An Alternative Publishing Market

by Dianne Bates


As the author of dozens of books published over the past 20+ years, I am not one to be easily dissuaded by publishers' rejection letters. However, in 2003 there was one book I could not sell anywhere in Australia (and believe me, I tried every possible publisher!)

The problem was that even though I knew there was (and still is) a huge market for the book, no Australian publisher was willing to take a risk with it. Ideal for writers from secondary school to adult who wish to improve the quality of their writing, How to Self Edit (To Improve Writing), contains 500 editing exercises (with suggested revisions), as well as hundreds of examples, quotes from published authors, glossary of terms and many suggestions for less skilled writers.

It was the inclusion of the exercises which bothered the publishers - because it hadn't previously "been done in Australian books for adults". I kept being told, "Try the educational market; it'll be sure to sell well there." In Australia, the educational market is for young students, so I was stymied in my attempts to place the book in its rightful market. However, thanks to a good friend (a writer who I met through networking,) I was introduced to an Indian publisher whose adult books are targeted at Asians wishing to improve their standard of English.

Mr Oli, as he is called by everyone (even his wife) was delighted with "Mrs Di's" How to Self Edit manuscript, so, when I had adapted it for the Indian market, (mostly using Indian Christian names and a few place names), we negotiated a contract. Through Mr Oli, I sub-licensed the book to six South and South-east Asian countries, and then in lieu of a royalty and my first royalty payment, I arranged with the publisher to ship a large quantity of the books to me here in Australia where I have been selling them ever since.

A few hold-ups occurred regarding the shipment (not the least of which was the tsunami affecting Chennai, the south-eastern Indian port from which the books were exported), but eventually the books arrived in Sydney. It cost more for me to freight them 70kms from Sydney to my home near Wollongong, NSW, than it did from Chennai to Sydney, and the consignment travelled faster from India to Australia than it did over those last 70 kms. However, I learnt much about importing procedures and am now able to claim all relevant shipping and associated expenses as tax deductions.

Other tax deductions I'm able to claim are review copies I send out, copies donated to charitable organisations and fees associated with book publicity (such as travel and postage). And what's the verdict here in Australia? According to just a few home-grown reviewers, How to Self Edit (To Improve Writing) is "an outstanding guide to creative writing", "written in an accessible style", "informative", "filled with experience and wisdom, offering new writers a wealth of guidance", "most helpful for the emerging writer", "ideal for all ESL writers and new authors", "a book to come back to over and over."

Praise and sales: what more could an author ask for?

Copies of How to Self Edit (To Improve Writing) by Dianne Bates (Emerald Publishers, India, 2005) ISBN 81 7966 159 8 (PB 118 pp) are now available for $20 posted from James Bennett Pty Ltd (Library Suppliers) or from author/editor Dianne Bates - details re. ordering are on Di's web site at Dianne Bates is the author of 90 books, mostly for the juvenile market. She runs Writers Career Consultancy (which includes a manuscript assessment service) from her website


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