Report on the Productivity Commission Hearing_Brisbane

SCBWI at the Productivity Commission Hearing in Brisbane

written by Sam Sochacka, Children’s Literature Advocate,  Aspiring Children’s Author, ESL Educator

Productivity Commiss Public Hearing Brisbane June 2016

The children’s and young adult literature industry was well represented at the Brisbane hearing of the Productivity Commission’s Intellectual Property Arrangements Inquiry.  9 out of the 11 authors who presented were representing the children’s and YA literature industry.  Morris Gleitzman, Sheryl Gwyther, Michael Gerard Bauer, Angela Sunde, Candice Lemon-Scott, Christine Bongers, Melanie Hill, Caroline Magerl, Dimity Powell, Pamela & Peter Rushby, and Sam Sochacka attended the hearing on Monday, June 20, 2016.  Morris, Sheryl, Michael, Angela, Candice, Christine, and Melanie all made presentations to the Commission. 

Two crucial points were made by the Commissioners as speakers made their presentations.  The term of copyright will not be reduced to 15 – 25 years, nor was it a recommendation of the Commissioners.  This figure came from a finding that they made; that creators derive the most financial benefit in the 15 – 25 years after their works are created.  Creators will retain copyright for the current term of death plus 70 years.  This is great news! 

There was further confusion as to whether or not the Commissioners had recommended that parallel import restrictions be lifted.  It had been reported in the media that this was the case, however the Commissioners explained that their terms of reference instruct them to investigate the transitional issues associated with lifting the parallel import restrictions.  Therefore it was not a recommendation, but a decision that the Government looks set to enforce.  The Government had asked the Commissioners for advice on how it would work, not an opinion on whether or not the parallel import restrictions should be lifted.  This is not such great news.  At all.

Key points that were made, often repeatedly, included the need for Australian kids to access Australian stories with Australian locations, language, spelling, cultural references etc..  Morris Gleitzman spoke on behalf of children as consumers of books and pointed out that for young people, the relationship with story – a young character discovers a much larger problem than they have ever encountered before, is key, and that this must be provided in an Australian context.  Through reading children need to do research, they develop interpersonal skills, they learn to enlist help, and develop the capacity to empathise.  Reading develops problem solving skills, personal development and growth.  The central character’s journey in story mirrors the educational and social progress that young people need to make.  Stories reflect what is happening in the culture and environment of young people. 

When parallel import restrictions are lifted, Australian children will suffer as they will not have access to as many, by quite a margin, Australian stories as they do now.  Morris also expressed concern about where the next generation of writers will come from if publishing houses will not have the capacity to invest in new writers, something that will occur if publishers need to compete with foreign editions of foreign, and Australian, works.  He explained that Australian publishing houses will not be able to compete with foreign edition remainders as they would be sold at a much lower prices than the Australian editions.  He concluded by saying that, “Australian children need Australian stories”.

            Sheryl Gwyther spoke on behalf of the 1200 members of SCBWI.  Sheryl spoke to two main issues, making the following points:

  • ‘Fair use’ exception to copyright – fears these proposed arrangements will go beyond fair, especially in schools. Disadvantages original creators.  Destroys the principle what we own what we create.  Authors and illustrators fear that grants will be the only thing left.  
  • Parallel importation – will not enable publishers to take on new authors, let alone support their current ones. Dumping of foreign published Australian author’s books into Australia will flood the market with cheaper, foreign editions and publications.  Books will have been altered with spelling, expressions, places, ideas, and thoughts.  Australian consumers expect to be able to buy books with Australian culture, idioms, experiences, values, ideas, and landscapes.  Australian children need to be able to connect with Australian stories.

            Michael Gerard Bauer spoke about his book, “Don’t Call Me Ishmael”.  He pointed out that if parallel import restrictions are lifted, his Australian publisher would be competing with foreign publications.  He asked the Commissioners if international publishers should be able to capitalise on the hard work of Australian editors/publishers and undermine them in our own market.  He stated that there would be fewer Australian writers with the removal of PIR and that fewer Australian writers would mean fewer Australian books for consumers looking for Australian content.  He said that Australians must see their language, culture in texts that they read.  On school visits, Michael finds that students often have UK/US versions with all Australian’isms taken out. 

            As a senior literacy teacher, Angela Sunde said that the removal of PIR would detrimentally affect child literacy.  Angela pointed out that children’s share of the printed market in the world is 35%, but 50% in Australia.  And that Dymocks had a 30% increase in children’s book sales since 2010.  She explained that this was due to strong local content, which supports curriculum in identity, helping children to develop a strong sense of self.  Australian content and spelling in books is crucial for Australian Children.  Angela stated that Australian kids need books that reflect their culture, and language.  Strong content will be lost with removals of PIR.  There will be fewer books published here. 

              As a bookseller, Candice Lemon-Scott spoke of how bookshops will be affected by the lifting of PIR.  She made the following points:

  • Can’t derive enough income from writing to support her family. She took a second job is as a book trader. A sole trader. 
  • As an independent bookseller it’s hard to compete with department stores.
  • Australia has the largest independent bookshop industry in the English speaking world. 900+ independent bookstores. 1.1 billion contributed to the economy. 
  • Under PIR changes she won’t be able to compete with department stores, won’t be able to return unsold stock.
  • Small business sector would lose again: jobs.
  • A bookshop forms more than part of the retail sector. It forms part of the fabric of society.  Where people can come and get personal book recommendations.  Where authors can come and promote their new works. 

              Christine Bongers spoke of dissent and dismay at the removal of territorial copyright.  She said that her novels are quintessentially Australian.  And that the only way that Australian authors can make a living is by selling territorial rights to their books overseas.  Government subsidies are not a viable option as government funding can be withdrawn at the drop of a hat.

              Melanie Hill spoke about the change in copyright laws and said that we would become a country that imports, instead of exporting, innovation when PIR are lifted.  She pointed out that the most important determinate in education is literacy, and that Australian children will suffer when copyright laws are changed, and PIR are lifted.

Christine Bongers read an impassioned statement from Isobelle Carmody who was unable to attend the hearing due to illness.

Thank you, and congratulations, to all those who put their case forward to the Commissioners.  It was great to see such strong representation of the children’s and YA literature industry at the hearing.

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ANGELA SUNDE’S … ‘Snap Magic’ book launch coming soon

SCBWI member, Angela Sunde talks about the publishing journey of her new book for young people, Snap Magic.
Notes.to.Editor-Feature.SnapMagic.docx-5******************

SNAP MAGIC – EDITED BY CATHERINE McCREADIE, former senior editor of children’s books, Penguin Australia (now working freelance at Penguin and Allen & Unwin).

Snap.Magic.Invite.BCat2

 

LOCAL SCBWI AUTHOR AWARDED RADF GRANT

Are you an author or illustrator who lives in regional or outback Queensland? You have the opportunity to apply for a grant to help develop your writing. Many creators aren’t aware that the Regional Arts Development Funding exists. Go check out the site now! taryn

One of our Queensland authors, Taryn Bashford , from the Sunshine Coast has just been awarded an RADF Grant. Here’s what she says:

I’d like to give a shout out to the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and all those local councils out there who give grants to unpublished authors.

It’s hard to gain any financial support when you’re an unproven, unpublished writer. However, there’s a grant called the Minor Round Grant for regional arts development (RADF) and it really is easier than you think to apply. I had always been put off applying until I read a post like this.

I thought it would take hours and be too hard, but the Sunshine Coast Regional Council not only made the process easy, but also assigns you a grants officer who will answer your every call and email. Mine was invaluable.

I received $1,700 to attend the SCBWI Conference in Sydney in July 2014. I now have a literary agent who is managing submissions to several publishers – all of whom requested my manuscript at SCBWI.

I can’t encourage you enough to look up grants available from your local council. Good luck!

Well done, Taryn! Happy writing with your stories.

If anyone in the Brisbane City Council area is interested in applying for these types of creative development grants, check out the  Creative Sparks funding program.

SCBWI Queensland’s Gold Coast meet a great success

Inaugural SCBWI Queensland Gold Coast Regional Meeting 

Report: Sheryl Gwyther, SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor

Another SCBWI Queensland regional members’ meeting was held on Saturday 24th August – time time, at Tallebudgera Valley on the Gold Coast. It was splendid to see authors and illustrators traveling from as far away as north of Brisbane to south of the Queensland/NSW’s border.

Twenty-five writers, illustrators and librarians, SCBWI members and non-members talked, listened, shared morning tea, lunch and then afternoon tea, networked, shared recent successes and other news, and generally had an excellent time at the home of Angela Sunde, SCBWI support team member.gold coast gig9Our guest speaker, Judith Rossell presented a powerpoint of her work, especially her recently published picture book, Oliver.judith r 2 Of great interest was her journal of drawings she worked on at her May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Residency in Brisbane. The story is set in Victorian England and her pen and ink drawings are sublime.

SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor, Sheryl Gwyther also presented a slide show, Dinosaurs, Research and Writing … turning a trip through time into a novel, talking about the journey of her children’s novel, Secrets of Eromangasheryl_presentationThank you to Angela Sunde and husband, Rob Brown for their generous hospitality, and to Judith Rossell who generously donated her fee back to SCBWI Qld. And thank you to our wonderful members who once again proved that they are the best bunch of people this side of the Black Stump. 🙂

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NEXT SCBWI Qld MEETING: Gold Coast area

SCBWI QUEENSLAND NETWORKING MEETING

Beautiful one day, perfect the next

Beautiful one day, perfect the next

Everyone is welcome to attend our meeting at the Gold Coast

  • 2nd Presentation: Sheryl Gwyther, author … DINOSAUR BONES & other BITS & PIECES, the search for a story

It’s also the chance to catch up with friends, network and meet new people who share the same passion.

WHEN:  Saturday, August 24th 10.30am – 3.00pm

WHERE:  Burleigh area. Contact Angela Sunde (our Gold Coast SCBWI correspondent) at angelasunde @ live.com.au for the meeting’s address

Tea and coffee/morning tea will be provided but BRING some LUNCH TO SHARE

RSVP ESSENTIAL  –   22nd August  queensland@scbwiaustralianz.com

COST:    SCBWI members  $5        Non-members $10

LAUNCHING A NEW CHILDREN’S WRITERS GROUP in Brisbane

SCBWI Queensland member, Yvonne Mes talks about the support that beginning/emergent writers value … a specific writers’ group for those who want to write for young people (besides our fabulous organisation, SCBWI)

I recently joined SCWBI and am relatively new to writing for children. I realised quickly that having your stories critiqued can be a very valuable process to improve your writing, your stories and yes, dare I hope…one day getting published.

I am part of two critiquing groups online, http://www.scribophile.com  though they don’t solely focus on writing for children (you should check it out, I find it quite addictive) and a small offshoot of Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 forum http://www.juliehedlund.com/12-x-12/ . If you haven’t heard of that, you should check it out as well, though they are closed for registration by now.

The online critiques have been valuable but it would be great to see local writers come together to critique each other’s works as well as provide moral support in getting published in the Australian market. Maybe you know of an active Brisbane based critique group looking for new members? If so, please let me know.

A mix of new and more experienced writers would be great, and if you are an experienced or published writer, you can add ‘mentor’ to your resume as well as being reinvigorated by newbie enthusiasm.

I’m based in Brisbane and would welcome anyone to join me in finding a suitable place and time to meet and brainstorm some ideas for a successful critique group. Hopefully, someone with actual experience with critique groups would like to put their hand up as well.

If not, I am happy to give it a go. Or alternatively, if you live a little further afield, we could start an Australian SCWBI online critique group.

Yvonne Mes

 NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!

 NEW WRITING GROUP in S.E. Qld

BEGINNING/EMERGING CHILDREN’S WRITERS

 SCBWI (Qld) has joined forces with BOOK LINKS (Qld) on their initiative to help set up a writing group for beginning/developing writers. As you know, there hasn’t been a local writing group (other than SCBWI Qld) catering for children’s writers in many years – so this is a great leap forward.

The first meeting will be on Saturday, the 6th April at 2pm – this get-together will be at the Queensland Writers Centre on Level 2 at the State Library. Subsequent meeting could be in a cafe chosen by writers. Let us know if you’re interested.

Email queensland@scbwiaustralianz.com

THE ASIAN FESTIVAL OF CHILDREN’S CONTENT

 Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2013

Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) – 25 – 28 May 2013Do you write stories or create illustrations for picture books? Are you a publisher or literary agent looking for the hottest trend in YA novels? Whatever your publishing goals as a writer, or objectives as a teacher of children, the Asian Festival of Children’s Content is the place to be, to network and do business with publishing professionals, from first-time authors to seasoned editors.

For more information, please go to www.afcc.com.sg    
Check out their Facebook Page too.

The Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) brings together content creators and producers with parents, teachers, librarians, and anyone interested in quality Asian content for children. With a mix of professional conferences, masterclasses and workshops, a rights fair and media mart, as well as public events, AFCC is a unique and popular event right here in Asia that provides an opportunity for writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, distributors, parents, children, teachers, and librarians to meet, learn, develop their craft, and discover business opportunities.

For more information, please visit www.afcc.com.sg

For other enquiries, please contact:

Faith, Executive, Programming and Promotions         

Email: faith@bookcouncil.sg   

Premier event starring Asian Content for the World’s Children taking off with The National Library Singapore