Guest Posting With Corella Press

As readers and lovers of literature, we don't often have access to the process of publishing our favourite novels, editor Tina Higgins at teaching press Corella Press, an Australian teaching initiative at The University of Queensland Press, takes readers behind the scenes over an entire semester as they prepare for publication.

Corella Press is a small, not for profit teaching press that aims to recover lost nineteenth century crime and mystery stories and create beautiful trade publications. It gives students in the Master of Writing, Editing, and Publishing program at The University of Queensland a new opportunity to complete a publishing internship during their degree. Over the thirteen week teaching semester, the Corella Press publisher guides the interns as they work together to prepare a book for publication.

Week One. An Introduction To Independent Publishing

Nine of us gathered for our first editorial team meeting with Meg Vann, the Corella Press Publisher. Over thirteen weeks, we would prepare the second book in a four part series, the follow up to Bridget’s Locket and Other Stories by Waif Wander. We would find a suitable story, prepare and present an acquisitions proposal, compile the book’s front and end matter, update the Corella Press website to include our book, transcribe and copy edit the text, work with our designer to prepare the proof, check the final draft, and prepare the marketing and launch plans. Easy!

Our first task was to search online databases, Trove, The Australian Newspaper Fiction Database, and the Aust Lit website, to uncover find a suitable nineteenth century Australian crime or mystery story. We would be looking for a cracking good yarn that was relevant and interesting for a contemporary audience, had never been published as a book, and had been written by an author with an interesting life story and who died more than seventy five years ago, so that it was within copyright guidelines.

Weeks Two And Three. Finding A Story

We chose Jeannie Lockett’s The Millwood Mystery, an eighteen chapter story serialised in the Australian Town and Country Journal between November 1886 and March 1887. A story of suspicious death in an isolated community, complete with numerous suspects and a twist.

Debbie Lee from Ingram Sparkes also joined us to explain indie publishing and print on demand, which we will be using to create both the print and electronic versions of our book.

By week three we were copyediting, each reviewing our chapters with the lightest possible touch to preserve Jeannie Lockett’s voice.

Week Four And Five. The Acquisition Proposal

During week four, we worked on preparing our acquisitions proposal and in week five we presented it to Corella Press Acting Director, Dr Richard Newsome.

Richard noted that, at 120 pages, our book was short, but as the second book in a series of four, it could work, especially with reading notes. He reminded us to edit lightly, having the author speak from another century is part of the joy of such books. He added that parts of Jeannie Lockett’s biography have Sydney Morning Herald written all over them, including the grave with no name in Waverley Cemetery, a heritage listed cemetery in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and young relatives still attending the Sydney school where she taught. He said that period pieces are popular for serialisation on Stan or Netflix, for example, so pitching to the Queensland Writing Centre’s Adaptable initiative, might be an option, and he reminded us to look for marketing nuggets, anything we can do to make a journalist’s job easier as it will increase our chances of publicity.

Week Six. Book Parts

Week six we talked about the non story parts of the book such as title page, copyright page and introduction, table of contents, author bio, and acknowledgements.

Week Seven. Updating The Website

Dr Catriona Mills from Aust Lit joined us to show how to edit the Corella Press website and we updated the blurb for our book.

Week Eight Copyediting And Proofreading

This week, we brought our editing issues to the table, we discussed our edits, spending our meeting in robust discussion as we did our best to honour Jeannie Lockett’s intention for her story.

Meg suggested we approach Mirandi Riwoe, who writes crime as M.J. Tjia to provide the introduction to our book. Mirandi is from Brisbane and completed a PhD at The University of Queensland. Her books include Fish Girl, writing as Mirandi Riwoe and the Heloise Chancey mysteries, She be Damned and A Necessary Murder, writing as M.J.Tjia. Miranda has a new book coming out soon, and has had her novella accepted for Griffith Review 66: The Novella Project VII, due out in late November.

Week Nine. Marketing

Sally Matthews, from the marketing team at University of Queensland Press, talked to us about book marketing. She spoke about the challenges of working with an author in the marketing phase, especially those who are outspoken or controversial, and she talked about sites and organisations to target. She also outlined a typical social media plan leading up to and after the launch. I was interested to see that focused marketing ends within about a month to six weeks after the launch, there is always the next book to promote. And we had great news. Mirandi Riwoe agreed to provide our book introduction.

Week Ten. Book Design And Production

Dan Seed, our design maestro, spent several hours cutting and pasting our carefully edited text, page by page, into the Adobe InDesign document. The previous editorial team had made all the tough decisions about style, fonts, spacing, headings, so we only had minor decisions to make. Next step, proofreading.

Week Eleven. Launch Plan

We considered The University of Queensland and the Brisbane Writers Festival as possible launch venues but decided on Avid Reader, it has good parking, it’s a venue that is well known for book launches, and it has a loyal following. A quick email secured our launch date at the end of August.

Week Twelve. Proofreading

With only one week to do the final proof, it was time to start working on our social media presence, so we took a group photo and sent it out Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Week Thirteen. It’s a wrap!

In the final proofing phase with Dan, we revised the design layout page by page, tidying editing issues and checking formatting. Suddenly, the thirteen weeks were done. What a great semester. I had the opportunity to work with an inspiring group of publishing interns. I was able to improve my copyediting skills, learning to lighten my touch and work with the authorial voice, rather than impose my will and I helped produce the InDesign proof. I learned about the importance of contacts and networks in publishing and expanded my own through social media, and I wrote the reading notes, which I’m proud to add to my writing portfolio. I also had the opportunity to support and encourage my fellow interns and, as importantly, be supported and inspired by them. I immersed myself in the world of crime fiction, both nineteenth century and contemporary and I discovered how exciting research can be. Best of all, I had the most wonderful opportunity to participate in creating a beautiful

1 comment

  1. Wow, this would be such an amazing experience for an intern in this industry.


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