Small publisher spotlight: MidnightSun Publishing
‘Small publisher spotlight’ is a new series from Books+Publishing. Each week we will interview the publisher of a small press to find out what makes them tick, what successes they’ve had and what challenges they face.
Adelaide-based MidnightSun Publishing was founded in 2012 by writer-turned-publisher Anna Solding. Solding spoke to Books+Publishing:
Describe your company in under 50 words.
MidnightSun publishes beautiful, engaging, challenging and well-written books. Our main interest lies with literary fiction but we are branching out into picture books, middle-grade fiction and YA. We only publish books that we love. Because we spend so many months promoting and working with each project, we have to be passionate about it. We are also passionate about publishing new and emerging unique Australian voices.
Why start a publishing company?
Well, why not? I never set out to be a publisher. My background is as a writer but I also love a challenge and publishing seemed like the way to go to get my own first novel off the ground. What I didn’t envisage five years ago was that publishing would change my entire life, take me around the world and leave me very little time for my own writing.
What book did you launch with?
We published my own novel The Hum of Concrete which I wrote as part of my PhD in Creative Writing at The University of Adelaide. Because we knew we’d make lots of mistakes as a new publisher, we thought it safest to make them with my book. In the end, it all worked fabulously and the book was very well received.
How many people do you employ?
I work full-time for the company and I engage two regular designers, a bookkeeper, an editor and a publicity manager on a casual basis.
What makes your small press unique?
Because of my writing background, I have an insight into how writers feel about their work and we try to engage writers in the decision-making process. We want them to love their cover design and have a positive publishing experience in every way possible. If the writer loves public speaking we find them opportunities to talk, if they prefer a quiet existence, we respect that. We also offer a 50% profit-sharing model, which is common in Sweden where I’m from. This can work out beautifully for both the writer and the publisher if the book goes on to become a bestseller.
What has been your biggest success?
We’ve had several big successes. In terms of awards, The Hum of Concrete was nominated for six awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. In terms of local sales, our picture book One Step at a Time by Jane Jolly and Sally Heinrich has been sold into schools around Australia. In terms of overseas sales, An Ordinary Epidemic by Amanda Hickie was acquired by Little, Brown in a six-figure deal last year and will be published this year with the new title Before This is Over.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Keeping track of everything that needs to get done. Entering the books into awards and sending off review copies was a nightmare for me until my publicist took over because I have a strong aversion to spreadsheets. I find it quite hard to accept that I simply can’t do everything that I’d like to do in terms of media, promotion and marketing. Reading all the manuscripts that come in is another important aspect of the job that often gets neglected because it never seems quite as urgent and important as other jobs.
Which book by another small press do you wish you’d published?
I adore Elena Ferrante’s ‘Neapolitan Novels’ and I think Text might have sold one or two copies of those.
What will you publish next?
We have just published a gorgeous novel about a 15-year-old boy with a severe stutter, Cameron Raynes’ First Person Shooter. It’s a beautifully written and very strong Australian story that we hope will be a crossover adult/YA success. The next project is Paul Mitchell’s We. Are. Family., due out in September, about growing up and struggling to find your place as a man in a dysfunctional family.
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