Ventura Recommends - What to Read on R U OK DAY

Ventura is a strong advocate of mental health, and with today being R U OK day, it’s fitting to explore some of our favourite literature for when those feelings of anxiety seem overwhelming. Here are our top picks of books to pick up if you’re feeling down.

Books that let you know you’re not alone:

When you’re dealing with mental health, it can be hard to imagine that other people are dealing with the same thing. So, picking up a book can be as good as chatting to a good friend, or taking that long phone call to your mum. In Girl On the Edge & Girl Over the Edge, Kim Hodges strips bare the stigma towards mental illness in a raw and confronting memoir; yet talks of the positivity and understanding that comes from dealing with it head-on. 

Are you a mum? Or perhaps know someone struggling with anxiety around parenting? Melanie Dimmitt’s Special is a curious, casual and conversational exploration into parenting a child with special-needs, and all the obsessions that plague one’s mind when dealing with this. All sorts of life events can trigger anxiety, and Special shows us that uniting in our differences is the best way to embrace them. 

When some of the best Australian authors come together to write about an issue, you know it must be a big deal. Split, edited by Lee Kofman and featuring the likes of Graeme Simsion, Fiona Wright, A.S Patric, Alice Pung and more, delves into the world of leaving, loss and new beginnings, and the mental experiences that come with this. Each chapter gives you a unique story, and you might just find connections with more than one…


Books that uplift

They say laughter is the best medicine, and humour is what you’ll find inside the pages of The Age of Discretion by Virginia Duigan. It’s uplifting chick-lit at it’s best, or as some say, Sex in the City for the over 55’s.

If you’re a book lover, you can’t go past the nostalgia of Storytime by Jane Sullivan – the perfect way to escape reality. Jane revisits some of her favourite books from her childhood and recounts what she loved (or hated) and learnt from these books. Cosy up with Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, the Moomintrolls or one of Jane’s favourites, the Magic Pudding.

Sometimes a heart-warming novel is all you need to calm your mind. Letters to My Yesterday by Karyn Sepulveda is a story of friendship, love, family and the enduring strength of women, and the perfect end to a long day (with a cup of tea in hand). A similar, but not-yet-released book is The Changing Room by Christine Sykes. In the lead up to Christmas, mental health is even more important, so keep an eye out for this one – a story of hope, second chances and the power of female friendship.  

Books that offer support

Whilst taking your mind off anxiety is a good way to deal with the short-term effects of mental health, sometimes that’s not enough. Renee Mill specialises in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and has developed a program to analyse and treat anxiety without the use of medication, in her book Anxiety Free, Drug Free. By reinforcing positive thinking and emotional strength, Renee helps those suffering from anxiety to get back on their feet.

Although not strictly related to mental health, Career to Calling by Annie Stewart is a book for those wanting to make a change in their life but unsure how. In a time when jobs rule our day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget about your passion. As a life-long career coach, Annie guides you through the steps to take to find and follow your calling and reach a more fulfilled life.

Reach out to a loved one for a chat, and don’t forget to ask R U OK?

If you are in need of mental health support, there are services that can help.

Head to Beyond Blue for a full list of helplines that you can call here, call 1300 22 4636, or visit their website for more.

The launch of Storytime

August marked a time to celebrate children’s literature – from the much-loved Book Week, to the launch of Jane Sullivan’s Storytime. And what a time to talk about a love of literature and the impact it has on our lives – both young and old.

Earlier in the month, Readings Carlton hosted the Melbourne launch of Storytime, featuring an enthralling and engaging conversation between Jane and literary editor of The Age, Jason Steger.

This week, Newtown’s Better Read Than Dead hosted a conversation with Jane and deputy editor of Spectrum, Melanie Kembrey. 

The rooms were filled with book lovers and authors of all genres including Andy Griffiths, Angela Savage, Angela Meyer, Leah Kaminsky, Lee Kofman, Emily Bitto and more.  

Jane spoke of her childhood with her head buried in books, reading stories late into the night. She spoke of her parents’ love of literature and art, which they undoubtedly passed on to her. Jane even mentioned how words enthralled her so much that she even took time to read the cornflake cereal packet – just to have something to read. And she spoke of how her love for literature has guided her career as a journalist and as an author.

Jump into Storytime with Jane, and find yourself lost in a world of adventure, nostalgia, and unique voices that will guide you through the years to come.

Jane Sullivan with Melanie Kembrey at Better Read Than Dead

Jane Sullivan with Melanie Kembrey at Better Read Than Dead

Ventura Recommends: August

Ventura staff live and breathe words, so we’ve always got our noses buried in a book, or our ears plugged into a podcast, or our eyes glued to the next zeitgeist film or series. Here’s a list of our favourites this winter season.


Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

‘The global buzz was huge so I bought the book the day of release and read over a weekend. It is a bleak morality tale told through intimate portrait of three white middle class American women as they seek sexual and emotional fulfilment.  We see woman as complicit, woman as abused, woman as used. It is harrowing and dispiriting that so little has changed.’ - Jane Curry

No More Boats by Felicity Castagna

‘Superbly crafted and thoughtfully rendered story of Western Sydney and the tensions surrounding otherness. It won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2017 for a good reason, and even though it’s a couple of years old now, I’m finding the themes remain starkly relevant.’  - Zoe Hale

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

‘I devoured Rooney’s Normal People in the span of a wintery day, so of course I was enthused to pick up her debut novel, which proved equally as intriguing. The diverse, intimate and somewhat controversial portrayal of people and relationships left me thinking and wanting more. Rooney’s writing is so effortless, yet so intelligent – the best kind.’ - Sophie Hodge



The Garret Podcast

‘I am a new convert to The Garret and now can’t walk my dog without an episode ready to play.  I enjoy hearing authors talk about the craft of writing and their inspirations. It restores my faith in the creativity and passion in the industry. ‘ - JC

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

‘For anyone who has ever struggled creatively or in a business – this is a wonderfully cooling balm for soothing those burns of failure. I love Elizabeth, she is such a gifted interviewer and journalist, allowing her guest to share their vulnerable experiences with ease.’ - ZH  

Offline by Alison Rice

‘Offline’s premise is honest conversations with people you may know and love through social media. I’ve always been interested in people and what makes them tick, so these raw, emotional and interesting conversations are perfect. Plus, Alison’s voice sounds like smooth butter (a win when you’re listening to an hour-long talk).’ - SH



Chernobyl Season 1

‘Wow. This is the new world of streaming at is finest. The acting, the production design, the cinematography is astoundingly good.   And as it is a true story , the events gnaw away at your sense of security as we know a nuclear disaster could happen again. Compelling viewing.’ - JC

The Handmaid’s Tale season 3

‘I’m loving this season – it’s more about the resistance, the fight against oppression. And all the female characters have such depth and are so compelling. It makes for an intense watch though, I can’t watch more than two episodes at a time.’ - ZH

Our Planet

‘I am a self-confessed lover of nature documentaries, particularly those narrated by David Attenborough. Our Planet’s breathtaking cinematography forces us to take a long, hard look at the planet we are living on and begs us to make implement change for the future. If you take anything from the show, go and buy a keep cup or try cutting out plastic. It’s life changing.’ - SH

Lee Kofman's latest book, Split, launches in Melbourne and Sydney

June saw the launch of Lee Kofman’s latest work, Split - an anthology of work featuring stories of leaving, loss and new beginnings from some of Australia’s most admired authors. After being in the works for a couple of years, Split has finally come to life.

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Lee summed up the beginnings of this book on endings…

“Two years ago, a writer’s dream came true for me. Jane Curry of Ventura Press suggested I edit an anthology of personal essays about endings. We’ll call it Split, she said. I was thrilled. Split is the kind of ending that makes me think of wounds, pain, blood, bile. It’s an ending where the stakes are just as high as the suffering endured. Death, exile, the leaving of a beloved, the passing of youth. The kind of ending from where a lot of great literature springs: Antigone, The Tempest, The Cherry Orchard

On a personal level, too, the theme felt urgent to me, having done by now two migrations and three marriages. What mattered to me was that this anthology, as a whole, wouldn’t sit in the realm of so-called inspirational self-help. I wanted real life, not a fantasy, on Split pages, and, luckily, contributors delivered just that.”

The Melbourne launch was held at The Avenue Bookstore, launched by award-winning novelist Sofie Laguna in conversation with Dmetri Kakmi and Kate Goldsworthy. The room was filled with friends, family, writers and readers, and everyone left in stitches of laughter.

The Sydney launch, held upstairs at Better Read Than Dead, was launched by accomplished journalist Tracey Spicer, in conversation with Peter Bishop, Sunil Badami and Kerri Sackville, who discussed their writing process and the emotional aftermath of each of their ‘splits’.

Of the writing process, Peter Bishop said “Lee has enabled us to become more of ourselves than we knew we could be.” And Lee, speaking of editing such complex tales, said she witnessed how emotionally and artistically taxing the essays were for many of the authors.

“I saw the discomfort, doubt and feelings of vulnerability that were their companions during the writing process. Yet it was these difficult companions who also made the resulting works real, deep, and exciting.”

With words of wisdom from all involved, and many signed copies leaving the bookstores, the launch of Split proved to be a success.

You can find out more about Split and Lee Kofman here

After She Left Launch in Canberra

Last night the National Library of Australia was filled with literary lovers, avid readers and all those in support of Penelope Hanley’s latest novel, After She Left.

A full house at The National Library of Australia

A full house at The National Library of Australia

After She Left was our May champion for Ventura’s imprint, Impact Press. It’s a compelling and mysterious story of hidden identities, forbidden love and the power of feminism, set in the bohemian art scene of twentieth-century Sydney.

We love this book not only for the striking cover (it’s been a huge hit on Instagram), but for the intricately researched history of Sydney which weaves its way throughout the story.

The NLA was packed with people listening to Penelope speak with passion and ease about the book’s creation, and was officially ‘launched’ into the world by award-winning author John Clanchy.

A room abuzz with energy as people wait for their signed copy of After She Left

A room abuzz with energy as people wait for their signed copy of After She Left

Thanks to Penelope for bringing this gem of a book to life.

You can read a Q&A with Penelope and Good Reading Magazine here, a review from Books + Publishing here, or find out more info and even buy a copy from the Ventura page here!

A proud stack of books waiting to be sold

A proud stack of books waiting to be sold

Author Penelope Hanley signing copies

Author Penelope Hanley signing copies

The Age of Discretion Launched by Robyn Nevin AM

Virginia Duigan’s latest novel, The Age of Discretion, was launched on Tuesday 12 March by Robyn Nevin AM, at Gleebooks.

Every seat in the bookstore was filled, buzzing with energy from literary critics, readers and writers alike, actors, directors, film reviewers and opera fanatics.

Robyn Nevin AM gave a speech that moved the audience to laughter, smiles and nearly tears - just as she says of the book:

A full house at Gleebooks

A full house at Gleebooks

“I loved this deeply insightful and very funny novel. I was deeply engaged, deeply amused and deeply moved. To tears.”

The Age of Discretion begins when the sex in Vivien Quarry’s thirty-two-year marriage has dwindled to nothing, and her husband Geoff finally gives her a reason: ‘Men are hardwired to not find older women attractive’. At sixty-seven, she most definitely doesn’t feel ‘past it’, and so enlists the services of the enigmatic Martin Glover from The Discretion Agency. Viv embarks on a number of hilarious and somewhat cringe-worthy dates - all with the purpose of proving that living, and love, is not only for the young.

Bruce Beresford, Robyn Nevin, Virginia Duigan and Nicolas Hammond

Bruce Beresford, Robyn Nevin, Virginia Duigan and Nicolas Hammond

“I found comfort with these people, a fond familiarity, a deep connection. I love my life, but I thought, while immersed in Viv’s life, in her world, that that was where I wanted to be, in that London, in Viv and Geoff’s lived-in comfortable house, in Julia’s glamorous flower filled apartment, or maybe in Joy’s cosy home stitching quilts amongst ‘the feminist quilting circle’…

“And then there’s the inner commentary. Viv, while conducting the awkward initial conversations with her Discretion dates, in a variety of cafes and bars, offers us a vivid running-inner commentary. Hilarious. I marveled at her ability to be so mentally cool and analytical while looking into the eyes of strangers with whom, without any initial spark of any kind, she was actually determining whether she might, quite soon, embark on sexual acts…”

Bruce Beresford and Virginia Duigan

Bruce Beresford and Virginia Duigan

Following a long chain of clapping from the audience, Virginia began her speech. She confirms that the text is definitely not autobiographical (contrary to the belief of many persistent questioners).

“People often persist with this line of questioning, and ask whether I do much research before I start writing. They particularly tend to ask this if they already have some idea of the subject matter. I have in the past made use of anecdotal evidence, and this book is no exception.

“Some of these, the more hair-raising aspects, could be described as total sexual fiascos. Being by nature a cautious person, and also a former journalist, I think of those who supplied me with such details as my sources. And one's sources, as we all know, must remain nameless.”

We couldn’t be happier to have brought Virginia’s book to the world.

To find out more (and perhaps purchase your own copy) click here.

Signing copies

Signing copies


Ventura Launches 2019 List

The Ventura Press team officially launched their 2019 book list this week at The Royal Hotel in Paddington. The room was abuzz with energy from authors, booksellers, book-lovers, agents, writers and of course, the (small but mighty) Ventura Press team.

Ventura’s Director, Jane Curry, gave a small speech to highlight the year ahead, saying ‘this is the list I’ve always wanted to publish.’

2019 promises a mix of fiction and non-fiction titles, from Virginia' Duigan’s London rom-com-esque The Age of Discretion; to Blanche d’Alpuget’s historical series The Birth of the Plantagenets; all the way to Lee Kofman’s anthology of works featuring Australian writers’ tales of leaving, loss and new beginnings, Split, which is set to release in June; and bestselling author Katherine Johnson’s October release Paris Savages.

The year will also feature some first-time authors, such as Craig Ensor’s The Warming – a dystopian novel set in 2221 when the earth is on the brink of death from climate change; and Penelope Hanley’s Sydney-based fiction following the lives of three women in an artistic family, After She Left. Ventura will also publish Jane Sullivan’s bibliomemoir, Storytime; and Melanie Dimmitt’s uplifting non-fiction Special: antidotes to the obsessions that come with a child’s disability.

Following the February release Slice Girls by Joan Arakkal, which has gained much media attention, and two shortlisted prizes for A Superior Spectre (August 2018), Ventura has started the year with a bang and this celebration is just the beginning.

Thank you to all of those who came along to celebrate, and to those who were there in spirit from around the country. Ventura looks forward to all the good things set to come this year!

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Photos: Sophie Hodge

A Superior Spectre is Shortlisted for Two Literary Prizes

Ventura Press’ August 2018 title A Superior Spectre by Angela Meyer has been shortlisted for two literary awards the past week.

The novel, which is a unique blend of science fiction, futuristic dystopia and feminist issues, has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 2018, and for the MUD Literary Prize 2019.  

This comes following the acquisition of UK Rights to Angela’s novel by Saraband Publishing – set to release in Scotland soon.

You can buy A Superior Spectre online or from any good booksellers.

A Superior Spectre , by Angela Meyer

A Superior Spectre, by Angela Meyer

Ventura Author Launches Writing Award


Caroline Van de Pol, author of Back to Broady, will be holding an author talk next week to launch ‘The Margaret Egan Young Writer’s Award’ named in honour of her late sister. The award has been established to commemorate her sister’s life, and to support a young person (aged 15 to 18 years) in order to pursue their passion for writing.

Van de Pol hopes the award will honour her sister, who passed away tragically at the age of 25, and the love her sister had for the Arts. ‘Writing helped her during difficult periods as she lived with the challenges of schizophrenia and overwhelming grief following the early death of our parents.’ Van der pol elaborated.

Prize money to the value of $1500 will be distributed between two winners, categorised into two age brackets. The prize is funded and administered by Caroline van de Pol herself, and she has been working closely with Writer’s Victoria to develop the award which will be announced as part of the Broadmeadows Festival program in April next year. 

Van de Pol hopes the award will encourage young writers to pursue their dreams; ‘Throughout my life, I have had the benefit of great support in teachers, university lecturers and career mentors so I’m hoping that maybe I can help someone else to dream big, to support and encourage them as they ‘have a go’ at something new.

Workshops to mentor and aid young writers in preparing their submission will be held on Tuesday 9 and 30 October at the Council Chambers downstairs from Broadmeadows Library. Caroline wishes to offer the same level of support she has received over her many years as a writer to anyone aspiring.

 With a focus on community the winner(s) would also be promoted to highlight the positive aspects of the diverse community of the Broadmeadows region, celebrating the contributions of young people committed to achieving their best.

The Author Talk to launch the inaugural Margaret Egan Young Writers Award will be held on Friday 14 September at 11am at Broadmeadows Library.

Ventura Press welcomes Blanche d’Alpuget to its growing, female-focused fiction list


Ventura Press, one of Sydney’s leading independent publishers, is delighted to announce it has acquired world rights to the Birth of the Plantagenets series by bestselling novelist Blanche d’Alpuget.

The Birth of the Plantagenets is a sumptuous, rich historical fiction series about two of history’s most compelling characters, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, and will appeal to fans of Wolf Hall and Game of Thrones.

The first two books in the series, The Young Lion and The Lion Rampant, will be re-launched in December 2018, followed by the publication of the third book, The Lion’s Torment, in April 2019.

‘It is often forgotten in the blaze of media attention she receives that Blanche is foremost an established author of powerful prize-winning novels, and one of the leading ladies of Australian fiction,’ says Jane Curry, publisher and director of Ventura Press.

‘With our focus on publishing strong female Australian authors, we’re incredibly excited to be able to complete Blanche’s historical fiction series, and introduce her writing to a new generation of readers.’

D’Alpuget joins a large group of female fiction authors being published in the second half of 2018 at Ventura, including award-winning Katherine Johnson with her third novel Matryoshka (October), and debut novelists Angela Meyer (A Superior Spectre, August), Karyn Sepulveda (Letters to My Yesterday, September), and Joanna Baker (The Slipping Place, November).

Rights were sold by Jeanne Ryckmans at the Cameron Creswell Agency.

The Young Lion The Lion Rampant.jpg

The Young Lion and The Lion Rampant are being release in December 2018. RRP $29.99.

We're wrapping up 2017 as a Nielsen Heatseeker!

We knew we were good but now it’s official!

Today is our last day at Ventura for 2017 and champagne is at the ready to celebrate our brilliant year.  

We end the year being named an Indie Heatseeker by Nielsen BookScan for most improved sales in the sector.  

So, what did we do in 2017?

We published engaging diverse stories from the very best Australian authors.  Think Dr Simon Longstaff’s Everyday Ethics, Lisa Dempster’s Neon Pilgrim, Professor Gordon Parker’s In Two Minds and ended the year with a new B-format edition of Katherine Johnson’s wonderful The Better Son.


A highlight for me was the launch of Peter Bishop Books in May – curated by the national living treasure Peter Bishop (ex-Varuna).  It is an absolute honour to know Peter and to publish Caroline van de Pol and Nick Gleeson, our first two authors published on the new imprint. Charlotte Wood launched the list for us at Gleebooks with a very moving speech.  A PB for me.

After a soft launch in 2016 we launched our new imprint Impact Press – which showcases start up authors and diverse stories. The launch title Escape from Berlin by Peter Nash sold out on release.


Booksellers loved our beautiful covers and the media engaged with our authors in authentic and meaningful ways. Our inaugural trip to the Beijing Book Fair was a parenting-book sell out and Amazon’s Audible loved our list and bought up big.

Add the professionalism of our distribution partner Simon and Schuster Australia and you have independent publishing at its best.

So take a break now to enjoy Christmas and the long shimmering days of summer in Sydney.

We will be back on 8 January to see our 2018 list go out into the world. Watch out for Paul Harris’ Odd Boy Out – an intimate family history bridging England and the Antipodes, the arresting memoir Girl Over The Edge by Kim Hodges and Angela Meyer’s stunning debut novel A Superior Spectre.  Oh and don’t miss out on the colonial family history Convicted by Peter Bradley for Father’s Day.


So that’s a wrap from Ventura.  

We wish you all a happy Christmas - see you in the new year.


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The Many Ways of Seeing has been added to the Vision Australia Library!


We are thrilled to share that Nick Gleeson’s wonderful memoir, The Many Ways of Seeing, has been added to Vision Australia’s online library. The Vision Australia Library opens up a world of information to people who are blind, have low vision, or a print disability by providing free access to thousands of audio books, magazines, newspapers and podcasts.

Jane Curry, director and publisher of Ventura Press and director of the Australian Publishers Association (APA), recently attended the APA Marrakesh Treaty Forum, which looked at strategies to make print material accessible to people with a print disability.

“Through working with the participants at the Marrakesh Treaty Forum I realised how vital it is that vision impaired persons have equal access to published books. How wonderful that Nick Gleeson’s The Many Ways of Seeing has been added to the Vision Australia Library,” Jane says.

To listen to The Many Ways of Seeing on the Vision Australia Library visit:

Praise for The Many Ways of Seeing

'Whether he is recalling the joys of going mushrooming with his father or the smell of mandarins when he was told of his mother's death, this unorthodox memoir vividly demonstrates the "many ways of seeing" through touch, smell and sound that a blind person experiences.' SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

'A generous and moving story' THE AUSTRALIAN

'This book is honest, insightful and refreshing. Recommended.' KATHRYN'S INBOX

'Poignant, honest and open, Gleeson takes us on a journey of incredible fortitude, everyday courage.' READING, WRITING AND RIESLING


The Better Son to be released in B-format this December

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We are thrilled to announce that Katherine Johnson’s award-winning Tasmanian novel The Better Son will be released in B-format in December, 2017. This is a fantastic result of the ongoing success of the novel, which was originally released in October 2016. The Better Son is a richly imaginative and universal story about the danger of secrets, the beauty in forgiveness and the enthralling power of Tasmania’s unique natural landscapes.


It is the winner of:

The University of Tasmania Prize (Tasmanian Literary Awards 2013)

People’s Choice Award for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Writer (Tasmanian Literary Awards 2013)

The Varuna HarperCollins Manuscript Development Award 2013


And longlisted for:

The Tasmania Book Prize 2017

The Indie Book Awards 2017 in Fiction


We are so pleased with the books success and the excellent praise it continues to receive. This is an amazing achievement for Katherine and her novel The Better Son. Be sure to pick up a copy in-store or from our website here. RRP $19.99.



'The Better Son maps an emotional landscape as shifting and precarious as the limestone country so splendidly evoked here. Katherine Johnson is a sure-footed guide to lives hollowed out by secrets that reach deep into the past.' MICHELLE DE KRETSER, Miles Franklin Literary Award winner


'A fabulous read: moving, haunting, at times devastating, redemptive, and so evocative of the Mole Creek area.' Vern Field, editor of ISLAND MAGAZINE


'A gripping story of loss, trauma and the devastating impact of family secrets, The Better Son is a literary thriller that haunts the reader well beyond its final page.' 
RACHEL POWER, author of Creativity and Motherhood: The Divided Heart

China - our publishing neighbour

Jane Curry, Director of the Australian Publishers Association and Director and Publisher of Ventura Press, reflects on her first Beijing Book Fair.

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Paul Keating had it right – we are an Asian nation.

Having spent many years travelling the world for my publishing business, I have just returned from my first visit to Beijing and am an evangelist for the pivot to China.  

I had a glimpse of the potential of the Chinese market when Chinese rights to one of my books were sold through an agent. When a very substantial amount of money appeared in my bank account six months later I knew I was onto something. Over 30,000 copies had been sold in six months. So, with good business instincts, I followed the money...

The Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) is now in its 14th year and in my capacity of Director of the Australian Publishers Association, I headed a delegation of five independent publishers on our very first Beijing outing. And I am pleased to report our inaugural visit was a resounding success.

Why has it taken so long to discover our neighbours?

The English language publishing business is run across empire lines. Books are ‘sent’ from one heart of this empire, the UK, to the colonies as export sales. It was only recently that literary agents actually split ANZ rights from UK. On the other side of the Atlantic, American rights are traded independently of the UK. Consequently, the English language publishing industry has traded as a UK/US alliance viewing translation markets as a secondary market, often prioritising Europe over China.

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Publishers trade in intellectual property. We sell ‘rights’ – the right to publish a book in a specified market. The book is translated by the local partner and published into the market under their imprint.

The Frankfurt Book Fair, held annually in October, is the global behemoth of rights fairs. You are really not in publishing unless you are at the Frankfurt Book Fair. English language sales, German language, and European and South American markets dominate, while the Asian markets (which the UK calls the ‘Far East’) are seen as second tier.  

The relative new Beijing Book Fair refreshingly showcases a world not dominated by the major European or US players. The Chinese publishing market is mature, profitable, self-sustaining and now export-oriented. According to the China Publisher’s Yearbook, more than 444,000 titles are published annually, resulting in a $12.4bn industry in China, the largest in the world after the US.

Rising disposable incomes and the fast-growing Chinese middle class have created new market opportunities for many segments. For example, with the lifting of the one-child policy, 3 million babies are born every year resulting in 370 million Chinese under the age of 18. So, as you can imagine, parenting is a booming genre.

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Although the Chinese book market has liberalised significantly in the past 20 years, publishing remains one of the country’s most tightly regulated industries. All of the 582 official publishers are state-run, with private publishers officially banned. People were amazed that I privately owned my own publishing business. I was even asked how I managed motherhood and business. It is clearly a question that resonates in every market. 

I met with my existing contacts and made many new ones. The Chinese are keen to trade, export their unique culture through their own books whilst translating our books into their lists. Unlike the Australian publishing industry, they revere longevity and backlist bestsellers. Many of the younger generation publishers spoke English so the language barrier is workable, although we did have a translator with us as backup.

I returned completely invigorated that as an independent Australian publisher we have accessed the booming Chinese book market with our own intellectual property, and with much more business to come – and all with no jet lag.

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Ventura Press to publish Lisa Dempster's travel memoir Neon Pilgrim


Ventura Press, one of Sydney’s leading independent publishers, is delighted to announce it will be publishing Lisa Dempster’s debut memoir, Neon Pilgrim, on 1 August 2017.

Neon Pilgrim is Lisa’s refreshingly honest and inspiring story of walking back to health on the henro michi, an arduous 1200-kilometre Buddhist pilgrimage through the mountains of Japan.

First published in 2009 by Aduki Independent Press, the book received limited distribution across Australia.

“The opportunity to republish the remarkable Lisa Dempster’s Neon Pilgrim is the highlight of our 2017 list,” said Jane Curry, director and publisher of Ventura Press.

“Lisa’s memoir of her pilgrimage on the henro michi encompasses the universal truths that will always resonate with readers: loneliness, spirituality, humanity and belonging, and we are thrilled to be able to share her incredible story with a wider audience.”  

Lisa Dempster, the artistic director and CEO of Melbourne Writers Festival, said she is a firm believer in the importance of independent publishing, and is thrilled to be working with Jane Curry to bring Neon Pilgrim back into print.

“It's been a rewarding process to work with her visionary and supportive team at Ventura Press to reimagine my memoir for a new audience,” she said.

Appealing to fans of Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Tracks by Robyn Davidson, Lisa said anyone who has ever been at a crossroads in their life will appreciate her memoir, and hopes it will continue to open up the vital conversation around women and mental health.

“And of course, I hope it encourages adventurous-minded women to hit the trails – if I can do it, anyone can!” she said.


Lisa Dempster is the artistic director/CEO of the Melbourne Writers Festival. Previous roles have included Asialink fellow at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, Director of the Emerging Writers' Festival, founding director of EWFdigital (now Digital Writers' Festival) and publisher at Vignette Press. Lisa has travelled widely in search of literary and other adventures.

Peter Bishop Books

Ventura Press is delighted to announce its latest imprint: Peter Bishop Books. Born as a collaboration with Bishop, the imprint will present a catalogue that aims to rekindle the intimate relationship between author and reader, a unique and inimitable dynamic that imbues reading with a magic not found in other art forms.

With over 17 years’ experience serving as a writing mentor and creative director of Varuna, the Writers’ House, Bishop aims to curate a unique catalogue of works that reflects his keen eye for spotting and fostering talent. The imprint will publish a range of works across a diverse variety of genres, united by the desire to create and tell truly memorable and enduring stories.

Peter Bishop Books will launch its first title, The Many Ways of Seeing by Nick Gleeson and Peter Bishop, in June 2017. Although becoming blind at the age of seven and growing up in the working-class suburb of Broadmeadows, Victoria, Gleeson has led a truly remarkable life, from climbing to the base camp of Everest and the summit of Kilimanjaro, to running marathons, and competing as a Paralympian.

The Many Ways of Seeing reflects on Gleeson’s lifetime of achievements, as well as his relationship with Bishop, as the two tell this unique story in their own unique way. In a blend of memoir, conversation and insights into the writing process, Gleeson and Bishop weave an inspiring tale of surviving hardship, building trust, and reflecting on the relationship between writer and mentor.

The second title to be published will be Back to Broady by Caroline van de Pol in July 2017. In a book that in many ways is the ‘twin’ or ‘sibling’ to The Many Ways of Seeing, Gleeson’s childhood neighbour and friend Caroline shares her own powerful memoir of growing up in 1960s Broadmeadows, Victoria. This is Caroline’s compelling story of her fight through disadvantage in a large, chaotic Irish Catholic family, and the incredibly moving experiences that have helped her walk the fine line between survival and surrender.

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The Better Son long-listed for The Indie Book Awards 2017

We’re extremely excited to announce that Katherine Johnson’s gripping novel The Better Son has been long listed for the Indie Book Awards 2017 fiction list. This is an astounding achievement for Katherine and her hauntingly beautiful book. The Better Son is a richly imaginative story that explores the complex nature of relationships, the power of forgiveness and the enthralling beauty of the unique Tasmanian landscape.

Other great titles listed alongside The Better Son include Hannah Kent's The Good People, Emily Maguire's An Isolated Incident, Liane Moriarty's Truly Madly Guilty, Georgia Blains Between a Wolf and a Dog and Inga Simpson's Where the Trees Were.

The Shortlist will be announced on 16th January 2017. The category winners and the Overall Book of the Year Winner will be announced on Monday 20th March 2017 at the Leading Edge Books 2017 Conference.

A big congratulations to Katherine for this fantastic achievement!

More information about the awards can be found here.

Melbourne Launch of Rebellious Daughters

On Thursday 4th August, at The Long Room in Melbourne, family, friends and contributors came together to celebrate the launch of our fantastic anthology, Rebellious Daughters. Introduced and launched by our editors, Maria Katsonis and Lee Kofman, with readings from two of our contributors, Leah Kaminsky and Jamila Rizvi. It was a wonderful evening full of extraordinary women. We are very proud to finally see this beautiful book on the shelves.


Above: Co-editor, Maria proudly introducing Rebellious Daughters.

Above: Co-editor, Lee Kofman, officially launching Rebellious Daughters.

Above: Leah Kaminsky, contributor, reading an extract from her story, 'Pressing the Seams'.

Above: Jamila Rizvi, contributor, reading from her section, 'The Good Girl'.

Some of our wonderful contributors (Left to Right): Jamila Rizvi, Rochelle Siemienowicz, Maria Katsonis, Lee Kofman, Jo Caro, Amra pajalic, Nicola Redhouse, Leah Kaminsky, Silvia Kwon.

Rebellious Daughters is out now, to purchase a copy click here.