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Inside the Australian book industry

Boarding call for Bologna

Last year, Australian publisher Allen & Unwin and Australian children’s literature promoters Books Illustrated announced they would combine their stands at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The newly created collective Australian stand received four-year funding from the Australian government and started off with four independent publishers on the stand in 2017.

This year, the ‘Hello! From Australia’ stand at Bologna boasts 13 independent Australian publishers: Affirm Press, Allen & Unwin, Berbay Publishing, EC Press, EK Books, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, Little Pink Dog Books, Magabala Books, Melbournestyle Books, MidnightSun Publishing, Quirky Kid, Scribble and Windy Hollow Books. Three of these are nominated for the BOP (Best Publisher) Award in the Oceania Region: Magabala Books, Scribble and Windy Hollow Books.

Other Australian children’s publishers represented or attending the fair are Text Publishing, Christmas Press, Hardie Grant Egmont/Little Hare, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Penguin Random House Australia, Hachette Australia/Lothian Children’s Books, Scholastic Australia, University of Queensland Press and Walker Books Australia. See below for a list of links to the publishers’ websites and respective catalogues.

You can find out more about each of the publishers’ lists in the ‘Hello! From Australia’ online catalogue here: including titles from Western Australian independent publisher Fremantle Press, which is profiled in this issue of Think Australian Junior. You can also find out more about some of these Australian publishers through our ‘small publisher spotlight’ profile series.

Those attending Bologna with an interest in publishing from our region will also want to visit the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) collective stand. This is the first time PANZ has hosted a collective stand at Bologna. Publishers on the stand are Upstart Press, Gecko Press, Millwood Press, Black Chook Books, OneTree House and Oratia Press. Literary agent Frances Plumpton will also be on the stand. You can read the PANZ collective stand brochure here.

Here’s to a wonderful fair!

Matthia Dempsey
Think Australian


Australian publishers’ catalogues and websites

Image. Advertisement: The Hole Story by Kelly Canby

Feminist fairytale collection lands small press its first US deal

Australian publisher Serenity Press has sold US and Canadian rights to a collection of feminist fairytale retellings aimed at the YA market. Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women (Kate Forsyth, illus by Lorena Carrington, pictured) is the independent publisher’s first sale into the US market.

Rights were sold to Kane Miller and negotiated by Natasha Solomun at The Rights Hive, who was engaged by Serenity in 2017 and took mock-ups of the book to last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. ‘Within a month or so, we had an offer,’ said publisher Monique Mulligan. Serenity Press will publish a follow-up to Vasilisa in 2019 titled Mollie Whuppie and Other Tales of Clever Young Women and will expand its fairytale list with titles by UK authors Sharon Blackie and Jane Talbot. Solomun will be attending this year’s Bologna fair, representing Australian literary agency Jacinta di Mase Management.

Scribe Publications’ children’s imprint, Scribble, has acquired world rights to a new picture book collaboration by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys, the creators of The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade (published in the US by Abrams as Captain Starfish) and Under the Love Umbrella. Bell and Colpoys’ All the Ways to Be Smart is described by the publisher as a celebration of different types of intelligence aimed at readers aged three and up. ‘The text encourages child readers to consider their everyday actions as both clever and valuable—particularly those like creative expression, performance and physicality that fall outside traditional measures of academic achievement,’ said the publisher. Scribble acquired the rights from Pippa Masson at Curtis Brown, with publication in Australia scheduled for October 2018. Author and bookish multi-hyphenate Davina Bell will also be attending Bologna in her role as younger readers senior editor for Affirm Press, representing the publisher’s children’s list at the ‘Hello from Australia’ stand.

Hardie Grant Egmont has sold rights to Australian bookseller Jeremy Lachlan’s middle-grade debut, Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds, in eight territories before publication, most recently to Carolrhoda Books in the US. Hardie Grant Egmont acquired the series in a four-book, six-figure deal in 2017 and has since sold it into the UK (Egmont), Spain (RBA Libros), Germany (Loewe Verlag), Turkey (Dogan Egmont), Hungary (Könyvmolyképző), Italy and Brazil. Pitched as ‘Narnia meets Mad Max’, the title will be released locally in August.

The publisher has also sold US rights to the first two books in Jack Henseleit’s middle-grade horror adventure series ‘The Witching Hours’. Rights to The Vampire Knife and The Troll Heart, were acquired by Kheryn Callender at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and Hardie Grant Egmont managing director Annabel Barker told Think Australian the international response has been strong for this debut author, with the series now selling in six territories. ‘We are so delighted for Jack, as a debut children’s novelist, to see this level of success so quickly,’ said Barker.

Adelaide-based writer Cameron Raynes’ YA novel First Person Shooter (MidnightSun) has been optioned for film by Perth production company Factor 30 Films. The coming-of-age story is set in a small Western Australian town and follows teenager Jayden, who grows up feeling isolated and frustrated by his stutter, and copes by losing himself in video games. The novel is MidnightSun Publishing’s first book to be optioned for film and TV rights. Publishing director Anna Solding says she is excited for the deal. ‘First Person Shooter is such an evocative narrative, it will lend itself perfectly to a visual medium,’ said Solding. Raynes’ short story, ‘The Colour of Kerosene’, was adapted for a short film in 2012. Factor 30 Films producers Melissa Kelly and Ryan Hodgson’s previous films include Blame (2010) and Hounds of Love (2016).

And in case you hadn’t heard the news, Pan Macmillan Australia has announced it will publish a new novel by Australian YA author Markus Zusak in October. The Australian and international book world has been waiting on the promised new book, Bridge of Clay, for some time. It comes 13 years after publication of The Book Thief in 2005, and tells the story of a boy who agrees to help his father build a bridge in the wilderness. Pan Macmillan Australia publishing director Cate Paterson said Zusak began thinking about and writing chapters of Bridge of Clay over 20 years ago and ‘it was worth the wait’. ‘It preceded The Book Thief, and then The Book Thief became a phenomenon and Markus was pulled away from it. Finally it has arrived [and] Bridge of Clay has exceeded all our expectations,’ she said.

Read the full article here.


Allen & Unwin scoops two Adelaide Festival children's awards

Following on from her recent joint win at the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (PMLAs), Wendy Orr has taken out another major prize for Dragonfly Song (Allen & Unwin). Orr’s Minoan-era historical epic won the A$15,000 children’s literature prize at the biennial Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, which were announced at a ceremony on 3 March as part of Adelaide Writers’ Week. My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier, also published by Allen & Unwin, took out the A$15,000 young adult fiction prize.

Also in awards, Australian publishers Quirky Kid and Typefi have each been shortlisted for the London Book Fair (LBF) International Excellence Awards. Quirky Kid—nominated for both the Educational Learning Resources Award and the Educational Initiatives Award for its anxiety program for children called BaseCamp—is one of the publishers on the collective ‘Hello from Australia’ stand at Bologna this year (see editorial).


Introducing Fremantle Press' children's list

Fremantle Press is a not-for-profit publisher of books by new and emerging Western Australian writers and artists. It has been publishing children’s books across a range of genres for 26 years. CEO and rights manager Jane Fraser spoke to Think Australian.

What makes Fremantle Press unique?

Fremantle Press specialises in publishing the works of new Western Australian writers and artists for national and international audiences. Our job is to make our creators, who live in one of the most remote cities on the planet, as visible as possible to a worldwide audience. They include First Nations children’s authors who we’ve been publishing to acclaim since our children’s list began some 26 years ago. Our children’s publisher, Cate Sutherland, loves to push the envelope. Titles like the genre-busting picture book Drawn Onward by Meg McKinlay and Andrew Frazer may have looked like a risky venture to many, but it worked perfectly for our program. We draw from a small but talented pool of authors and illustrators who are a tight-knit, collegiate group. Through our enthusiastic local teachers and librarians, they are in constant direct contact with their audiences, and I would say that all Fremantle Press creators approach their job with great humour and joy. We believe that this joy shows in our books.

How many children’s and YA books does Fremantle publish each year—and what kinds of books?

Each year we publish between two and four picture books, ranging from picture books for early readers through to picture books for young adults. During the next two years, we’ll be publishing board book editions of early readers by First Nations authors. This is with a view to making more Indigenous materials available to preschoolers. We always have a strong list of junior to middle fiction reads, and publish two to three books in each of those age groups annually. We publish one to two young adult titles a year, though we’re keen to publish more! This year’s YA title will be an anthology called Meet Me at the Intersection. Edited by Rebecca Lim and First Nations author Ambelin Kwaymullina, the book has a wonderful range of voices including writers who are First Nations, people of colour, LGBTIQA+ or living with disability.

Have you sold international rights to your children’s and YA books?

We have been selling international rights to our books for many years, and our children’s and young adult list is always popular with publishers from Korea to Spain. We have 77 books that are currently published internationally. Of these, the majority are children’s books. Recent rights sales for picture books include Can a Skeleton Have an X-Ray? by Kyle Hughes-Odgers, which we sold into Spain and China; Pandamonia by Chris Owen and Chris Nixon, which sold into China, Taiwan, Italy and North America; James Foley’s junior graphic novels Brobot and Dungzilla, which recently sold into Korea and the Netherlands/Belgium; and Deb Fitzpatrick’s middle fiction The Amazing Spencer Gray was published in North America. This month, we have sold the Korean rights to The Hole Story by Kelly Canby, and after the Bologna Book Fair we are confident we will receive other offers.

Which titles have been most successful overseas?

Eye of the Eagle by Ron Bunney is still being published in Korea after over a decade and more than 40,000 copies sold into schools. Pandamonia is in its third reprint in North America and Ambelin Kwaymullina launched her four Indigenous picture books Crow and the WaterholeThe Two-Hearted Numbat, How Frogmouth Found Her Home and Caterpillar and Butterfly in China in 2011. International prizes received for our books include: International Youth Library White Raven listings for My Superhero (Chris Owen, illus by Moira Court) and Beautiful Monster (Kate McCaffrey), SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards for Ten Tiny Things (Meg McKinlay, illus by Kyle Hughes-Odgers) and The Last Viking (Norman Jorgensen, illus by James Foley), and both Pandamonia and Can a Skeleton Have an X-Ray? were longlisted for the inaugural Frankfurt Book Fair Prize for Illustration.

Which title or author on your children’s and YA list do you believe deserves bigger recognition overseas?

Though we’ve already sold Brobot and Dungzilla to some publishers overseas, we believe James’ books will appeal to a much broader international audience. We know kids love the humour and adventure, and that parents love the real science and pop culture references, so we hope this series will find new publishers in more regions. Multi-award-winning author Sally Murphy is another person we’d love to see gain more traction in international markets. Looking Up has a heartwarming message of acceptance and forgiveness, and has just made the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s notable list (this is the fourth time one of Sally’s books has been on the list).

Have you acquired the rights to publish any international children’s and YA titles in Australia?

Nowe don’t acquire rights to foreign publications.

What children’s/YA title will you publish next (that may appeal to international publishers)?

The Hole Story is a delightfully sweet and very ‘international’ children’s picture book about a boy who finds a hole that nobody wants … except a little rabbit who’s been following him across every page. We also think One Thousand Trees by Kyle Hughes-Odgers speaks to children in urban centres everywhere (as do all of his books). In the book, a child contemplates her environment and imagines her city forested with trees.


Foster Blake tops picture book chart

Surely it’s only a matter of time before Australian comedian Hamish Blake decides it might be a good idea to pen a children’s book. His multi-talented spouse, Zoe Foster Blake, rules the picture books chart this month with No One Likes a Fart (illus by Adam Nickel, Penguin Random House), while his comedy partner Andy Lee sits in second place with Do Not Open This Book Again (illus by Heath McKenzie, Lake Press). Lee is also in 10th place on the chart with that book’s precursor, Do Not Open This Book (illus by Heath McKenzie, Lake Press). Aaron Blabey has three books in the top 10, and multiple deals around the world (see rights sales and acquisitions above).

Australian picture book bestsellers: February

  1. No One Likes a Fart (Zoe Foster Blake, illus by Adam Nickel, Penguin Random House)
  2. Do Not Open This Book Again (Andy Lee, illus by Heath McKenzie, Lake Press)
  3. Where is the Green Sheep? (Mem Fox, illus by Judy Horacek, Penguin Random House)
  4. Pig the Star (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic Australia)
  5. Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic Australia)
  6. Possum Magic 30th Anniversary Edition (Mem Fox, illus by Julie Vivas, Scholastic Australia)
  7. Thelma and the Unicorn with Unicorn Horn (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic Australia)
  8. Hickory Dickory Dash (Tony Wilson, illus by Laura Wood, Scholastic Australia)
  9. Macca the Alpaca (Matt Cosgrove, Scholastic Australia)
  10. Do Not Open This Book (Andy Lee, illus by Heath McKenzie, Lake Press)

© Nielsen BookScan 2018
Period covered: 28 January 2018 to 24 February 2018.
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide.




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