We are delighted to announce that the crowdfunding campaign has launched today for the fantastic non-fiction book Inside Story: the wonderful world of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books. Published by UPA Books, our new collaborative imprint with Little Pink Dog Books under the United Publishers of Armidale banner, it will be released in May 2022. A full colour, fully-illustrated production, the book will be an absolutely invaluable resource for aspiring children’s writers, illustrators, editors and designers, and also be of great appeal to anyone interested in the wonderful Australian children’s book world. The crowdfunding campaign will help to fund a significant print run, enhanced marketing, and much more, and campaign contributors can choose from a great range of perks. Check everything out on the campaign page, and consider being part of Inside Story: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/inside-story-children-s-books-demystified/x/3485227
Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, under the umbrella of our joint initiative, United Publishers of Armidale, are delighted to announce the appointment of Ms Sharnee Rawson to a 3-month publishing internship with us.
Sharnee Rawson, an experienced regionally-based writer and editor who has worked in a range of media, is soon about to complete a bachelor degree in Media and Communications at UNE, majoring in Writing and Publishing, acquiring several academic awards in the process. Wishing to extend her experience to book publishing, she approached us with her excellent resume, and after a fruitful meeting online discussing possible projects she might be involved in, we were delighted to confirm her appointment.
Congratulations and welcome, Sharnee! We are delighted to have you working with us on several projects over the next few months. And we would like to introduce you to our readers, friends and supporters. So, here are a few questions for you!
How did you come to select us as publishers you’d like to work with?
Although there were several fantastic publishers based in the New England region, United Publishers of Armidale was distinguished by its its combination of two prominent children’s book publishers, Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books. I had known since the beginning of my undergraduate degree that I wanted to be involved in book publishing for younger audiences, so when I discovered United Publishers of Armidale, I knew I had to take part!
Like us, you are based in Armidale—have you always lived there, or have you come here more recently?
I’ve lived in a motley of places over the years, but for most of my life, I called a small rural property near Grafton home. It was after graduating from high school in 2017 that I moved to Armidale to begin my bachelor’s degree at the University of New England. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to explore many of the national parks in the region, including favourites like Gara Gorge and Wollomombi Falls. It’s certainly a beautiful area.
Can you tell us about your professional background as an editor and writer? What kinds of things have you worked on?
I’ve had some previous experience in the publishing industry, although, until recently, it has primarily been in news and journalism. One of the most rewarding of these positions was as a content writer at News Corp’s The Daily Examiner. The experience was fascinating, and it granted me the opportunity to work with a range of mediums, including paper-based publications, online publications and videographic material. Working at News Corp also prepared me for my next role at Tune!FM where I had the privilege of working as editor-in-chief for the company’s online news platform. United Publishers of Armidale is my first experience at a book publishing company.
Tell us about the degree you are about to complete, and why you chose to major in writing and publishing? And what’s next for your studies?
Currently, I’m in my final trimester of a Bachelor of Media and Communications degree with a major in Writing and Publishing. Originally, I had enrolled as a Bachelor of Arts student, but I quickly realised media and communications offered the specialisation I needed to enter the publishing industry. So far, I haven’t been disappointed! In 2021, I plan to enrol in a Bachelor of Media and Communications with Honours degree and continue my studies at the University of New England.
What areas interest you most in publishing? What do you hope to learn from the internship with us? And what opportunities do you hope might come from it?
As most individuals within the publishing industry will probably agree, interest in the field began through a love of reading. In high school, I remember googling ‘Jobs relating to books’ and when I read about the publishing industry, I thought, ‘Great! A job where I can read all day!’ I now know there’s a lot more to publishing than simply reading, but I still haven’t lost my passion. In editing, in particular, there’s something about refining a text that will be read and enjoyed by like-minded readers that offers enormous appeal. Through my internship at United Publishers of Armidale, I would love to continue to develop my editing skills and gain further insight into various aspects of publishing. Hopefully, the experience will lead me to further work opportunities within the industry.
And finally—What’s on your reading pile at the moment?
American Gods by Neil Gaiman is currently sitting on my bedside table. I’ve loved the author’s previous work and can’t wait to tuck in!
A little video celebrating Christmas Press, and our fabulous titles!
What does a commissioning editor do in a publishing house? What does their day look like? In this great post, our very own fabulous Commissioning Editor Beattie Alvarez describes the realities of a typical work day and gives some helpful tips and advice for authors and illustrators.
From the crowded desk(computer desktop actually) of a Commissioning Editor
By Beattie Alvarez of Christmas Press
The day starts with a GIANT coffee and catching up on my Words with Friends games while I wait for all the emails to load.
There are a lot of them AND I’m not winning all my games. This is not a good start to the day. However, it gets better as the coffee starts to set in.
I do my ‘official’ work first. Official work includes emails to and from people who we’re already in touch with such as contracted authors and illustrators, the ones who print our books, my boss. After those emails I move onto editing. This word should change. That word should be deleted. Explaining why I’ve made changes and probably a fight with Word in there somewhere when it hides the comments I’ve spent hours making. Then I send it back to the author and we start all over again. A second, third and fourth coffee probably makes an appearance during all this.
I check the schedule/list of tasks/emails all over again.
If there’s time to squeeze in reading submission in my lunchbreak, then I do it. Why not? I like to read while I eat (side note: tomato soup and computers don’t mix). I start with the solicited manuscripts.
What are solicited manuscripts? They’re manuscripts from people we’ve asked to submit, ones that come from agents, or ones that come from an open call for submissions (there are many good reasons why most publishers are normally closed for submissions). They are the ones that I want to read.
However, I don’t have much time. There’s the ‘official’ work to get back to. So, if the synopsis and opening pages don’t grab me immediately, then I’m unlikely to read more than a few pages.
It goes like this:
- Open computer
- Open food
- First bite of food
- Open synopsis and read
- Second bite
- If synopsis is okay, then open manuscript
- Start reading
- Keep eating
If my lunch is more interesting than the manuscript then I move onto the next manuscript. And the next one. And the next one.
There are some exceptions, of course. If we’ve ASKED you to submit a manuscript then I will read every single word. I may not enjoy it, but I do read it. If my boss asks me to read it then I will (but if it doesn’t grab me and I have to slog through the whole thing then I ask that my coffee budget gets raised).
Unsolicited manuscripts are something else entirely. We are currently CLOSED to submissions.
If you haven’t done your research or if you choose to ignore the fact that we’re closed because someone has told you to try anyway then I’m going to be cross. Don’t make the Commissioning Editor cross. It is NOT a good idea.
I still open the email. I still read the synopsis (if there is one). I’m sure that if a synopsis grabbed me, I would open the manuscript, but that hasn’t happened yet and I’ve been doing this for over six years. I then send a curt reply, thanking the author for their submission, but informing that we are not taking submissions.
A lot of this extra work is done at night after the kids are in bed, or very early in the morning before I have to get them ready for school. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. So make sure you:
- Do your research and find out if we’re open to submissions
- Read the guidelines if we are to find out what we want. Don’t send a picture book text if we say we don’t do picture books (or memoirs or self-help etc).
- Prepare your paperwork. We say send the first three chapters, double-spaced in Times New Roman and only want it as a word doc, then DO NOT SEND the entire manuscript in Curly Stars font as a PDF. I will NOT READ IT. If you can’t follow guidelines, then you are going to be hard to work with and we don’t want that!
- READ YOUR OWN WORK. Just because you’ve finished a first draft, doesn’t mean it’s print ready. Have you edited it? Are there typos? Does it flow well? Have you remembered to change the name of the character originally called Bob, but then changed to Chris ALL the way through the book? Is your synopsis as snappy as your manuscript? It has to be! That’s the first thing I read. If you can’t write an interesting synopsis, then how do I know you can write an entire book?
- If you truly believe that you are ready to send, then write a nice cover letter. Try to find out our names (not always possible, I know). I don’t require a fancy cover letter (again, this changes from publisher to publisher, but I’m not fussy). Eg. To whom it may concern (or Dear Editor), I am a writer and I came across your (insert how you found us, because that’s always good for us to know what channels are working and what are not). I have attached a manuscript called _______. It is _____ words long and is about (insert tag line). Thank you for taking the time to look at my work. Kind regards, whoever you are.
- Once sent DO NOT BUG US. Do not send follow up emails as to whether or not I got it and if I’ve had time to read it. Although, if we’ve ASKED you to send it and I haven’t replied, by all means nudge me.
- We normally don’t have time to give feedback. And won’t. If it’s not for us, then no amount of emails will change our minds.
Remember that all of this is done in between bits of ‘official’ work. While I’m reading and emailing, I’m also working on the next book that’s coming out. The edits, the advertising, the launch, the author profile, the illustrator, the design, THE WORKS.
United Publishers of Armidale, a collaboration between children’s books publishers Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, is delighted to announce that it is the recipient of a 2020 Resilience Fund Grant, an initiative by the Australia Council for the Arts.
The 2020 Resilience Fund is designed to provide emergency relief to support the livelihoods, practice and operations of Australian artists, groups and organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australia Council has directed more than $5M to the Resilience Fund to provide immediate relief to the Australian arts sector.
United Publishers of Armidale was granted funds under the Adapt stream of the Resilience Fund, to create a wide range of fun new free activities and resources centred around their books, to join those already featured on their website, www.unitedpublishersofarmidale.net These are aimed at children, families and schools. Funds will also be used by the publishers to create special ‘Journey of a Book’ video presentations for adults which will look at aspects of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books, around a focus on books produced by each publisher. These presentations, to be hosted on the UPA You Tube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCebJK9zqg1f1ROlrSrtAFuA, and showcased on their website, will be aimed at aspiring creators as well as anyone interested in children’s books.
Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, under our United Publishers of Armidale banner, wish to warmly thank the Australia Council for their generous support of our joint initiative. We look forward to creating some fantastic resources–watch this space!
For more information: https://www.unitedpublishersofarmidale.net/contact.html
Armidale-based children’s book publishers, Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, are delighted to announce a brand-new joint initiative, United Publishers of Armidale, with the launch of a new website, www.unitedpublishersofarmidale.net, and associated social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The United Publishers of Armidale website features a number of books from each publisher, with free activities and resources to go with each, as well as information on each title. Activities and resources include audio and video presentations by creators, puzzles, quizzes, word searches, printable colouring pages, teachers’ notes, and more. The Featured Books page will be updated regularly with new, upcoming and backlist titles and their associated activities, while the About page gives information about the UPA partner publishers.
‘The idea behind United Publishers of Armidale is that in these difficult times, it makes sense for publishers, especially small, regionally-based publishers like us, to pool our efforts and resources in order to promote and showcase our books and help to support our creator communities, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Little Pink Dog Books on this,’ said Sophie Masson, co-director of Christmas Press. ‘But it’s also very much about supporting the wider community, especially children, their families, teachers and carers, by offering free resources and activities through a dedicated website.’
‘We are delighted to be partnering with Christmas Press in this new enterprise and we hope that everyone will have lots of fun discovering our featured books and the activities around them,’ said Kathy Creamer, co-director of little Pink Dog Books. ‘And we warmly thank our authors and illustrators for getting so enthusiastically behind the project and creating such fabulous and diverse activities for our readers.’
Books featured for the website launch are, for Christmas Press, middle grade historical fantasy novel, The Phantasmic Detective Agency, by Julian Leatherdale (out May 2020) and Australian Children Laureate Ursula Dubosarsky’s recent collection of plays, The Boy Who Could Fly and Other Magical Plays for Children(2019); and for Little Pink Dog Books, author-illustrator Trish Donald’s picture book Tissy Woo and the Worry Monsters(2018) and Parmesan, The Reluctant Racehorse, written by Jacqui Halpin and illustrated by John Phillips (2017).
Check it all out here!
We are delighted to be part of the many wonderful small publishers to be featured in the 2019 Small Press Network Christmas catalogue. Our five 2019 titles are listed in the children’s books section in this fabulous catalogue, which goes out to thousands of booksellers and libraries around Australia. But anyone interested in the wonderful range of small-press books being published around Australia can consult the catalogue online, here. Have a look!
Six years ago this month we launched our very first title, Two Trickster Tales from Russia, by Sophie Masson and David Allan. It was very exciting and nerve-wracking too, we were on a steep learning curve and though we had high hopes of course for our fledgling little Press, we also knew big challenges lay ahead in an industry which is a lovely one to be in, but not easy either!
Six years later, we have published 29 books across our three imprints: Christmas Press, Eagle Books and Second Look–we have sold all over Australia, acquired an international rights agent, been shortlisted for literary awards, won a business award, worked with dozens of wonderful authors and illustrators, and achieved a high reputation amongst creators, readers, booksellers, agents, and reviewers. It’s been and continues to be an amazing adventure!
Christmas Press will be going to Sydney next week–first to be part of the SCBWI Conference, and then to cheer on our author John Heffernan as he presents his beautiful book with us, Two Tales of Brothers from Ancient Mesopotamia, in two special events.
On the Monday of the conference we’ll be viewing the Illustrator Showcase, and looking forward to seeing the work of new and established illustrators! We’ll also be conducting a manuscript critique and appearing on a fabulous panel at 2pm about building a brand while maintaining your passion. Our books will also be featured in the conference bookshop and we’re looking forward to meeting authors, illustrators, readers and publishers!
On Tuesday 6th, John Heffernan will be giving a talk at 1 pm Leichhardt Town Library; and will also present at a SCBWI event at 4.30 pm on Wednesday 7th, at the Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft when John will be part of a stellar panel of authors and illustrators from Australia and New Zealand. Both are free events, all welcome. Two Tales of Brothers will be available for sale at both these events, and John will be happy to sign them for you!
Over at the fabulous site Creative Kids Tales, there’s a great new series of interviews, Publishers in Focus, which aims at giving authors and illustrators an insight into publishing houses around the country and how manuscripts get selected for publication. And we’re honoured to be featured on it this week, as one of our directors, Sophie Masson, talks to CKT.
You can read the interview here.