CEO Says: Jane Fraser reports on her trip to New York

I was very lucky to be selected to join eight others on The Australia Council’s Publishing Delegation to New York in June.

The program gave us unprecedented access to a range of publishers, editors and agents and they were generous with their insights into the market. We all know that what works in Australia won’t always work in the USA so there was much to be gained from talking directly to editors, agents and publishers about where they saw their niche or their point of difference within the US book industry.

I went a week ahead of the program to attend the New York Rights Fair and Book Expo America. I had a number of meetings lined up but it’s always good to do some cold-calling – something good always comes of it. The response to the Fremantle Press publishing program was really positive .  People were very open and direct about which books best fit their lists and why. Our crime list and children’s books hit the mark and many were keen to get hold of reading copies from our fiction list too.

Small publishers in the US are diversifying and being creative and innovative with their lists in order to find a niche. I found the same was true of the small imprints of larger publishers. The people I spoke to found Australia to be more culturally similar to them than the UK and they’ve noted some key Australian success stories. This provides an opportunity for Australian publishers to provide content that helps US publishers build a diverse list with a real point of difference. With that in mind, there was strong interest in both midlist and backlist titles.

The publishing climate poses as many challenges in the US as it does here. Companies are shrinking, cutting costs and looking at ways to innovate and stay ahead of the game. As in Australia they are witnessing the demise of traditional media coverage for books. Publishers are looking to other ways to market books and the emphasis is on social media. The indie publishers we spoke to talked a lot about word of mouth and hand-selling to booksellers. It’s less about book launches than author events and connecting with readers through bookshops: which is what is already happening in Australia.

Building strong networks is a slow and steady process, but with so many new connections made on this trip, I came away feeling very positive about the future outcomes for the Press and our authors.

And in other news … Our children’s list continues to perform well overseas with the Netherlands and Belgium picking up Dungzilla by James Foley and The Hole Story now sold into China, Korea, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Till next month!


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