In her comment on my recent Monday musings about e-Publishing, Australian author Dorothy Johnston, whose novel The house at number 10 I reviewed recently, mentioned Authors Unlimited. I responded that I’d look into it and perhaps post on it. I did and now I am. Never let it be said that Whispering Gums is not true to her word. (Hmmm … perhaps you should ignore that … I don’t always follow through methinks, at least not promptly.)
Anyhow, Authors Unlimited is the “information and sales portal for authors, books and eBooks” for the Australian Society of Authors (ASA). The masthead on the homepage has the tagline “buy eBooks from Australian authors” but in fact it also contains pretty extensive information about Australian authors, who are members of the ASA, and their books*. So, for example, if you click on J under Authors, and then click on Dorothy Johnston you get some information about her (written by her) and a list of her books. To find out more about any particular book, click on a title and you’re taken to a page describing the book and providing publication details. If the book has an e-version – in ePub or mobi format generally – you can purchase it from that page … as I did for …
… Johnston’s collection of short stories Eight pieces on prostitution. It includes her first story, “The man who came with the news”, which was published by Frank Moorhouse in State of the Art in 1983. It also includes a long story – almost a novella, she says – titled “Where the ladders start” and “Mrs B” which was included in Meanjin’s The Canberra Issue this year (my review). I have bought this book – for AUD9.95 – and plan to read it when I travel later in the year. Prices vary, but they all seem pretty reasonable to me.
I’m not an author or publisher, as you know, but Dorothy Johnston is enthusiastic about this initiative. I notice that popular Australian children’s writer Hazel Edwards (whom I mentioned in my post on the inaugural Canberra Readers’ Festival) is selling her novel Fake I.D. available through the site. It was originally published in 2002, and in her description of the book she writes “Originally a popular print book, now only available in e-format”.
And there’s the thing … Authors Unlimited provides a great opportunity for authors to publish their out-of-print books with the help of ASA. I presume most (all?) books published in the last two or more decades were published from electronic versions. It should be a relatively easy matter, technically, to convert them to one of the e-Book standards. Some books’ rights are, presumably, still held by publishers – and some publishers are now using e-publication for out-of-print backlists but it’s good to know that authors have another option. They can publish via ASA using its conversion process, sell via ASA’s ordering and delivery mechanisms, and promote via their own websites, Facebook pages, and so on …
Here’s to more options for authors – to republish old works, as is or in new permutations, and to publish new work.
* I believe the author listings here are automatically fed through from ASA, and so includes many authors who do not have books for sale through the portal.