Wednesday, 31 July 2013


For over four years I had the pleasure of reading story and poetry submissions from children’s writers. Every day my inbox was overflowing with manuscripts. While reading them was one of my favourite parts of working on a magazine, it was also the most frustrating because so many submissions didn’t meet the submission guidelines. These days I have more time for writing and submitting my own work to children’s magazines — and I know from experience that editors opening my emails are ridiculously busy. It helps to know some of the questions the editors will be asking when a submission is in front of them. Here are five:

1. Is this appropriate for our audience?

I always read the publisher’s submission guidelines before I submit work. If I’ve submitted manuscripts to them before I make sure to read them again — guidelines can change. At the magazine I lost count of the number of submissions I received that were for younger (or older) readers than the guidelines stated. Other manuscripts were 200 words (or 2000 words) longer than the word limit.

There’s often a long wait between submitting and getting an answer (did I mention that editors are ridiculously busy?) so I don’t waste my time (or the editor’s) by sending work that doesn’t meet guidelines.

2. Is this story trying to hammer home a message?

Editors are always looking for a good story and today’s readers are not after stories with a moral. Children are smart. If there is a natural lesson in the outcome, they will get that. There is no need to hammer home a message. (If a publisher is specifically looking for stories with a moral they will state this in their guidelines.)

3. Is this well-written with no spelling or grammatical errors?

A manuscript is not ready to submit if it is riddled with spelling mistakes and sections that don’t make sense. Even if the plot is brilliant it’s likely that the editor will choose another manuscript that is equally as entertaining but doesn’t require a lot of work before it’s ready for publication.

4. Is this original? Have we published something like this already?

Editors are looking for fresh material and a good story.

 A few years ago Alphabet soup magazine published a well-known fairytale in verse and a few months after that another author submitted their own version of the same fairytale and even though it was beautifully written, we weren’t able to accept it. (Sometimes this is just plain bad luck and out of a writer’s control but it can help to be familiar with the publisher/publication before submitting.)

5. Has this been published elsewhere?

Some magazines will accept material that has been published before, others won’t. I always check the guidelines before submitting.

It’s important to remember that even if you have followed the submission guidelines to the letter, your manuscript may still be rejected. It could have the perfect home elsewhere — check the next set of submission guidelines and send it on. Persistence is vital in the journey to publication!

© Rebecca Newman

Rebecca Newman is the editor of Alphabet Soup's Blog (, and former editor of Alphabet Soup's print magazine. Two of her poems have been accepted by The School Magazine for publication in 2013/2014 and she is currently working on several picture book manuscripts, a collection of poems for children, and a middle grade novel. Rebecca lives in Perth, Western Australia, with her husband and three children. When she is not busy writing she can be found on twitter (@_boobook) or tending to a tiny kitchen garden.

Sunday, 28 July 2013


This book distinguished itself by winning the prestigious Text Prize. On its cover, award-winning authors Fiona Woods and Alice Pung praise it while Books and Publishing called it a ‘stand out novel.’ There’s a lot to like here, especially the writing which is sharp and sometimes poetic and moving. For most of the book, however, I found myself wishing I could, like Zac and Mia, escape the prison they are both in. It’s claustrophobic in more ways than one being a teenager and having cancer, which both suffer from. For the first third of the book it felt claustrophobic being with them in adjoining hospital rooms, obedient Zac counting down the days to when he’s in remission from leukaemia after a bone marrow operation, and angry Mia rebelling against both her mother and a cancer in her ankle and forthcoming amputation. There’s so much about cancer – about white cell counts, about drugs, about survival rates -- I found it as tiresome as Zac and Mia do. Fortunately both characters are released from hospital and while there are constant referrals to the after-math of cancer, there is some ‘normality’ as each of the teenagers returns to ‘normal’ life.
The book’s chapters are narrated – not always in turn – by Zac and Mia. Zac is the most sensible, grounded, and circumspect of the two whereas Mia is for the most part feisty and dissatisfied. After hospitalisation, Zac returns to his family in the WA countryside where they raise olive trees and operate a petting farm. Having not fully completed her treatment and in pain, Mia is on the run with no real destination in mind but a desire to break free of her friendship circle and a mother she believes does not understand her. Inevitably the two are reunited. There is no real romance here, but a meeting of two young people with common suffering and a thin friendship which can – and sometimes -- does shatter when health issues intervene. During these intervals, time passes as each of the teenagers tries as best as he or she can to deal with life.
What I most liked about this book was the writing and the characterisation. Zac and Mia – and their families, especially Zac’s – are sympathetically realised, so much that one comes to care about them and their battle to beat the odds. No doubt a sensitive teenager, particularly a girl, would empathise with both the teenagers. AJ Betts has explored the themes of hope, friendship, dreams and survival in a book that deserves a wide audience.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Writing your book and getting it published is not the end but the beginning of the journey. Now you need to launch it into the world to find as many readers as possible!

Some authors think that marketing and publicity is solely the domain of their publisher but these days authors are expected to carry the heaviest of the publicity load. There really is no-one who knows and loves your book as much as you do, so why not give it the royal treatment it deserves?

Getting your book known should start well before the release date. There is much you can do. First, work out where you can possibly get your book reviewed. There are many websites which review books so check them out and write and ask if you might send a book for review when it is released.

Check out magazines and newspapers that review books and make a note of their postal addresses (and, if possible, their literary editors’ names) so you can send review copies. Ask journalists on your local newspapers if they will run an article about your book (or book launch) closer to release date.

As well, ask bloggers who specialise in blogging about books and/or writing if they would be interested in hosting you for a blog tour. For my latest novel, The Girl in the Basement (Morris Publishing Australia), I had 12 bloggers take my book on; some reviewed it while others interviewed me. When my publisher had a list of the various websites, we displayed the blog tour in as many online and print magazines as we could.  

You can also organise a launch of your book (see my blog

The Australian Society of Authors doesn’t help authors promote their books, except to note the book’s publication in its newsletter. However, this is some publicity so make use of the opportunity if you are a member. Similarly, writers’ centres also publicise member’s new books. You might like to write an article for the writers’ centres which refers to your experience of writing your book, or you can make use of the footnote writer’s bio (see below*) to mention your book.

 If you enjoy teaching you can get work running workshops (for children and/or adults) at your writers’ centre or evening (adult) education centre. Of course your students might want to buy copies of your book!

If you don’t already have one, I’d strongly advise you to get a website, a Facebook and Twitter presence. Create a blog in which you review books and interview authors: Georgie Donaghey runs Creative Kids Tales  and gets 55,000 hits a month – that’s a heck of a lot exposure!

Here is something else which is currently being suggested to authors: is a great website where authors and readers can interact. It's also a really easy way to generate reviews for your title if it hasn't been picked up by a conventional reviewer.

Becoming a Goodreads author is easy: go to for details on how to:

·       Sign up for an account (you should search for yourself first, to see if any of your books have already been mentioned - then you can "claim" them and connect them to your author page);

·       Form a Q&A discussion forum, called a "Featured Author Group" (*415_*1 ) (for a good example, see

·       Create a book giveaway contest ( where you set a prescribed period for people to express interest in receiving a free copy in exchange for a review on Goodreads;

·       Join or form a group for discussions related to your hot topics (See or;

·       Promote your upcoming launches or speaking events (Click "Add an event" or "My events" at;

·       Share book excerpts;

·       Upload a fun quiz about your book or topic (more relevant for children's books);

·       Add the Goodreads Author widget to your blog to link directly to reader reviews of your books.

And if you don't already have a blog, Goodreads will let you write a blog there! So get on Goodreads, and encourage your friends who are already on Goodreads to post reviews of your titles. The more reviews a title gets, the more likely that Goodreads will 'showcase' a title.

Over the years I have gained a lot of publicity by speaking at teacher librarians conferences and festivals, and by writing articles for all kinds of magazines. I’ve also written articles and run interviews (with authors, editors, publishers, etc) for online writers’ magazines, such as Buzz Words Pass It On

Ask writing conference or festival organisers if you can present. It’s just a matter of working out what you want to offer and approaching the organisers with a proposal. It’s possible the answer will be ‘no’, but if you don’t ask, there’s no possibility at all of a positive response, is there?  If your proposal is rejected, ask again next year. Perhaps offer to be on the festival committee; that way they will most definitely know who you are!

Get involved in your local sub-branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) if you write for young people. Visit schools and talk to students. Talk to adult interest groups such as View Club, University of the Third Age (U3A), Lions Club, Variety Club, Women Writers’ group and so on.

There are dozens of ways of promoting one’s books: the list is endless!

*Dianne (Di) Bates is the author of 120+ books, mostly for young readers. Her latest cross-over novel is The Girl in the Basement (Morris Publishing Australia) which you can purchase from

Thursday, 18 July 2013


Crowd-funding is becoming more and more popular among people working in the arts—writers, musicians, artists, film-makers—as a way of raising money for projects. Rather than going to official funding bodies for money, artists worldwide are appealing directly to audiences and readers through crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter, Pozible, Indiegogo, Zoshpit, and more.

In its essence, crowd-funding is not a new concept, especially in literature: the subscription model of past centuries, where investors clubbed together to publish books, is basically similar. You could say in fact that it is thanks to crowdfunding that Shakespeare's plays occupy their central place in our culture for the First Folio was 'crowd-funded' by his friends and associates, not long after his death, because they did not want to see his plays(which till then had been circulating only in pirate editions)to die with him...

Modern crowd-funding has been greatly facilitated by the fact of the internet, of course, which makes it very easy for a wide circle of people to contribute to projects they believe in. Basically how it works is lots of small investors(or several bigger ones) contribute to your nominated project by pledging x amount of money, for which they get y amount of 'perks' which depending on value range anywhere from a simple 'thank you' to copies of the work, merchandise, all kinds of things. Many thousands of people have raised money towards their projects that way. Not only does it raise money, though: it also guarantees you sales, readership, audience, and is a great promotion and publicity tool.

I'm in the middle of a crowd-funding campaign right now, for a project dear to my heart and those of two artist friends, David Allan and Fiona McDonald. Together, we've embarked on an exciting adventure—the creation of our own small picture-book publishing house, Christmas Press(motto: 'picture books to cherish every day'), with the launch title being Two Trickster Tales from Russia. The book comprises two traditional Russian folk-tales (Masha and the Bear; and The Rooster with the Golden Crest) retold by me, illustrated by David in beautiful classic Russian-influenced style, and elegantly designed by Fiona. Two Trickster Tales from Russia is the project for which we're seeking crowd-funding towards printing costs, through the Indiegogo site:
Christmas Press initially began because we were frustrated by the fact that one of the stories from the book, Masha and the Bear, which David and I had presented as a picture-book project to several mainstream (and independent) publishers had been very much praised but regretfully declined as not being commercial enough to fit publishing lists focussed on bigger print runs and school sales. But we were sure that such a classic-feel book would indeed have a market, especially a gift market—people buying it for children and grandchildren, and nostalgic readers as well—and as short run printing is very reasonably priced these days in Australia, we decided to take a gamble and go ahead and publish it ourselves, with another related traditional Russian story added. (Both the texts, by the way, have appeared individually in children's magazines, so I knew they had success with readers themselves.)

But another reason for initiating Christmas Press was more general.  In our opinion there is a niche that isn't being filled at the moment by any Australian publisher: retellings of traditional stories from all over the world, beautifully and classically illustrated, for the whole family to share. Instead of bemoaning that fact, why not be proactive and see if we could fill that niche ourselves?

Crowd-funding our launch title seemed a natural extension of our own small-scale, grassroots approach—going straight to the readers. We researched the process extensively before launching into it, because not every crowd-funding site is the same. Early on, we dismissed the idea of Kickstarter, the most famous of the sites, because you need a US bank account for that; and then it was a question of deciding between two different types of crowd-funding model, the 'fixed' or 'all or nothing' model, which sites such as Pozible and Zoshpit(for musos) work on, where you must reach your nominated funding target to be paid anything at all (people who contribute to such projects get their money refunded if the target isn't met and the project doesn't get up); and 'flexible' funding, which Indiegogo functions on(though it also has a 'fixed funding' option if you want.)

Flexible funding means you get to keep the money raised, even if you don't reach your target, with a small commission taken out by Indiegogo of course—the commission is slightly higher if you don't reach your target than if you do. We chose the Indiegogo flexible funding model because a/we had committed to our project going ahead, regardless, had already started work on it and negotiated with the printer and b/we felt that having contributors from the start who would not have to wear the disappointment of the project not going ahead, was a much better look for a brand new small publisher! What we felt was that even if we didn't reach our target, the funds raised would help very much to defray the costs; the goodwill and excitement generated too was very valuable indeed.

Once we'd decided on the site, we signed up--it's free to do so—and started planning our campaign pitch. This consists of a written pitch introducing your project and what exactly you're seeking support for (in our case, printing and associated costs), as well as images and a pitch video. You don't have to have pitch video, but all the evidence is that campaigns work better where there is one. Some people have very elaborate clips, but we chose to do it simply and cheaply: using images from the book, a simple video-clip creating program (Windows Movie-Maker), a little bit of text introducing us and the book, and some music(originally written by my son for one of my own book trailers). The images speak for themselves!

Then came the devising of the list of the 'perks' to offer contributors, which is directly related to the amount they fund you for. For instance, with ours, a $25 contribution gives you a $25 perk of a signed copy of the book, posted anywhere in Australia(basically a pre-order for the book), whilst a $50 perk consists of a signed copy of the book plus a signed limited-edition print of one of the illustrations; and so it goes on, through different perks, right to a $1,000 biggie with all kinds of things offered—books, prints, merchandise, and a beautiful matrioshka 'nesting' doll, hand-painted by David, featuring characters from the stories.

With a picture-book, of course, the possibilities for perks are endless; not so easy with a novel! Then we had to decide on the length of our campaign—these can run from 30-60 days but Indiegogo recommends 45 days as being the optimum length. We took their advice. We made sure all our social media sites were up and running: there's a Christmas Press Facebook page,  ,ably run by Christmas Press editor and publicist, Beatriz Alvarez (who also doubles as Fiona's daughter!), a Christmas Press Twitter account, and of course a website:

We also had to decide on such 'housekeeping' details as how contributors might pay, such as credit card and/or Paypal, and enter all that information, for the benefit of Indiegogo (it is they act as the broker, collecting funds, and they who will deposit the funds into your nominated bank account, minus commission, at the end of the campaign.)

And then we took a deep breath, hit the Submit button, and the campaign went live!
A third of the time into our campaign, and we've raised nearly a third of our target amount and are delighted by the generous support of our contributors, many of whom are also writers, illustrators and other people in the book industry : it is simply wonderful to experience such warm collegiality. The adventure continues!

© Sophie Masson

The internationally-published, award-winning author of more than 50 books for children, young adults and adults, Sophie Masson is a versatile writer who loves writing in different genres and loves experimenting with new media. Her latest novel is Scarlet in the Snow (Random House Australia 2013) and forthcoming in August is her Romance Diaries: Stella (ABC Books), published under the pen-name of Jenna Austen. Last year Sophie began releasing collections of her short pieces as e-books through her own micro-publisher, Sixteen Press, but her new print enterprise of Christmas Press, in partnership with artists David Allan and Fiona McDonald, is really exciting her at the moment.  Readers can have a look at the crowd-funding campaign, and contribute if they wish, at

Monday, 15 July 2013


Over the past 30 years as an author, I have mentored many new writers, some of whom have gone on to publication; others have lacked the persistence needed and dropped by the wayside. I have never been paid to mentor; I choose those I mentor if I see they are contributing to their industry, for example someone who volunteers with the Children’s Book Council (CBCA) or helps to organise a writers’ festival.

What I have stressed in my article “Getting Past Publishers’ Locked Doors” is that one of your best assets in getting published as a new writer is to get to know other authors. Perhaps one (or more) of them will agree to mentor you, if you ask.

Finding authors is relatively easy. Meet them at writers’ conferences or festivals. Go to writing courses they offer. Read their books – and then write and let them know what you like about their books. Interview them for your blog or a magazine. Review their books. Keep in touch with them.

Don’t think authors don’t want to know you. Some (not many) can be distant, but most are only too happy to meet their readers and to talk about their books and themselves. When I meet a new writer, I am always interested in what they are writing and how they are progressing in their quest to become published. I always ask for their business card – but guess what? Usually the new writer has so little confidence in him/herself that he/she doesn’t have one.

Get a card – have the word ‘writer’ under your name and your contact details. Include your website, if you have one.

The author who ‘adopts’ you can hug you loosely or tightly. That is to say, they might just send you an occasional email to find out how you’re going. Or they might agree to read, edit and/or comment on your work-in-progress – or more.

When I mentor a new writer, I try to give them contacts, such as other authors who live close by or the name of their local CBCA sub-branch. Or tell them about a festival they ought to attend, or a competition which they might like to enter. I certainly give them lots of valuable advice. In some cases I do read, edit and comment on their manuscripts. Often I will suggest a publisher to whom I think their completed manuscript ought to be sent. A few times I have facilitated a meeting between the new writer and a publisher, and a couple of times I’ve written an email or letter of recommendation. Only this week I talked a new writer through how to create a series proposal for a publisher.

Mentorships, though, should be two-sided. Quite a few of those writers I’ve mentored have gone on to publication and I’ve never heard of them afterwards (sad but true). However, some (and of course these are the ones I especially value) have helped me along the line.

Take Georgie Donaghey, for example: Georgie runs a brilliant website for new children’s writers called Creative Kids Tales (which gets 57,000+ hits a month). Georgie has reviewed several of my books on her site and interviewed me when my novel, The Girl in the Basement (Morris Publishing Australia) was released in June 2013. Not only that, but she has kindly showed me how to raise my author profile through social media. All of this makes me want to give more to her than she might otherwise expect. My aim for Georgie is to see her through to publication and then help celebrate her first book! After that, she ought to be applying for a Literature Board grant...

Another writer (now with her own book series) sent me a gift card for a bookshop as a thank you; another undertook some research for me; another took me out to lunch; another gave me a gift of flowers. A few writers have offered to read my work in progress and/or bought my latest book. All appreciated, I can tell you!

If an author offers to mentor you, do remember that he/she, however well-published or even famous, is a person just like you who appreciates thoughtfulness, so think about how you might repay him/her. That might just mean buying the author’s book and sending comments about how much you enjoy it!

Friday, 12 July 2013


Exclusivity or multiple submission?

Re submissions: I used to observe the one publisher at a time "rule" but most publishers these days take months and months to respond to unsolicited manuscripts, even from writers in their "stables". For this reason, it has become necessary nowadays for writers to devise different submission strategies. Depending on the manuscript, and the publisher, this is my approach:

1. If the manuscript is likely to be awkward to place, (because there are only a few publishers for that genre), I submit to one publisher at a time, expressing an exclusivity period - that is, "You have exclusive rights to assess this manuscript for the next eight weeks, until 3 December, 2013, after which time I will submit it elsewhere if you have not expressed interest"

 If the publisher has not responded by the date specified, then I phone (or email) them two or three days after the date and remind them their exclusive period has expired. Generally they have a reply for you. If not, then politely let them know that you are now submitting elsewhere.

 2. If I think the manuscript will be taken because it is "right" for the market in general, I submit simultaneously to up to 10 publishers, but advise each of them that it is a multiple submission. Some publishers - and Penguin is one - do not like this method. One such publisher held one of my submissions for nine months and when I rang to enquire, the commissioning editor replied, "Oh, I forgot to let you know that we're not interested".  Now, with that particular publisher, I offer a short (4-6 week) exclusivity period.

Re multiple submissions, if there are more than one publisher who want to contract, this is cause for celebration, and thus one can "auction" the work to the publisher offering the best contractual deal.

3. With regards to non-fiction, I never write the book then seek the publisher. What I do instead is to create a publishing proposal which supplies the reasons why the book (or series) will make lots of money. Publishers exist to make money, and books are their product, so if you can shine the light on their potential profits, they are sure to be interested. Generally I submit proposals to 2-3 publishers at a time (basically because I don't want too many to know about my new book concept.)

Manuscript submission

The manuscript “musts”

As a manuscript assessor, I have been surprised by the high number of writers who send manuscripts to me without observing many of the submission “musts”. First, all manuscript pages should be numbered. The manuscript itself should be typed in double-space with paragraphs indented (not left-aligned). All manuscripts should be prefaced with a title page. This page requires the following information: story title, number of words, author’s name (including © sign), the authors contact details, including postal address, phone number and email. If you have a website, include this as well.

The cover letter

Your manuscript should be accompanied by a cover letter. This should be a simple introduction to the editor explaining what you are enclosing. If you have previously published, give brief details of what, where and when. (I include a separate sheet listing my 80+ book titles and publishing information.) If your work requires specialist information which you have, then disclose this (for example, you were a jockey and have written a book on horse racing.)

The stamped addressed envelope

It is generally understood that the writer should enclose a stamped, self-address envelope for reply. As postage is expensive, however, I ask the publisher not to return the manuscript; instead, I enclose a ssae (with required, minimum postage) so the publisher can respond. I also suggest that the publisher might like to email or phone his or her acceptance or rejection of my work. Generally, I’ve found that publishers accepting my work prefer to phone me, while the ssae usually includes a “no thank you” response.

 The publisher’s response

You should never expect a publisher to tell you why your work is being rejected: that is not his job. If a publisher does go to the trouble of expressing some interest, or in commenting on your work, then you can be reasonably certain that there is some interest in it. You can either ignore the comments or submit elsewhere, or you can respond to the comments by re-writing and re-submitting. When you re-submit, address your envelope and letter to the editor whose comments you received and remind her that you have taken her comments on board and are re-submitting.

By the way, if you want comments on your work, pay for a professional manuscript assessment.

The précis

Sometimes publishers ask for a précis of the submitted novel. A précis is really an abbreviated version of what your book is about. For some reason, many writers found it really difficult to write. The main thing is to keep your precise short and simple. Never write more than a page or two. Write it as though you are telling a friend what your book is generally about. You don’t need to go into details: tell who your main character is, what motivates him, why he can’t get what he wants or needs, how he acts in order to overcome the obstacle, and whether or not he succeeds.

Manuscript rejection

It will help you if you know that every writer – even the most famous – has had his or her work rejected at some time. For reasons which you have no control over, you can have written a simply brilliant novel and still have it rejected. You may have sent it to the wrong publishing house, it may have been returned unread, the reader might be incompetent, the publisher may be over-extended and unable to accept more manuscripts, and so on.

  • Did you target the wrong market?
  • Did you submit a story that is the wrong length?
  • Does your story need further polishing?
  • Does the plot need work?
  • Do the characters need work?
  • Do you need to contact (or start) a writing group to help you work out what you might be doing wrong?
  • Do you need feedback from a critique service?
As a writer, your work is going to meet with rejection - from editors, agents, and sometimes from critics who pen negative reviews. You are going to hear things you don't like from those offering critiques. You are going to get a 'no' when you send in samples of your writing in order to secure a grant or a writer's residency. Rejection is going to teach you; it might even challenge your desire to continue to write. You might have to ask yourself if you have the resilience to bounce back after rejection - or if you would be happier with another hobby or job. Is your desire to write strong enough to withstand rejection? Are you willing to put in the time necessary to polish your craft and market your work?

At one time in my writing career, I had 47 consecutive rejections of submitted manuscripts. That same year, however, I had seven acceptances! And remember, I have now had over 110 books published, so I must be doing something right (yes, Di – it’s called persevering.)

Di's latest book is The Girl in the Basement (Morris Publishing Australia) available at Amazon

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


During my 30+ years as a published writer of 120+ books, I have worked with many publishers – trade and educational, such as Penguin Books, Random House, HarperCollins, Allen & Unwin, Rigby, Pearson, et al, but along the way have been some small publishing houses which have taken on my manuscripts. In many ways I have found small publishers far more proactive and a joy to work with, particularly in the area of marketing.

The first small publisher which accepted one of my manuscripts was Kangaroo Press, run here in Australia by a husband and wife team, David and Cilla Rosenberg. At the time they accepted my (third) manuscript, The Belligrumble Bigfoot, I had only dealt with one international publisher. What I found, though, was that the Rosenbergs were more hands-on in dealing with me than major companies.

Mostly I communicated with Cilla; she was always available on the phone when I rang, whereas with my first publishing house it was usually difficult to make contact with my editor. Cilla was impressive insofar as nothing was too much trouble for her and she attended to matters I raised almost immediately. (This was pre-computer days, so contact was only via phone or mail.) Over the years I could count on my royalty statements and cheques arriving promptly from Kangaroo Press, whereas there were always delays with the first, major publisher, and often their statements were inaccurate. Recently an author friend told me that Kangaroo Press is still distributing a children’s non-fiction book of hers 22 years after it was first published!

More recently I have returned to working with small publishers: Ford Street (publisher, Paul Collins), Celapene Press (Kathryn Duncan) and Morris Publishing Australia (Elaine Ouston). All have been simply splendid to work with. All responded to manuscript submissions more swiftly than major publishers which take months (and sometimes literally years). In each case I have felt a valued member of their publishing house. I’ve been consulted about book cover designs, and my opinions taken into consideration. All have entered my books into literary competitions and so far there has been success: Crossing the Line was short-listed in the NSW Premier’s Awards; Nobody’s Boy won a CBCA Notable award. The Girl in the Basement was released in June 2013 so it is too early to tell.

With all of the books I’ve worked alongside the publishers in publicising and marketing. The very proactive Paul Collins, for example, has a speakers’ agency, through which I have been employed in numerous schools, including a week as writer-in-resident at a central NSW school. As well, I presented for Paul at a Melbourne writers’ conference, talking about Crossing the Line. I’ve also joined Paul’s Creative Net speakers for a day-long writing workshop in a NSW school.

Working as a team, Paul and I spent weeks sending out a huge amount of promotional material. This also included numerous articles I’d written which were published online and in hard copy magazines. As well, I undertook interviews on radio, in newspapers and in many magazines. Paul and I also sent thousands of emails to individuals and organisations on our respective databases. As a consequence, Crossing the Line has sold well, received many (favourable) reviews and, thanks to Paul, sold to Australian Standing Orders (a book club) and to a German publisher for translation. Something else that Paul did that none of my dozens of publishers have ever done, was to create a u-tube with a young actor speaking in the role of the book’s protagonist about a scene from the story.

More recently, the publisher of my cross-over novel, The Girl in the Basement, Elaine Ouston, has made good use of her 27 years in marketing. Like Paul and Kathryn (Celapene Press), she has sent out many press releases and copies for review. She has made great use of social media to promote my new title, and I am working hard in this area; with little expertise in the area, I am employing a computer guru and employing blogs, facebook entries , LinkedIn and twitters to publicise the book’s release. Once again, I am writing articles about the creation of The Girl in the Basement, and Elaine has organised a blog tour on 12 sites to happen in July 2013.

Elaine also has a background in graphic design; she kindly designed and sent me a number of full colour flyers including an invitation to the book launch and an advanced information sheet (which lists where to obtain the book), flyers and envelopes for students when I give free talks in schools about the book. In September Elaine is also flying me to Brisbane where she will have book events organise for me, including signings in stores.

Like Paul and Elaine, Kathryn has a one-person publishing house, but which she juggles with a family; she also runs an annual children’s writing competition in memory of her daughter, Charlotte. Every time I heard of a literary competition I thought Nobody’s Boy had a chance with, Kathryn immediately sent off a copy. She has always been available and continues to promote my junior verse novel at every opportunity. After the book won a CBCA Notable award, there was a huge spike in sales and I’m well pleased that Kathryn was able to re-print the book. Both Kathryn and Paul have provided Teachers’ Notes for those books of mine that they’ve published; at the moment I’m writing notes for Elaine.

I hold Paul, Elaine and Kathryn in high regard and am always thankful to them for all the hard work they’ve put in to promoting my respective titles. To learn more about these three marvellous publishers and their publishing houses, check out

Morris Publishing Australia

(Better still, support them with book sales from their sites!)



Saturday, 6 July 2013

Kids' Book Review: Blog Tour - Review: The Girl in the Basement

Kids' Book Review: Blog Tour - Review: The Girl in the Basement


Below is a list of 44 Australian picture book publishers. Note that the highlighted publishers are the bigger publishers.
If you want full contact details for all of these publishers, please send a cheque for $20 to Di Bates, PO Box 2116, Woonona East NSW 2517. Or pay to Di's online account:

Account name: WS Condon & DN Bates
BSB: 814 282
Account number: 42 18 18 13
Bank: Credit Union of Australia

Please advise when you have a receipt number and provide your email or postal address.

Di also offers an online course for picture book writers. The cost is $75 which includes a module with numerous exercises including an assignment which is send to Di. The assignment is edited and a full report written on it. For more details, write to  Please note that a number of Di's former students have gone on to have children's books published.
A&A Publishing

·      ABC Children’s Books/HarperCollins

·      Allen& Unwin

Black Dog Books

Benchmark publications

Blake Publishing

Boolarong Press

Brolly Books

Celapene Press

East Street Publishers

Era Publications

Five Mile Press

Ford Street

·      Freemantle Arts Centre Press


Hachette Livre (Lothian)

·      HarperCollins

Hippo Books (subsidy publishing)

Hootenanny Press

IAD Press

Interactive Press

Jane Curry Publishing

Jo-Jo Books

·      Koala Books

·      Little Hare Books


Magabala Books

·      New Frontier

New Holland

·      Omnibus Books

One Day Hill

Parragon Publishing

Parsons Publishing

Peppinot Press

·      Penguin Books

·      Random House

·      Scholastic Australia

Simon& Schuster

St Paul’s Publications

University Queensland Press

·      Walker Books

·      Windy Hollow Books

Wombat Books

Working Title Press