31 July 2013

A note from our Conductor ...

I may be the only publisher in the world who actually reads the unsolicited pile.  
Sometimes it makes me happy. The reason I read these manuscripts is that we have discovered so many wonderful and talented writers this way. Including Markus Zusak. Here he is as he was when we first knew him:

(Unable to locate the photographer's name -- apologies.)

He was discovered on our unsolicited pile and we published his first two books. It was his letter that got me in. Here is a bit of that letter -- pay attention to his very deliberate line spaces.

The Underdog ... is a short novel which can be summed up as a boy's life in all its dirtiness, eagerness, despairing hopelessness and smallness.

It's a thoroughly disgusting tale.

It's good.

But surely, it's not what you're looking for.

... It originated from the idea of a shocker dental appointment and the abrasive kitchen meals shared by two brothers. From there I kept moving forward. Through perverted dreams, noble ones and a lot of barking and scratching, I came to my conclusions as a boy with "boy's arms" and who definitely can't grow a beard, that boys are like dogs -- wild, vicious, gentle, dreaming, eager-to-please dogs.


I snivel.

You can see in this letter all Markus's hopes and dreams laid out. Here is someone who knows what he wants. His ambition is clear. And he can write. We published that first novel and the second as well. Everyone starts somewhere, and Omnibus has started some of the very best.

Michael Bauer, David Cornish, Kerry Argent, Mem Fox; these are a few of the writers and illustrators it has been our privilege to publish first. So I keep reading the unsolicited pile. I hope soon someone just as talented will turn up on that stack of paper. 

If you want to know what I am looking for it's this: 
  • I want original work! (This cuts out ALL stories about Labradors, clever mums, forgetful grandparents and cute kids doing cute things with mums, Labradors, or grandparents.)
  • I want work with heart. (But remembering the rule about Labradors.)
  • I want new illustrators -- really good ones.
  • I want literary writing
  • I want rhyming work that actually rhymes. (See rule about Labradors -- so a Labrador named Lily who wants to run and be silly is out.) Equally do not use phrasing like 'his mouth it did close' in order to rhyme the line with 'when the bee went up his nose'. That's when I close the manuscript.
  • I want work for 8 to 10-year-old readers that isn't soppy or sentimental or full of 1960s style japes.

Actually I want Bridge to Terabithia, or perhaps Hating Alison Ashley. I may have mentioned that before. Anyone? I'm at my desk right now ... waiting for that gem to arrive.

(Please note that I have stopped feeding manuscripts to my Perusal. My Consideration was equally overfed. Both are now on diets as they no longer fitted under my desk. Please don't send any more work for either of them. They don't read anyway!)

30 July 2013


You may have noticed over in our right-hand column a new news feed which takes its content from the Guardian UK's children's book section -- a reputable source of news and reviews of all things children's books. I thought I'd point out this particularly funny and cool item in their How To Draw series, 'How to Draw a Bear and a Boy in a Boat' by illustrator Dave Shelton.

Don't forget, if you're one of our younger readers (the special ones we really like) you can send in your review of any Omnibus book and if we choose it for our blog we'll send you a free book (which you will also have to review. Come on! Did you think it was really free?!) Click here and here for some reviewing inspiration.

And here is the cover of our new favourite picture book, Octopuppy, which isn't out until September but it's too cute not to share. Puppies!

16 July 2013

July books

Meet Otis Dooda. Yes, that's his name. This is the story of Otis and the Dooda family (including their rat Smoochie) moving to New York City, and the incredibly strange but true things that happened to them. It all started with Otis getting cursed by a potted plant in the lobby and then meeting a bunch of their neighbours, including a farting pony named Peaches, which was disguised as a dog. And that was just the first day!

New in our world-famous Mates! series is Bush Holiday. Tillithia loves the school holidays and doing stuff with her mum. But Auntie Doreen is here in her big truck to take them both on a real bush holiday!

And now even the youngest readers can get to know some of the adorable Australian animals in Possum Magic. Children and parents will love this variation on a timeless favourite. Possum Magic has been voted by booksellers as Australia's best-selling children's picture book.

05 July 2013

Wonderful news!

Congratulations to our two authors and two illustrators whose books have been shortlisted for the Western Australian Premier's Book Award. These are both beautiful picture books that we are very proud of.