Once someone has finished their manuscript, what are the first steps they can take towards publication?
The first thing is to edit your work to the best of your ability. If you’re not satisfied but don’t know how to improve the manuscript – that’s a good time to find readers whether they are friends or a writing group or a professional editor. Only when you feel that your manuscript is as good as you can possibly make it, should you send it to a publisher. Each year publishers receive a huge number of submissions so your work needs to be its best possible version to have a chance at publication.
The next key step is to find a potential home and that means seeking out books that have something in common with yours. Check the imprint page, find the publisher’s website and then follow their submission guidelines. Many Australian publishers have open submissions so you can send your work directly.
What exciting things do you see happening right now in the Australian publishing industry?
For a long time there was very little in the way of experimentation in Australian writing and I’m pleased that this has changed. Authors that I have published such as Elizabeth Tan and Carly Cappielli show that experimental writing can be emotionally engaging and formally adventurous. Other writers exploring this space are Julie Koh, Jennifer Mills, Jane Rawson and Robbie Arnott to name a few. The other exciting change has been an appreciation for essay collections. For many years it was nigh impossible to get an essay collection published but Fiona Wright, Elena Savage and Maria Tumarkin have shown that there is a market for these books.
What inspired you to pursue a career in publishing?
I started in publishing almost by accident in what sounds like the beginning of a novel. Through a friend of a friend I secured an internship at a literary agency in Paris where I was taking a year off after uni (and had been washing dishes and making coffees). Working for the powerhouse agent Susanna Lea was utterly inspiring and I’ve been in publishing ever since.
Alice Grundy is associate publisher at Brio Books and co-founder of Seizure, an incubator of Australian writing. For the past decade, she has worked in trade publishing with a focus on developing new talent.
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