Think Australian newsletter
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Inside the Australian book industry

Introducing ‘Think Australian’

Welcome to the first edition of the Think Australian newsletter. We’re incredibly excited to be bringing the best Australian books to an international audience of publishers, rights managers, scouts, literary agents, and film and TV agents.

The Think Australian newsletter will be published monthly and will include the latest Australian rights sales and acquisitions, award-winners and bestsellers, as well as profiles of Australian publishers, acquiring editors and authors. We will also be publishing a monthly Think Australian Junior newsletter focusing on Australian children’s and YA books.

These newsletters complement our annual Think Australian magazine, which has been distributed at the Frankfurt Book Fair for the past 14 years.

If you haven’t already signed up to the Think Australian and Think Australian Junior newsletters, you can do so here (it’s free). And if you have any colleagues who might be interested in receiving this newsletter, please forward this email on to them.

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian

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New acquisitions for Affirm, Black Inc. and Pantera

Affirm Press has acquired Australian writer Christian White’s award-winning debut novel Decay Theory—‘a page-turner about a small-town mystery dealing with trauma, cult and memory’—to be published in 2018. White’s novel won this year’s Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, an award that has launched the careers of bestselling Australian authors Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project), Jane Harper (The Dry) and Maxine Beneba Clarke (Foreign Soil). White’s novel tells the story of a Melbourne woman who gets caught up in the investigation of a decades-old kidnapping in Kentucky.

Black Inc. has acquired world rights to Moreno Giovannoni’s book of linked tales about a Tuscan village and the lives of its occupants, Tales of San Ginese, to be published in 2018. Giovannoni was the inaugural winner of the Deborah Cass Prize for emerging Australian writers from migrant backgrounds. Publisher Chris Feik described the book as a ‘series of linked stories, on the border of fiction and nonfiction, about an Italian village through the course of the twentieth century’, which follow the lives of the village people, many of whom migrated to America and Australia to work.

Pantera Press has acquired Australian and New Zealand rights to a ‘commercial literary fiction title’ from Sulari Gentill (pictured), author of the award-winning ‘Rowland Sinclair’ historical crime-fiction series. Gentill’s meta-fictional Crossing the Lines, which will be published in August this year, examines the relationship between writers and their protagonists, and what happens when the lines between reality and imagination blur. The publisher has also acquired Australian writer M J Tjia’s debut novel from Legend Press in the UK. She Be Damned is the first book in a murder-mystery series set in 1860s London, which ‘has an inventive and contemporary twist—inserting racially hybridised characters into the action’. The manuscript was longlisted for the 2015 Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger.


Wavesound has acquired world audio rights from Hardie Grant Books to Miller and Max: George Miller and the Making of Film Legend by Luke Buckmaster—an insight into the iconic Mad Max movies and director George Miller. The audiobook will be released in November to coincide with the print release of the book in the UK and US, and promises to ‘translate beautifully in audio as the book is packed with verbatim accounts from cast, crew, family, friends and collaborators’.

Film and TV

Australian actor Toni Collette’s production company Vocab Films has acquired film rights to Graeme Simsion’s 2016 novel The Best of Adam Sharp, published by Text Publishing. The novel tells the story of a middle-aged married man who is given the opportunity to reunite with a former girlfriend. Simsion’s debut novel The Rosie Project has been sold into more than 40 territories and optioned for film by Sony Pictures.

Recent rights sales of Australian titles include:


  • HarperCollins has sold Turkish rights to the sci-fi thriller The Gene Thieves by Maria Quinn to Pegasus Yayinevi.
  • Fremantle Press has sold US and UK English-language rights to The Hope Fault by Tracy Farr—a novel about an extended family and its faultlines—to Gallic Books imprint Aardvark Bureau.
  • Giramondo has sold US rights to two new books from Australian award-winning author Gerald Murnane—the novel Border Districts and the short-fiction collection Stream System—to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for publication in April 2018.
  • Hachette has sold rights to Sophie Green’s The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club—about a women’s book club set in rural Australia during the 1970s and 1980s—in the following territories: UK and Commonwealth (ex ANZ) rights to Sphere; Dutch rights to De Kern; and Norwegian rights to Cappelen Damm.


  • HarperCollins has sold Spanish rights to Fresh and Light by bestselling Australian cookbook author Donna Hay to Ediciones B; and Italian rights to The Secret of Happy Children (Steve Biddulph) to Tascabili degli Editori Associati.
  • Text has sold Italian and Japanese rights to Stuart Kells’ forthcoming book The Library—an exploration of ‘bookish places, real and imagined’—to Mondadori and Hayakawa Publishing, respectively.
  • Black Inc. has sold world English rights (ex ANZ) to Woman of Substances: A Journey into Addiction and Treatment (Jenny Valentish) to Head of Zeus.

For the latest Australian rights sales and acquisitions news, click here.


Small presses dominate Miles Franklin shortlist

The shortlist for Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, was announced last month. Four of the five shortlisted titles are published by small Australian presses: The Last Days of Ava Langdon (Mark O’Flynn, University of Queensland Press), Their Brilliant Careers (Ryan O’Neill, Black Inc.), Waiting (Philip Salom, Puncher & Wattmann) and Extinctions (Josephine Wilson, UWA Publishing). They are joined on the shortlist by An Isolated Incident (Emily Maguire, Picador). A handy round-up of the Miles Franklin longlist can be found here.

Melissa Ashley’s The Birdman’s Wife (Affirm) has won the Australian Booksellers Association’s Booksellers Choice Award, which recognises the ‘Australian new release that booksellers most enjoyed reading, marketing and handselling during the previous year’. The Birdman’s Wife reimagines the life of British artist Elizabeth Gould, who produced many of the illustrations in her husband John Gould’s ornithological works but was largely unrecognised for her role in his success.

Zoe Morrison has won the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal for a ‘work of outstanding literary merit’ for her debut novel Music and Freedom (Vintage)—the story of young girl who moves from rural Australia to England with the dream of becoming a concert pianist, and becomes trapped in an abusive relationship. Music and Freedom previously won the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction.

Steve Toltz has won the Russell Prize for humour writing for his ‘tragicomic bromance’ Quicksand (Penguin). The judges described the book as ‘a wonderful achievement from a writer whose words serve as a scalpel to reveal the absurd beneath the veneer of serious existence’.

The shortlists for the National Biography Award, the Colin Roderick Award for ‘the best book that deals with any aspect of Australian life’ and the Davitt Awards for the best crime books by Australian women have also been announced.


Introducing Fremantle Press

Fremantle Press is a not-for-profit publisher of books by new and emerging Western Australian writers and artists. It has been publishing adult and children’s books across a range of genres since 1976. CEO and rights manager Jane Fraser spoke to Think Australian:

What makes your press unique?

Our focus is on publishing books by new Western Australian writers. Fremantle Press is based in one of the world’s most remote cities and although Western Australia has a small population, it has an enormous depth of talent. For the past four decades it’s been our job to nurture that pool of talent and to give new writers the support they need to reach other territories.

By focusing exclusively on Western Australian authors and topics, Fremantle Press has published the first books of many writers with international reputations, such as Joan London, Kim Scott, Craig Silvey, John Kinsella and Gail Jones. If you name almost any well-known Western Australian author—from Tim Winton to Robert Drewe—we’ve published them.

How many books do you publish each year—and what kinds of books?

Fremantle Press publishes around 24 new titles each year and is renowned for producing quality works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s literature. The titles that perform best internationally are those from our literary fiction and crime lists as well as our children’s picture books and junior fiction titles.

Have you sold international rights to your books?

Fremantle Press has been selling international rights for over 20 years. To date we have licensed more than 50 titles into 20 territories.

Which titles have been most successful overseas?

Sally Morgan’s My Place sold into 20 territories. It was reviewed by the New York Times and the UK’s Sunday Times, as well as by Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple.

More recently, Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith has performed well in the US [published as Whiskey & Charlie], selling over 40,000 copies, while Alan Carter’s ‘Cato Kwong’ crime series (Prime Cut, Getting Warmer and Bad Seed) is garnering many fans in Europe.

The picture book Crocodile Cake by Palo Morgan and Chris Nixon continues to be reprinted in simplified Chinese for mainland China. Our books also feature in education markets overseas, with more than 60,000 copies of Eye of the Eagle by Ron Bunney printed in South Korea.

Which title or author on your list do you believe deserves bigger recognition overseas?

Dave Warner won last year’s Ned Kelly Award and his two latest books with Fremantle Press (Before It Breaks and Clear to the Horizon) are brilliant new crime novels. We’d like to see his work published in the US and in more European countries. Also on the crime list is Burn Patterns by Ron Elliott, which we believe deserves more recognition at home and abroad for its witty main character and thrilling plot.

We have some outstanding novelists who are making headway in the international scene—Tracy Farr’s latest book, The Hope Fault, is being published in the UK and US and we hope it will interest the European publishers too.

Have you acquired the rights to publish any international titles in Australia?

No, we only sell rights, because our mandate is to publish Western Australian authors.

What will you publish next (that may appeal to international publishers)?

Clear to the Horizon by Dave Warner is coming out in November and is the follow-up novel to award-winner Before It Breaks. In 2018 we are publishing The Art of Persuasion by Susan Midalia, a romantic novel with political overtones that references Jane Austen, as well as Samuel Bellamy by David Whish-Wilson, an historical gold-rush adventure novel based in the US and Australia. We’re also thrilled to publish T.A.G. Hungerford Award winner Jay Martin’s first memoir about life as an Australian diplomat’s wife in Poland.


‘Big Little Lies’, ‘The Barefoot Investor’ top the Australian charts

Five novels by Liane Moriarty are in the top 10 Australian fiction bestsellers chart in June, led by her 2014 bestseller Big Little Lies, which was recently adapted into a miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. But Moriarty is not just a local success story. Her books have been sold in over 40 territories, regularly appear on US and UK bestseller lists, and are being snapped up for TV and film adaptation left, right and centre. Also selling strongly in June is Australian author Jane Harper’s debut crime novel The Dry, which has been both critically and commercially acclaimed—with rights sold in over 20 territories. Her follow-up Force of Nature is due out in October. Australian romance titles continue to perform well, with two rural romance books—Karly Lane’s If Wishes Were Horses and Rachael Johns’ Talk of the Town—making the top 10. Also on the June bestsellers chart is Sarah Bailey’s debut crime novel The Dark Lake and Heather Rose’s Stella Prize-winning literary novel The Museum of Modern Love.

Australian fiction bestsellers: June

  1. Big Little Lies regular and TV tie-in editions (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  2. Truly Madly Guilty (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  3. The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  4. The Dry (Jane Harper, Pan)
  5. The Dark Lake (Sarah Bailey, Allen & Unwin)
  6. What Alice Forgot (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  7. The Hypnotist’s Love Story (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  8. If Wishes Were Horses (Karly Lane, Arena)
  9. The Museum of Modern Love (Heather Rose, Allen & Unwin)
  10. Talk of the Town (Rachael Johns, Mira)

Scott Pape’s easy-to-follow finance guide The Barefoot Investor is the bestselling Australian nonfiction title in June—and has been in the Australian bestsellers chart since its release in November 2016. Also selling strongly in June are several slow-cooker recipe books (it is winter in Australia, after all); The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet; and a range of memoirs. They include: First, We Make the Beast Beautiful from I Quit Sugar author Sarah Wilson, which explores her personal experience with anxiety, as well as the disorder more generally; Saroo Brierley’s memoir Lion, which has been adapted into a feature film; and the late journalist Mark Colvin’s account of his career as a foreign correspondent and his discovery that his father was an MI6 spy, Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy’s Son.

Australian nonfiction bestsellers: June

  1. The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, John Wiley)
  2. The Easiest Slow Cooker Book Ever (Kim McCosker, Meymott Enterprises)
  3. Slow Cooker Central Super Savers (Paulene Christie, ABC Books)
  4. The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet (Grant Brinkworth & Pennie Taylor, Macmillan)
  5. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful (Sarah Wilson, Macmillan)
  6. Work Strife Balance (Mia Freedman, Macmillan)
  7. Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (Louise Milligan, Melbourne University Press)
  8. Lion: A Long Way Home film tie-in (Saroo Brierley, Penguin)
  9. Unmasked (Turia Pitt, Ebury)
  10. Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy’s Son (Mark Colvin, Melbourne University Press).

© Nielsen BookScan 2017
Period covered: 28 May 2017 to 1 July 2017
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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