Australian genre fiction authors look overseas for publishers
22 October 2022
If you’re an Australian author, don’t bother submitting manuscripts for anything other than literary fiction to local publishers. Nothing else will be accepted. That seems to be the message from a number of prominent Australian writers, including Stephanie Laurens and Shelley Parker-Chan, who say they had to find overseas publishers for their works of genre fiction.
The local publishing landscape is dominated by trade houses that concentrate on contemporary or literary fiction: books that are often character-driven, serious and contemplative. But these novels are not the most popular. A 2021 survey of Australian readers found crime and mystery was their favourite genre, followed by science fiction and fantasy, then contemporary and literary fiction.
But according to Jo MacKay, the head of local publishing at HQ Books, a division of HarperCollins, the Australian book market is saturated by the likes of fantasy fiction. It may be popular, but no one is buying it, if that makes any sense. And while Australian authors undoubtedly greatly benefit from exposure to markets such as those in America, there are strings attached.
For instance, Laurens reported having to be content with a cover design her publisher thought would be conducive to sales, rather than an option she would have preferred.