Presented with the NSW Writers’ Centre.

Forest for the Trees is a one-day seminar that explores the current state of writing and publishing in Australia. It brings together writers, publishers, and industry representatives to discuss what is happening in 2017.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad, author and director of Sweatshop, the Western Sydney based literacy movement, will open the discussion. International publishers will discuss opportunities for Australian authors, and researchers will present the facts on book sales, readership, and the economic argument for the book industry.

The conversation will cover mainstream, digital and independent publishing, ending with a panel of industry experts who will shine some light on what can be expected in the year ahead.

Tickets are $65 full price, $45 concession, or $45 for NSWWC members.

10.00-10.30am  
My Path Through the Forest
A writer’s life entails much more than getting words on the page. Michael Mohammed Ahmad is an author, actor, teacher, and champion of writing in Western Sydney. He is the director of Sweatshop, the Western Sydney based literacy movement. In 2014, his novel The Tribe was published and produced as a play. 

10.30am-11.30am
Crossing Paths
Changes to the industry are bringing new ways for authors to connect with readers. Rather than a gatekeeper, could publishers be more like curators or even cartographers? What changes will technology bring? And the bookshop: it’s a place for book lovers to gather, but is it the best place to sell books? With Matthia Dempsey (general manager, Small Press Network); Hera Lindsay Bird (New Zealand poet and bookseller); Connor Tomas O’Brien (co-founder of ebookstore platform Tomely); and Alexandra Payne (publisher, University of Queensland Press). 

11.30–11.45am
Break

11.45am–12.45pm
Reading the Signs
Julie Winters from Nielsen Bookscan brings us data about the books readers are buying and the books that are likely to sell in the future. Dr Jan Zwar from Macquarie University will speak to a survey led by Dr David Throsby into the reading habits of 3000 Australians. Andrea Hanke, editor-in-chief of Books & Publishing brings her knowledge of the industry to the discussion and opens it up to your questions.

12.45-1.45pm
Going Further Afield 
From India, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia we bring together three publishers and an international agent to discuss what Australian works sell internationally and how authors get their work sold overseas. Sarah Crichton, publisher, Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Catherine Eccles, owner & literary scout, Eccles Fisher Associates; Fiona Henderson, publishing director, Simon & Schuster; and Gita Wolf, founder & publisher, Tara Books.

1.45–2.30pm
Lunch

2.30-3.30pm 
The Australian Book Industry: what’s it worth? 
David Throsby, distinguished professor of economics at Macquarie University, is currently engaged in the three-year study, The Australian Book Industry: Authors, Publishers and Readers in a Time of Change. He will discuss the value of the Australian book industry and why it is important to our culture and economy.

3.30-4.30pm 
The Open Road
The publishing landscape has shifted. Some aspects, like making a living from writing, have become more difficult, but there are new opportunities too, particularly in alternative pathways to getting published. How do you make the most of those opportunities and how can we all ensure that Australian publishing thrives and encourages a multiplicity of Australian voices? Jonathan Green (editor, Meanjin) talks with Michael Mohammed Ahmad (director, Sweatshop); Sophie Hamley (publisher, Hachette); author Julie Koh (Portable Curiosities); and Juliet Rogers (CEO, Australian Society of Authors).

Presented with the NSW Writers’ Centre.

Jan Zwar (Australian)

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From 2014–2016 Jan Zwar was a postdoctoral fellow on an Australian Research Council project called The Australian Book Industry: Authors, Publishers and Readers in a Time of Change, headed by Professor David Throsby. She assisted the Book Industry Collaborative Council with their final report on the future of Australia’s book industry. During 2016 she collaborated with the Australia Council to design a survey of 3,000 Australians about books and reading. Jan has taught marketing and Australian literature at Macquarie University.

Sarah Crichton (International)

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Since launching her imprint, Sarah Crichton Books, at Farrar Straus and Giroux in 2004, Sarah Crichton has edited and published fiction and non-fiction, including former child soldier Ishmael Beah’s #1 New York Times bestseller, A Long Way Gone, Matthew Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook, and Dominic Smith’s The Last Painting of Sara De Vos. She was publisher of Little, Brown from 1996-2001, and she is the co-author of several books, most notably A Mighty Heart with Mariane Pearl.

Matthia Dempsey (Australian)

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Matthia Dempsey is general manager of the Small Press Network, a representative body for more than 130 independent publishers from around Australia. She was previously editor-in-chief of the publishing industry journals Books+Publishing and the Weekly Book Newsletter.

Catherine Eccles (International)

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Catherine Eccles owns and runs the largest and one of the longest-standing scouting agencies in the UK (formerly Anne Louise Fisher Associates). They work with seventeen publishers around the world and a film company, scouting English-language books from the UK and Commonwealth countries, as well as foreign language books. Eccles Fisher Associates pays close attention to Australian-originated titles, regularly receiving submissions from both publishers and agents. Catherine was previously deputy managing director at Chatto & Windus and managing director at Granta.

Jonathan Green (Australian)

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Jonathan Green has had a long career as a working journalist, the bulk of it in newspapers, beginning at the Canberra Times and taking in the Melbourne Herald, The Herald Sun, The Sunday Herald, The Sunday Age and The Age. He left The Age to become editor of Crikey and was founding editor of ABC’s The Drum. He is now a presenter on RN and editor of the literary quarterly Meanjin.

Sophie Hamley (Australian)

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Sophie Hamley has worked as a bookseller, editor, writer, content producer and web producer. She was a literary agent at Cameron’s Management from 2006 until 2014; she is a past President of the Australian Literary Agents’ Association and was also a member of the Book Industry Collaborative Council. She is now a non-fiction publisher at Hachette Australia, where she also coordinates the Hachette Mentoring Programme with several writers’ centres and organisations around Australia and in New Zealand.

Andrea Hanke (Australian)

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Andrea Hanke is editor-in-chief of the Australian book-industry publication Books+Publishing. She has been working in the book industry as an editor, journalist and bookseller for over 10 years. She is a board member for the Small Press Network and has participated as a chair and panellist at book-industry events in Australia and internationally.

Fiona Henderson (Australian)

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Fiona Henderson has more than 20 years experience as a successful trade publisher, head of publishing, and editor at Transworld, Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette and Affirm Press. She has published many Australian bestsellers over the years, including Almost French, Holy Cow!, Salvation Creek and The Birdman's Wife. She has also acquired rights for many international titles that have gone on to become local bestsellers including Lunch in Paris and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Julie Koh (Australian)

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Julie Koh was born in Sydney to Chinese-Malaysian parents, and left a career in corporate law to pursue writing. She is the author of two short-story collections: Capital Misfits and Portable Curiosities, which was shortlisted for the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction and the Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Literary Awards. Julie is also the editor of BooksActually’s Gold Standard and a founding member of Kanganoulipo.

Gita Wolf (International)

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Gita Wolf is the founder of Tara Books, an independent publishing house interested in exploring the relationship between the word and the visual in unorthodox ways. Over the years she has been joined by writers, designers and creative professionals from India and abroad, and Tara Books is now a worker-owned cooperative. Tara Books is committed to bringing marginalised voices and perspectives to the reader. Their handmade books have won critical acclaim and major international awards.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad (Australian)

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Michael Mohammed Ahmad is the founder and director of Sweatshop. Mohammed received a 2015 The Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of the Year Award and his debut novel, The Tribe was translated into Mandarin. Mohammed also adapted The Tribe for the stage with Urban Theatre Projects in 2015, which received the 2016 FBi Smac Award for Best On-Stage Production. Mohammed received his Doctorate of Creative Arts at Western Sydney University in 2017. His forthcoming novel, The Lebs, will be published in March 2018.

Hera Lindsay Bird (International)

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Hera Lindsay Bird is a poet and bookseller from Wellington. Her self-titled and semi-autobiographical book of poetry Hera Lindsay Bird has earned her a cult status for her ‘smart, sassy and explicit takes on everything from female sexuality to Friends’ (The Guardian). In particular, her poem Keats is Dead so Fuck me From Behind hit a particular nerve with readers, and went viral. Her work has been published by The Toast, The Hairpin and has been included in Best New Zealand Poems.

Connor Tomas O’Brien (Australian)

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Connor Tomas O’Brien is a Melbourne-based writer, web designer, and co-founder of ebookstore platform Tomely. In 2014, he created and directed the inaugural Digital Writers’ Festival. Day-to-day, he runs Studio Sometimes, a little design studio focused on non-profits and literary organisations.

Alexandra Payne (Australian)

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Alexandra Payne is the non-fiction publisher at UQP, one of Australia’s most respected independent publishing houses. She has worked in publishing since 1995 and has commissioned books that have received the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the Qld Premier’s Literary Award Non-Fiction Book of the Year and the NSW Premier’s Award for History. At UQP, Alexandra focuses on publishing books that will inform, move and challenge readers. She is also undertaking a doctorate at QUT, investigating the future of the publisher.

Juliet Rogers (Australian)

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Juliet Rogers is the CEO of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA). She has had a long career in publishing, including Managing Director of Random House (NZ and Australia) and CEO of Murdoch Books. Before joining the ASA, she ran her own small publishing and consultancy business, The Wild Colonial Company. She has chaired Booksellers New Zealand, the then joint industry association for booksellers and publishers, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and has been President of the Australian Publishers Association.

David Throsby (Australian)

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David Throsby is a distinguished professor in the Department of Economics at Macquarie University who is internationally known for his work as an economist with specialist interests in the economics of the arts and culture. He chaired the Book Industry Collaborative Council in 2012-13, and is currently leading a three year study entitled The Australian Book Industry: Authors, Publishers and Readers in a Time of Change, funded by the Australian Research Council.

Julie Winters (Australian)

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Julie Winters began her career with Nielsen as an analyst in Sydney back in 2001. Julie then moved to the UK, where she developed her skills and expertise over the next several years for Nielsen in various roles culminating in her appointment as business development director for Nielsen BookScan. In 2014 Julie moved back to her native Australia as an Associate Director working on strategic projects for key clients such as: Unilever, Nestle, P&G, Colgate, Mars, and GSK. She was then appointed associate director, Nielsen Book, Pacific and heads-up the Australia and New Zealand Book business.