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Inside the Australian book industry

Australian 'Own Voices' snapped up

‘The last few years has seen an increased focus in the US and UK on diversity in children’s publishing, with the emphasis more and more being placed on Own Voices,’ Scholastic Australia rights manager Claire Pretyman told Think Australian after this year’s Bologna and London books fairs. Pretyman said this presented ‘a fantastic opportunity for Australian publishing, as US, UK and translation publishers increasingly look outwards for new, authentic voices’.

As if on cue, Hardie Grant Egmont sold North American rights to Erin Gough’s new queer feminist YA novel Amelia Westlake, with film agent Mary Pender signing on to represent film rights ahead of US publication. Hardie Grant Egmont publisher Marisa Pintado said the response to the title had been ‘immediate’ with ‘multiple rights deals underway after Bologna’. Gough’s first novel The Flywheel is also published by Hardie Grant Egmont.

On the topic of fairs, up to five publishing delegates from Australia will attend the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF) from 9 to 11 November this year with support from the country’s peak arts funding body, the Australia Council for the Arts. The selected delegates will also have the opportunity to apply for the CCBF Shanghai Visiting International Publishers Project, a fellowship project dedicated to children’s publishing that overlaps with the fair and runs from 5 to 10 November in Shanghai.

If you’re attending either event, look out for the Australians in November.

Matthia Dempsey
Think Australian

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Random House acquires Elliot Perlman's first kids' book

Random House Children’s Books has acquired the first children’s book by award-winning novelist Elliot Perlman (pictured). The Adventures of Catvinkle centres on the unlikely friendship between pampered house cat Catvinkle and Ula the stray dalmatian. Perlman, who was shortlisted for Australia’s Miles Franklin Literary Award for his novels Three Dollars (Vintage) and Seven Types of Ambiguity (Penguin), said he was inspired to write the book after encountering a cat sleeping lazily in a bay window in Amsterdam. ‘This triggered the thought of a blissed-out, slightly selfish cat having its world turned upside down by the unexpected arrival of an animal long totally reviled by cats,’ said Perlman. Australian and New Zealand rights were acquired by Random House Young Readers publisher Zoe Walton, who said the book ‘exudes everything you love about Elliot’s writingincluding a gentle treatment of themes of social inclusion, anti-racism and anti-bullying, all of it dripping with humour and warmth.’ Illustrated by Laura Stitzel, the book will be released in Australia in October, with Pushkin Press publishing it in the UK in November.

Hardie Grant Egmont has sold North American rights to Erin Gough’s new queer feminist YA novel Amelia Westlake to Little, Brown imprint Poppy. Rights were acquired by Poppy editor Deirdre Jones, with Hardie Grant Egmont managing director Annabel Barker and rights coordinator Madeleine Manifold negotiating the deal. United Talent Agency film agent Mary Pender has also signed on to represent film rights for the title ahead of its publication in the US. The novel follows two teenage students at an elite all-girls private school, who concoct an elaborate hoax to expose injustice and oust their sexist gym teacher. Hardie Grant Egmont publisher Marisa Pintado said Amelia Westlake was ‘highly political, bitingly funny, and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, deeply relevant and empowering’. ‘As one of the only authors writing queer, own-voice YA in Australia, Erin is a force to be reckoned with,’ she said. Poppy will publish Amelia Westlake under the title Amelia Westlake Was Never Here in the US Spring of 2019.

Black Inc. has sold Nobel Prize-winner Barry Marshall and Lorna Hendry’s middle-grade time-travel adventure, How to Win a Nobel Prize (illus by Bernard Caleo), into eight territories, including to Oneworld Publications in the UK and Kane Miller in the US. Rights were negotiated by Black Inc. international director Sophy Williams, who said feedback from the publisher’s global network of agents indicates ‘every territory is interested in inspiring young people to study science—particularly girls’. In the book, a young girl stumbles on a secret meeting of Nobel Prize-winners and journeys back in time to learn the secrets behind some of the most significant scientific discoveries. Oneworld editor Shadi Doostdar said it ‘sits perfectly among the young feminist literature that is currently enjoying the much-deserved limelight’. The title has also sold into Turkey, Japan, Poland, Hungary, China and Korea.

Text Publishing has acquired YA novel It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood through its annual Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. The ‘tender, funny and joyful novel’ about hook-ups, awkwardness and ‘unexpected romance’ was chosen from a shortlist of five and more than 200 entries. Text Publisher Michael Heyward said the book is ‘a finely written and compulsively readable story for young adults about someone who is discovering who she is.’ ‘Natalie, Lucy, Zach and Alex are a beautifully drawn quartet of characters. Their dialogue sparkles. Together, they set in train a romantic comedy that will charm and delight readers.’ It Sounded Better in My Head will be published in mid-2019. Text has also acquired shortlisted novel The End of the World is Bigger Than Love by Davina Bell for publication in early 2010.

New Frontier has signed the first licensing deal for its new baby and early years imprint, Catch a Star. The five-year contract will see New Frontier publish a series of board books based on the preschooler television show The Day Henry Met … , produced by Irish company Wigglywoo and distributed by Monster Entertainment. New Frontier will launch the series with four books in October, starting with The Day Henry Met … the Alphabet, with other titles in the series to explore numbers, colours and actions. New Frontier announced the new imprint in October last year, with plans to publish 20 books in 2018.

Read the full article here.


'Nevermoor' continues award-winning run

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend (Lothian) continues its award-winning streak, earning the author three awards at the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) announced earlier this month. Nevermoor won the awards for Book of the Year for Younger Children and the overall Book of the Year award, with Townsend also picking up the Matt Richell Award for new writer of the year.

Other children’s book winners at the ABIAs were:

At the same awards, Working Title Press publisher Jane Covernton received the Pixie O’Harris Award for service to Australian children’s literature.

Two junior fiction titles were awarded at the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in late April. How to Bee (Bren MacDibble, A&U) won the $30,000 Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature, while The Ones that Disappeared (Zana Fraillon, Hachette) won the $30,000 Ethel Turner Prize for Young Adult’s Literature.


Introducing Ford Street Publishing

Paul Collins is the publisher at Ford Street Publishing, an industry stalwart and the author of ‘around 140’ books himself. Ford Street Publishing is a micro-press that releases all manner of children’s books, from picture books to YA, with ‘no B-list’, says Collins. He spoke to Think Australian.

What makes Ford Street Publishing unique?

I’ve been in the industry since the mid 1970s. During that time I’ve worked as a proofreader, edited a great many anthologies and worked on both books for adults and younger readers. Mainly, though, I’m the author of around 140 books, published mostly by major publishers such as Penguin, Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins, and a great many others. Bring all that experience together and I think I can say authors and illustrators get a good all-round relationship with their publisher. Micro-presses are generally unique in that there’s one person who commissions books who is answerable to no one but themselves. I don’t have to persuade a marketing team to accept a book. I don’t have to appease anyone but myself. There is no B-list with Ford Street. Everyone gets A-list treatment. I think that’s pretty unique compared with major publishers.

How many books does Ford Street publish each year—and what kinds?

Between 10 to 15 as a rule. I publish everything from picture books through to books for young adults.

Have you sold international rights to your publications?

Yes, books have sold to Korea, China, France and Germany.

Which titles have been most successful overseas?

Pool by Justin D’Ath and Crossing the Line by Dianne Bates.

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

Among my favourites are D C Green’s ‘City of Monsters’ trilogy. Every character is drawn perfectly, and the dialogue is super special. His work deserves much more attention than it receives. I’ve recently been proofreading book three, Dragon Apocalypse, and it’s the type of book you can get enjoyment from reading time and time again.

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

I’ve not ventured down that path. There are too many good books available here.

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

To borrow from D C Green’s books, ‘that’s a gnarly question’. I have just published Gabrielle Reid’s The Things We Can’t Undo. It’s contemporary and topical, with ‘consent’ being the main thread. I have no doubt that every Ford Street book would sell overseas were I to place it in front of the right editor or publisher. And that will always be the tricky part for a micro-press. There are only so many hours in a day!


Noni takes three in Australian YA April charts

The first book in Lynette Noni’s ‘Medoran Chronicles’, Akarnae, has taken out top spot in the Australian YA bestsellers chart for April, with the second and third books in the series, Raelia and Draekora, also appearing in this month’s top 10. Noni’s titles are consistent bestsellersAkarnae was also the top-selling Australian YA title in January, when Think Australian last reported the charts for this category.

Two March new releases have also made the April bestsellers: a rejacketed edition of Garth Nix’s fantasy title Mister Monday and adult fiction writer Eliza Henry Jones’ first book for teenagers, P is for Pearl, a work of contemporary realism that explores grief, friendship, mental illness, family and love.

Australian YA fiction bestsellers: April

  1. Akarnae (Lynette Noni, Pantera Press)
  2. Mister Monday (Garth Nix, Allen & Unwin)
  3. Raelia (Lynette Noni, Pantera Press)
  4. Take Three Girls (Simmone Howell, Cath Crowley & Fiona Wood, Pan)
  5. Draekora (Lynette Noni, Pantera Press)
  6. Once and Then (Morris Gleitzman, Penguin)
  7. The Road to Winter (Mark Smith, Text Publishing)
  8. Tomorrow, When the War Began (John Marsden, Pan)
  9. P is for Pearl (Eliza Henry Jones, HarperCollins)
  10. The Secret Science of Magic (Melissa Keil, Hardie Grant Egmont)

© Nielsen BookScan 2018
Period covered: 1 April to 28 April 2018
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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