Joanna Funk

music, gardening and my dog

From Blog to Book

I wrote my first blog SabahSongs from 2009-12. It was about people working in the field of music in Sabah, on the island of Borneo, where I was living at the time. When I said I was moving to Australia, readers of the blog asked me to turn it into a book. Eight manic weeks later, I was the author of a beautiful hardback book.

The blog was about people working in contemporary music, as opposed to traditional/cultural music. So we’re talking rock, blues, jazz, Chinese orchestra, and metal. I met so many gentle, interesting and talented people whom I could never have hoped to meet without the conduit of music. Together we all made something beautiful.

Datuk CL Chan of Natural History Publications (Borneo) recognised the support for the blog and for this book, and said he would publish it under his Opus Publications label without any cost to me. But I had to find the money to pay for the book to be printed. Music is not under the publisher’s usual remit and the Datuk wasn’t confident how to go about marketing this book.

With eight weeks to my flight date, this became a mad dash:

  • to pick the best blog posts for the book
  • edit and reshape the copy
  • hand it over to Opus’ graphic designer along with high res photos from contributing photographers
  • Raise money to pay a printer in three weeks.

I made cold calls and wrote emails. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment for Sabah immediately declared his support with a large order, and I was then able to lead a sort of crusade to make the book SabahSongs: Contemporary Music in Sabah happen. In the end, three government sponsors and six corporate sponsors were associated with the book, along with two media supporters.

This book is now a ministerial gift representing the state of Sabah, given to visiting dignitaries and taken abroad.

It’s a 250-page book and was printed in Taiwan. Because of the time pressure NHP ordered a special coating which dried the ink quickly and gave the pages a glossy finish. Although the book has big, beautiful photographs of music events and artists, there are also over 150 pages of interviews with musicians, sound engineers, lighting engineers, luthiers, academicians, composers and conductors, and reviews of events ranging from classical concerts to thrash metal gigs.

, From Blog to Book
Print run in Taiwan, images courtesy of NHP (Borneo)
, From Blog to Book

The Minister officially launched my book two days before my son Miles and I flew to Brisbane to join my husband Mike. The friends who rode the roller coaster with me — from the book’s conception to the launch party — are bonded with me forever.


, From Blog to Book

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About Joanna

Joanna is British Australian. Her early career was in financial news in London. That ended in 2008. Joanna moved to Sabah, her parents’ birthplace, where she wrote a blog about musicians, which became a book. Joanna came to Australia in 2012 and started this blog — her second. These days, she writes mostly about music, her garden, and trips to Sabah. Oh, and Wookie the Havanese.

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