21 November 2004

Frank Moorhouse on the state of Aus

Research funded by the University of NSW, Copyright Agency Limited and the National Archives of Australia formed the basis of a discussion at a seminar organised by the Australian Society of Authors at the University of Tasmania on Saturday, 13 November.

'The Benefits of a Professional Organisation for Writers' also featured other industry experts.

Frank Moorhouse, who has written fiction, film and journalism, has found that the role of a writer and nature of the vocation has changed dramatically since the 1980s. The findings are the result of research funded by the University of NSW, Copyright Agency Limited and the National Archives of Australia, to chart the state of Australian writing over recent years.

"Writers today are increasingly tertiary trained," said Mr Moorhouse. "Australia now has 37 universities offering courses in creative writing to over 2,000 students. Alongside this we're seeing massive growth in the infrastructure of writing and non-commercial publishing -- all of which has completely changed the way one becomes a writer -- and gets paid for it."

However, while the quantity of novels published per head of population has also risen in recent years, Frank Moorhouse pointed out that much fiction is failing to reach readers.

"Booksellers and review pages are struggling to keep up with the sheer number of books being published, meaning we're not connecting books to readers. Most novels don't even make it into bookshops."

Discussion and negotiation between key stakeholder groups including the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), book publishers and the media is needed to see the situation change.

"In many ways, it's never been easier to get a book published. It's getting people to know it's been published - that's the difficult thing."

At the seminar, key publishers outlined opportunities and criteria for writers seeking publication, and Susan Hayes, Chair of the ASA and Executive Director of the Australian National Playwrights' Centre, discussed the role and nature of the ASA. [Source: ASA web site]

No comments:

Is the system being gamed, and "Does Australia Need an ICAC for Poetry?"

Does Australia Need an ICAC for Poetry?  David Musgrave's article in Southerly is not new, but it's worth reading if you missed it....