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Friday, 11 May 2012

Maureen Green on reaching an audience

Not too long ago I received an email; an email from an author friend who has 13 books—real books—printed books, on the international scene. An achievement worthy of note, you’d think.

‘Happy chappy,’ she’d written, ‘on cloud nine. My new release is number two—hang on, update—just hit number one!’

‘Fan-dang-tastic,’ I replied. ‘If I could spell supercalafragalistic, I’d do so,’ and pressed send.

It was then the warm fuzzy feelings whisked away as my grey cells conjured up a raft of, ‘whys?’ All questions authors ask; the things that frustrate the hell out us. Here, in God’s Own, was an author, unheralded in N.Z, who, for two consecutive years had been a finalist in the Australian Author of the Year. And she was now number 1 on the international charts. Where were the media, book reps and retail outlets reps? Surely they should have been knocking on her door?  That was the moment the concept of ‘From the Author’s Mouth,’ was conceived; a branding focused on the promotion of NZ authors, a collective venture aimed at making authors visible in our community.

From the Author’s Mouth’ was formed during May 2009 when three local authors: Julie Duffy, Carine Malherbe and Maureen Green decided to find a way to introduce local writers and their work to the community.
Helga's coffee shop, Bute Road in Browns Bay, sponsors the monthly programme to which the general public is invited, on the last Wednesday of each month, 10am–noon.  Here, featured authors are scheduled to read excerpts from works, try out new stories, or introduce their books.

With the aim of providing local published and unpublished writers as well as poets with a platform to share their work, the Author’s Mouth organizes a range of events and programmes in which authors and readers may participate. 

Editor’s note:

This is the sort of venture that any writing community could duplicate worldwide to get writers connected with their audience. We’re in the story business, and stories can be transmitted in many forms. Books are just one of them, and they’re ground-breakingly modern compared to thousands of years of spoken tales. Turn back the clock and tell your stories out loud!


  1. Publishing in New Zealand is moribund. Dead. Kaput. Editors from various publishing houses have been depressed and depressing to listen to. They too recognise that NZ publishing is inert. This is why we writers have had to find other ways to get our work "out there". We have gone, largely, to self-publishing our novels - because NZ publishers aren't interested - and we've gone to e-books. It's lovely to have a venue where we can read out our work but it doesn't get our books recognised because the people who matter don't attend. So, what now?

    1. It's true that reaching the people who matter is difficult, but we have to embrace new technology to make it easier. Self-publishing is in a really exciting phase right now with great possibilities, if only we can put our time and effort into doing the right thing. Today's experts all say that building your online platform is key to getting found by readers - that means a using selection of media from Facebook to Twitter to a blog or a website. Find ways to combine these (automatic cross-posting of links etc between sites) and offer useful and entertaining content.
      If you can present yourself online as knowledgeable and interesting, book sales will follow.

      It appears that reaching 'break-out' levels of sales (where you show up well in the rankings on Amazon)usually happens once you have 4 or more books listed, so having good content is key.

      Start small with commenting on other blogs. If your comments are interesting enough, other blog readers will follow you back to find out more about you. They will get to know you and may post about your books. There is a wonderful supportive community online happy to help new writers. Check out and - both sites full of warm and useful advice.

      The people who matter are our readers, and they ARE out there. We just have to reach them, and THAT is in our control.

      Take heart, and good luck!

    2. The next step for Author's Mouth, now its branding is recognized, is to ramp up author visibility. This may be achieved through participation in library programmes. Book chats could be a wonderful avenue for authors to gain a public following. It may be possible to arrange for those who attend book chats to read New Zealand author's works, make comment and perhaps be motivated to write a review. Consideration could also be given to organizing library tours. There are many libraries throughout the North Island willing to participate in these programmes and, from my experience, welcomed by urban and rural communities.