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Epsom to Estonia: Calico Publishing is a Kiwi imprint with international reach

By February 3, 2016No Comments

In today’s world of publishing you have to be nimble and flexible,’ says Calico Director Linda Cassells. Since starting her company 13 years ago, Linda marvels at the way the company has evolved from offering publishing and project management services, to developing new books under the Calico imprint, and offering publishing advice as well as rights management services. ‘Our books focus on health and well-being, but they have key things in common: they are niche, they are international, and they backlist well.’

Linda’s core skills are in manuscript development and structural editing. ‘I love working closely with authors.’ Today she not only edits her own titles but provides an advisory service to companies and individuals wanting to self-publish, something there has been a surge of interest in recently with the departure of many publishing companies from New Zealand.

There is yet another arrow in the Calico quiver: Linda represents Calico and other small Kiwi publishers on the NZ stand at Frankfurt Book Fair each October, with many successes. ‘2016 will be my eighth year on the New Zealand stand at Frankfurt, and I already have inquiries from other publishers for this year’s fair.’ It is a process which works for everyone – Linda can target possible rights buyers for all the New Zealand titles she represents, while authors and other publishers gain affordable access to a wide network of international contacts.Calico also undertakes full rights management for a select number of clients.

Dealing Daily with Dementia-Front-CoverCurrently she is negotiating several translation rights to Calico’s Dealing Daily with Dementia by Angela Caughey, which has already been published in German. ‘A publisher from Estonia came on to the NZ stand and made straight for the title. After looking at it, she said the book was just what was needed in her market. I was able to send her the materials before leaving Frankfurt and the deal was done within two weeks of returning to New Zealand. You could say it was serendipity, but without my commitment to attending Frankfurt every year it would never have happened.’  Another chance conversation resulted in a substantial print run of the dementia book for a medical conference in India. ‘It was a deal done in a matter of days,’ Linda notes.

A book on Parkinson’s disease, Positively Parkinson’s by Ann Andrews, has been published in four different English language territories and continues to sell. One of Calico’s best-selling titles is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Dr Rosamund Vallings. ‘It’s certainly not a title that traditional publishers would take on because it is so specialised, but it has worked extremely well for us.’ Last year saw the publication of Deborah Shepard’s journal Giving Yourself to Life, which was well received at last year’s Auckland Writer’s Festival. Calico’s book trade distribution is handled by David Bateman in New Zealand and John Reed in Australia. Their books are also sold directly from their website to customers all over the world. ‘Our publishing list is small, but each book keeps selling, and it’s amazing how far you can reach from a small office in Auckland.’

There are many facets to Calico’s business – publishing, author guidance and advice, rights management – but they feed seamlessly into each other. ‘I love the Positively Parkinsons-Front-Coverinternational nature of what I do. Just this week, a UK health publisher I have had dealings with recommended us to an aspiring Australian author, who is now working with us on their next book.’ Developing manuscripts and books directly with authors who wish to self-publish has been a growth area over the last year and will be a focus for Calico in 2016.

Being able to adapt and respond to what is needed in the market has been a key factor in keeping Calico in such healthy shape for the last 13 years. Technology has played a huge role in enabling Calico to stay small and reach wide. ‘The people we work with – publishers, literary agents, authors, distributors, designers and typesetters, publicists, printers, accountants and administrative support – are an integral part of our business, and we have gathered a very competent and loyal team around us over the years.’

So how did Calico Publishing get its name? Turns out it is nothing to do with the cotton fabric – think acronyms: Ca for Cassells, li for Linda and co for company. Her home is her office and her business is anywhere in the world.

‘The biggest investment I make is the time I spend on the books I really believe in,’ Linda told PANZ News.