Many of us dream of becoming published authors but don’t move past the draft phase because we are put off by the idea of sending our work to publishers. This month we spoke to Therese Fisher from KingFisher Publishing to discuss her love of books, inspiring the next generation of writers, and overcoming that fear of putting your words out into the world.
Kia ora Therese, how did KingFisher Publishing come about?
My husband Ronnie always dreamt of being an author, and so we set about promoting his book — Apples, Pears and Pirate Underwear — and getting his work out. From there, I went through the process and learnt a lot more about publishing.
Why do you do what you do?
This is what I love to do.
We want to make publishing accessible. When people create a manuscript, they often wonder what to do next. We provide people with a pathway to publishing — and that includes reviewing and editing their manuscripts — and help them realise that it’s not out of their reach. It’s about getting stories out that are worthwhile for the world.
Why do you think so many potential authors are put off by publishing?
It can be seen as intimidating. When we think of publishing, we often think it must be perfect.
You’re not really a traditional publisher. In some ways, your process is quite experimental and liberating. Tell us about that.
I’ve written a few books myself and played with the process of getting a book out in a week. We ran a week-long workshop in Hanmer Springs, where we guided authors to move their work past the draft manuscript phase to a completed self-published book. For us, it’s about letting go of perfection and what it means to publish a book.
What kind of works do you publish?
We publish novels and poems. And a lot of children’s books – they are so fun and lovely.
Your kaupapa is also about inspiring the next generation of writers. Can you tell us about that?
For the last few years, we’ve hosted a free Tamariki Book Festival. This year’s Tamariki Book Festival is on November 22nd 2020, at TSB Space, Tūranga, Christchurch and showcases the incredible talent of Christchurch’s local children’s authors and illustrators. It’s about bringing stories to life and giving our tamariki the opportunity to interact with authors and inspire their love of reading.
Christchurch has always been home to many amazing children’s authors, like Margaret Mahy, and the authors of our generation aspire to follow in their footsteps. This festival gives writers and illustrators a platform to shine.
It’s different to other book festivals in that it’s much more interactive. Tamariki are encouraged to dress up as a character from literature; we have themed gazebos that transport our tamariki to different worlds, and there are various workshops. We are also running a poetry and illustration competition. It’s a celebration of books and creativity.
What makes you stand out as a publisher?
We are a small, independent publisher who provides people who identify as authors a sense of agency and support. We want authors to take ownership because we feel this is the best way for them to get value from the publishing process.
Who were your favourite authors when you were growing up?
I read almost everything as a child — anything I could get my hands on!
I read Jacqueline Wilson’s books more than once and the Asterix comics multiple times. It was the aesthetics that I really liked.
What advice do you give to people who dream of being published?
Let go of perfection. Get in touch with the New Zealand Society of Authors. They have groups all around Aotearoa and they really want to help people become authors. Meet other writers and go to events.
And get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you and bring your story to life!
Two Sparrows worked with Kingfisher Publishing to provide the book design for five sing-a-long books for preschoolers: E Rima Ngā Manu (Five Little Birds); Te Waiata Koa (The Happy Song); He Uri Ngāti Hua-Rākau (Ngāti Fruit Salad); Ko Te Pūtake Mo Te Kirihimete (The Reason For Christmas); and He Kirihimete Karakara Kiwi (It’s A Colourful Kiwi Christmas). The bilingual English and Te Reo Māori lyrics in these gorgeous books were written by Loopy Tunes, a Christchurch sister duo, with illustrations by Rosina Cater.