Rochelle Manners - Publisher and Director
Wombat Books is a small publisher creating quality books to respect life, in all its forms. We publish books with new and established authors. We have a particular interest in Australian books.
Wombat Books will consider new publications through a traditional process from predominantly Australian authors. We are primarily interested in books for children including children’s picture books and young adult fantasy. We publish about 6-10 books for children per year. Check out our submission details for more information.
Wombat Books was founded by Rochelle Manners, director and publisher.
Rhiza Press is our imprint for older readers (ages 14+). Find out more at: www.rhizapress.com.au.
Tell us a little about yourself and your history in the publishing industry.
I’ve always loved words: writing them, reading them, speaking them. They hold such a transformational and special power between two people. So it’s no wonder that I find myself in the industry of words. I’m quite new and young to the publishing field. I completed an internship for the Australian Publishing Association in 2015 with Wombat Books and now work there as the Publishing Assistant. I’m always being challenged by and learning from the words around me, anticipative of where they will take me next.
What can you tell us about your publishing house and what you publish?
Wombat Books has been sharing stories and creating memories with families since 2009. As an independent publisher, we love to find those unique stories that connect us all. We feature children’s picture books and early readers with pages filled with readable and loveable characters. We are always on the lookout for the next story to be shared.
What qualities do you look for when deciding to publish a picture book? Is there a checklist you use when considering manuscripts?
It’s all about the experience. Books are a moment between the reader and author, or between a parent and a child as they read to them, so it has to be exciting and special. As publishers, we’re looking for something one-of-a-kind: that gem among the manuscripts that pulls at your heart strings or makes you laugh.
Does it help when selecting an author for publication if they already have a presence in the children’s book industry?
It always helps to have a foot in the door, but we publish books not based on who wrote them, but the book itself. We’re mainly interested in the story to be told, not who’s telling it.
I have written a children’s picture book manuscript – do I need to find an illustrator myself?
No, one of our tasks as publishers is to match the picture book art to the words.
Does having an agent push you to the top of the slush pile?
Not necessarily. We review all submissions whether they have an agent or not. Of course, having an agent gives you the credibility as you have already gained their attention with your talent.
What’s a common mistake you find when reading a manuscript?
Writers trying to copy the books already out there. They see what’s popular and try to mimic it, rather than creating their own unique story. However, that story has already been published. We’re looking for new ones to be told.
Should a potential author be discouraged by the dreaded rejection letter?
It’s always hard when something you’ve poured your heart and time into is rejected. It can feel like a personal affront. However, it should be taken as an opportunity to keep working on your art form. The rejection does not necessarily mean the work is bad. It may mean that it’s not quite there in its current form, or it’s not something the publisher would consider, or the timing of the story is not quite right. There’s many reasons, and it’s important to not let one “no” stop you from sharing your story.
And finally, what are publishers looking for in a submission?
Something that makes me keep reading. Very simple really.
Interview courtesy of Emily Lighezzolo – Wombat Books