Editia pitches for Walkley Innovation Grants and Griffin Accelerator

Walkley Grants for Innovation in Journalism

UPDATE: Editia was one of the six winners of the Walkley Foundation’s 2015 grants for Innovation in Journalism. The prize included a tour of Google’s Sydney HQ and meetings there with key executives with responsibility for media and book content on Google Play, $5000 to go towards the publication of three upcoming journalism-driven book projects and mentoring from judges and sponsors involved in the grants program.

In recent weeks we have made it to the final 20 (of 100+ applicants) and final 16 (of 85 applicants) for the Walkley Innovation Grants and Griffin Accelerator respectively.

We’re still in the running for the Walkley Grants for media startups, with the winner or winners to be announced mid-June. There is $70,000 available and Editia is excited about the potential to use a share of the funding to ramp up its longform journalism list and fine tune its operations in the next financial year. We joined half the longlisted businesses at a two-day workshop in Sydney in late April and made our final pitch to the judges via video before heading home. Cross your fingers for us!

The Griffin Accelerator is a Canberra-based organization that invests in and mentors innovative businesses at Entry 29, an entrepreneurs’ workspace at the Canberra Innovation Network. The successful entrepreneurs spend three months working with the mentors at Entry 29 and give them a 10 per cent stake in their operation for $25,000.

Applications were due on a Friday. The shortlist was announced the following Tuesday. We had to pitch to the 16 investors involved on the Thursday morning, less than two days later, and learnt whether we’d made it through to the due diligence stage on Saturday. It was a once in a lifetime, whirlwind experience, like Shark Tank on steroids. We didn’t make it through to the due diligence stage, but gratefully accepted the invitation of the CEO, Craig Davis, to attend a debrief meeting the following week.
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rollingHi, @Rudd2000 fans. We have a challenge for you today.

Compose a tweet of which @Rudd2000 creators Scott Bridges and Stephen Owen would be proud using the hashtag #WhatWouldRudd2000Say.

Satirise any incident in Federal politics since @Rudd2000 shut up shop last August (think spill, onion, Goebbels, lifestyle choice, you know what I’m talking about).

If Scott and Stephen judge your tweet to be in the top ten on that hashtag today, they’ll sign a copy of Kevern write a book for you and we’ll send it to you for nix.

Visual inspiration is on its way. At 1pm, we’ll be premiering a video of Bridges and Owen confessing to missing @Rudd2000 and pondering tweets that could’ve been in recent months.

To see the video first, you’ll need to come down to the Gorman Arts Centre in Braddon, Canberra, where it’ll be shown as part of Noted Festival’s Launch All the Words, a literary launch-off literary event that will see publishers and writers vying for your attention all over the Gorman campus, then selling their wares on site till 4pm.

Noted is part of You Are Here, the arts festival that encouraged dozens of us to roll down the hill at Parliament House yesterday, despite the concerns of half a dozen police officers. What would @Rudd2000 have said about that, I wonder?

If you can’t make it to Launch All the Words, keep an eye on @editia mid-afternoon for a link to Scott and Stephen’s video on YouTube.

Oh, and if you haven’t bought your copy of Kevern write a book yet, please click here to order. All profits go to UNHCR and postage is FREE within Australia until the end of March. We offer bulk discounts too, contact us via Twitter to arrange.

Speech to Australian Digital Alliance copyright forum: How Editia came to be

A much younger Alex on first meeting a Kindle.

A much younger Alex on first meeting a Kindle.

Last Friday I spoke on a panel at the Australian Digital Alliance copyright forum at the National Library of Australia. The brief was to talk about how Editia came to be to provide a snapshot of a publishing organisation working in these rapidly changing times for the industry. Here’s the full text of the speech.

Hello, copyright users and innovators.

I’m here to tell you a little bit about my digital first book publishing business, Editia, so named after the Latin editio, the publishing of a book or announcement.

I’m a sole trader operating at and supported by the Gorman Arts Centre in Braddon, and assisted by a corporate advisory board consisting of a number of digital publishing gurus from within and outside the mainstream book industry.

I launched the business in late 2012, a month after my first son, Seb, turned three, and eight weeks before the second, Alex, was born. Now two, Alex (pictured) recently bought his first ebook on my Kindle without asking my permission, but that’s another story.

I’d spent much of late 2009, 2010 and 2011 glued to Twitter, tracking the digital revolution that transformed the book industry then blogging about it for my ebookish blog.

I wrote some news stories and features about it for Fairfax, my former employer, but was itching to escape and start a business of my own to tap into all this change. As a former literary editor, magazine editor, tech writer and web producer, I had the passion for books and gadgets, the journalistic and editing experience and the coding skills to be able to do just that.

The fact that everything could be done online meant I could run a global publishing business from Canberra, something that would not have been possible five years ago.

I’d always been frustrated by the word limits newspapers and magazines by their nature imposed on feature writers. I’d often had to cut 5000 or 6000 word features in half just to fit arbitrary spaces, and felt frustrated about what was lost.

I’d also read plenty of non-fiction books that seemed to me to have been padded out to fit the conventional length of a trade book. The rise of the Kindle and iPad, of ebook retailers like Kobo, and of digital printing technologies allowing for affordable short print runs and print on demand meant it was now possible to publish longer works of journalism at their natural length, whether that be 5000, 10,000 or 40,000 words.

I decided I’d build a company around this style of writing and commissioned my first book, Crowdfund it!.

The author, digital publishing expert Anna Maguire, planned to write about 15,000 words. The first edition was 25,000. The third, which we published late last year, came it at around 37,000. As an editor with 20 years of experience in the 400 to 2000-word space, that was quite an adjustment.

Next, we published Business and baby on board, a 25,000-word ebook guide to being a mumpreneur for which we signed only digital rights after discovering the project on Pozible, where author Johanna Baker-Dowdell was raising funds to self-publish the print edition.

Scott Bridges forced me to rethink everything (which you have to be prepared to do in this industry at this time) when he pitched his book 18 days: Al Jazeera English and the Egyptian Revolution to me at the Walkley Awards two weeks after Alex was born. The work was as much as ten times longer than the books I’d been expecting to publish, weighing in at a whopping 90,000 words. But in fact, Scott had done exactly what I was talking about earlier: he’d written the book to its natural length. It was a work of longform journalism, and a brilliantly written one at that, so we signed a contract, published the ebook the following year and the print edition a few months later.

I’m so glad Scott chose Editia, because he’s a delight to work with and 18 days went on to gain national and international media attention. Scott was flown to the Berlin Documentary Forum to discuss the book in the middle of last year, and recently took out the Non-Fiction prize in the 2014 ACT Writing and Publishing Awards.

18 days is also the only one of the five shortlisted titles for the ACT Book of the Year to be produced by a Canberra publisher.

We hope it’s a contender for the People’s Choice Award too (you can help it along by voting on the ArtsACT website).

Scott later turned out to be one half of the Twitter sensation of 2014 which led to another Editia title, Kevern write a book: The best of @Rudd2000, and I’ll leave him to talk about that except to say that it has been our most successful book in terms of sales and publicity and helped us to score a print distribution deal with the highly respected NewSouth Books.

I sent their CEO, Kathy Bail, an email a couple of days after the launch with links to the media coverage and they offered me a three-year contract for all titles past and present that very day. I signed it immediately before they could change their minds. They now stock all our books and ordered another print run of Kevern only last week.

I’ve just received my first cheque from them, which would’ve been worthy of celebration in its own right, but arriving as it did on the same day as TWO cheques from Amazon, led to me waving them up and down the corridors of Gorman House and all over Editia’s social media accounts in triumph.

Editia published two books in between 18 days and Kevern. David Dufty’s How to build an android came to Editia via then literary agent Mary Cunnane. It had been published to critical acclaim in the US and UK (yes, reviewed in The Guardian and the New York Times no less) but needed a new Australian publisher. Dufty’s narrative non-fiction work is a cracker story about the roboticists who created an android in the likeness of science fiction author Philip K Dick, toured the US with it, then left its head in an overhead locker on a plane, never to be seen again. We published the ebook edition the day Radio National aired a documentary about robots including an extensive interview with David.

The other title is a joint venture with those innovators and copyright pioneers at if:book Australia, the Institute for the Future of the Book. The essays for The N00bz: New adventures in literature were originally published on the if:book website and examine experiments in writing and publishing. Contributors include Benjamin Law, Sophie Masson, James Bradley and Romy Ash. Each was challenged to try new tools and experiences and observe the effect on their craft. I was like a pig in muck editing this one, and even contributed an essay myself.

Speaking of editing, I have in fact commissioned freelance book editor Sarah Fletcher to edit most of our projects and would ask her to do them all if budgets permitted. When you’re a one-woman show paying for each new book with the profits from the last, publishing can become very DIY.

I tend to be it at all stages of the process: commissioning and acquiring titles; assessing submissions; negotiating contracts and rights deals; managing ISBNs, barcodes and cataloguing in publication applications; briefing a designer (typically the talented Wendy Dawes) for the cover, web banner and any other marketing material; writing cover blurbs, press releases, blog posts, enewsletters and social media posts; creating and implementing marketing and publicity plans; sourcing images; editing the copy; laying out the pages; proofreading; creating the three types of ebook files; distributing those files to retail partners; negotiating contracts with retail and distribution partners; organising and speaking at launch events; negotiating with printers; paying royalties and issuing royalty statements; bookkeeping; tech support; office management; business development; managing the website including its ecommerce functionality and finally order fulfillment (which means being on first name terms with everyone at my local post office).

It’s exhausting and almost enough to make you want to go back to working for someone else. Almost.

So anyway, the greatest challenge has been keeping on top of it all while juggling two small children with limited help from their dad who works long hours in one of those crazy jobs at Parliament House.

The second greatest challenge is that the industry isn’t really ready for organisations like Editia that want to publish books within weeks of commissioning them, when they’re ready to go, rather than several months later to fit in with the media and retail ordering cycles.

This ties in with the reason I shifted my focus to print copies: literary editors are not ebook-ready. They require proof copies of books or at the very least a PDF. If you’re going to the trouble of creating a print-ready PDF, you may as well do a short print run.

Then there’s the battle to get your book noticed among the hordes that are published each day. It’s tough, but I’ve been heartened by the success we’ve had with direct sales from the Editia website. If people want to buy a book, they’ll find it.

I might finish with a quick word about the book I should be working on right now instead of standing here talking to you. Some months ago, the man who must surely be the father of the year ordered two copies of Scott’s Al Jazeera book from our website. I did something I rarely do, and picked up a pen and some writing paper and wrote a personal letter to include with his books.

That man was Juris Greste, and he and the rest of the Greste family, particularly Kylie Greste, have been regular email correspondents ever since. Yesterday, I received my first email from Peter himself, and nearly burst into tears on the street in Manuka.

I’ve been working with the Grestes for some months on a book of messages sent to Peter while he was in prison. It was to be called Free Peter Greste, and all profits were to go to the campaign to bring Peter home.

Now that he’s back in Australia, Peter will be contributing the introduction to the project himself and we’ll be able to add a final chapter of the emails he and the family have received celebrating his newfound freedom. At Peter and Andrew Greste’s suggestion, profits over the book’s first year will go to the Foreign Prisoners Support Service. This Australian-based organization was a great help to the Grestes during Peter’s imprisonment.

I can announce here today that the new title, penned by Peter himself, will be Prison post: Letters of support for Peter Greste. It will be published next month and you can pre-order your copy from the Editia website now.

I am so glad that this somewhat grim project has become a much happier one, though its messages about press freedom remain as important as ever, particularly as Peter’s two colleagues are still caught up in the retrial of their case. We wish them well.

On a less serious note, someone commented to me last week that publishing a book of emails so soon after a book of tweets could lead to Editia becoming the go-to publisher of repurposed digital material. Well, why not?

So, if you’re a food blogger who’s made hipsterfoodies.com’s top ten paleo Instagram accounts listing, or you’re writing a real life romantic comedy based on your Snapchat and Tinder experiences, drop me a line.











Our ACT Book of the Year People’s Choice tilt: Vote one 18 days!

Charlotte Harper (front) and Scott Bridges (top left) learn of his ACT Writing and Publishing Awards win.

Charlotte Harper (front) and Scott Bridges (top left) learn of his ACT Writing and Publishing Awards win.

Hello, 2015! Here’s hoping you’ll bring as much excitement for Editia as 2014 did. Scott Bridges’ flurry of podium appearances at literary awards (and my resulting flurry of awards-sticker runs to bookshops) here in Canberra late last year were among the highlights. Now you can help us add to his accolades.

At Civic Library on November 19, 2014, ACT Arts Minister Joy Burch announced that Scott’s first title, 18 days: Al Jazeera English and the Egyptian Revolution, was one of five books shortlisted for ACT Book of the Year, and the only one of the five to be produced by a Canberra publisher. The judges’ pick will be announced later this month (February 2015), but you can vote for the book in the People’s Choice Award on the artsACT Book of the Year page here until February 20. We’d be ever so grateful if you took a moment to support our bid for this one. 

Around the same time, Scott and I each received an invitation to attend the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards at the Gorman House Arts Centre on December 16. It transpired that 18 days was shortlisted for the Non-Fiction gong at these prestigious awards (run by our neighbours at the ACT Writers Centre). As you can see from the main image featuring the shortlisted authors on stage and me celebrating in the foreground, we won. Check out the judges’ comments:

“Scott Bridges’ book could hardly be more relevant at a time when Al Jazeera’s Australian correspondent in Egypt, Peter Greste, is once again being told his case is ‘under review’. The behind the scenes story of the news agency’s activities during the downfall of President Hosni Mubarek is brilliantly told. Scott Bridges’ narrative takes us into the heart of the political crisis and reveals the drama and the courage involved in bringing the story to air. The publisher, Editia, at Gorman House, has produced a totally professional and splendidly edited work. Scott Bridges is a fine reporter and an outstanding writer. Warmest congratulations on a very fine publication.”

Now you know why I was waving my arms about like that. Hearing kind words like those makes it all worthwhile. Woohoo!

Collected letters to boost Greste campaign

GresteCoverSmallHow often do you find yourself watching the news and wishing you could do something to make a difference? We felt it when we saw Peter Greste in that cage in Egypt. We felt it when we saw his parents campaigning for his freedom. We decided to do something about it. Now you can help too, by pre-ordering Free Peter Greste here today, on his birthday. If you would like to write to Peter and offer your letter for possible inclusion in the book, please send your email to freepetergreste@gmail.com by midnight on December 15.

Happy birthday, Peter. We’re thinking of you and we want to see you home.


FREE PETER GRESTE: Letters and emails of support

Including a foreword by Geoffrey Robertson

All profits from this January publication from digital first press Editia will assist the Greste family campaign to clear Peter’s name

The world was shocked when foreign correspondent Peter Greste was convicted in June 2014 of reporting false news and endangering Egypt’s national security.

The trickle of emails for Peter and his family that had begun with his arrest the previous December increased exponentially. The Grestes set up an email address for the letters, freepetergreste@gmail.com, then printed out copies to take to Peter. In August, Peter responded at freepetergreste.org:

“Each time my family visits the prison, they bring a new sheaf of letters … each time I am staggered by the range and spirit of the notes you’ve written. Whoever you are, whatever has motivated you to take to the keyboard, I want to send a “huge” thank you … I want to tell each and every one of you who has taken the trouble to write or tweet or donate or back our cause in any way that the spirit of support is what keeps us going…

“Whenever I find my resolve wavering; whenever I feel weak or angry or frustrated; whenever I loose sight of the ‘why’, I only need to dip into the huge pile of letters for the answer. You’ve all given us and our families enormous strength; and for that I am hugely grateful.”

Editia will publish a selection of the letters (to be considered, letters must reach freepetergreste@gmail.com by midnight on December 15). The book will include a foreword by international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson and feature on its cover a Khaled Desouki photograph of Peter in a cage during his trial courtesy of AFP. After production and distribution costs are covered, all proceeds will go to the campaign to free Peter.

Price: $5.99 (ebook) and $24.99 (print)
Pre-orders: Editia.com
Media inquiries: publicity@editia.com

Happy 135th birthday, Miles Franklin

Google DoodleIf only Stella was still with us to tell us what she thinks of a tech multinational marking her birthday with a “Google doodle”. It’s a lovely tribute to a writer I admire for her pioneering feminisism and national pride, her adventurous spirit and her ability to write dozens of books while pursuing a career because she had to.

Speaking of careers, My Brilliant Career is one of my favourite books of all time. Stella also makes it onto my list of top ten historical figures I’d invite to dinner. She was my maternal grandfather’s first cousin, so we’d have family to talk about as well as books, writing, the country, the city, expat life and ambition.

Oh, and I’d thank her for having the foresight to bequeath to us all a literary prize that has become the country’s most respected award for writers. It raises awareness of a handful of new authors and their works each year, inspiring book clubbers and solo readers alike to pick up Australian works they’d never have noticed otherwise. It also helps those who win it to build on their success. More money means more time to write.

Thanks, Google, for reminding us all about the achievements of Stella, pictured outside one of the family homesteads in your doodle … or is that her most famous creation, the brilliant heroine Sybylla Melvyn?

Up early for ebook expert tips (and Apple news)

Apple Watch
I was up at 3am yesterday to catch up bus to Sydney for Ebooks 201 for Editors: Intermediate, a super-useful new training course run by the NSW Society of Editors and presented by Editia’s favourite freelance editorial consultant and ebook expert, Sarah Fletcher.

The fact that I was able to follow the launch of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch live while getting ready made the early start bearable. How stunning is the Apple Watch! I can’t wait to read novels on one via Spritz’s speed reading technology (Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and Gear 2 smart watch reportedly already work with Spritz, so it will happen). I’m also excited about the iPhone 6 Plus for reading and watching video as it may be large enough to mean I can hand my iPad Mini over to the kids less reluctantly.
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Ben Law joins panel for Sydney launch of The N00bz

Invitation to launch of The N00bzJournalist, columnist and screenwriter Benjamin Law, former bookseller and emerging author Greg Field and speculative fiction writer, publisher and podcaster Keith Stevenson will appear in conversation with if:book Australia’s Simon Groth at the official launch of Editia’s latest print title, The N00bz: New adventures in literature, on Tuesday, August 12, at Better Read than Dead Bookstore in Newtown from 6.30pm (download a PDF of the invitation here).

The N00bz is a collection of writing about writing in which authors experiment with their craft and document their quest to continually improve amidst rapid industrial change. The launch celebrates the second digital and first print editions of the book, including a new n00b adventure from Jennifer Mills and contributions from the talented crew of intrepid tweeters and bloggers who answered our call for a crowd-sourced chapter.

Ben and Greg were among the 12 writers if:book Australia initially invited to submit an essay for the web-based project that would become a book. Keith joined in after we invited Twitter submissions. The number of contributions doubled as you’ll see from the impressive list below of writers involved.

Ben, who is the author of non-fiction books Gaysia and The Family Law, writes in The N00bz about his dabbling with shorthand and explains why he’s not really a journalist. Greg’s first novel, Death on Danger Island, is out on August 13. In his N00bz essay he describes his transition from bookseller to Wattpad author and app developer. Keith Stevenson is a former editor of Aurealis and was joint founder of coeur de lion publishing. His N00bz essay looks at the benefits of providing his latest publication, Dimension6 magazine, to its readers for nix. Simon Groth’s own essay examines a temporary switch from computer to typewriter and how changing his tools impacted on his craft.

The full contributor list consists of a vibrant mix of established and emerging writers:

Romy Ash • Caroline Baum • Carmel Bird • James Bradley • Jodi Cleghorn • Emily Craven • Duncan Felton • Greg Field • Raelke Grimmer • Simon Groth • Charlotte Harper • Sophie Masson • Benjamin Law • Elizabeth Lhuede • Jennifer Mills • Zoe Sadokierski • Ronnie Scott • Lefa Singleton Norton • Jeff Sparrow • Keith Stevenson • Emily Stewart • Sean Williams • Freya Wright Brough

As always with Editia launches, there will be book sales, author signings, refreshments and time to mingle before and after the official formalities. We hope to see you there!

Calling all N00bz!

The N00bz coverTry Spritz, sign up for Entitle or Oyster, publish a new short story on Wattpad every day, or invent an entirely new platform for readers … if you write, and you have an idea about a way to do it differently, then we want you for our Twitter compilation chapter in The N00bz: New adventures in literature.

Being a digital first publisher, Editia is keen to experiment with new ways of working and to encourage others to do the same. That’s why we’ve always been big fans of if:book Australia (futureofthebook.org.au), and did handstands when they asked us to partner with them on The N00bz. That and the fact that it would mean working with writers like Romy Ash, Carmel Bird, James Bradley, Sophie Masson, Benjamin Law, Jeff Sparrow, Emily Stewart, Ronnie Scott and Sean Williams, and introducing Greg Field, Caroline Baum and Elizabeth Lhuede into the mix ourselves.

All the original contributors took up the challenge of trying new experiences or tools and observing the effect on their craft. Sean Williams deprived himself of sleep and examined its effect on his creativity. Sophie Masson established her own indie press. Emily Stewart gave away her library. Greg Field closed his bookshop and joined Wattpad. Romy Ash tackled Twitter storytelling. And Jeff Sparrow wrote something that’s definitely not a book. All stepped outside their typical work patterns and found a new perspective.

The N00bz began as a web-based project, but is now available for $9.99 as an ebook (from this website, Tomely.com and major ebookstores). In August, we’ll launch a print edition featuring an all-new chapter comprised of tweets and blog post extracts from readers (submitted via the hashtag #theN00bz so that everyone can get involved, even if it’s only by reading the entries). The ebook will be updated then too.

I can’t wait to see what this new set of N00bz come up with, and where their involvement in this project takes them. I reckon it’s a great opportunity for emerging writers to see their name in print (or pixels) alongside some of Australia’s most highly regarded authors. Whether it’s a tweet, a blog post or a drabble, so long as we can find it via #theN00bz on Twitter before midnight on Monday July 7, 2014, we will consider it for inclusion in The N00bz.

Here’s what I’d be dabbling in if I were entering:

  • Speed reading platform Spritz — what sort of stories work best for this style of reading (which if you haven’t seen it involves a series of words flashing in front of your eyes so that they don’t need to move from left to write on a page)? Simple, short words to tell long complex tales? Maybe, and it’d be fun to find out.
  • Writing a series of short stories and publishing them on Wattpad and then selling them in ebookstores for 99c.
  • Publishing an app based on one of my favourite children’s books that is out of print and out of copyright.
  • Experimenting with a pay as you sell royalty system at Editia, so that authors are paid instantly each time we sell one of their books.
  • Taking our books down from Amazon, Google Play and Apple to sell via indies only.
  • Publishing our next book serially

Are you ready to go on a new adventure in literature? Where will it take you? Let us know via #theN00bz!

Read the press release




Editia author Bridges talks AJE, Egypt in Berlin

18 days in Berlin

18 days on sale in Berlin today.

Editia is in Germany. Look closely at this picture to see 18 days: Al Jazeera English and the Egyptian Revolution at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt Bookstore, Berlin.

In around 35 minutes, author Scott Bridges will take the stage at the biennial Berlin Documentary Forum there alongside his former colleague Rawya Rageh, an AJE correspondent who reported from Cairo and Alexandria during the revolution. The panel moderator is writer and curator Sohrab Mohebbi.

Scott boarded his plane for Germany (where he is a guest of the Forum) days after the final stop on his three-city Australian book tour.

He spent part of his second day there talking to Radio National’s Phillip Adams on Late Night Live back here in Australia about the book and the ongoing significance of its subject matter before being able to focus on the task at hand in Berlin.

Scott was invited over there to speak on a panel discussing AJE’s award-winning coverage of the 2011 revolution to complement the re-airing of four full days of the footage – from February 1-4, 2011 – at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt this week.

If you’d like to follow the event live, there is a hashtag, #BerlinDocumentaryForum, and a link for a livestream on the Forum website. For those of us who should be sleeping, sessions will be available for download later.

The Forum bookstore has a bundle of books to sell, so if you happen to be in Berlin and keen to read 18 days, you should be able to get your hands on one today. If not, the book is on sale in major ebookstores and also via this very website.

Herzlichen Glückwunsch und viel Glück, Scott!

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