Publishers of books that change lives

In Praise of Small Presses by Laura Boon

What I love about working at Finch Publishing is how close-knit the team is and the broad range of tasks a person is exposed to. In a big publishing house, you stick to your department, in my case, publicity. At a small publisher, you’re exposed to everything. Your input is requested on cover design, editorial, submissions, sales and marketing. It’s an in-depth exposure to the publishing process.

My experience at Finch meant that when I went shopping for a publisher for my book, I was more than willing to consider a small press. What they lack in size they make up for in passion, humanity, and the willingness to publish a book that might not meet a big publisher’s sales criteria but nonetheless deserves to make it into the public arena. The quality of editorial input and production is just as good. Small presses don’t have the sales clout of larger publishers but having worked in publicity and marketing most of my adult life, I know a few tricks to get around that.

Could Finch have published my book? No. They’re a niche non-fiction publishing house whereas I have written a romance. I love romance, in life and fiction. It’s a sub-plot in almost every fiction genre. However, I like my romance straight up, undiluted, like a good Scotch.

Romance can be defined as fiction by women about women for women. And that’s true, although the genre has expanded to include romance between two (or more) people regardless of their sexual persuasion. I think it’s sad men feel intimidated about reading romance. I reckon they’d enjoy it, the same way they enjoy a good romantic comedy at the movies – even if they claim to see it only as part of a negotiation with their wife or girlfriend regarding the next action flick. Some romances are better than others, but that’s true for every genre. The more familiar you become with the genre, the easier it is to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Romance is a genre that’s always on the cutting edge of publishing, trying new technologies, creating new sub-genres, debating social mores. The #metoo movement was a highly debated discussion before Harvey Weinstein hit the press. Likewise, questions around cultural diversity and cultural appropriation are constantly raised in blogs, chat rooms and on Twitter.

So, when The Wild Rose Press in America made me an offer for The Millionaire Mountain Climber, I was thrilled. Not only was I going to be published, I was going to be published by a romance specialist. The author care has been fantastic, my editor a delight who has made my book far better than I could have done on my own and I LOVE my cover. It’s going to be available in paperback as well as ebook. What more could an author ask for? Multiple sales, of course, but I’ve been in the business all my life, so I take that with a pinch of salt. You do what you can do, then you send out your book with love (as both author and publisher) and hope for the best.

The Millionaire Mountain Climber by Laura Boon is scheduled for publication by The Wild Rose Press later in the year. It features two Australians, Hailey and Matt, in the French Alps, some humour, a little drama and a lot of heart.

Link for The Wild Rose Press: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com

 

Steve Biddulph talks about the relationship between mother and son

Is there a more intense, challenging and yet heart-warming relationship in our lives? Well, possibly mothers and daughters, but that’s a subject for another time.  When I wrote Raising Boys almost 25 years ago, I was aiming to solve one of the problems that most came along in my work with families in crisis or trouble – how to help mums and sons get along.

This month I am releasing a completely rewritten update of that classic book, because times have changed and there is just so much more helpful stuff coming out from researchers into boy psychology.  First of all, the news that boys brains really are much more vulnerable.  It starts in the womb, as the production of testosterone by the boys’ own body actually slows down his brain growth.  We don’t know why this is, but it means he is vulnerable for longer, well into his first year of life, to stress and anxiety (as well as nasty chemicals like pthalates in plastics, which has been linked to ADHD and other problems).  But the main message is that we need to take care of young parents, and mums especially, so they can relax, bond, and engage in that lovely dance of tenderness and comfort that helps a baby learn to regulate their emotions and grow the brain structures that determine a calm and happy level of mental heatlh.

The Full On Fours is another stage – we knew about this – where most boys get very active about this age, but the science has moved on, and it looks like a very early beginning of being not just a toddler, but a BOY toddler.  Of course, every boy is different and so don’t let this be a prescription.  We talk in the book about how to respond to those energy levels, and not make your boy feel bad for being rambunctious. Human beings are very active creatures and we still need to allow for that.

The Emotional Eights are a new discovery from the Murdoch Institute. The actual brain changes at eight signal the Adrenarche, or pre-puberty shift in adrenal hormones, and your son may become very volatile and need help to understand his own inner turmoil.

And did I mention adolescence? Well, there’s lots about that too because there are a thousand different ways to be a boy. How to keep boys safe, happy, and loving and happy with the girls in their lives, so that they stay friends with their mothers long into adulthood.

What could create more happiness than to have that warmth when they are adult, and into our old age! A son who loves us back, and isn’t afraid to show it. What a Mother’s Day present.

More information on Raising Boys in the 21st Century can be found here >>

Custom Publishing: So what is it all about?

Sam Miles talks about custom publishing and the successful launch of News Time

Custom Publishing: So what’s it all about?

On Friday March 9, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of smoothfm radio Breakfast host Glenn Daniel’s memoir called News Time. Held at Doltone House it was a remarkably swish affair, with fairy lights, large photos from the book arranged around the room, a host of glamorous people from the radio industry and many, many glasses of champagne!

News Time is Glenn’s recollections of his time spent in commercial FM radio, from the humble beginnings of 2UE in a small building on the outskirts of western Sydney, and spans his 35 years spent at 2SM, 2Day FM, Triple M, ABC News Radio and 101.7 WSFM. It is a fascinating book, full of all the behind the scenes stories that you never get to hear about, as well as containing some truly memorable photos and radio memorabilia.

About 7 months earlier Glenn had come to visit us at Mona Vale and discussed the idea for turning his manuscript into a book. He didn’t want it available in bookshops, as he wanted to sell it through his connections and through a website, to help raise funds for St Alfred’s Hospital. He did want a professionally produced book and through discussions we reached an agreement where we would edit, proofread, design and style Glenn’s book, and then organise printing and shipping. There was also an option to help market the book but as Glenn had the full force of Nova radio network behind him, this was not necessary.

Glenn turned out to not only one of the nicest men in the universe but a dream author: quick to respond, decisive when required, considerate of all the issues and just a real pleasure to work with.

Luckily for me as the project manager, News Time turned out beautifully and Glenn was very happy with the finished book. As Glenn had poured his heart and soul into the book I was one very nervous person on the day it was due to be delivered. I was even having dreams about boxes of books falling off trucks or all the photos being printed upside down!

The service we offered Glenn is called custom publishing. It works well for authors who want their books produced within a particular timeframe or for talks or conferences. As publicity and marketing for books on our publishing list usually start at least 7 months before the book is even edited, traditional publishing always takes a lot longer than many people think. It is not the production that takes up so much time but the pre-selling into bookshops. Custom publishing is also a great option for authors who want a professionally produced book to give as corporate gifts, to sell at seminars or through their own websites or have as family treasures.

We treat your manuscript with as much care and consideration as we would with any book on our publishing list. We use the same people we use for our own books and apply the same standards of quality. We can also help you publicise and market your book, which is almost a full time job in self, as many self-published authors will attest!

Glenn’s book can be found at https://www.newstime.media. Having survived cancer and open heart surgery, all profits from the sale of News Time will be donated to the Cardiac Research Unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for its ‘world first’ valve replacement program without open heart surgery. Not only is it a really interesting read, you will be supporting a fantastic cause.

Anyone for a cup of tea? Or not?

My younger son started uni last year and we have been talking about dating and yes, ok, about sex, which lead to a discussion on recognising a Yes or a No. The signs of sexual consent. Yes, tricky!

He told me that the student body had posted The Cup of Tea PSA, a clever Thames Valley Police 3 minute video featuring stick figures, to ensure the first years understood the concept of sexual consent on campus.

In The Cup of Tea PSA, rules of consent are explained using that most fantastic of English traditions, tea drinking. Almost universally you will be asked the question in every home in Britain, ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’

Tea as a euphemism, well, well!

The video begins with the very up front and straight down the line, ‘Oh my God, I would love a cup of tea!’ response, no grey lines here. But then it moves into illustrating where consent lines can get blurry. These responses range from the fairly simple: to understanding that your guest did want tea, but changed his or her mind once you put the kettle on, to the less clear: your guest isn’t really sure how to feel about tea right now.

If you say, ‘Hey, would you like a cup of tea?’ and your guest answers, ‘Uh, you know, I’m not really sure,’ then you can make them a cup of tea, but be aware that they might not drink it.

And if they don’t drink it, then — and this is the important bit — don’t make them drink it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean they have to drink it. And if they say, ‘No, thank you’, then don’t make them tea. At all.

The video goes on to explain what to do if someone loses consciousness while you are asking them if they want tea, even if they said yes prior to passing out, ‘you should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe and, this is the important part again, don’t make them drink the tea.’

That’s a lot of talk of tea and I get it, I do. My son said that yes it was an important message but he doesn’t have to remember the making a cup of tea analogy to recognise the signs of sexual consent from potential partners and he certainly would never give tea to anyone unconscious!

In Love, Sex and No Regrets for Today’s Teens, author Elizabeth Clarke writes about how important it is being able to practise saying, ‘I’m not comfortable with that, I don’t know you that well, I want to know you better’ or simply ‘No’.

Elizabeth stresses that a healthy sexuality for teens comes down to being old enough and mature enough to know how to say ‘No’ when you need to and to recognise when your partner is saying ‘No’. That means if you aren’t getting a response from your partner, if there’s shrugging or suggestions of ‘I don’t know’ then that is a ‘No’.  An unenthusiastic anything is a ‘No’.

‘Yes, just do it’, or ‘I may as well get it over with’, are responses that really shouldn’t be heard but seem to be accepted in our sexualised society where boundaries do get blurry and issues of self-worth aren’t discussed. Elizabeth tells us what these ‘No’ signs are from other people in a straightforward, honest way.

The Brits do love their tea and the PSA does get the message across, albeit very simplistically.  However, it does ultimately demonstrate the importance of  ‘No means No, which is a message our teenagers need to know the signs of, with or without a cup of tea as their guide.

Sarah Blundell

Getting a Lift Mick’s Way – Ep1

Mick Miller has a chat with some important people in his life in his faithful ’68 VW Beetle. Mick survived cancer and packed up the Rocket and headed out around Australia. He speaks with some of the people who helped make that possible for him and the resulting book Travelling Australia Mick’s Way.

Mix it up this Christmas, come on step out of your Book Comfort Zone! 

A typical conversation between my husband and myself about a new book goes something like this:

Me: Just finished this great book. Do you want to read it? I think you’ll enjoy it.
Him: Mmm is it a Sci-fi?
Me: No it is a surprisingly compelling memoir given the subject matter. I didn’t want to put it down…
Him: Sounds like a YOU sort of book… I am on book #23 of [insert sci-fi series here] at the moment, so no I don’t think so.
Me: (eye rolling)

Book comfort zones, we all have one, that safe couple of aisles in the bookstore where we feel guaranteed to find something that we will enjoy. My husband resides squarely in Sci-fi land, sometimes straying onto thriller aisle but very rarely.

I was chatting to the fountain of all wisdom, my hairdresser, about this phenomenon and it turns out that most people are either firmly in the fiction or non-fiction camp and rarely cross over. As an example her husband will not read anything other than a biography or memoir.

Now I have a confession to make. Prior to working here at Finch Publishing I would rarely, if ever, go into the non-fiction section, maybe for a cookbook and then only to satisfy my guilt and have a quick look at the dieting books but basically that was it. My comfort zone is definitely in the fiction section. I prefer novels, a TV drama over a reality TV show and would rather watch a movie instead of documentary any day!

Well that was then and since non-fiction has become a necessary part of my reading – at times the only reading I have time to do – a whole new section in the bookstore has revealed itself to me. Intriguing, well written memoirs allowing me to share someone’s story, now present themselves invitingly. I have taken steps past the rows and rows of cook books to discover a land of new titles. I Knew You’d Have Brown Eyes, Home Truths, Emotional Fitness, The Happiness Quest , Raise Your Voice and yes I know they are all FINCH titles but they were all new to me and each one filled with the potential for changing my life!

Some truly have, after reading The Priests by James Miller I realised that my brother may also have suffered from a type of PTSD and so began to look at things with different eyes. Home Truths by Mandy Nolan is a totally underrated book particularly if you are a mum completely over the yummy mummy crew, this one will give you a good laugh with your glass of Pinot Gris and made me re-evaluate what I call ‘Home’ and why. Life a Guide by Andrew Fuller is the only book that my husband actually picked up and it truly did help him get out of bed one morning…Hitchy Feet, Cold Vein, Love Sex and No Regrets so many more have all had an effect on me.

So really all I am saying is, yes, there are those comforting aisles in your bookshop where we all feel safe and at home, familiar authors with familiar covers, but maybe step beyond those on your next visit and pick up something that is truly out of your book comfort zone and you may be pleasantly surprised!

Publishing Manager Sam Miles gives us a brief synopsis of the shortlisted 2018 Memoir Prize books

This year we had some really outstanding entries in our memoir prize and I don’t envy our judges having to make their final decision! Here is a round up of the shortlisted entries:

Tin Gypsy by Alan Sampson: This is a heartfelt account of a father who visits his son who is living and working in the wilds of Canada’s Yukon to try and persuade him to come home to Australia and get a ‘proper’ job. However after being practically drowned in an extreme kayaking adventure, nearly eaten by a bear and beaten up in a bar brawl, he realises his son is the one who is living life to the full.

All Stations to Waterfall by Fay Keegan: A wonderfully clear-eyed and poignant account of how an accident –falling from a train carriage- at a young age shaped Fay Keegan’s life and that of her family’s. Fay’s story is compelling.

A Little Bit Country by Georgina Lawrence: When Georgina and her young family are fed up with the heatwaves sweeping the city they spontaneously decide to move to the outskirts of the Adelaide Hills and buy a tumbled down farm. Without any knowledge of any kind of farming experience they are plunged headfirst into ‘true’ country life. Utterly charming and humorous.

Okotoks Erratic by Vicki Laveau-Harvie: When her elderly mother is hospitalised, Vicki is summoned to her parents’ home in America to care for her father. What she discovers when she arrives is a power play that has been going on between her parents that has dramatic and possibly fatal ramifications for all involved. An intensely gripping, black humoured drama.

A Woman of Strange Substance  by Sacha Jones: This is the follow up to The Grass Was Always Browner which was published by Finch a few years ago. It follows Sacha to London where she continues to pursue her dreams if becoming a prima ballerina but is thwarted by the many distractions of London’s patisseries. Charming and funny.

Coming Home to Squabbling Ground by Jenifer Severn: A painful childhood with a remote and complicated father shapes Jennifer’s life in ways that she doesn’t even realise. Her attempts at reconciliation later in life lead her to contemplate her life from a completely new angle. A thoughtful and considered examination of family relationships.

Mick Miller – Learning to ‘go with the flow’

Mick Miller had an incredible career as a high performance coach for some of Australia’s top athletes, including Olympians, Rugby League teams and America’s Cup campaigns.  He was used to living a life on four-year Olympic cycles, with constant demands on his time and resources, high pressure to reach KPIs, high stress and even higher expectations. He was constantly pushing, pushing, pushing! ‘I was looking after everybody else, but not really looking after myself,’ said Mick.

He swam every morning at Newport Beach. One day he swam over a clump of seaweed at the northern end of the beach and observe how it just drifted with the current of the ocean – it just went with the flow. Mick thought about how amazing it would be to live life like that, to just go with the flow.  When he got out of the water he felt a lump on his neck, a swollen gland that he hadn’t noticed before. Three weeks and two operations later he was given the diagnosis of neck and throat cancer. One of the doctors told Mick, ‘Mate, we are going to have to nearly kill you to make you better. I had put to everything on hold, including the mortgage, closed my business and embarked on the first day of the rest of my life.’

Mick was convinced that he would be able to cruise through the treatment, pretend everything was normal and not tell anyone he had cancer, for reasons he is still not quite sure why.  He quickly learned that it wasn’t going to be quite that simple.  Treatment started well, but the wheels began to fall off about halfway through. Paula Macleod, the Head and Neck Cancer Care Coordinator at Royal North Shore Hospital, asked him one day: ‘Mick, why do you keep trying to crash through the brick wall when there is a door there that you can easily open?’  Mick knew then that he just had to surrender, ‘go with the flow’ like that seaweed at the beach and ask for some help.

Mick soon realised that, just like in the sporting arena, a team approach is vital and that in the hospital he had an amazing team around him for support consisting of nurses, dieticians, medical and radiation oncologists, and surgeons. ‘My recovery really was a team effort and every single person contributed in some way or another.  From the dedicated team at the hospital, my sister Laura, special friend Robbie, my friends who organised rosters, drove me to treatment, cooked meals and had me to stay in their homes.  Friends who would call or text, hold my hand, laugh at my jokes, inspire me and encourage my dreams or simply those who had me in their thoughts.  It was important to surround myself with the right people, with the right energy – an incredible bunch of people who helped guide me through the whole experience.”

After leaving hospital, Mick decided to make a few changes in his life, treat each day as a gift and go with the flow. Post-treatment and some 25kg lighter, he took a holistic approach to healing with regular appointments with a psychologist, nutritionist, acupuncturist, naturopath, massage therapist and physiotherapist, truly investing in himself and his recovery.

He also decided to embark on a journey of recovery and discovery, circumnavigating Australia in his 1968 sky blue VW Beetle fondly named The Rocket, raising funds and awareness for post-cancer recovery.  His travels led to world acclaim through his blog, ‘Travelling Australia Mick’s Way’ and then the publication of his inspirational book with the same title.  A portion from the sale of each copy of Travelling Australia Mick’s Way is donated to help cancer patients and their families post cancer treatment via The Tomorrow Trust, which helps to bring some normality back into the lives of cancer patients and their families.

Today Mick is a much sought after public speaker, performance coach and freelance radio commentator. Mick is passionate about giving back and helping other cancer patients and their families, often touching base with new cancer patients referred to him for a chat by Paula Macleod.

‘Life is different now, I consciously choose not to brand anything good or bad, it is just different and everything that I have experienced is exactly that: an experience.  All these experiences have helped shape me to become who I am today and have given me a much clearer perspective on life: no fears, no expectations, no rush –  just going with the flow.’

Mick Miller

 

What I learned from reading a book written for ‘children’

In my role as Publishing Manager of Finch I do not always have time to edit or proof read most of our books.  They are sent to freelancers once I have read through the initial manuscript and decided on a course of action. Does this manuscript need rewriting or is it fine to send straight to an editor? Does it need trimming for length or expanding some sections? Is the writing quality good enough? Does the author actually make sense?  However, sometimes I find myself taking in author’s and proof reader corrections and become hooked on a particular idea or theme of a manuscript that  wasn’t immediately clear to me before. Such was the case when I was doing some work on a manuscript called Unlocking Your Child’s Genius by Andrew Fuller.

Now, I am no genius! And this book isn’t for genius children either.  But in one chapter, which covers the process of having to make difficult decisions, I found myself thinking…wait, this is not just for kids, this is a really invaluable chapter for anyone of any age!  As I got further into it, and saw all the underlying processes that go into making decisions,  I began to wonder how I had managed to get through my life without this advice. In fact after re-reading the rest of the book I began to wonder how I had made it through life at all!

Another valuable chapter for me was ‘Practising to Improve’, which included information on the art of deliberate practice. This applied mainly to sports, but could be used in any endeavour. Deliberate practice is identifying a skill that needs improvement and working on improving that skill. This sounds quite basic but how many times do you find yourself just doing the things you are good at and kind of ‘forgetting’ or not wanting to practice the things you are not so good at? For me, a lot! In my chosen sport of dressage riding, deliberate practice has become a very big part of my training. It was also fascinating to learn about mirror neurons and the way we can actually improve our own skills just by watching someone else do something. I thought this happened to me only because I was a ‘visual’ learner, but to find out there is actually a process in the brain that ‘mirrors’ activity was amazing. (Maybe everyone already knew this…but I didn’t.)

All in all I felt somewhat humbled by also invigorated by reading this book for ‘children’. I suppose the biggest lesson of all is that we never stop learning!

Unlocking your child’s genius by Andrew Fuller is available at all good bookstores and online now.

Peter Berner and Creatives Unleashed

Finch Publishing, Sydney Art Space and Made In Design presented…

Creatives Unleashed, an afternoon where artisans and locals were able to mingle and meet. It is always fascinating to meet the people who create objects that we love to have in our lives, and it was also an opportunity to try your hand at creating your own unique art piece.

The event was definitely boosted by the appearance of Peter Berner , comedian, illustrator and author of THE BOOK OF HE and his new October release THE BOOK OF THEY.

Peter took over the art space, unleashing his own creative energy in the form of his familiar, slightly skewered take on life cartoons. He spoke about the importance of art in his own professional development as an illustrator/comedian and author.

Where does Peter get his burning energy from?

He came, he saw, he definitely tried to get in the way….. thanks Peter.

The success of this initial event will ensure it takes place again in this unique creative environment.

So watch this space..