Georgia Richter, Publisher at Fremantle Press
We are very pleased to present another interview conducted by editor Shelley Timms, this time talking to Georgia Richter, Publisher at Fremantle Press. Georgia shared with us the publishing process, tips on how to find a publisher for your book, some exciting new releases soon to come from Fremantle Press, and some of her favourite books.
What is your role at Fremantle Press?
My title is Publisher and I am the publisher of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. I also edit most of the books that I publish.
Do manuscripts that come to you usually need substantive editing?
It takes about the same time to go through the process of each; they have 4 to 6 months’ worth of editing. Each manuscript has its own aspect to be resolved.
What do you look for in a manuscript that makes it worthy of being published? Are there any criteria an author should consider when submitting their work for publication?
We receive around 500 to 600 manuscripts a year, and first they go to a manuscript assessor and anything that is promising then comes through to us. We are looking for and responding to the same things, and that is whether the author is going to tell you a good story, or really knows what they are doing.
You know that feeling when you trust the writer to take you somewhere? There’s always that thing where this person knows what they’re doing and I’m happy to go along for the ride. We read that manuscript in full knowledge that the one that we are reading is not the same manuscript that will be published, we know it is going to go through a process, but those promising elements are really there from the beginning.
Are there any common mistakes that authors make when it comes to submitting their work?
I wouldn’t call them ‘mistakes’ as such because the quality of what we receive is generally very high and getting higher all the time which is really interesting. People need to make sure they chose the right publisher for their manuscript. And they can do that by going into a bookshop, standing and looking at what is on the shelf and saying: ‘where would my book appear on that shelf?’ and ‘who is publishing that kind of book?’
It’s an understanding of the process that helps people the most and so they don’t choose the wrong destination to start with, and then not take rejection personally. What [rejection] means is that their manuscript is not suitable for the [publisher] they have chosen.
I’m publishing 8 books out of the 500 coming in, and that’s only the [new books]. Then there are repeat authors, authors who are on their second or third book with us. Your chances of getting picked up are very low and it’s a numbers game. What it means really is that your manuscript has not made a connection with that particular reader. It doesn’t mean it won’t make a connection with another reader, and it’s really a question of finding the right reader for your manuscript. And to understand that the act of writing is not the same as the act of seeking out publication. It is much more of an administrative thing in a way, not getting those two things mixed up and to not taking it as a mortal blow.
Is there a certain audience that gravitates towards Fremantle Press books?
We have a very broad list, so yes and no. So I would say not ultra-commercial and not ultra-genre. We don’t publish romance, we don’t tend to publish fantasy or really hard core sci-fi, so there’s kind of a literary aspect to what we do. The people who check us out often do because they know that we tell great West Australian stories, but otherwise it’s a very broad readership that we have.
Are Fremantle Press books just sold in Perth, or do you sell them elsewhere as well?
Our books are distributed by Penguin Random House, so wherever you find those books you find our books. We actually are distributed worldwide as well, so you can buy us in North America and throughout Europe. There’s also a growing market in Asia. We have around 30 books in translation at the moment so places like Turkey, Korea, France, Spain [will soon have access to our books].
I think what I’d also say there is our strength is in understanding Western Australian stories and taking those stories to the world. We really get how to bring the best out of a Western Australian story.
Can you describe the publication process?
From the time you sign your contract, you’d be expecting your book to appear [on the shelves] about 12 to 18 months after that. It feels like a long time, but you’ve got about 4 to 6 months of editing, where it moves through from the macro to the micro. You’re looking at structural issues first, and then withering it down to line editing. You might go through 4 passes or more with the editor, and the author is working pretty hard with the manuscript at that time. And then there’s about three months of production and the book gets laid out, the cover goes to design and it gets proofread and ready for print. Then there’s about three months of printing and shipping. Then there’s about three months when we have advances in our possession and the marketing manager is then sending those out to reviewers and bloggers and people who like to promote the book. [This gives them] time to write the review.
At the same time the marketing manager is then working with the author on the particular strategy for the promotion of their book. She’ll be working with their strengths and in their comfort zone, and also adding elements that she believes will benefit the promotion of the book.
Then there’s the publishing date, and that’s when the author really needs to be a different person in terms of the introvert that wrote the book to a more public person. It really requires a whole different set of skills for promotion. Some writers enjoy both, and some enjoy one over the other.
Does Fremantle Press have any exciting releases coming up?
We always have exciting new releases!
We have a new crime novel by Alan Carter, which is called Marlborough Man that is set in New Zealand.
There’s a beautiful new picture book coming out for older kids called Drawn Onward by Meg McKinlay, which, in broad terms, is about self-esteem. It is a real visual treat.
And then I’ve got another kind of amusing crime novel called Bad to Worse by Robert Edeson, which is a sequel to his novel The Weaver Fish. [The Weaver Fish] won the City of Fremantle T.A.G Hungerford Award. It’s a very eclectic novel; it’s got footnotes and an index and maths equations and forays into the world of poetry, while also having this very awesome crime plot. It’s a very unusual read.
Lastly, do you have any book recommendations for our readers?
I’ve thought about what’s on my bedside table at the moment; some of these aren’t hugely current, but [are books] that have certainly gripped me:
- Helen Garner’s Everywhere I Look. I will always read anything by Helen Garner, she’s amazing
- A biography by Thornton McCamish, called Our Man Elsewhere which is about Alan Moorehead, the war correspondent, is a great read
- An amazing novel called Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
- I’m also reading a book of essays about poetry called Nine Gates by Jane Hirshfield