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Inside the Australian book industry

Melbourne, Brisbane writers’ festival guests announced; new Australian digital marketplace launched

The programs for the Melbourne Writers Festival (25 August to 3 September) and Brisbane Writers Festival (6-10 September) have been announced. Both festivals regularly attract authors from around the world (this year’s line-ups include Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Risk, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Angie Thomas, Anosh Irani and Min Jin Lee) as well as plenty of home-grown talent. Two award-winning Indigenous Australian authors will be in the spotlight at this year’s festivals: Kim Scott will deliver the opening night address at MWF (his latest novel is Taboo); and BWF will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Alexis Wright’s novel Carpentaria.

The Australian Society of Authors has launched a digital marketplace to showcase and sell the work of Australian writers to international publishers, agents and literary scouts. Alumni of the Australia Council’s Visiting International Publishers program have been invited to participate in the pilot program, which is open to authors who hold international rights to previously published work, or have a finished manuscript they’d like represented and published overseas.

In other rights news, former Penguin Random House and Five Mile Press rights manager Natasha Solomun has launched a new rights agency. The Rights Hive provides representation of foreign and subsidiary rights for Australian publishers and literary agents. Its clients already include literary agency Jacinta di Mase Management and children’s publishers Little Book Press, the National Library of Australia and Ford Street Publishing.

Finally, don’t forget to spread the word about this newsletter. If you have any colleagues who might be interested in signing up, please direct them to this link. You can view the first newsletter for adult titles here and the first newsletter for children’s/YA titles here.

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian

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Screen rights optioned to Hannah Kent’s ‘The Good People’

Australian production company Aquarius Films has optioned the film and TV rights to Hannah Kent’s The Good People (Picador) via Curtis Brown Australia. Aquarius producers said they were ‘absolutely thrilled to be adapting Hannah Kent’s brilliant second novel into a film’, describing her writing as ‘incredibly evocative and cinematic’. Aquarius’ recent credits include the films Lion and Berlin Syndrome. The Good People, which is based on true events, tells the stories of three women who are drawn together to rescue a child from a superstitious community in 19th-century Ireland. It is Kent’s second novel following her award-winning and bestselling debut Burial Rites. Kent’s Australian publisher has already acquired her next two novels.

Australian author Leife Shallcross’ novel The Beast’s Heart has been acquired by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK and will be published in mid-2018. The Beast’s Heart is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale set in 17th-century France and told from the beast’s perspective. It was selected from 1445 submissions to Hodder & Stoughton’s genre fiction website Hodderscape. Hodder & Stoughton editor Thorne Ryan described Shallcross’ manuscript as her ‘absolute favourite submission’ during her time at the house. ‘It’s one of the most gorgeously written and completely absorbing books I’ve ever read,’ said Ryan.

UK publisher Transworld has acquired Commonwealth rights (ex-ANZ) to Sarah Wilson’s personal exploration of anxiety, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful (Macmillan), via Peggy Boulos Smith at Writers House. Transworld editorial director Andrea Henry said Wilson’s book looks at the ‘triggers and treatments, the fashions and fads of anxiety in a practical, poetic, wise and funny book that is part memoir, part polemic’. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful was published in Australia in March and is currently in the bestseller charts.

Other recent rights sales of Australian titles include:


  • Jane Novak Literary Agency has sold international rights to several classic novels by Australian Nobel Prize-winner Patrick White: Chinese rights to Voss, A Fringe of Leaves and The Eye of the Storm to Zhejiang Publishing; Spanish-language rights to Voss to Impedimenta; and German-language rights to The Twyborn Affair, The Eye of the Storm, A Fringe of Leaves and The Vivisector to Piper Verlag.
  • Text has sold German rights to Two Steps Forward—a novel about romance and renewal on the Camino de Santiago by husband-and-wife writing team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist—to Fischer, Dutch rights to Luitingh-Sijthoff, Canadian rights to HarperCollins Canada, UK & Commonwealth (excluding Canada & ANZ) rights to Two Roads and US rights to Morrow.


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


Keith Murdoch bio wins top award

Tom D C Roberts’ biography of Rupert Murdoch’s father, Australian journalist Keith Murdoch, has won the Australian National Biography Award. The judges described Before Rupert: Keith Murdoch and the Birth of a Dynasty (University of Queensland Press) as ‘a masterful biography, full of remarkable insights into a celebrated figure in Australian business and political history’. ‘The coverage of Murdoch’s race fanaticism, his genius for tabloid sensation, his innovations in newspaper enterprise and his interventions in national politics are stand-out features.’

A number of debut Australian women crime writers have been recognised in the shortlists for the Davitt Awards, which focus exclusively on crime books by Australian women.

Jane Harper’s The Dry (Pan Macmillan), Cath Ferla’s Ghost Girls (Echo) and Holly Throsby’s Goodwood (Allen & Unwin) are all nominated for best adult crime novel and best debut crime novel. Also up for best adult crime novel are popular YA author Melina Marchetta’s Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil (Penguin) and Tania Chandler’s Dead in the Water, a follow-up to the author’s 2015 debut Please Don’t Leave Me Here (Scribe). The winners will be announced in late August.

Several Australian authors have also been shortlisted for international awards. Jane Harper has been shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award for The Dry, while Emily Bitto is in the running for the UK Historical Writers Association’s debut historical fiction award for her Stella Prize-winning novel The Strays (Affirm).


Introducing Affirm Press

Affirm Press is an optimistic, owner-operated Australian publisher with a list that includes Australian and international nonfiction, fiction and children’s titles. Publisher Martin Hughes spoke to Think Australian:

What makes your press unique?

  • It’s owner operated—one partner publishes, one sells, and they frequently swap hats.
  • We’re the most optimistic publisher in Australia (based on equal parts strategy, idealism and naiveté).
  • We’re the fastest growing publisher in Australia.
  • We don’t always know what we’re doing but we’re having fun doing it.

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

Approximately 60 books across the trade. Mostly nonfiction (memoirs, sport, humour, big ideas), a select list of Australian fiction, and a brilliant new kids list from board books up to YA (when we find a brilliant YA book we want to launch with).

Have you sold international rights to your books?

Yes and it’s growing rapidly. Rights are sold through Linda Kaplan of the Defiore Agency in New York and her network of sub-agents.

Which titles have been most successful overseas?

Decay Theory, which we only acquired in June and won’t be published until next year, has already sold into eight territories.

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

We’re very proud of the ‘Olive Black’ series for middle-grade readers by Alex Miles (we recently commissioned books five and six).

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

Yes, frequently. We are focusing on young readers and nonfiction for adults, and funny really floats our boat.

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

An instant picture book classic by Australian legend Alison Lester—The Very Noisy Baby will work in any market.


‘The Trip of a Lifetime’, ‘The Barefoot Investor’ top the Australian charts

While Liane Moriarty continues to dominate the Australian fiction bestsellers chart in July, with five titles in the top 10, titles from two other popular Australian authors sit in first and second place: Monica McInerney’s contemporary family drama The Trip of a Lifetime and Michael Robotham’s psychological thriller The Secrets She Keeps. Two crime fiction debuts—Jane Harper’s The Dry and Mark Brandi’s Wimmera—and Nicole Alexander’s rural romance An Uncommon Woman round out the top 10.

Australian fiction bestsellers: July

  1. The Trip of a Lifetime (Monica McInerney, Michael Joseph)
  2. The Secrets She Keeps (Michael Robotham, Hachette)
  3. Truly Madly Guilty (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  4. Big Little Lies regular and TV tie-in editions (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  5. The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  6. The Dry (Jane Harper, Pan)
  7. Wimmera (Mark Brandi, Hachette)
  8. The Last Anniversary (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  9. The Hypnotist’s Love Story (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  10. An Uncommon Woman (Nicole Alexander, Bantam)

Australian nonfiction bestsellers: July

Two true-crime titles have entered the Australian nonfiction bestsellers chart in July in second and third place: Australian underworld figure John Ibrahim’s autobiography Last King of the Cross and James Phelps’ account of women’s prison life in Australia, Green is the New Black. Also joining the popular slow cooker recipe books and The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet book in the chart are Australian cooking show host Justine Schofield’s Simple Every Day and make-up artist Bernadette Fisers’ The Little Book of Big Weightloss. The latter was originally self-published last year before being picked up at auction by Penguin Australia and Transworld UK.

  1. The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, John Wiley)
  2. Last King of the Cross (John Ibrahim, Macmillan)
  3. Green Is the New Black (James Phelps, Ebury Australia)
  4. The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet (Grant Brinkworth & Pennie Taylor, Macmillan)
  5. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful (Sarah Wilson, Macmillan)
  6. The Little Book of Big Weightloss (Bernadette Fisers, Penguin)
  7. Slow Cooker Central Super Savers (Paulene Christie, ABC Books)
  8. Simple Every Day (Justine Schofield, Plum)
  9. The Easiest Slow Cooker Book Ever (Kim McCosker, Meymott Enterprises)
  10. Not Just Lucky (Jamila Rizvi, Viking)

© Nielsen BookScan 2017
Period covered: 2 to 29 July 2017
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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