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Inside the Australian book industry

Australian delegation to visit the US

If you’ll be in New York City in early June this year, look out for a group of eight Australian publishers, rights managers and literary agents, who will travel there from 4 to 8 June, as part of the Australia Council’s inaugural New York Publishers Program 2018.

Literary agent Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services, Allen & Unwin publisher Annette Barlow, Fremantle Press CEO Jane Fraser, Giramondo Publishing commissioning editor Nick Tapper, Pantera Press rights manager Katy McEwen, literary agent Gaby Naher of The Naher Agency, Hardie Grant Egmont publisher Marisa Pintado, and Text Publishing rights and export coordinator Khadija Caffoor will all participate in a five-day program of industry meetings, marketing briefings and networking opportunities.

Wenona Byrne, director of literature at the Australia Council for the Arts, said the delegation would visit major publishing houses including Flatiron Books, where the group will meet with executive vice president Amy Einhorn, and will be ‘attending one-on-one meetings with publishers and editors’ at the offices of Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Melville House and Europa Editions, with more meetings ‘still being finalised.’

Delegate member and Pantera Press rights manager Katy McEwen will be representing a suite of new Australian authors after the publisher recently acquired boutique Australian publishing company the Author People from co-founder Lou Johnson. Pantera Press CEO Alison Green said the company was ‘incredibly excited’ about the potential the Author People model unlocked and that Pantera is ‘eager to introduce new readers to these great storytellers’. ‘We believe in signing authors, not books, so we’ve loved the author-centric model that Lou embedded into the DNA of the Author People,’ said Green.

Another delegate member, literary agent Alex Adsett, said she will also visit BookExpo America and the inaugural New York Rights Fair. ‘Although I represent a broad range of titles across all ages and genres, a core part of my list is crime, speculative fiction and romance, and the biggest market for these is the US,’ she said. You can read more about Adsett’s list in our profile below.

Matthia Dempsey
Think Australian

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Brow Books acquires ‘The Impossible Fairytale’ in new co-publishing agreement with Tilted Axis Press

Brow Books has acquired The Impossible Fairytale by Han Yujoo, translated from the Korean by Janet Hong, as the first title to come out of a new co-publishing agreement with UK-based Tilted Axis Press. Under the co-publishing agreement, Tilted Axis will hold world English rights for each title it publishes, and will offer right of first refusal in Australia and New Zealand to Brow Books. The long-term partnership is the first international co-publishing agreement for both publishers. Tilted Axis publisher Deborah Smith said of Brow Books: ‘Their tastes and production values are very much comparable with our own, and their diverse, exciting list seemed an obvious home for our titles. Plus, their willingness to try something new in terms of a co-publishing agreement fits perfectly with our own desire to explore innovative new models.’ Tilted Axis Press was founded in London in 2015 as a non-profit organisation dedicated to publishing contemporary Asian literature, mainly by women. Brow Books was launched in 2017 as the books imprint of literary journal The Lifted Brow, and has previously sold world rights to Shaun Prescott’s debut novel The Town to Faber. Brow Books will publish The Impossible Fairytale in August when Yujoo will tour Australia as a fellow of the 2018 Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange Program (WrICE), a reciprocal cultural exchange of writers from the Asia-Pacific region.

In related news, Brow Books has sold UK and Commonwealth rights to Sydney-based Indonesian author Intan Paramaditha’s short-fiction collection Apple and Knife to Harvill Secker. Harvill Secker also acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to a second book by Paramaditha (pictured), called The Wandering, which is described as a ‘choose-your-own-adventure-style novel about travelling the world’ that spans ‘New York, Berlin, Jakarta, Lima and beyond’. Harvill Secker senior editor Ellie Steel acquired the rights in a deal brokered by Kelly Falconer at Asia Literary Agency and described Paramaditha’s writing as ‘exhilaratingly wild, fun and feminist’. ‘We’re in awe of the brilliant things that Sam Cooney and Elizabeth Bryer are doing at Brow Books, and we’re grateful to them and to Kelly for introducing Intan’s extraordinary writing to us and to the English-speaking world,’ she said. Harvill Seckerwill publish Apple and Knife in the UK spring of 2019 and The Wandering in the UK and Australia in 2020.

Text Publishing has sold North American and UK English-language rights to Korean thriller The Plotters by Un-su Kim. Text acquired world English rights to the book via the Barbara J Zitwer Agency on behalf of Joseph Lee at Korean Literary Management, and commissioned Korean-American translator Sora Kim-Russell for the English translation. North American rights were subsequently sold at auction to Doubleday US and Random House Canada for a six-figure sum, with David Forrer from InkWell Management negotiating the deal. UK rights were also sold for a ‘significant’ amount to Anna Kelly at Fourth Estate in a five-way auction brokered by Sarah Lutyens from Lutyens & Rubinstein. Set in Seoul’s corrupt underworld, The Plotters is a noir thriller about the changing of the guard at an organisation that masterminds assassinations, described by Doubleday editor Robert Bloom as ‘a cracking commercial crime novel that sings with the soul, wit and lyricism of real literary craft’ and ‘a wake-up call to genre lovers and literary readers alike’. Text will publish The Plotters in Australia and New Zealand in August, with the UK and US to release their editions in the Northern Hemisphere’s spring of 2019.

Black Inc. has acquired world rights to a book by the former deputy leader of the Australian Greens political party, Scott Ludlam, who resigned from the Senate after it was discovered he held duel citizenship. The as-yet-untitled book, scheduled for publication in 2019, is described as a book of ideas ‘about the transformative power of ecology, technology and politics’, and of ‘people and movements that have changed the world for the better’. The book also contains stories from Ludlam’s own life. Black Inc. publisher Chris Feik described Ludlam as ‘a fine writer, with a rich store of experiences and ideas’. Ludlam’s writing has appeared in the Guardian and Australian magazine the Monthly.

In television rights, Richard Flanagan’s Man Booker Prize-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Penguin), which has sold more than one million copies in 42 countries, is to be adapted for television. TV rights to Flanagan’s 2013 novel have been secured by FremantleMedia, but a broadcaster is yet to be attached to the project, according to a spokesperson for the company. FremantleMedia director of drama Jo Porter said the book was ‘ripe for screen adaptation’ with ‘huge visual potential and scale’. ‘At its core is an achingly powerful examination of the many forms of love, forged through the crucible of war,’ said Porter. ‘We are confident, like this beloved novel, it will resonate with audiences all around the world’. Flanagan said he is ‘delighted’ that his novel will be made into an international television series ‘in this age of great television drama, promising the quality, the depth, and the occasional brilliance of which the form is now capable’.

Other recent Australian rights deals include:



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


Awards put poetry in the spotlight

Poetry has been the focus of several Australian awards and shortlists recently, with poet and performer Candy Royalle being chosen from a shortlist of 11 poets to win the 2018 Red Room Poetry Fellowship worth A$10,000 in total, including residency and travel assistance for Royalle to undertake ‘an intensive period of creative development’. Red Room Poetry established the fellowship in 2017 to ‘foster poetic and professional development of an individual within the wider poetic community’, with the inaugural fellowship going to Windham-Campbell Prize-winning poet Ali Cobby Eckermann.

Hong Kong-baswd poet Nicholas Wong has won the Australian Book Review (ABR) Peter Porter Poetry Prize for his poem ‘101 Taipei’ after his poem was chosen for the A$5000 prize from a shortlist of five entries. Second place was awarded to Tracey Slaughter for her poem ‘breather’. She receives $2000, while the three other shortlisted poets—Eileen Chong, Katharine Healy and L K Holt—receive $500 each.

Finally, Overland journal has announced the shortlist for the fifth Nakata Brophy Short Fiction and Poetry Prize for Young Indigenous Writers, a prize for Indigenous writers under 30 that alternates between fiction and poetry, and this year is for the best poem up to 88 lines. The shortlisted writers and their works are: Jazz Money, for ‘as we attack’, Kirli Saunders, for ‘A dance of hands’; Laniyuk Garcon, for ‘Remember’; Ralee Lancaster, for ‘haunted house’; and Susie Anderson, for ‘revolve’. The winner will receive A$5000, publication in Overland’s print magazine and a three-month residency at Melbourne’s Trinity College.

Other recent awards include the Ditmar Awards, and Aurealis Awards, both for Australian science-fiction, fantasy and horror, as well as the shortlists for the ALS Gold Medal and the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards.


Introducing Alex Adsett

Alex Adsett is a literary agent representing authors across all ages and most genres, and also a freelance publishing consultant offering commercial contract advice to authors and publishers. She has 20 years’ experience working in the publishing and bookselling industry, across Australia and the UK, and has managed Alex Adsett Publishing Services since 2008. Adsett is one of the eight Australian delegates travelling to New York in June and she spoke to Think Australian about her list.

What makes the books you represent unique?

Well, I’m obviously biased, but I’m going to say because they’re all fabulous! I guess I can also say my list is a unique collation of books that I personally absolutely adore. They’re an eclectic mix, but my one rule is that I have to love a manuscript or else I won’t take it on. Even if I can objectively see that it is wonderfully written, or strongly commercial, I need to have an attachment to it personally or else I don’t feel it is fair to the author or manuscript. Another reason would be that while I now represent almost all kinds of books, from picture books to nonfiction, at heart I’m unashamedly a fangirl of science-fiction and fantasy, romance and crime. The core of my list is within these genres, and I’m one of the few Australian agents who embrace these three genres so enthusiastically.

How many books/authors on your list—and what kinds of books?

I represent more than 30 authors, with more than 100 books. These range from picture books through to middle grade, young adult, commercial and literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. If the book hooks me in, I’m going to want to represent it. The core of my commercial fiction list also has a focus of science-fiction and fantasy, crime, and romance, and even though I’m expanding into other areas, I don’t want to leave the genre community behind.

Have you had success with any of your titles overseas?

Happily, yes! For example, I sold Maria Lewis’ ‘Who’s Afraid?‘ series to Piatkus in the UK, and Alan Baxter’s ‘Alex Caine‘ series to Ragnarok in the US. The Australian publishers of Gary Kemble (Echo Publishing), Jodi McAlister and Sasha Wasley (both Penguin Australia) have also negotiated amazing deals for translation, UK and US rights.

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

Again, I’m pretty biased, but I think all of them! Right now, I’m confident the ‘Valentine‘ YA series by Jodi McAlister (Penguin Australia)—teenagers challenging viciously blood-thirsty fairies—would do brilliantly in the US and UK, particularly with evil fairy books by Holly Black or Sarah J Maas doing so well. I also have a fabulous middle-grade adventure, Quark’s Academy by Catherine Pelosi (Hachette Australia), with science positive themes and great characters, that would be fantastic in any territory or language, as well as amazing picture books by Shelly Unwin and Shannon Horsfall.

Have you acquired the rights to any international titles? If so what have been the most successful?

I’m absolutely open to international authors, and was taking pitches while in the US last year. Most successful is award-winning science-fiction author Tricia Sullivan, particularly with Occupy Me (Gollancz) being nominated for an Arthur C Clarke award in 2017.

What is your most recent acquisition (that may appeal to international publishers)?

An acquisition that I am just super excited about is a new mystery series by bestselling Australian author Pamela Freeman. This is an exciting new direction for her. The story stars Sarah McGowan, a journalist turned reluctant sleuth when the body of a colleague turns up in the foundations of her house mid renovations. Set in Sydney at its most sparkly, this has amazing potential for the overseas market.


‘The Shepherd’s Hut’ and ‘The Barefoot Investor’ top Australian charts

Australian fiction bestsellers: March

Last month we reported that The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by debut author Holly Ringland (HarperCollins) had sold into 19 territories. This month the book, which was released in Australia and New Zealand on 19 March, sits at number 10 on the Australian fiction bestsellers chart. At number three is another debut novel acquired by HarperCollins: The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan is the first in a planned series about an Irish detective and has sold into the UK, Ireland, Germany and the US. A crime writer to watch. Meanwhile, Tim Winton’s first novel in five years tops the fiction charts.

  1. The Shepherd’s Hut (Tim Winton, Hamish Hamilton)
  2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris, Echo Publishing)
  3. The Ruin (Dervla McTiernan, HarperCollins)
  4. The Family Next Door (Sally Hepworth, Macmillan)
  5. The Dry (Jane Harper, Pan)
  6. Truly Madly Guilty (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  7. Birthright (Fiona Lowe, HQ Fiction)
  8. The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty, Pan)
  9. Before I Let You Go (Kelly Rimmer, Hachette)
  10. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (Holly Ringland, HarperCollins)

Australian nonfiction bestsellers: March

Silent Invasion by Clive Hamilton explores the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in Australia. It was acquired by Hardie Grant after the author requested rights be returned from former publisher Allen & Unwin, after it delayed the release in November 2017 citing the threat of legal action from the Chinese government. Hamilton rewrote the book to minimise the legal risk. ‘The reason three publishers refused to publish this book is the very reason the book needs to be published,’ said Hamilton when Hardie Grant Books acquired world rights. The book sits at number two on the Australian adult nonfiction bestsellers chart.

  1. The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, John Wiley)
  2. Silent Invasion (Clive Hamilton, Hardie Grant)
  3. There Is More (Brian Houston, Vintage)
  4. Lunch Box (Pete Evans, Plum)
  5. Working Class Man (Jimmy Barnes, HarperCollins)
  6. Bridge Burning and Other Hobbies (Kitty Flanagan, Allen & Unwin)
  7. Can You Die of a Broken Heart? (Nikki Stamp, Murdoch)
  8. The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet (Grant Brinkworth & Dr Pennie Taylor, Macmillan)
  9. The $1000 Project (Canna Campbell, Viking)
  10. Rebel with a Cause (Jacqui Lambie, Allen & Unwin)

© Nielsen BookScan 2018
Period covered: 25 February to 31 March 2018
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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