G'day folks,

Today, I welcome one of Australia's most renowned authors as part of a blog tour - Di Bates.  Di has written well over 120 titles so you will find this article very interesting.

Welcome, Di ...

Working With a Great Publisher    For about 35 years I’ve been writing books for children and have now published well over 120 titles with a range of big publishers like Penguin Books and HarperCollins to small publishers such as Morris Publishing Australia and Dragon Tales Publishing. Although the bigger companies have more clout nationally and internationally and the royalties from them are generally more than that received from small, I have a preference for publishing with smaller companies. Personal attention, better lines of communication and pro-activity are hallmarks of the staff working on small imprints. This is the story of the latest smallish publisher I worked with which has been one of the best I’ve ever published with.

Some years ago I wrote three children’s non-fiction books about cats, dogs and horses which, being all alike in presentation, I saw as a book series. Each book contained fun facts and amazing stories about animals - a Guinness Book of Records meets Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Each book, for example cats, had the same format as the other two. 
Awesome Cats looked at the cats in history, cat adventures, famous cats and famous people’s cats, TV, stage and movie cats, and working, luck, spoilt and clever cats. There were many jaw-dropping facts about cats, stories that were amazing but true, jokes and verse featuring cats, and for the true catophiles, there was a list of children’s books about cats.

As well as completing every book, I also created a marketing proposal to help any publisher make a decision to publish. The proposal included the demographics of the intended audience (children aged 8 to 12 years with a reading age of nine), a description of the series’ contents and approach, the main strengths of the series, any major competition (I couldn’t find any), markets to which the series would appeal and an author bio. I then found as many possible publishers for the series and began my submissions.

Looking at statistics in my despatches’ file over a few twelve month periods, I have found that on average one third of publishers to whom I submit manuscripts never respond. Of those that do, most of them take from three to nine months to reply. None ever give reasons for rejecting manuscripts (which is fair enough as they are not assessors, just industry people accepting or rejecting a product). 

Eventually I had submitted to 30 publishers in Australia and overseas without any luck. Then a small Australian publisher based in Sydney expressed interest. I was invited to the publisher’s office where she showed me books she had published. They looked exactly what I had envisaged for my books – attractively designed with photographic content. All of the books she had published were about animals. That day the publisher said she would send me a contract.

I waited. For months. When I wrote asking when I might expect the contract, the publisher replied (after some weeks) apologising that she was now unable to publish my books; that she had closed her doors.

I then submitted to all other publishers I thought might be interested and when I had exhausted all possibilities, I put my manuscripts in the proverbial ‘bottom drawer’. Years followed and I had more or less forgotten about my animal series. Then one day I was reviewing a beautifully designed, attractive and well-written non-fiction book by an Australian publisher I’d not heard of before – Big Sky Publishing, based in Sydney. When I saw on their website that Big Sky specialised in non-fiction books, I remembered my manuscripts and made a submission.

I sent my manuscript by Word document attachment by email on 13 January, 2015; receipt was acknowledged the next day, and them on 12 February I received an email from the publisher Diane Evans saying the company was interested. Diane phoned me three days later and all three books were contracted the following month. Submitting a manuscript and having it contracted in less than two months is something I hadn’t experienced in many years. This was the beginning of what has turned out to be a very happy journey for me. The publisher was a total delight to work with, and when I was sent samples of the artwork to approve, I was even happier. Diane’s sister Sharon who is responsible for book promotion has also been a blessing in the publishing process. 

I’ve learnt that Big Sky Publishing has its own book club (Red Gum) so my book will reach so many more children than would be possible with most other publishers. On top of that, Jodie Bennett who also works with the Evans’ sisters has been responsible for the production and delivery of bookmarks and posters – all in full, bright colour, and like the illustrations in each of the books, beautifully designed and presented. Each of the books feature lots of gorgeous illustrations combined with coloured photographic images of adorable dogs and cats from Best Friends Rescue and Little Legs Cat Rescue. The inclusion of real-life images and stories of the charismatic animals from these pet rescue organisations adds another level of education and inspiration. 

I could not really have imagined that that the Awesome Cats, Dogs and Horses’ books would turn out as brilliantly as they have. My whole experience with Big Sky Publishing from start to finish has been an author’s dream... in fact I really couldn’t have dreamed it, only hoped for it. 

So here’s an enormous thank you for all of those at Big Sky Publishing for their vision, their courtesy and great communication, and for their hard work turning once rejected manuscripts into books that I feel immensely proud of.

Where can people buy Awesome Cats and Awesome Dog?

The books retail for $14.99 each. Here’s where you can get Awesome Cats:

... and Awesome Dogs:

More about the books

Author: Dianne Bates

Publisher:  Big Sky Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-925275-38-4 Dogs

ISBN: 978-1-925275-40-7 Cats

Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Pages: 150

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 x 152mm

RRP: $14.99 (Paperback)

RRP:  $6.99 (eBook)

Publisher - Big Sky Publishing T: 1300 364 611 F: (02)99182396                                                                                
Distributor – Woodslane, phone: (02) 8445 2300 F: (02) 9970 5002 info@woodslane.com.au  www.woodslane.com.au

 Awesome Animals is an entertaining new non-fiction animal series for kids - a Guinness Book of Records meets Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Awesome Cats and Awesome Dogs are the first two books in the series published in October 2015 by Australian company, Big Sky Publishing.

Each beautifully styled book in the series features fascinating stories about animals from all over the world. In them, you will discover true stories and amazing facts about our best-loved pets cats and dogs.


1.  5 October Di Bates http://diannedibates.blogspot.com.au/ Article: Working with Big Sky Publishing

2.     6 October Karen Tyrrell http://www.karentyrrell.com

3.     7 October Dee White deescribewriting.wordpress.com

4.     8  October Clancy Tucker clancytucker.blogspot.com.au

5.     9 October Susan Whelan http:// www.kids-bookreview.com

6.     10  October Elaine Ouston www.elaineoustonauthor.com

7.     11 October Sandy Fussell www.sandyfussell.com/blog

8.     12  October Alison Reynolds www.alisonreynolds.com.au 

9.     13  October Kate Foster http://www.katejfoster.com/blog

10.    14  October Robyn Osborne http://robynosborne.com/blog-2    

11.    15 October Sally Murphy http://aussiereviews.com

12.    16 October Georgie Donaghey www.creativekidstales.com.au

13.    17 October Melissa Wray http://melissawray.blogspot.com.au

Clancy's comment: Well done, Di. Great concept, great author, great books.

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