The world of publishing is enough daunting for a first-time author, let alone an aspiring publisher. How did you find your feet in the profession?
I was lucky to do an internship at a literary agency in Paris – which came about because I was taking a belated gap year and managed to get the gig via a friend of a friend of a friend. On returning to Sydney it was much less glamorous but confirmed my love of the industry; I was a publishing assistant at Allen & Unwin and completed a Graduate Certificate in Editing and Publishing at UTS.
What do you look for in a manuscript?
The first thing – and the hardest to define – is voice. By that I mean, when I read a manuscript, I want to feel as though I am reading something that has a unique point of view and its own style. Whether the submission is experimental literary fiction, a thriller, a mystery or a young adult dystopian narrative, it always comes back to voice. This is why it’s important for writers to focus on what they believe in – it’s usually easy to tell when someone is just trying to follow a trend.
How important are literary prizes and competitions for uncovering and publishing new talent?
Prizes are a great way to find new talent. Seizure runs a novella prize every year and we have been proud to publish books that go on to be recognised in other awards such as novellas by Marlee Jane Ward and Mirandi Riwoe. We’ve also seen authors on the shortlist, such as Mark Brandi, Luke Horton and Jay Carmichael, picked up by other publishers. There are so many prizes in Australia, there are opportunities for all kinds of writing and a wide range of writers.
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. She has run workshops at festivals, universities and schools in Australia, India and China and written for the Sydney Review of Books, Overland and Books+Publishing.