotion,
I will drown in the new day
as though it, too, were an ocean.

A Love Letter From A Stray Moon

In ‘A Love Letter from a Stray Moon’, Jay Griffiths portrays a partly fictional story of the late Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. It is a tale of love and suffering, spanning from Kahlo’s work, the accident that devastated her life, and the relationship she shared with Diego Rivera, a Mexican painter who became her husband in 1929. Using the perspective of the moon to sometimes narrate the story, we learn about Frida’s struggle through being unable to have a child due to lifelong health problems and injuries caused by a traffic accident as a teenager, which left her with relapses of excessive pain for the rest of her life. Due to her inability, Kahlo found other means to experience motherhood, in caring for Rivera and via the creative processes of her art, bringing to life many pieces now described as illustrative of national and indigenous Mexican traditions.

A Love Letter Form a Stray Moon coverThis is a story that’s appeal does not lie in the plot. The plot itself is quite common, explaining aspects of Frida Kahlo that most people who are familiar with her work would know. Alternatively, the hook is in the poetry of the words, the lyrical way in which the story is told, making it so surprisingly easy to read. The passion in which Griffiths beautifully describes everything, transports the reader into Frida’s mind and body, allowing every emotion to be experienced with her. In this way, ‘A Love Letter from a Stray Moon’ acts as an ethereal boundary between Kahlo and the reader, a rare value for a book.

The only downfall with this novel, however, is its length. I found myself wanting to know more, to take more in. Even though I wanted to learn a more about the characters and places, the story is about Frida herself, her life, and her battle. The heartache and grief that Frida felt throughout her life is particularly apparent in the text, yet it is very fast paced and we learn so few details about the history behind her life. With that said, had Griffiths told us more about the surroundings, or the many people involved, it would have taken away from the beauty and anguish.

‘A Love Letter from a Stray Moon’, is an extraordinary third novel from Griffiths, a tale of love and loss, so eloquently told. With each chapter being more captivating than the last and each sentence tied together so fluently, it is almost impossible to put this book down. I do not think it is the sort of book that would generally be glanced at twice, for the blurb does not give away any hints, however I would recommend it to anyone that desired something original and consuming.

Originally Published in Metior Issue 1, 2011

Words by Kate Collier