The changing face of retail sales of Children’s Books across the world is giving rise to a new style of publisher, one that uses not only the benefits of online selling and marketing but also the opportunities of funding development costs through crowdfunding platforms. These publishers are not restricted to book formats designed for retailer’s shelves or racks. Nor are they so heavily influenced by the “buyer” at the retail chain, who may not see an audience for the book, or who sees the audience as too small or geographically dispersed to make stocking a book worthwhile.
This new breed of publisher is taking advantage of digital change by offering titles that are different from what most large children’s publishers offer, publishing picture books with longer stories or written for older readers. One of these publishers is Dirt Lane Press, which ALC Agency is pleased to be representing for foreign right sales. Dirt Lane Press is devoted to the creation and promotion of illustrated books that stretch the way we feel about things, make us wander a little outside the comfortable square and leave us wondering what happens next. As a not-for-profit publisher, they have a social goal to introduce quality books to young minds unaccustomed to books.
Their talented and growing team includes some big names from the Australian children’s books publishing scene: Margrete Lamond, Publisher and Creative Director, was with Little Hare Books for many years and Scholastic Australia prior to that. Mark Macleod, a university lecturer in English, has a distinguished child’s book publishing career with Hodder, worked in children’s television and radio with the ABC and has won a number of industry awards for service. Both Margrete and Mark are successful authors in their own right.
So what does publishing outside the square look like for Dirt Lane Press? One of the first things you will notice is the quality of the authors and illustrators. Not your usual startup with unpublished authors looking for a breakthrough book. Dirt Lane Press has books from Ursula Dubosarsky, Irena Kobald, Kyle Mewburn, and Matt Ottley, illustrated by Gaye Chapman, Christopher Nielsen, Heather Vallance and of course Matt Ottley. Quality authors and illustrators who are well-respected and successful and are looking to push the boundaries of what they create with a publisher who doesn’t stick to the rules.
Dirt Lane Press’s first children’s book, The Sorry Tale of Fox and Bear, is about the complexity of friendship. It runs for 72 pages – long for a picture book – and is illustrated with dramatic black and white pencil and charcoal drawings. It is a thought-provoking and ambiguous book, and that is the idea. The book was launched to critical acclaim and a string of award nominations. It has been published in the UK by Old Barn Books and is set to be translated into a number of languages.
Their second book, Leaf Stone Beetle, comes out in August. It is by Ursula Dubosarsky with gorgeous ink drawings by Gaye Chapman. The book is about community, disruption and eternity, from the points of view of, well, you guessed it, a leaf, a stone and a beetle! Their lives are disrupted by a storm and they lose their communities, their homes and their moorings, but by chance and effort they find solace and new community with each other.
This will be followed by The Dream Peddler in October, a book with a strong message for older children. Dirt Lane Press is crowdfunding this publication at present and you can hear what the author has to say about the book here: video
We look forward to presenting these books, and their growing list for 2019, to the international publishing community.