Jenny Haworth of Wily Publications reports on her expereince at the forum.
It was a new initiative for PANZ – a forum introducing many aspects of New Zealand publishing to both younger and newer members of the industry. We met at the Villa Maria winery looking out over the vineyards; it was a setting to stimulate the imagination. For many of us it was a chance to re-evaluate our role in publishing as well to learn about the dramatic changes that are affecting the industry. As Tony Fisk of HarperCollins said: “Never since the time of Gutenburg has publishing faced more dynamic changes than at present.”
The idea was to take the participants through publishing a book, from the development of an idea to a realistic concept, supported by figures, which could be pitched to a publishing committee. Vital to this process was to learn how to prepare a proper budget: one which contained sufficient profit margin when all overheads were costed in to keep the publisher afloat and able to produce more books. Both Nicola Legat (Random House) and Sam Elworthy (AUP) deftly presented this process.
Then it was over to us to take the guidelines and to develop a concept of our own. This we were to pitch to a high-powered publishing committee on the Saturday.
The participants were divided into five groups and not surprisingly three of them chose to focus their presentation on a book about Bob Parker. Generally the aim of each of these proposals was to bring to life his character and story so people who did not know Bob would get a better understanding of the man at the forefront of the Christchurch earthquake. The idea was also to uncover his vision for the Christchurch of the future.
But there were other good ideas. One of them was book on the illustrators who illuminate children’s books.
Most of us spent a busy lunchtime working on our proposals.
After lunch we heard about the realities of the market place from Ka Meechan (Nielsen); about executing a sales plan from Melanie Laville-Moore (Allen and Unwin) and maximising marketing and publicity opportunities from Sandra Lees and Raewyn Davies (Penguin). They gave us valuable information to add to our sales pitch for the Saturday presentation.
The last speaker, Paula Browning, discussed CLL and its role in digital publishing in New Zealand.
We broke at five and relaxed over a wine at Villa Maria. Then we retired to the Holiday Inn at Airport Oaks to spend the night. This was an important aspect of the conference because it gave a chance to network with others in the industry and to make friends. We were a diverse group and many had very interesting stories and comments.
Next morning, when not worrying over our presentations we heard from Adrian Keane (Pearson) about the difficulties and the potential of educational publishing and from Joan Mackenzie about bookselling in New Zealand and the emergence of the Paper Plus chain as a major book retailer.
Then it was our turn to make our presentations – a nerve wracking event. We each had 10 minutes to make our pitch to a panel of experts. The templates had to be presented as a power point. All were very professional and it was one of the books about Bob Parker that won.
Its value was as a practical demonstration which made us focus on the how of publishing and forced us to consider the guidelines and advice that we had been given.
The whole event was exceptionally well organised. All the main speakers gave wonderful presentations and their use of power point and handouts meant that we all left with valuable notes. But the initiative also brought us together as a group and helped us to established links with one another.
An excellent in depth event, for which Anne de Lautour and Melanie Laville-Moore are to be thanked for organising.