Many people know Sophie as the writer of a number of popular of books across many different genres and age ranges. Some may know of the work she does to support emerging writers through writers centre programs and roles with national writers bodies such as the ASA. However, many are unfamiliar with her latest business adventure – one of the directors and brains behind two new small presses – so I asked Sophie to answer some questions for the blog to fill us all in!
1. Tell us a bit about Christmas Press and its imprint Eagle books.
Christmas Press is a small children’s publisher, a partnership business between four creators: myself; illustrator and designer David Allan; author and illustrator Fiona McDonald; and writer and editor Beattie Alvarez. We started in 2013 and to date(March 2015) have published 4 books – three picture books featuring retellings of traditional tales – fairy tales, folk tales, myths and legends by well-known authors(to date, Ursula Dubosarsky, Kate Forsyth, and myself, with more to come this year) and lavishly illustrated by emerging illustrators – in this case, David and Fiona (though more illustrators will come on board next year). We have also published a Christmas anthology, Once Upon A Christmas, with poems, stories and illustrations by lots of different authors and illustrators.
Christmas Press itself will continue to concentrate on those sorts of books but we have just started a new fiction imprint for young people, Eagle Books, which will concentrate specifically on adventure fiction. And very excitingly our launch title is the first new English translation in over a hundred years of the great Jules Verne classic, Mikhail Strogoff, which will be translated by Stephanie Smee, whose previous translations of the great classics by the Countess de Segur have been bestsellers.
2. What made you interested in setting up a small press?
We felt there was a gap in the market–and that there WAS a market for retellings of traditional stories, the kinds of books we weren’t seeing around but that we’d all grown up on, loved, and been inspired by. And then as Christmas Press developed, we felt there was also an opening for the kinds of very adventure-focussed fiction that Eagle Books will focus on.
3. What is your long-term vision for each imprint?
Christmas Press will very much concentrate on those twin elements: beautiful picture book retellings of traditional stories, and one Christmas-themed title a year. We may also consider other possibilities in the future, such as standalone picture books or reprints of out of print books. But that’s for later. With Eagle Books, we’ll be concentrating on adventure fiction: whether set in historical, contemporary or fantasy backgrounds, and with a mix of classic and modern authors. We feel it’s important for a small press to not try to do too much and go haring off in all directions. So our lists are very focussed.
4. What is your top learning from starting your own small business?
Do your homework regarding sales possibilities, pitching to distributors etc: very important you get that right!
5. What opportunities are there for people to:
a) get involved?
Have a look at our books, check out our websites and Facebook pages and let us know what you think!
b) support your press?
Right now, it would be great if people might have a look at our crowdfunding campaign for Mikhail Strognoff and consider contributing to and/or publicising this fantastic project.
Thanks Sophie for some great insight into your latest projects! Please do consider backing Sophie’s project here. You can like the facebook page for Eagle Books here and for Christmas Press here. You can find the Eagle Press website here and the Christmas Press website here. I will be interviewing others involved with this project in coming weeks so stay tuned…
Born in Indonesia of French parents, and brought up in Australia and France, Sophie Masson is the award-winning and internationally-published author of over 60 books for children, young adults and adults, published in Australia and many other countries. Among these are her bestselling historical novel for children, The Hunt for Ned Kelly (Scholastic Australia), which won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature in the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. She has also written four popular YA romantic thrillers under the name of Isabelle Merlin. Under the name of Jenna Austen, she has also published two romantic comedies for tweens and early teens.
2014 was a big year for Sophie, with several novels for young people published: The Crystal Heart(Random House Australia), 1914((Scholastic Australia) and Emilio(Allen and Unwin). Her latest adult novel, Trinity: The Koldun Code, first in the Trinity thriller series set in Russia, was published by Momentum Books in 2014, and her non-fiction adult title, The Adaptable Author: Coping with Change in the Digital Age , featuring interviews with over 40 authors, agents and publishers on the state of authorship and the publishing industry today, was published by Keesing Press in the same year. Forthcoming in 2015 are Hunter’s Moon (Random House Australia, June 2015) and Trinity: The False Prince (Momentum, October 2015).
Sophie is also one of the founding partners in a new children’s publishing house, Christmas Press. Sophie has served on the Literature Board of the Australia Council and the Book Industry Collaborative Council. She is still on the Board of the Australian Society of Authors, where she is an Executive Member, on the Board of the New England Writers’ Centre, where she is Chair, and she is President of the New England and North West sub-branch of the Children’s Book Council of NSW. In 2014 she was on a Peer Panel for the Australia Council, in the Literature division, assessing publishing grant applications.