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03 April 2012

What is Aussie Author Month, and Why Do I Support it?

The way I see Aussie Author Month is the more we, as a community and as individuals, talk about Aussie authors the better. Having a dedicated month to the cause only emphasises this need. I mean, the thing is, why do we feel the need to concentrate our attention on Australian authors and their stories for one whole month? The simple answer is, their voices sometimes get lost in the blogging community. The community is international, so you would expect other voices (accents?) out there, but because the market is dominated by American publishers, a lot of Aussie voices get lost in the crowd. Some authors, like Keri Arthur, for example, get picked up by American publishers and are know to readers overseas (I found out one of my close American friends is obsessed with her). But how many amazing Australian authors don’t? I could name so many wonderful Australian authors who I buy on sight, who have helped to shape who I am as a person, who have caused my imagination to run away and my heart to soar, and only one or two have the accolades they truly deserve. Some of it is a numbers game, of course, but not always. The more we rave about an author, the more chances that someone will stumble over our blog post or tweet and decide to pick up a book and fall in love, just as we have. That person may have never had another opportunity to be exposed to that author, because they live in the UK, America, Canada, Brazil, the Philippines, wherever, and we, as a community, give them a chance to be exposed to a fabulous author.

So reviews, interviews, rambling blogs, surveys, lists, recommendations - all of it is helping to raise the profile of Aussie authors in the international stage. Last year I had a number of online friends from overseas ask me for recommendations, because the concept of reading an Australian book intrigued them (I just wish Shannah Jay was still in print. She is so damn underrated). It was a novel concept for them, but they bought a number of Australian books because of it. We have so many amazing authors who bring their unique voices to the table, but they get lost in the crowd when you look at the international market. I remember growing up, nearly everything I devoured was by Australian authors because so much emphasis was put on them at school. Every second book had won an award from the Children’s Book Council of Australia, the Aurealis Awards, or something similar. Of course I read books from overseas, but my school library exposed me to so many wonderful talents that I never would have discovered otherwise. Those are the authors that I now scour the second hand bookstores for, because quite a number are now out of print. Some, like Melina Marchetta, became famous (I was friends with the librarian, and read Looking for Alibrandi before it even had a school library stamp! I was in love from the first sentence!). Others, like Liby Hathorn, are only really know if you have school children and encourage them to read, or if you loved her as a child yourself, or if you are a librarian. It is a shame, because I think Liby Hathorn, and other authors like her are well worth reading, and have a distinctively Australian voice that people from overseas would find fascinating, and Aussies would find comforting and something they can identify with.

I look over at my book shelves, and the number of Australian books are sadly outweighed by the number of American books. I feel ashamed. But I love buying new books, and while I snap up Australian authors every chance I get, I still have less because there are less on the shelves. Most of my books by Australian authors are second hand copies which are now out of print. I snap them up like the rare gems they are, because I know I am unlikely to get another chance. I love the ebook trend because some authors who were big in Australia in the 80s and 90s are starting to release their books digitally. They aren’t always easy to find. You have to be tenacious, and sometimes the only way you discover them is by googling to see if the author now has a website, and then browsing their website until you find an ebook link. But you know what? It is worth that long haul! I hope more and more Australian authors can get their back catalogue published digitally, because it makes it more accessible to us, the readers, and it makes it easier to recommend to our overseas friends.

You can find out more at the official website: http://aussieauthormonth.wordpress.com and follow updates via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/aussieauthormonth and the Twitter hashtag: #ausbooks.

Aussie Author Month is also trying to raise funds and awareness for the Indigenous Literacy Fund. You can donate and find out more information about the ILF here: http://makingadifference.gofundraise.com.au/page/aussieauthor2012


If you want to guest post during Aussie Author Month, please let me know! You can read the Book Bites submission guidelines {here}.

1 comment:

The Book Chook said...

Bravo! Aussie Author Month is a great concept. Books really do shape us, and for the better, but for me, it's always about story. Our Aussie authors are just so good at balancing the whole world building/plot/characters equation, in my opinion.

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