A Guide for Some, a Paperweight for Others

reviewed by Antonina Lewis



The Australian Writer's Marketplace 1999
(The Complete Guide to Being Published in Australia)

Compiled and Edited by Rhonda Whitton.
Melbourne: Bookman.


"Very like the Yellow Pages" is the first thing I'm compelled to mention.

The Australian Writer's Marketplace 1999 is a thick tome, with a cover whose colour can't quite be placed with certainty as being the same tone as that of the ubiquitous phone directory. It's a cover crying out to have phone numbers (your new publisher? editor? agent?) scribbled across its surface with gleeful abandon … A cover complete with subliminal encouragement to let your fingers do the walking and your keyboard do the talking … A cover that could, for the purpose of review, be construed as a comment on the inherently disposable, always-already-superseded nature of publishing in a consumer driven environment.

Certainly the appearance of this revised edition less than a year after the initial publication highlights the limited lifespan of any print directory in an electronic age, demonstrated (with an irony that should have been intentional) by the outdated internet address for TEXT on page 406. And therein lies a question: is this to become an annual volume, always slightly circumspect, the Writer's Own Digest? Past the cover (although I am still bemused by the patriotic colour scheme …) comes the pep talk, a strange blend of essays that comprise the first section of the book. From the clinically informative to the chattily promotional, the lawyer's desk to the aeroplane; these five pieces guide the reader through a whirlwind tour of the Australian writer's market place (to borrow a phrase).

All of which makes me wonder just who the market for this marketplace might be. Every writer without a network established would be an acceptable answer if the directory were being left on doorsteps in the dead of night, but it's not. The asking price for this baby is almost $40 and, while I don't dispute the need for such a resource, I am a little concerned that it may become an annual fund-raiser for Australian Writer's Centres at the expense of the people they seek to support.

Despite such cynicism, it would be wrong to deny the value of this directory. David Andrews and Annalisa Curtis' concise guide to "A Writer's Rights" introduces ground every freelancer should make the effort to become familiar with, and Ivor Indyk's piece "Readers as well as Writers" provides an editor's perspective on submissions. More importantly, data is consistently and clearly presented in all categories - meaning the reader is never at a loss to find submission guidelines or contact names and details. Most of the entries also list costs, prizes, or rates of payment (as applicable), and many have additional information including target readership, circulation and tips for submitting. Browsing writers are almost guaranteed to find an outlet for their talents, while the various indexes make it simple for those who know what they're looking for to find it.

If not indispensable, The Australian Writer's Marketplace at least carries through on its most important promise: practicality. The "Magazines, Newspapers and Journals" section shies away from neither obscure specialist publications (Australian Goat World, Corrosion Management) nor small circulations, and most of the biggies can be found as well, from Playboy to New Idea. And in addition to periodicals the guide includes listings for literary awards and competitions, publishers, agents, writing courses, literary events, manuscript appraisal services, markets for scripts, and literary organisations.

For some writers this volume will serve not only as a reference tool but also as an article of faith "…all you need is a dream and The Australian Writer's Marketplace". Failing that, it makes a great paperweight.


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Vol 3 No 1 April 1999
Editors: Nigel Krauth & Tess Brady