Forest for the Trees is a one-day seminar bringing together writers, publishers and industry representatives to explore the current state of writing and publishing in Australia. Hear from bestselling writers, local and international publishers, industry analysts and other experts as they discuss new publishing avenues, the latest book sales data and the shifting boundaries between genre and literary fiction. The day ends with a panel of experts discussing future opportunities and challenges.

10.00–10.45am My Path Through the Forest
Jane Harper’s bestselling crime novels The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man have sold in more than 30 territories, with Reese Witherspoon snapping up film rights for The Dry. In conversation with journalist and author Caroline Overington, Jane reflects on what she has learnt so far, and her plans for 2019.

10.45–11.30am Staying on the Path
Michael Sala’s debut, The Last Thread, won the 2013 New South Wales Premier’s Award for New Writing and was the regional winner of the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. While his most recent book, The Restorer, garners critical accolades, Michael is currently at work on his third novel. He joins Caroline Overington to discuss what it takes to get published and maintain a career as a writer.

Break 11.30am–11.45am

11.45am–12.30pm Reading the Signs
Bianca Whiteley from Nielsen BookScan brings us data about the books readers are buying and which genres readers are moving to. This year, she will look at where the long-term shifts are and which titles are driving this growth.


12.30–1.30pm From Little Things Big Things Grow
Australian journals have always been avenues for discovering and supporting local writing, and now some of them have successfully moved into book publishing. Southerly editor Elizabeth McMahon chats about the transition with The Lifted Brow publisher Sam Cooney, alongside author of The Town Shaun Prescott, co-founder of Seizure, Alice Grundy, and author of the critically acclaimed The Fish Girl, Mirandi Riwoe.

Lunch 1.30pm – 2.30pm

2.30–3.30pm Growth Markets: Genre Publishing
Genre fiction, such as fantasy, romance and crime books, has recently enjoyed a bout of growth and experimentation in the publishing industry. Hear the latest changes to the industry from University of Melbourne researcher Beth Driscoll, fantasy and science-fiction author Mitchell Hogan, author of the globally acclaimed Caleb Zelic series Emma Viskic, and from Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency in the US, Pamela Malpas.

3.30 – 4.30pm The Open Road
Author Ashley Hay (The Railwayman’s Wife) considers the challenges and opportunities facing the publishing industry today with author, publisher and Small Press Network representative Sophie Masson, Director of independent firm Critical Mass Consulting Joel Naoum, owner of the Potts Point Bookshop Anna Low, and London Literary Scouting’s Rebecca Servadio.

Presented with Writing NSW

Jane Harper (Australian)

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Jane Harper is the author of the international bestsellers The Dry and Force of Nature. Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea. Jane has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year. Jane worked as a print journalist for 13 years both in Australia and the UK.

Michael Sala (Australian)

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Michael Sala was born in Holland and grew up moving between Europe and Australia. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, and his first novel, The Last Thread, was the winner of the UTS/Glenda Adams Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2013, and his second novel, The Restorer, was shortlisted for the fiction categories in the NSW Premier’s and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as being longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2018.

Bianca Whiteley (Australian)

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Bianca Whiteley started her career in publishing at Murdoch Books in 1999, and spent 7 years in various roles including Inventory Management. She joined Nielsen Book in 2006 where she is currently Account Director. For the past 12 years she has helped publishers and retailers make the most of the data and is currently working on establishing Nielsen’s ebook sales tracking service across Australia and New Zealand.

Shaun Prescott (Australian)

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Shaun Prescott is a novelist based in the Blue Mountains. His debut novel is The Town.

Sam Cooney (Australian)

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Sam Cooney is publisher at independent book press Brow Books and quarterly literary magazine The Lifted Brow and is publisher-in-residence at RMIT University. In 2017 he took part in the Australia Council’s Future Leaders professional development program, and last year he took part in the Australia Council publishing delegation tour of India, and travelled to the USA and the UK on Australia Council-funded research trips about not-for-profit trade publishing. He is a current AMP Foundation ‘Tomorrow Maker’.

Alice Grundy (Australian)

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Alice Grundy is Associate Publisher at Brio and co-founder of Seizure, a launchpad for Australian writing. For the past decade she has worked in trade publishing and has presented at festivals and conferences in Australia, India and China.

Mirandi Riwoe (Australian)

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Mirandi Riwoe’s novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V competition and was shortlisted for The Stella Prize. She is the author of two crime novels, with a third to be released this year. Her short fiction has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Meanjin, Review of Australian Fiction, Griffith Review and Best Summer Stories. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies (QUT) and is Peril Magazine’s Prose Editor.

Mitchell Hogan (Australian)

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Mitchell Hogan received The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy as an eleven-year-old, and a love of fantasy novels was born. He spent the next ten years reading, rolling dice, and playing computer games, with some school and university thrown in. For another ten years he put off his dream of writing; then he quit his job and wrote A Crucible of Souls, winner of the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel.

Emma Viskic (Australian)

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Emma Viskic is the author of the critically acclaimed Caleb Zelic series: Resurrection Bay; And Fire Came Down; Darkness For Light. Her novels have been published worldwide and won numerous awards, including four Davitt Awards and a Ned Kelly Award. Emma undertook extensive research to write the character of Caleb Zelic, who is profoundly deaf, including learning Auslan. Also a classical clarinettist, Emma’s musical career ranged from performing with José Carreras, to busking in the London underground.

Pamela Malpas (International)

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Pamela Malpas has been a New York-based agent for more than 20 years and currently holds a position with the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. Over her career Pamela has worked with legendary literary estates and in the areas of suspense, thrillers, contemporary mystery and YA fiction. In addition to her US authors, she now works with British, Irish and Australian agents and publishers, and represents award-winning literary and general fiction and narrative nonfiction.

Sophie Masson (Australian)

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Sophie Masson is a French-Australian writer and the award-winning and internationally-published author of over sixty books for children, young adults and adults. Sophie is a founding partner and publishing director of Christmas Press, an acclaimed publisher founded in Armidale in 2013, producing children's illustrated books and children’s fiction in three imprints. A former Chair of the Australian Society of Authors, she is the current Chair of the New England Writers’ Centre, and a Board member of the Small Press Network.

Joel Naoum (Australian)

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Joel Naoum is a Sydney-based book publisher, consultant and writer. He currently runs Critical Mass, a consultancy for authors and publishers, and previously ran Pan Macmillan Australia's digital-first imprint, Momentum. He is the chair of the board of Writing NSW and in 2011 he completed the Unwin Trust Fellowship researching digital publishing experimentation in the United Kingdom.

Anna Low (Australian)

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Anna Low is an independent bookseller with 25 years experience. She has owned and run the Potts Point Bookshop in Sydney since 2007. She is a former Miles Franklin judge and currently serves on the board of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the ABA Kids’ Reading Guide panel. In 2016 she was the Text Bookseller of the Year and in 2017 was the joint winner of the ABIA Independent Retailer of the Year.

Rebecca Servadio (International)

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Rebecca Servadio leads London Literary Scouting, an international agency that scouts, reads, consults and recommends books for 24 publishers around the world as well as for BBC Film, the National Theatre and a portfolio of other media companies. Rebecca loves books and is fascinated by the multitude of ways to tell stories and translate them into different languages and mediums so that they can be enjoyed and read more widely.

Rebecca Servadio (International)

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Rebecca Servadio leads London Literary Scouting, an international agency that scouts, reads, consults and recommends books for 24 publishers around the world as well as for BBC Film, the National Theatre and a portfolio of other media companies. Rebecca loves books and is fascinated by the multitude of ways to tell stories and translate them into different languages and mediums so that they can be enjoyed and read more widely.

Anna Low (Australian)

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Anna Low is an independent bookseller with 25 years experience. She has owned and run the Potts Point Bookshop in Sydney since 2007. She is a former Miles Franklin judge and currently serves on the board of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the ABA Kids’ Reading Guide panel. In 2016 she was the Text Bookseller of the Year and in 2017 was the joint winner of the ABIA Independent Retailer of the Year.

Joel Naoum (Australian)

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Joel Naoum is a Sydney-based book publisher, consultant and writer. He currently runs Critical Mass, a consultancy for authors and publishers, and previously ran Pan Macmillan Australia's digital-first imprint, Momentum. He is the chair of the board of Writing NSW and in 2011 he completed the Unwin Trust Fellowship researching digital publishing experimentation in the United Kingdom.

Caroline Overington (Australian)

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Caroline Overington is a two-time winner of the Walkley Award for Investigative Journalism and a winner of the Sir Keith Murdoch Award for Excellence in Journalism. A former New York correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, she is the author of non-fiction books, Kickback: Inside the AWB Scandal, which won the Blake Dawson Prize, and Last Woman Hanged which won the 2016 Davitt Prize. She has written nine crime thrillers, including the No.1 bestseller, The One Who Got Away.

Elizabeth McMahon (Australian)

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Elizabeth McMahon teaches and researches Australian literature and Island Studies at UNSW and is the editor of Southerly, Australia's oldest literary journal. Her recent monograph Islands Identity and the Literary Imagination won two national awards and she is currently completing a book on cross-dressing in Australian Literature. She has co-edited three book collections: Remembering Patrick White; Elizabeth Harrower: Critical Essays; and Women Making Time. She is co-editing a collection on Antigone Kefala for publication in 2019.

Beth Driscoll (Australian)

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Beth Driscoll is Senior Lecturer in Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne. Her research on the publishing industry and contemporary fiction includes the book The New Literary Middlebrow and articles in Memoires du Livre/Studies in Book Culture, Continuum, the European Journal of Cultural Studies and the Journal of Popular Culture. She is a Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council Discovery Projects “Genre Worlds: Australian Popular Fiction in the Twenty-First Century” and “New Tastemakers and Australia’s Post-Digital Literary Culture”.

Ashley Hay (Australian)

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Ashley Hay is a Brisbane-based novelist and essayist whose awards include the Foundation of Australian Literary Studies’ Colin Roderick Award and the Peoples’ Choice from the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, for The Railwayman’s Wife, and the Bragg/UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing. Her latest novel is A Hundred Small Lessons. She is the editor of Griffith Review.