Double Act 4: Dianne Bates and About Kids Books

In the fourth of my series on author-publishers, I’m interviewing Dianne Bates, who is in the early stages of setting up her own publishing company, About Kids Books.

Author of 130+ books, Dianne (Di) Bates is a full-time freelance writer. Di has worked as a newspaper and magazine editor and manuscript assessor. She founded Buzz Words  in 2006. Di is a recipient of The Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to children’s Literature. Her website is http://www.enterprisingwords.com.au

Dianne-Bates

First of all congratulations on starting About Kids Books! What motivated you to start your own publishing company?

For many years I aspired to setting up a national children’s magazine; (I’d worked on Puffinalia and NSW Department of Education School Magazine). When I landed a job as editor of the national magazine Little Ears and saw how the owners went broke very quickly after investing a lot of time and money, I changed my mind, especially as I didn’t have any contacts (such as distributors) in that industry. More recently I’ve been inspired by self-publishers who have managed to set up their own book imprints so I’ve been able to ask a number of them of their experiences. All have given me valuable advice so I feel confident now of some degree of success.

What are your plans for the list? What will you be concentrating on?

I intend to publish quality children’s books for readers up to 12 years (excluding picture books). At the moment I would like to publish three books a year, assuming I find manuscripts which fit my brief. I have a personal preference for social realism, but am open to publishing all genres.

What are the challenges and pleasures so far?

I am constantly challenged by a lack of skill in computing so I need to invest money in employing people who are proficient in this area. At the moment I have someone designing a website for About Kids Books. Meanwhile, I am reading and assessing manuscripts which writers have sent me.

You have been a publisher before–of magazines and websites. How do you think this new direction will differ?

Hopefully I will discover and nurture new authors and illustrators, and help productive authors to extend their lists. Since 2006 I’ve offered numerous writing and illustrating competitions and have discovered talent through my publication of Buzz Words, a magazine for those in the Australian children’s book industry.

What do you think being a long-published author can bring to your new career as a book publisher?

Certainly over the past 30 and more years I’ve made many contacts in the industry, which as anyone can tell you is filled with generous people. My ‘name’ might result in people wanting to purchase the books I’ll be publishing and thus help defray costs.

Any advice for aspiring author-publishers?

Like any new venture, you need to do your homework: for example, check out printers, designers, distributors, book clubs and library suppliers before you take the first step. Having some capital behind you is also a must!

PS: Di Bates contributed a guest post earlier this year to my blog about her magazine, Buzz Words. You can read it here. 

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