Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Australia’s ‘Next Chapter’ in diverse publishing

What stops publishers publishing more diversely? The reported ‘trends’ at Bologna included a continuing focus on diverse voices in children’s literature, but what about in adult titles?

A new initiative in Australia aims to both foster diverse writers and encourage the publishers that sign them to undertake nontraditional and innovative approaches to promoting their books.

The Next Chapter is a partnership between literary organisation The Wheeler Centre and The Aesop Foundation, the philanthropic arm of skincare brand Aesop. It is designed to support ‘a new generation of writers, from all sorts of backgrounds’ through 10 grants of $15,000 to writers, and then by offering financial support to publishers that take on the work of those writers.

The Wheeler Centre director Michael Williams said the scheme would tackle the ‘brutal’ commercial realities of publishing by offering to matchon a case-by-case basisinventive and nontraditional promotional campaigns proposed by publishers.

‘There’s no lack of goodwill or the desire to [undertake riskier promotional activities] on the part of publishers, but the commercial reality of it makes it really hard,’ said Williams. ‘In the event that the writers find publishers, we will put it to those publishers that if they can come up with a proposal for a way to get the book in the hands of readers who might not otherwise find it—pushing the audience and readership beyond their traditional approaches—we will match them dollar for dollar in their promotion campaign.’

So if you have an eye out for diverse Australian voices, look out for news of the successful recipients—the list is due to be announced in late September.


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