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Kevin Chapman reports from Independent Publisher’s Conference Melbourne

By December 9, 2015No Comments

Kevin Chapman, Director Upstart Press reports

Kevin Chapman_NEWI was lucky enough to be invited to attend, as a speaker, the Independent Publishing Conference in Melbourne 19 – 21 November. The conference is run by the Small Press Network, an independent group that exists to support small presses in Australia. The event was held at The Wheeler Centre, which is located within beautiful building that is the State Library of Victoria.

The conference was organised into three distinctly themed days.  Day one, Thursday 19 November, was titled “Industry Research Day”. Essentially it was filled with papers and discussion from academics who study the book industry, and I wish that had arranged to arrive for this day. But apparently wishing doesn’t make it so. Friday was the “Trade Day”, and this was what I had been invited for. The topic I was given was the difference between running a multinational company from an independent company. After that Shaun Symonds from Nielsen talked about the trends of 2015 and forecasts for 2016. There was a session on the new legal deposit legislation in Australia, and then the rest of the day was broken down so that you got a choice of sessions to go to.  I attended sessions on diversity, offering services to other publishers, indigenous publishing, and case-studies in international sales. There were sessions on consumer reactions to covers, getting to the major booksellers, special sales and more. All of these sessions were at a slightly higher than basic level. That level was the theme for Saturday, which was “Fundamentals of Publishing” day.

Saturday started with an overview from SPN Chair and Aus publishing wise-man, Michael Webster. He talked about key issues and trends. Then it was back to two streams with essentially training sessions on editing, epub, design, marketing, costing, funding, publicity, POD etc. The best session I attended this day was called Publishing Law`101, by a Brisbane-based agent, Alex Adsett. Her fast but comprehensive explanation of copyright was the best I have ever seen. She went on to talk about things like contracts.

This was a very good conference. Well run, and well attended. I think starting publishers or very small publishers (fewer than 10 titles in print) would get a lot out of it. If NZ publishers wanted to meet Aus publishers it would be a great place to go. Staff from publishers as large as Text and Scribe attend.