What is Busybird Publishing?

Busybird is a boutique micropublisher. We publish a handful of our own titles yearly. We also have a fee-for-service self-publishing arm that’ll help you get your story out into the world.

What sort of books do you publish then?

We try to publish books that are infused with an altruistic intent. Journey: Experiences with Breast Cancer and Below the Belt: Experiences with Prostate Cancer gave a portion of their proceeds to various cancer foundations. Walk With Me gave a portion of their proceeds to CMT Australia. Joffa: Isn’t That Life? gave a portion of proceeds to the Epilepsy Foundation. We try to be socially conscious.

What is traditional publishing?

This is when you submit to a commercial publisher and, if they like your book, they will offer you a contract. They take on all the financial responsibilities and oversee the production of the book. You will be offered a contract, an advance (money), an advance against royalties (royalties that have to pay off the advance before you see any royalties), and/or royalties (a percentage of each sale – usually about 10%). The percentage of books traditional publishers pick up from unsolicited submissions is minuscule (about 3%).

Does that mean I can’t submit my book to you?

Unfortunately, no. At this time, Busybird is not open to unsolicited submissions.

But I have a bestseller!

You might be surprised, but this is the number one thing we hear from prospective authors. You might have a brilliant story and your manuscript might be beautifully written, but that doesn’t guarantee it’s going to be a bestseller. If there was a guaranteed formula, big multinational publishers – with their market analyses and heavy promotion – would be producing bestseller after bestseller. They’re not, because while people believe they have an idea how the market operates and what will work in it at any given time, nobody can truly predict it. We hope you do have a bestseller. But just know that lots of people think the same thing, and there’s heaps of competition.

What is self-publishing?

This is when you, the author, fund the publication of your manuscript. This means that you will need to pay for whatever services you require, e.g. editing, layout, cover design. Some of these services you might consider optional, e.g. you might get your book independently edited, or edited by a friend who has expertise in this field. Just be warned: we often hear a book has been edited, and still find errors. Just because you have a friend who teaches Year 10 English doesn’t mean they know how to edit. It’s advisable (but not mandatory) to get your manuscript professionally edited. Some requirements for the production of a book are compulsory, e.g. if you plan to self-publish your book, it will need an ISBN, (the ISBN is to a book what a license plate is to a car). The main cost of self-publishing is usually printing.

Why would I choose to self-publish?

There are many advantages to self-publishing. The main one is that you have total control of the project: you choose an editor, control the design of the book, retain all copyright and all profits.

What is partnership publishing?

Partnership publishers offer to share half the costs with you (well, this is what they claim), and take half the profits. Some partnership publishers are unscrupulous and masquerade as traditional publishers, e.g. they will make you believe that your manuscript has undergone a rigorous selection process. They will flatter you outrageously, make unsupportable claims (e.g. ‘You have a bestseller’), and encourage you to publish under (for example) a ‘new model’ where you share half the costs. It’s doubtful they spend a cent on your book, and instead use (some of) your money to pay subcontractors (e.g. editors, designers) to produce your book. We’ve heard plenty of horror stories from poor authors who’ve been taken advantage of and lost lots of money.

So what do you recommend?

We recommend that every author try publish traditionally (by submitting to a traditional publisher), and once they’re satisfied that’s either not going to work for them, or that’s something they no longer want to do, then to consider self-publishing.

But if a traditional publisher knocked me back, maybe my book isn’t any good!

Of course, your book may need work. But traditional publishers are generally risk averse. Their resources – even as far as the big multinational publishers go – are not inexhaustible. There’s lots of reasons your book might be declined. They might not consider it marketable. You might’ve submitted an urban fantasy about an evil wizard who takes control of the US Senate, but the publishers might’ve just accepted a similar book and thus not want another. And, possibly, they just might get it wrong. The best example is Harry Potter, which was rejected umpteen times before finding a home. Think of all the publishers who got that call wrong. Often, rejection might simply be because your book isn’t ready.

What do you mean it mightn’t be ready?

We’re all eager to get our stories into the world, but eagerness can never compensate for readiness. Has your book been properly developed? Have you gone over and over and over it and made the story as sound as possible? Have you gotten feedback from readers? Too many authors send early drafts out into the world. Don’t ever think the brilliance of your story will compensate for it being underdeveloped, badly structured, or error laden. You’re doing your story – and yourself – a disservice if you’re sending it out before it’s ready.

But I thought books were edited after they’d been accepted?

Lots of authors who have traditional publishing deals still get their books independently appraised and/or edited, and then revise before submitting.

I’m happy with my book, and I want to self-publish – how can you help?

We offer three different packages that will help you get your book out into the world. The packages vary in how comprehensive they are. But we do also provide customisable packages to suit your needs, as well as individual services.

Do you appraise books?

We do offer a manuscript assessment, which will provide you a report on your book. This report will look at things like the book’s title, the content, the structure, the plot, characters, grammar, spelling, clarity of expression, market, and more. With an assessment, we do not touch the text in your book. Passages might be copied and pasted in the report to be used as examples, but your book itself isn’t touched.

How about editing?

We do provide various editing services. A structural edit looks at the book’s content, the structure, the cohesiveness of the story, the characters, the plotting, if the prose is under or overwritten, etc., and how it all functions to tell your story. A copyedit looks at the text, line by line, and cleans up grammar, punctuation, misspelling, and will cite any awkward expression.

I’m happy with where my book is at – what sort of design does it need?

Books are laid out in professional industry-standard software before they’re sent to be printed.

Who do you use to print books?

We find the printer right for your project. Some printers are great for text-heavy books, others for colour books, etc.

What about a cover?

We also design covers. We will liaise with you, talk about what you need, and submit a draft that you can comment on before we continue.

My book needs illustrations – do you have somebody who can draw?

Yes, we also offer illustration services, and have already illustrated several children’s books.

And promotional material?

We can help with promotional material such as flyers, brochure, posters, etc.

How about photography?

Yes. Kev has thirty years experience in the commercial photography industry. So we’re sure to be able to help with whatever sort of photos you need.

I want to learn more about …

Busybird runs various workshops on different forms of writing (e.g. life writing, fiction), editing, and photography. Sign up for our newsletter to find out more about what we have coming up.

I have my book and am ready to go! Do you know somewhere I can launch?

The Busybird Publishing Studio is available to hire for launches.

Is there somewhere I can go to read my work?

Busybird has a monthly Open Mic Night the third Wednesday of every month.

I love everything about writing, editing, and publishing, and want to get into the industry – do you offer internships?

Yes we do. You can learn more about them here.

How can I find out more about the people behind Busybird?

You can check out our About Us page.