It was a privilege to participate in the Visiting International Publishers programme at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. To spend a week with 15 other international publishers – from the UK, US, Canada, Hungary, Spain, France, Norway, Taiwan and fellow Kiwi Alison Brook – and to have the opportunity to get to know how they operate, what works in their markets, and to make contact for future international events, was invaluable.That all of this was against the backdrop of the imposing Sydney harbour and landmarks in very well-organised, welcoming sun-filled week made it a memorable experience for all the VIPs.
Highlights for me included being able to talk about all aspects of publishing – systems and procedures, what’s working and what isn’t, challenges, what’s hot – with like-minded people, and then to be able to apply that to New Zealand, and specifically to my role, list and team. In light of this exchange of information and ideas, I could step away from the books I’m working on and objectively assess how to build on our successes in the future. I got a stronger sense of what international publishers are looking for and how New Zealand books are perceived internationally – it was a good way to contextualise our publishing in the world market.
It was also a week of learning and inspiration at the Sydney Writers’ Festival (including sessions about translation markets, English markets internationally, marketing and twitter, the pros and cons of young adult/cross over fiction, the chance to hear Markus Zusak, Sonya Hartnett and Fatima Bhutto speak). I was struck by the popularity of the festival – even during the week, the queues to go into sessions right throughout the days snaked a long way down each pier.
I’d like to extend my thanks to Creative New Zealand, PANZ and the Australia Council for the Arts for giving me the opportunity to experience the VIP programme, and I plan to be involved in future VIP programmes in Auckland.
Picture shows Alexis Walsham from Random House (US), left, Annaliese Monaro from the Australia Council for the Arts and Diana Murray.