Tag Archives: getting published

Meet Alisa Krasnostien …

This was cross-posted to the ROR blog. Instead of a writer, this time I’m interviewing Indy Press Powerhouse, Alisa Krasnostein.

Alisa Krasnostein is an environmental engineer by day, and runs indie publishing house Twelfth Planet Press by night. She is also Executive Editor at the review website Aussie Specfic in Focus! and part of the Galactic Suburbia Podcast Team. In her spare time she is a critic, reader, reviewer, runner, environmentalist, knitter, quilter and puppy lover.


Q: First let me say mega congratulations on being a finalist in the World Fantasy Awards (courtesy LOCUS) in the Special Award Non-Professional section for your work with Twelfth Planet Press.  I imagine you’ve been popping champagne ever since you found out. Did you have any inkling this was coming?

Thank you! My nomination was totally unexpected and took me completely by surprise.  I’m very excited because I was already planning on attending World Fantasy Con in San Diego.

Q: I was involved in Indy Press in the late 70s early 80s so I know how much work and money goes into this. If you’d had any idea that you’d be ‘working longer hours on the press than my day job and I still don’t have enough time in the week to get to everything that needs to be done.’  – (See full interview on Bibliophile Stalker) – would you have jumped in with as much enthusiasm?

Interesting question. I’m not afraid of hard work. I definitely lean towards the workaholic. I think also, being an engineer has trained me to get absorbed and focused on the task at hand. And the amount of time I work and the amount of work I create for myself is definitely self-inflicted. And I hear I can dial it back at any point in time if I want! I love indie press more now that when I first jumped in and I respect and appreciate the people who contribute to the scene even more so now that I know how much work and dedication and talent goes into everything that gets published. And I also believe that we are limited only by the passion, time, commitment and hard work that we put in. So. No pressure. And no regrets.

Q: And following on from that, if you could go back and give yourself advice about starting Twelfth Planet Press, what would that advice be?

The number one thing I regret is not taking my business more seriously from the start. My advice would be to set up my small press as a small business from the beginning and not rely on a box of receipts or a papertrail for forensic auditing later. I set the financial and business side up several years in and that was most definitely one of the most painful things to sort out. There’s so much more to writing and editing and publishing than the creative side and I would advise myself, and anyone jumping in (both at the publishing and the writing ends), to get a basic handle on accounting, legalese to read and understand contracts and basic business advice (like if you need an ABN and how to structure your business – will you be a sole trader or a company and what does that mean anyway?) .

Q: You did a post for Hoyden About Town on The Invisibility of Women in Science Fiction. It’s obviously a subject you feel strongly about.  Is Twelfth Planet Press seeking to address this issue with affirmative action?

Not in any formal or mandated way. Overall, I don’t have a gender imbalance issue at Twelfth Planet Press – I buy what I like and the best stories that are submitted to me. And funnily enough, that gender breakdown is different to the general norm (though that’s not true of my novella series).

The Twelve Planets – twelve four-story original collections by twelve different Australian female writers – is a project that came from a place of realising, at the time of idea conception, how few female Australian writers had been collected. That’s changed during the time of project development. But the Twelve Planets remains a project that will release over two years close to 50 new short stories written by women. And that’s something that I’m really proud to be doing.

Q: Twelfth Planet Press has had some remarkable wins for a new, small Indy Press. There were six finalistings in the Aurealis Awards this year. Two finalistings on the Australian Shadows Award. And Tansy Rayner Roberts’ novella Siren Beat won the WSFA Small Press Award for 2010. This novella was part of a series of back-to-back novellas that Twelfth Planet Press released.  It’s notoriously hard, from a writer’s point of view, to sell a novella to a publisher. Why did TPP start producing BtB novellas?

Thanks, I was particularly pleased with our Aurealis Awards shortlistings this year coming after seven shortlistings last year. It feels like validation for some of the choices that I’ve made particularly in terms of the direction I’ve taken. And the win from the WSFA was just unbelievably exciting. I’m so proud of the work that Tansy Rayner Roberts is producing at the moment.

I really wanted to have a product to sell at a particular price point, around the $10 to $15 mark. That was really the place that I started at for the novella doubles. I personally love the novella length, especially for science fiction and I loved the idea of paying homage to the Ace Doubles. I especially loved the idea of pairing two totally unrelated works and throwing them into a package like many of the Ace Doubles did. From a gambling sense, if you love one and not so much the other, that’s not a bad deal for $12. And from a publisher’s point of view I like the idea of perhaps enticing readers to find new or unknown to them writers or be exposed to a new genre by buying a double for one of the stories and getting the other one as a bonus. If I make the pairs right!

Q: An editor once said to me, I can’t tell you want I want, but I’ll know when I see it. This is incredibly frustrating to a writer. Can you tell us what you want?

Only that I’ll know when I see it. Sorry! But yeah, we look for what we aren’t expecting, what is outside of what everyone else is writing, that breaks new ground and feels fresh, that stands out from the pack. What I want is the project that stands out cause it’s not like all the other books on the shelf. I specifically look firstly for really solid writing – writing that is unpretentious and doesn’t get in the way of the story. And then I want to be emotionally or intellectually moved or changed by the work. I look for stories that demand my attention and then hold it. I look for stories that tell me something I didn’t know before – about myself, or about society or humanity. I look for a rewarding reading experience. So. Not much.

I’m very busy and I deliberately choose to read submissions when I’m in a bad mood and whilst doing something else. I want what I’m reading to demand attention, to demand I put everything down and just read it to the end.

Q:  A finalist placing in the World Fantasy Awards has to raise the profile of Twelfth Planet Press. Where would you like to see TPP in five years time?

I’d like to see us with wider distribution in brick and mortar bookshops all over the place (long live the bookshop!) and being in a position to pay pro rates for writing, art, design and layout. I’d like to see us pushing genre boundaries and continuing to publish top quality fiction by writers at the top of our field that inspires, engages and entertains.

Q: On a personal note, where would you like to see yourself being career-wise in five years time?

I’d like to be working full time for Twelfth Planet Press.


Follow Alisa on Twitter  @Krasnostein

Hear the podcasts on Galactic Suburbia

Hear the TPP Podcasts.

Catch up with Alisa on Linked in

Catch up on FaceBook

Drop by the ASIF Website.


Filed under Australian Writers, Awards, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Genre, Indy Press, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry

Friends doing well!

Over on the ROR blog I’ve done a post about the Aurealis Awards. These are the Australian equivalent to the Nebulas or the Hugos (I forget which one is judged by a panel of peers).  Several members of my writing group are on the short list in different sections.

This is us at the Maleny ROR. Dirk, Richard, Maxine, Me, Tansy, Trent (Marianne was sick and Margo had deadlines).

Why join a writing group? Here’s why Marianne and I started ROR. I can honestly say, the RORees have been like an extended family. Publishing is a tough business. We authors write because we love it, but there are times when you just need to talk to someone else who knows where you’re coming from.

We meet every year or so to critique our works-in-progress (WIPs). Having a group of people all look over your manuscript is great. If four out of five people say X needs changing, then you can be sure it does. Our crits are never destructive, always constructive because we want our friends’ books to be the best they can possibly be. And the ROR team have had some success. (See here).

If you’ve like to start your own critique group like ROR I’ve done a couple of posts on the topic. ROR 101 and Critiquing 101.

So there we are. Kuds to to my fellow RORees for making it into the final lists of the Aurealis Awards and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for them on Saturday night!

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Filed under Australian Writers, Awards, creativity, Fun Stuff, Genre, Mentoring, Promoting Friend's Books, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Writing Groups

Angry Robot has opened to submissions from author without agents. Here’s the link.

And this is what they are looking for:

We’re publishing novels, either standalone or as part of greater series. We’re not looking to publish your novellas, short stories or non-fiction at this time.

All our books are “genre” fiction in one way or another — specifically fantasy, science fiction, horror, and that new catch-all urban or modern fantasy. Those are quite wide-ranging in themselves; we’re looking for all types of sub-genre, so for example, hard SF, space opera, cyberpunk, military SF, alternate future history, future crime, time travel, and more. We have no problem if your book mashes together two or more of these genres; in fact, we practically insist upon it.

Our books will be published in all English-language territories — notably the UK, US and Australia — so we’ll be buying rights to cover all those. If you are only offering rights in one territory, we will not be able to deal with you. We will be able to offer e-book and audio versions as standard too, plus limited edition and multiple physical formats where appropriate. We are not contracting any work-for-hire titles; we offer advances and royalties.

Beyond all of this, what we’re really looking for in your writing is this:
• A “voice”, that comes from…
• Confident writing
• Pacy writing
• Characters that live, have real relationships and emotions, even in extreme situations
• A sense of vision, a rounded universe that lives and breathes
• Clever construction, good plotting, a couple of surprises even for us jaded old read-it-alls
• Heightened experience – an intensity, extremity or just a way of treating plot or situation in a way we’ve not come across before. “Goes up to 11″, if you know what that means.

Do all those, and it will be almost irrelevant that your story is one or other sub-set of SF, fantasy or horror!

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Filed under Nourish the Writer, Pitching your book, Publishing Industry

More on SF World Con

Over at the ROR blog, Leanne C Taylor has shared her insight with us after attending a World Con for the first time. Unlike me, she approached it very seriously, took her lap top to panels and made notes.

Now we can all benefit from her diligence …

Thanks, Leanne!

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Filed under Conventions, Fun Stuff, Genre

Are all dedicated readers aspiring writers?

I love reading.

But I can just remember a time when I couldn’t read. I was two and my mother had a picture in the bathroom. It contained a children’s nursery rhyme about cleaning up the bathroom. And after the bath, she’d point to it and read it and say, now you can’t leave the bathroom before you clean it up. So we’d put the toys away and hang up the bathmat.

I hated that picture because it had power over me and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t see where the power came from.

I started school at four and I don’t remember learning to read.  It was the time of Dick and Dora and their dog Spot. (See Spot run. See Dick run. See Dora run. Riveting stuff). I remember being pages ahead of  the class because listening to them read was painful. When it came to my turn I had no idea where they were and the teacher thought I couldn’t read.

So reading is like breathing to me. I can’t help it. Conversely coming up with stories is also like breathing. There have always been stories in my head. I’d pester my poor grandfather for stories. And wonder why he couldn’t come up with dozens of them. His stories tended to be practical snippets like. You grab a snake behind the head real quick, and crack him like a whip to break his back. Grandfather was from the bush.

When I had my secondhand bookshop I’d read a book before lunch, a book after lunch and a book after dinner. (This was in the days when books were 60,000 words). Soon I’d read every book that interested me in my shop. I’d prowl the shelves searching for anything that piqued my interest. When ever someone bought in books to sell I’d put aside any that I found interesting and devour them.

But before long there were days when I could not find anything to read. Or I would start books and get annoyed with them. So I just had to write to feed my reading habit. That’s how I started writing.

Are all dedicated readers aspiring writers? Over at the ROR blog the Sunday Writing Craft post is a Checklist for Aspiring Writers.

I suppose it is different now that we can buy the DVD of our choice, surf the net and play computer games.  But sometimes, only a book will do. What do you do when you can’t find a book to read?


Filed under creativity, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Nourish the Writer, The World in all its Absurdity, The Writing Fraternity, Writing craft

Help for writers …

Writing is a lonely business, just you and the characters in your head.

But you don’t have to be alone, looking out at the big world of publishing, wishing you were swimming in those waves. (OK, I’ll stop the analogy now).

There are writing groups out there specifically for Speculative Fiction writers (spec fic – fantasy, science fiction and horror). I’ve done a post over at the ROR blog which attempts to be a round-up of Australian Spec Fic writing groups.

I learnt so much from the Vision writing group and made friends many of whom have gone on to be published writers. It is great to be able to share the ups and downs of completing a book, sending it off, getting rejections and ploughing on.

Only another writer will really understand the thrill of that phone call, when an editor rings you up to make an offer on your book. (They ring you up because they like to hear you go ‘Squeeee’ when you realise what they are saying).

So consider joining a writing group. If meeting in person feels a bit daunting, there are the online groups. Vision has an e-group where you can dip your toes in the water, as it were. (Okay, now I really will stop with the analogy).

Do you belong to a writing group? Maybe you belong to a reading group.

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Filed under Australian Writers, Nourish the Writer, The Writing Fraternity, Writing craft, Writing Groups

This one’s for Fletcher

If you are a young writer who is looking for feedback on your work, showing your parents and friends is all very well but, unless they are writers,  they won’t be able to give you the feedback you need to help you develop as a writer.

If you are serious about your writing craft, then join a local writing group. Look for one that specialises in your genre. If you’re writing speculative fiction (fantasy, SF and horror) then Visions Writers is great. They have an on-line group for everyone and meet in person in Brisbane city, so that’s handy if you live in South East Queensland. Grace Dugan joined the Vision group when she was 15 and went on to be published by Penguin.

The Queensland Writers Centre run a Young Adult Master Class series, specifically aimed at high school students who want to develop their writing skills.

It is also great to have goals and submitting to a competition is a good way to get motivated to finish the story. Who knows you might win or get noticed by the judges who are often editors. So there is the Somerset College novella competition. On the Ipswich Literary Festival site there is a list of writing competitions for people under 18. There is also the Voices on the Coast Literary Festival, which has competitions, although theirs is closed for this year.

And there are markets in Australia for spec Fic short stories. ASIM is a regular magazine which has a good turn around time for submissions. Here’s the guidelines. And here is the Specusphere web zine. And here is Inspillers which lists current markets, competitions, magazines

Here’s an Australian Spec Fic site with lots of news  and reviews. If you want to know what’s doing well in Australia by Australian authors in this genre, take a look at the Aurealis Awards page.

And if you are interested in the craft of writing the ROR site run a writing craft post every Sunday, just put in requests. The latest one was on agents.

Lastly, if you are keen to write, talk to your school or local library about bringing a published author in to run workshops. The Redlands libraries have had me run three workshops in the last month, How to write a Book Proposal, Writing Dark Urban Fantasy and Pitching your Book.

Writers are a friendly supportive bunch. We are all united by a passion for writing and our love of the genre.  Feel free to ask questions.


Filed under Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Workshop/s, Writing craft

Industry Links

On Saturday I ran two workshops,  Proposal Writing and How to write Dark Urban Fantasy. The attendees asked so many questions about the publishing industry and the craft of writing that I kept saying I’ll put a link on my blog. So here is the post with the links to all those sites we talked about. Hi People  (waving madly).

Getting feedback on writing.

You’ll get feedback from a writing group, preferably one that concentrates on your genre.

A lot of the attendees were writing speculative fiction (dark urban fantasy, fantasy and SF). So here is a link to the VISION writing group. They meet in person in Brisbane, but they also have an online group where you can swap industry information and ask questions.

There’s also Romance Writers of Australia for those who are writing paranormal romance and dark urban fantasy. If you drop by the Authors page, you’ll see Keri Arthur (Best Selling Dark Urban Fantasy Writer) is a member. The authors are listed alphabetically and you can see what area they are published in on the right. RWA has a paranormal e-list for writers of this genre.

You could do Year of the Edit with the Queensland Writers Centre. They also run Year of the Novel which is on the same page.

Then you could get your manuscript appraised by someone who knows the genre. The Australian Writer’s Market Place is a great resource for finding publishers, agents, competitions and manuscript appraisers.

You could also apply for a mentor through the Australian Society of Authors. A mentor will guide you through the process of writing and give you feedback. Here are last year’s successful entrants who won a mentorship. The Competition is run every year, so watch out for it.

To get your work noticed:

You could enter competitions (you’ll find them in the Australian Writers Market Place) but here are a few.

Varuna runs a number of programs such as fellowships and mentorships.

The QWC is offering an opportunity for children and Young Adult writers to work with editors from Allen & Unwin. And this is their page for general compeitions and opportunities.

CYA Conference (Children & Young Adult writers) often runs pitching opportunities as well as a competition for both published and unpublished writers.

Bundaberg Write Fest is run each year and often has an opportunity to have your work read by and agent/editor.

There’s the Text Writing Competition for YA and children’s books.

The Ipswich Writers Festival aren’t runnign their competition any more and Voices on the Coast and Somerset Literary Festicval competition are for children who write, not for children’s writers.


The workshop attendees were also intrigued by the steampunk genre. Here is a link to Richard Harland’s post about how to write steampunk. And here is a link to Richard in his outfit, about to set off on his book tour. Here is a link to a post I did on the topic, complete with steampunk dalek!


I did a post recently onthe editing process and here it is.


I did a survey on e-books, who is reading, who is writing for them. Here’s the results. There are links through to several other posts on e-books.

So that is it for now. If there’s anything I’ve missed let me know.

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Filed under Competitions, E-books, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Workshop/s, Writing craft