Essentials of Publishing

Essentials of Publishing

Who: Emmett Stinson & guest speakers
Saturday 3 June and Sunday 4 June, 10am–4pm
Full price: $350; Member: $250; Conc Member: $210
Level: All

What do you need to know about publishing a book and when do you need to know it? What do agents, publishers, editors, marketers and designers bring to the process? And how has the traditional model of publishing been affected by the growth of digital books and publishing start-ups?  In this two day course you will meet publishing experts and veterans – and get a sense of what it takes to get your manuscript from the bottom of your desk drawer to a reader’s bedside table.

Course Breakdown

Day One

10am-12.30pm: Emmett Stinson – the publisher Introductions and overview
What do publishers do all day? Who does what, what are publishers looking for, and are they all the same? What is a list, how is it put together? What have been the big changes and how do they affect you as a writer? Which publisher is right for you? Who are the other key players in the publishing world – agents, editors, assessors, mentors.

12.30-1.15pm – Lunch

1.15–2.00pm: Tara Wynne, Curtis Brown  – the agent
I’ve got this manuscript I’ve been working on…

Approaching an agent: at what stage should you do this? How do you find the agent who is right for you? What are agents looking for and what will they do for you? Do you always need one – or can you go straight to a publisher? What questions will an agent or publisher ask? What about money? Fiction and non-fiction, fantasy and romance; which one are you writing? The pitch: what works and things to avoid. Doing your research beforehand.

2.00–3.00pm: Tom Langshaw – the editor
When you send your manuscript to a publisher, is it in the best shape? The difference between getting a call back and going straight to the reject bin can depend on a few basic things. And what’s the relationship between writer and editor really like? Get some tips on the essentials of editing.

3.00-3.45pm: The all important marketplace – Kate Mayes, non-fiction divisional sales manager, HarperCollins
Where books sell and what that means for authors. How does a book get into a bookstore? What are the different markets for a book? The changing nature of bookstores/online stores/selling.

3.45–4pm: Day one wrap-up and questions – Emmett Stinson


Day Two

10.00-10.30am – Intro and a brief overview

10.30–11.45am: I Did It My Way – Bronwyn Mehan, Spineless Wonders & David Henley, creative director, Xoum
There are a lot of different publishers out there – find the one that’s right for you and your manuscript.

11.45am-12.30pm: Nada Backovic – the book designer  
The perfect package…Don’t forget that people read and take in information visually. The cover, the font, typesetting, layout are vital to a good book. Too often they are misunderstood or overlooked. Get a lesson on what works – and what doesn’t.

12.30-1.15pm: Lunch

1.15-2.15pm: Publicity and marketing – Karen Williams, marketing director of Allen & Unwin
If a book falls in a store and nobody hears it, does that mean it exists? Reviews, extracts, posters, word of mouth campaigns, Twitter, facebook, social media, creating platforms – how to make sure your book gets the attention it deserves.

2.15-3.30pm: I’m an author - Bruce McCabe, Dianne Blacklock,
Hear from people who have been published: what they did right, what they’d do if they had their time again – Mark Dapin, Leta Keens and Chris Allen run through their experiences.

3.30-4.00pm: Wrap up and questions – Emmett Stinson


About the speakers
Emmett Stinson
is a writer, critic and teacher, and has worked in the publishing industry in both the US and Australia since 1998. He was a co-founder and former president of the Small Press Network, Australia’s only advocacy body for small and independent publishers. He has won The Age Short Story Award, a Lanan Poetry Fellowship, the ArtsSA Creative Writing Award, and the Wagner Medal for Fiction; his collection of short stories, Known Unknowns, was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Literary Awards. From 2010-14, he was a lecturer in Publishing at the University of Melbourne. Currently, he works as a Lecturer in English at the University of Newcastle.

Bronwyn Mehan runs Spineless Wonders, an Indie press that publishes short Australian fiction in print, audio and digital formats. Along with a dynamic team, Mehan looks for innovative ways to connect Australian authors with new audiences through multi-platform storytelling such as interactive installations and video. She champions new literary forms such as microLit, collaborates with individual artists and organisations engaged in multi-media and the performing arts and supports emerging writers and editors. She is the producer and curator of the live show, Little Fictions, and founding member of the multi-discipline artist collective, #STORYBOMBING.

Bruce McCabe is the author of Skinjob, a cutting-edge thriller following the lives of an FBI agent and a policewoman as they work frantically to solve a high-pressure case. Bruce lived in Kenya, Fiji and Japan before returning to Sydney, where he is now based. He is an expert on innovation and how technologies impact people, wrote a weekly column in the Australian on this subject for three years, travels widely, writes constantly, and is currently finishing his second novel.

David Henley has been working in Australian publishing for over ten years and has walked the roads of self-publishing and traditional publishing, as well as taken dozens of books through to publication for others. He is one of the founders of Xoum Creative that provides production services to publishers large, small and independent and is the producer at Seizure, a volunteer-run publishing movement. David has previously taught courses and seminars for the NSW Society of Editors, the University of Technology, Sydney, and the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Dianne Blacklock is the author of nine novels of commercial women’s fiction, published both in Australia and overseas. She recently contributed to the 2015 anthology Mothers and Others, and has written for the Daily and Sunday Life on women’s issues. She is also a busy freelance editor, with a focus on debut authors of women’s fiction and romance titles.

Karen (Kaz) Williams (not to be confused with Karen Williams from ILF) has worked in the book industry since 1982. She started life as a bookseller before a move into publishing, first as a marketing assistant with Angus & Robertson Publishers, then as a publicity manager with the newly minted HarperCollins Australia. In the early 1990s, she spent a couple of years in the wilderness as a children’s books sales rep, before joining Allen & Unwin, initially as a PA to the sales & marketing director. She has been director of marketing at Allen & Unwin for more than 10 years. 

Kate Mayes is the non-fiction divisional sales manager at HarperCollins Australia. Previously Kate worked in children’s book publishing in various editorial, marketing, publicity and sales roles; and was involved in the Children’s Book Council of Australia for a number of years. She is also a published children’s author who writes under the pen name, Ruthie May. She is a passionate advocate for books, reading and literacy for all ages. Kate holds an honours degree in Feminist History and a Masters in Children’s Literature.

Nada Backovic is a book designer and illustrator with more than 20 years experience in the publishing industry in Sydney and in London. After graduating from the University of the Arts London, Nada started her career at Random House UK, going on to become the design manager at Allen & Unwin. Nada currently operates her own design business working with a variety of mainstream publishers and self-publishers. She is based in Sydney.

Tara Wynne joined Curtis Brown UK in 1998, and moved to Curtis Brown Australia as a literary agent in 2002.

Tom Langshaw is an editor at Penguin Random House, where he works across the fiction and non-fiction lists for Random House Books. In 2016 he was the guest editor for the Viva la Novella competition, run by Seizure, and he has appeared at writers’ festivals across the state. 


Participant Requirements
Pen and paper


You may also be interested in:
How to Succeed as a Freelance Writer with Bianca Nogrady
Blogging for Beginners with Will Kostakis
Introduction to Digital Marketing Essentials for Authors with Patrick Lenton
Professional Editing with Pamela Hewitt
Crafting Arts Criticism with Anwen Crawford
Self-Publishing Program with Joel Naoum


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