Snapshot 2014: Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing)

Paul CollinsEMPaul Collins has written many books, mostly for younger readers. He is best known for his fantasy and science fiction titles: The Jelindel Chronicles and The Quentaris Chronicles (co-edited with Michael Pryor). Paul has edited many anthologies which include Trust Me!Metaworlds and Australia’s first fantasy anthology, Dream Weavers. He also edited The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian SF&F.

Paul has been short-listed for many awards and has won the Inaugural Peter McNamara and the A Bertram Chandler awards, both of which were for lifetime achievement in science fiction, and the Aurealis and William Atheling awards. His current adult horror novel, The Beckoning, is available from http://tinyurl.com/ny6urwy.

Other than his writing, Paul is the publisher at Ford Street Publishing, publishing everything from picture books through to young adult literature, and he manages Creative Net, a speakers’ agency.

Paul’s websites are: www.paulcollins.com.auwww.fordstreetpublishing.com and www.fordstreetpublishing.com/cnet

The Beckoning _Draft1. I’ve noticed some fantastic picture books from Ford Street in the past couple of years – what do you find are the challenges and opportunities in producing picture books as opposed to novels for the press?

The first step is choosing them. It’s so much harder than selecting novels. With novels you can soon tell whether the writing is good, bad, medium, or whether it’s salvageable with good editing. Picture books have few words, so it’s more the concept a publisher looks at —  certainly more so than the writing, in my opinion. There’s no room for telling not showing. Every line must contribute to the overall book. Text must work in conjunction with the illustrations, too. So for example, there’s no point in saying, Sally was wearing a green dress, because the illustration will show this. Another challenge is changing the text once the illustrations come in — sometimes the illos replace the text. Another focus for me is multi-layered plots. Metaphors are great in picture books — the teachers’ notes can alert librarians/teachers to deeper meanings behind what seems an easily read picture book. Having said all that, our picture book sales far outweigh our novels.

2. Ford Street is producing around ten titles per year at the moment – how do you decide which books to take a chance on?

First of all, for me, it’s the writing. And then the plot. A great writer can get away with a lot — a poor writer with a great plot can’t. It also seems to me that straight out SF/fantasy doesn’t sell as well as contemporary novels. Fantasy is fine if you have a marketing department to get behind that genre, but without that extra push it appears Ford Street’s genre fiction is lagging behind. I also take note of authors who are good self-promoters. If you have someone who can’t public speak, for example, they won’t be good ambassadors for their books. I once had a fear of public speaking, so went to Toastmasters for two years to overcome it. Appearing there at first was quite traumatic, but I knew I had to get over that lack of confidence were I to promote my books as publishers expected me to.

3. On a personal note, your Maximus Black series   wound up last year – what’s next on your writing horizon?

TOASTINATOR COVERMacmillan NZ just published my latest book, The Toastinator. I also have a couple of chapter books from Macmillan Aust in the Lucy Lee series. That will bring that six-part series to its conclusion. I also had an old horror novel of mine publisher by Damnation Books US. The Beckoning actually crept up on Stephen King’s latest novel —just six spots behind him on the Top 10 occult list. I do have a Jelindel novella sitting here, but I’m not sure what to do with it. It could be published as a sampler to The Jelindel Chronicles, or it could be part of a short story collection, an addition to the quartet.

As for what next, I’m not sure. The publishing, speakers agency event managing have all taken their toll on my time. Since February I’ve been renovating a warehouse/office, too. So once I’m in there I will have slightly more time to ponder writerly stuff. Satalyte Publishing is releasing a book I compiled 30+ years ago, though. It contains perhaps A Bertram Chandler’s last piece of unpublished writing. I approached him and many others to write an episodic novel called The Morgan Pattern. It’s a humorous novel for adults, now around 90,000 words. Many of Australia’s biggest names from the 80s are in it, including Jack Wodhams, Wynne Whiteford and David Lake. Later contributors include Sean McMullen, Russell Blackford and Patricia Bernard. So that will be my next “book”, although I only have a chapter in it.

4. Last time we chatted for Snapshot, you told me almost all your reading was for Ford Street – have you had a chance to read any other Australian works recently?

None at all, if I’m to be honest. As you know, I juggle many balls, and as it is these past few months I’ve dropped a few. I daresay if I took time out to read I’d drop many more.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing in five years from now?

The main changes are of course the e-book/POD phenomenon. I haven’t gone down the print-on-demand route as yet, and certainly won’t contemplate it unless I lose mass distribution. Right now I have Macmillan Distribution Services and INT Books. I can still comfortably print 1200 copies of every book I publish, and gradually see all of them sell. As Ford Street’s brand name gets better known, I’ve seen sales climbing gradually. I’m guessing that I’ll be pretty much sure that my publishing MO won’t change during the next five years. With luck, if sales keep climbing, I’ll be able to employ staff. I think this is the next step I need to take.

SnaphotLogo2014This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

http://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://fablecroft.com.au/tag/2014snapshot

http://helenstubbs.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://jasonnahrung.com/tag/2014snapshot/

http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://mayakitten.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://stephaniegunn.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://ventureadlaxre.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/

 

Snapshot 2014: Wolfgang Bylsma (Gestalt Publishing)

Wolfgang serves as Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director for Australia’s leading independent graphic novel publishing house, Gestalt.

He has a passion for encouraging creative endeavours with both individuals and communities. 

Wolf has also acted as an industry mentor through the Australian Society of Authors and served as consulting editor for two other graphic novel publishing endeavours.

The-Deep-V2-Here-Be-Dragons--470x7201. The Deep series by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer has been very well received – what can you tell us about the success of this series, and how far do you think it will go?

The Deep has been one of our strongest titles in terms of both critical and popular acclaim. It has certainly helped raised Gestalt’s profile overall, and opened up the all-ages market to us whereas we had previously been specialising in titles for mature readers (15+).  There’s a great sense of adventure in The Deep, and something of a purity that goes with that.  These are stories about the kind of family we WANT to have ourselves – where each member is accepted and respected as an individual, and yet can come together to overcome the peril they are faced with.  Last year I took The Deep to the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore and the Li’l Lit Festin Manila, and they received great interest. Being inclusive of the world we live in and developing characters that go beyond the traditional ‘caucasian hero’ narratives has also helped The Deep find a wider audience.

I’m also immensely excited about the animated television series that is in production, especially having negotiated securing key roles for both Tom Taylor and James Brouwer on the series, in an effort to ensure the integrity of the storytelling and the ethos behind it remains intact in the translation from print to screen.

My greatest hope is for The Deep to achieve a mass-market audience, whether from the TV series or from some other activities we have in the works, it’s one of the titles that I’m most proud of having been involved with.

2. Since you started Gestalt Publishing in 2005, you have published some of the biggest graphic artists and writers Australia has to offer – you clearly have your finger on the pulse of the industry, and I’d love to hear about how you carved out this position for Gestalt?

Our approach with Gestalt was always to help foster new talent that we saw as being worthy of greater recognition, and whilst we have battled immensely limited resources at every step in order to accomplish this, it’s a wonderful feeling to have been involved with some of these creators.

It’s always been about being open to talent, and to find new ways to support writers and artist whose work resonates with us personally, as well as artistically.  As we fund the majority of our work from our day job income, we are essentially publishing the kinds of books that WE want to read but find lacking in the market place.

Beyond that, though, there are a great many creators in Australia that we would LOVE to work with, but just don’t have the resources to approach. As much as we strive to help bolster the idea of there being a graphic novel industry in Australia, there is still some way to go before we have a plethora of creators working full-time on their projects and surviving financially from doing so. I remain hopeful for the future, however.

3. You and Gestalt have been the subject of a documentary, Comic Book Heroes (aired on the ABC in August 2013, and recently won four WA Screen Awards!), which doesn’t happen everyday! What was that experience like, and has it affected the way Gestalt has operated?

CBH-WASA-WEBThe Comic Book Heroes documentary filming process really involved a love/hate relationship with the director, Nick Dunlop. There was a great deal of trepidation at first and some of our creators continued that concern throughout the process, unsure of how much to trust the camera and the story that was going to be told.

Throughout the process, though – it became apparent that Nick was, in essence, one of us – in that he had to employ similar tactics to raise funding to create the documentary (before getting a producer or broadcaster attached) and I think a certain sympatico developed out of this.

I still have some issues with the version of the documentary that went to air – in that some elements were presented that could easily be misread or misconstrued – but overall, I think it was a relatively accurate portrayal of SOME of the stress that we find ourselves under.

One of the great outcomes from the broadcast of Comic Book Heroes has been the outpouring of support for what we’re doing.  We were inundated with messages of support from people around the country, and I’ve had people come to the Gestalt booth when we’re exhibiting at conventions around Australia wanting to let us know how much they appreciate what we’re striving to achieve.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

It’s an unfortunate by-product of running Gestalt alongside the day job and raising a young family that I have little time to read much of anything these days, other than the books I’m editing.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing in five years from now?

The way we work has certainly been impacted by the shift in publishing, especially in relation to the digital domain offering additional opportunities to the traditional market.

To that end, we’ve been developing more titles than previously – with the specific focus being to offer them as digital titles first and foremost before potentially producing them as print. For some of the longer works we have in development, we’ve been releasing individual chapters as digital issues in order to create more exposure, interest, a trickle of revenue and a level of pre-awareness for titles ahead of their print runs.

As for what we’ll be publishing five years from now, I’m reluctant to guess! Our approach to story will remain the same, but who knows what changes to the market may mean for digital and/or traditional publishing. The one thing that we’ll continue striving to do, however, is to offer our stories in whatever format people want to read them in.

SnaphotLogo2014This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

http://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://fablecroft.com.au/tag/2014snapshot

http://helenstubbs.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://jasonnahrung.com/tag/2014snapshot/

http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://mayakitten.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://stephaniegunn.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://ventureadlaxre.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/

Snapshot 2014: Sue Wright (Tiny Owl Workshop)

image (2)
The Lane of Unusual Traders artwork by Simon Cottee

Tiny Owl Workshop is a very small publisher based in Brisbane. Sue Wright is the Tiny Owl go to person. She has too many teapots, too many books, and a mild obsession with pop surrealist art and doodling.

1. Tiny Owl Workshop is a fairly new operation. What made you decide to start your own publishing house?

I’d been thinking about it for a while. I’ve always loved stories, comics and books, they’ve been such a positive in my life, so when the circumstances were right I just plunged in. It’s been such a great creative release, bringing projects to life and curating collections of stories, and I hope to keep going.

2. The newest project for Tiny Owl is The Lane of Unusual Traders, an online shared world environment. Where did the idea for The Lane come from, and where do you hope to take it?

The idea for LoUTs was prompted a while back when Terry Pratchett invited his readers to name some of the places that might be found in The Shades, a particularly sinister part of Ankh-Morpork: the main city in his Discworld series. It was a short leap from there to the idea of a lane and a world slowly brought to life by many writers rather than one (though quite a fabulous one). We hope to take LoUTS as far as possible, but how far it goes really depends on the stories submitted, how well we can weave stories together and how writers, artists and readers engage with the idea and help it grow.

Publishing wise it means books (physical as well as digital), small comics (starting with one pagers), maybe inviting others to curate a small collection of stories related to a Story Lot or event, and games, toys and whatever else may emerge in time. Tiny Owl has also kept LoUTs Story Lot 1 to play with. We’ve made it an inn (recently named The Jolly Strangler by twitterer @Greybeard3). We’ll develop the story of The Jolly Strangler and hope to invite artists to hold exhibitions there, maybe have a writer in residence there. Recently, we’ve been chatting to Matt Hsu, from Brisbane band The Mouldy Lovers, to see if the Mouldies would be interested in being the first band to play at The Jolly Strangler. I don’t know how that will work yet, but it will. While the LoUTs prologue lends itself easily to fantasy-based stories we’re also hoping that a bunch of ‘real world’ stories emerge. It’d be interesting to see The Lane of Unusual Traders split into two parallel worlds that bump up against each other every now. The Lane has seen its first fan-fiction piece and the writer really gets how this could happen.

image (3)
The Lane of Unusual Traders artwork by Lauren Carney

3. Could you tell us about some of the other projects you have coming up?

Krampus Crackers is the next project. It’s a flash fiction project being led by Kahli Scott, a young writer who we published as part of the Pillow Fight project in 2013. Kahli’s pretty great, she won the State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award in 2013 and was recently shortlisted for Hotkey Books Young Writers Prize AND is a submission reader for Aurealis Magazine, on top of working full time and living life. The project opens on 25 July and Kahli will be seeking 12 flash fiction stories inspired by Krampus—a fairly demonic character who was BFFLs with jolly St Nick once upon a time. There’ll be fabulous art too, from Simon Cottee, Seana Seeto, Terry Whidborne and more.

Noveltinis will be happening in 2015. Writer Patrick Ness was tweeting about nothing in particular one day—he sometimes just tweets about stuff he’s watching on TV—and he made up the word noveltini. I asked if Tiny Owl could use it, he said yes if we mentioned him, so Noveltini’s will be the name for the novellas we’re planning to publish next year. Artist and writer Kathleen Jennings is also working on a series of fairytale inspired illustrations for a small book that’ll come together in 2015—it may contain hounds. Of course LoUTs will still be happening and we’ll be launching the Unfettered collection and our children’s picture book ‘Will You Be My Sweetheart’ in November this year. We’re also still working with Terry Whidborne on a Fallen Art project and talking to local lovelies the Binky Collective about another found art project happening in 2015.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I’m reading more ‘literary’ journals to check out emerging writers and immerse myself a little more in Australian writing. My older brother, Stephen, also writes for Overland Journal, so I always read Overland. Book-wise I’ve loved reading Robert Hoge’s Ugly, it’s such a warm, personal, real tale. Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows is just beautifully written and I’m looking forward to picking up a copy of When the Night Comes which comes out in August. Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer is stunning, visually beautiful and he uses words so sparingly. Tan is a favourite, and Eric is one of those books I carry around with me from time-to-time just for inspiration. Catherine Jinks’ City of Orphans books worked their way to the top of the ‘unread book tower’ recently, so I’ve also just finished reading the enjoyable boggart infested A Very Unusual Pursuit and A Very Peculiar Plague. Boggart catcher Alfred Bunce is a character Dickens would love.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing in five years from now?

Being so new, yes, definitely. Because we are so small (barely 1.5 people) and don’t quite have media- mogul-sized resources behind us, we have to work differently. It’s no bad thing though. The aim is to build community as we go, keep ourselves open to the opportunities technologies offer, keep connecting local writers and artists to global audiences, and make sure we bring writing, craft and art together to create unique work. What we’ll be publishing 5 years from now depends how the industry develops, what opportunities open up, and whether we’ve earned any money to plough back into other projects. I’ll shimmy out onto this here whippet thin limb and say that in five years the Amazon centralised model will be challenged by the massive growth of initiatives like maker centres and a rebirth of localised manufacturing helped along by changes in printing technology. 3D printing will help transform physical books into amazing tactile works that can be made to order locally and immersive technologies will bring books, games and movies even closer together. So I guess Tiny Owl will be producing amazing tactile books, and, in our magic-happy-dreamland, Weta Workshop will be building the film set for The Lane of Unusual Traders. SnaphotLogo2014

This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

http://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://fablecroft.com.au/tag/2014snapshot

http://helenstubbs.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://jasonnahrung.com/tag/2014snapshot/

http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://mayakitten.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://stephaniegunn.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://ventureadlaxre.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/

Snapshot 2014: Keith Stevenson (coeur de lion)

Keith_Stevenson_ConfluxKeith Stevenson is a speculative fiction writer, editor, reviewer, publisher and podcaster. In 2014 he launched Dimension6 magazine and began reviewing speculative fiction for the Newtown Review of Books. His new science fiction novel Horizon will be published by Harper Impulse in early December.

1. The latest coeur de lion project is Dimension6, an online periodical publication. What made you pursue this publication model, and how is it going?

A lot of thoughts and ideas about my work to date with coeur de lion made Dimension6 inevitable really.

Firstly, just to explain for those who haven’t heard of it, Dimension6 is a free electronic magazine in epub and mobi format that is published by coeur de lion three times a year. Each issue features three pieces of original fiction, and each author also has space to talk about their story, spruik their other works and add links to their blog, twitter feed, facebook page etc. etc. We carry advertising but we don’t charge for that, preferring to trade ads with other sites and publications. The stories are published DRM free and are distributed under a Creative Commons licence which means anyone is free to take the file, copy it and distribute it to whoever they want as long as they don’t change the content, claim it as their own or charge for it. For that reason D6 is also distributed through a range of affiliate sites including sites run by spec fic readers, other publishers, and spec fic authors.

So, why is D6 set up this way? The last few projects I’ve worked on for coeur de lion took a couple of years each, which is a long time in anyone’s book. I wanted to work on something with a fast turnaround (and get some instant gratification 🙂 ). The production schedule for D6 is a slim twelve weeks from initial edit to distribution.

The other thing I’ve found is just how hard it is to sell books and ebooks, particularly when you’re competing with thousands of other titles published each month. Removing the paywall, means there’s no barrier between the reader’s impulse to consume D6 and their decision to acquire it. It makes the whole transaction that much simpler. As I’ve said elsewhere, Cory Doctorow has no qualms about giving stuff away, and it can be beneficial to an author to do so because it’s means they are more likely to get read – which is kind of the whole idea in this writing lark – and the ‘gift’ of the work makes the reader more predisposed towards the author, for example to have a look at what else they’ve produced and maybe even buy some of their other stuff. D6 is a marketing tool for the authors that appear in it and for coeur de lion as a whole. We’re earning karma points with the great reading public.

The other element to being free is that we are not in competition with anyone else for the limited reading dollar that a particular customer has. This fosters business to business cooperation which makes it easier for D6 to appear on other websites, for example, another speculative fiction publisher.

The final thing that I like about going electronic is that, unlike the print medium, those D6 stories will never go out of print. They’ll always be immediately accessible. That’s why I did the Terra Incognita podcast (www.tisf.com.au) and it’s why I do D6.

So the whole model really supports what has always been our key aim at coeur de lion: to bring great Australian speculative fiction writing to as wide an audience as possible.

In terms of how it’s going, we’ve had some very positive feedback. We have a mailchimp list with with seventy-two subscribers (and you can join it herehttp://eepurl.com/AIKWv) and the first two issues have been downloaded over three hundred times (not counting downloads from our affiliate sites). And our next issue out in October 3 features new work by Robert Hood, Cat Sparks and Steve Cameron.

Oh, and you can download Dimension6 here http://ow.ly/uJGJK.

2. You published coeur de lion’s first original novel in 2012, Adam Browne’s very well-reviewed debut Pyrotechnicon. What did you find were the main differences in producing a novel as opposed to an anthology or collection, which you’ve done in the past?

I think the key difference is that – as a publisher – I’m working with one person instead of thirty. The author has far more ownership than say someone who’s written a fifteen page story in a four hundred page book. And a debut novel is a huge thing for an author as well. There’s a lot riding on it. So the dynamic was very different and there was far more negotiation and discussion between us, not just about the words on the page, but about the look of the book, the physicality of it as an object. Adam is a good friend and has been for many years, but he’d agree that for both of us there were a few times when we found the process personally challenging, when we had different ideas about things. That meant we both had to work really hard to find solutions. And I think we both feel we achieved something really special in the final analysis. It’s a beautiful story with real heart, amazing invention and great action, and the layout, the illustrations and the cover really make it something you want to pick up, touch and open.

D6cover2cdl3. You’re working on Dimension6 as an ongoing project, but is there anything else on the horizon for coeur de lion (or Keith Stevenson) that you can tell us about?

Well for coeur de lion, we’ll concentrate on D6 for a while to really consolidate it and see what else turns up. And for any authors out there our next reading period opens on 1 November. More details at www.coeurdelion.com.au.

For myself I’m feeling more than a little blown away that HarperCollins have bought my science fiction novel Horizon which will be published in early December through their digital-first imprint Impulse. Horizon combines space exploration with murder, betrayal, political intrigue and a lot of cool science all played out in the cramped confines of a starship 70 light years from Earth. You can find out more about Horizon on my blog at http://keithstevensonwriter.blogspot.com.au/

The other thing I’ve been busy with is a business I run with my partner, freelance editor Nicola O’Shea. Ebookedit provides a full range of professional editing and ebook and print book file conversion and layout services to indie authors. We’ve been up and running for six months now and really enjoying working with some amazing writers. Our website is at www.ebookedit.com.au.

Apart from all that, I’m still plugging away at my three book space opera The Lenticular Series, and reviewing books for the Newtown Review of Books (http://newtownreviewofbooks.com/). So I’m no slouch at the moment!

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I think we’re experiencing another wave of fantastic Australian talent right now. There are some great writers out there and I’ve really enjoyed Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky, Marianne De Pierres’ Peacemaker, and Andrew Macrae’s Trucksong. And Max Barry’s Lexicon is so good I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m also enjoying Alan Baxter’s Bound right now and looking forward to reading Ben Peek’s Godless. Really, we’re spoiled for choice here. On the non-Australian side, other books I’ve loved lately include Christopher Priest’s The Adjacent, which is delightfully baffling, Paul McAuley’s The Quiet War series and Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing in five years from now?

It’s all about digital now, and for an independent publisher that has just made things so much easier for me and a lot more cost effective than the bad old days of having boxes of books in the basement that I hope I can sell, or posting bulky bags of books to customers. It’s been a real boon, but with more and more content being published as a result of all this freedom, discoverability is becoming more and more difficult. So you have to take the good with the bad. But I’m hopeful that quality will always win out in the end.

Five years from now I’d like to still be doing D6!

SnaphotLogo2014This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

http://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

Snapshot 2014: Mark Harding

602848_10151419262490941_581226322_n (1)Mark has worked in books and publishing for several years, starting out as a bookseller with Shearer’s Bookshop before making the move to publishing. He’s helped run the When Genres Attack literary events that take place in Sydney, and also writes about Stephen King at The Night Shift: http://thenightshiftblog.wordpress.com/ You can follow him on Twitter at @ml_harding

  1. You have been working with Momentum as Digital Marketing Executive for over two and a half years, and with the company, have been working on ways to build communities around publishing – why do you think this is so important?

Momentum publishes a lot of genre fiction, and when a genre community embraces a work it can make a huge difference to that title’s success. Genre readers are also voracious, and will devour content quickly – it’s therefore important to be in that community indicating where readers can find more. It’s also rare for publishers to instil brand loyalty. Readers are loyal to authors, but often have no idea who publishes them, aside from a handful of community-focused imprints like Tor. Part of what we’ve tried to do with Momentum is build a community around us in addition to our authors.

  1. What has been the most interesting experience you have had working for Momentum?

I’ve been fortunate to have quite a few things to choose from with this question. I’d have to say that it was seeing the Kylie Scott juggernaut take off. Kylie’s book Lick became an Amazon top 20 bestseller and led to her being offered a 4-book deal with Macmillan. While Lick is a new adult rock star romance, Kylie built herself first with the books Flesh and Skin, erotic romance novels set after a zombie apocalypse. The hook (it’s a zom-rom) was so unique that we were all very curious as to how audiences would respond. And the community loved it. It was very satisfying to be able to help someone go from aspiring writer to full-time author.

  1. You are leaving publishing this month and heading into a different direction altogether. Can you tell us why you’ve made this move?

I’ve had a passion for social media for many years now and I was recently offered an exciting opportunity to manage social for a company outside the publishing industry. It was a tough choice. I’ll miss publishing, but I’ll continue to be a big supporter of the local industry as a fan and customer.

  1. What Australian works have you loved recently?

The Last City and The Forgotten City by Nina D’Aleo are amazing. READ NINA D’ALEO’S BOOKS, I cannot stress this enough. These novels are wonderful works of speculative fiction from a massively talented author. She has a big future ahead of her, so it would be best to read these books ASAP so you can brag about how you knew all about her before she won a Hugo award.

Fury by Charlotte McConaghy is also a brilliant novel that’s set in a really interesting dystopia where an oppressive regime has ‘cured’ the population of negative emotions. That concept is an awesome hook, and Charlotte has structured the story in a really interesting way.  It’s the first in a series so there’s a lot more of the world she’s created to be explored.

I’m also partial to crime novels and have to say that Luke Preston’s novels Dark City Blue and Out of Exile are among the most hardcore, riveting and gleefully violent crime noirs around. Luke knows the genre back-to-front and just has an absolute blast torturing his characters.

  1. In one way, Momentum itself is a reaction to changes in publishing, in that’s it’s a digital first imprint – how else did the recent changes in the publishing industry influence the way you work? 

We’ve been free to experiment, and much of my role for these two and a half years has been to find out just what it takes to make an ebook successful. It’s an ongoing process as we’re constantly learning new things, and the landscape is shifting all the time.

SnaphotLogo2014This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

http://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

So you’ve written a book… What now?

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 8.43.51 PMToday I presented for CBCA Tasmania on the topic of publishing. It was a well attended session and I thoroughly enjoyed both the preparation of the presentation and the talk itself. I spoke for nearly an hour and a half (thankfully there were questions too!) and was followed by Nella talking about the nuts and bolts (things like ISBNs, CiP application, legal deposit and so on) and Richard, who gave a brief overview on copyright for authors. My part focussed on the various options authors have for getting published, focussing on traditional, boutique and self-publishing routes. My presentation is made available to download here, for the purposes of the participants, but I don’t mind who else reads it (and it is licensed under Creative Commons, so you are welcome to use it under the licence conditions).

Obviously I spoke a lot more than what is contained on the presentation but you get the gist.

I didn’t really talk a lot about the specifics of marketing your book (whether you self-publish or not, you still need to market!) but did mention that it’s always useful to have ephemera such as bookmarks or postcards to pass out to potential readers and that Vistaprint has been having some excellent deals (you have to be patient and wait for free upload combined with discounts/freebies for the best bargains, but these do happen!). It also occurred to me that I might have spoken in more detail about social networking, but I think that’s a whole other session!

Thanks to all the participants who seemed to find the information useful, and particularly to Nella, both for inviting me and for practising her grandma skills so successfully with the baby I had in tow!

ETA: A couple more useful links that are relevant!

10 ways self publishing has changed the world

A contractual obligation (looking at contracts and what you are signing)

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.