Exisle Academy was founded during the inferno of 2020. When the publishing world ground to a (mercifully, temporary) halt, our talented and experienced staff from Exisle Publishing and EK Books suddenly found themselves with a rare resource: Time. We decided to use this time to reach out to the many thousands of authors who send us manuscripts and ask for advice, but during normal circumstances we simply don't typically have the capacity to work with.
With the publishing industry "on pause," we thought why not look to the future, and help the authors of tomorrow navigate the strange, competitive yet potentially wonderfully rewarding world of book publishing.
And so, In April 2020, Exisle Academy Was Born
Things started small, an intimate mentoring program giving a small handful of aspiring authors in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and North America access to our most senior editorial staff. Team members like Gareth St John Thomas and Anouska Jones threw themselves into this with passion, and worked step by step with a small number of writers who were looking for guidance to take their work right the way through to the bookshelves.
Success came quickly: One of the original Exisle Academy students, Isabelle Duff, has already landed a publishing contract and her children's book, Cookie, is expected to hit the shelves in late 2021...
Cookie, by Isabelle Duff & Susannah Crispe
Cookie is a heart-warming story about the love between a pet and their person. It is also a sensitive exploration of childhood depression and anxiety, and the importance of empathy. With beautiful words and playful illustrations, it provides a gentle starting point for big conversations.
20-year-old author Isabelle Duff was inspired to write Cookie by her personal experiences with acute depressive disorder and anxiety, and by her wonderful dog, Saffy, who has been an invaluable support to her. The result is a valuable resource for reducing the stigma around mental illness, and a tribute to the loved ones who are able to get you out of bed when nothing else can.
Isabelle’s manuscript evolved through a mentoring process with EK Books publisher, Anouska Jones. The result is a beautifully crafted picture book, in which the young writer’s voice is fully developed and the story ready for commercial publication. The book, which is narrated from the point of view of the dog, is ‘hopeful and warm — a perfect fit for EK Books who are known for their books with heart on issues that matter.
Publishing Returned, but Exisle Academy Decided to Stay
As 2020 rolled ahead, the publishing world learned to adapt to the new circumstances, and eventually our printers started whirring away again. Business was back, and our editors found themselves, once again, trying to wrangle publishing schedules, making last minute changes to accepted manuscripts, working with established authors, and pouring their hearts and souls into each and every page.
The original Academy program was successfully concluded, but there was so much interest out there that we decided to keep Exisle Academy going in a format that would provide support and guidance to aspiring authors, while allowing our editors to continue with their standard publishing duties.
Many new programs for writers followed, including...
- Memoir Mastery - a live seminar (and now recording) taught by Exisle Publishing CEO, Gareth St John Thomas, on how to effectively write and publish your Memoir
- Manuscript Review - An intense process where our editors review your book line by line, and provide strategic assessment and suggestions
- Focus, Assess, Recharge - One of our more popular offerings, this "Manuscript Review Lite" gives you quick and useful feedback on the direction of your book from an experienced publisher and/or editor (currently closed due to high demand)
- Exisle Academy Home Study - Containing the distilled wisdom of our most experienced editors and publishers, this "DIY" course takes you through each stage of the process, from writing and editing to pitching to publishers, negotiating a contract, and selling your book, with hard-hitting, practical advice.
- From Self-Published to Published - An intimate mentorship program designed to help authors of nonfiction works breakthrough into the commercial publishing mainstream (Open Until Tuesday, December 1)
But that wasn't all. We also wanted to energize this community and help authors with ideas get recognition for their work in a more accessible format. This resulted in two writing competitions, The Moment My Life Changed and Alone in the Time of Covid-19
The Turning Point
The first writing competition, The Moment My Life Changed, was won by Marjorie Counsel with her moving story, A Farmer's Wife. Such was the overall quality of entries received that the decision was made to compile selected entries into a book which will be called The Turning Point.
Expected in late 2021, The Turning Point will feature 40 stories groups into six overarching themes: Love and Romance, Big Changes, Momentous Decisions, Tragedy Leading to Change, Vivid Moments, Learning Moments.
At the time of writing this post, winners are still pending for our second competition, Alone in the Time of Covid-19. Bear with us as we navigate the many wonderful entries.
What's Next in 2021?
Exisle Academy will still be here. You can look forward to more writing competitions, occasional opportunities for one one one mentorship with our editors, and other exciting events.
It's been such a wonderful journey seeing this community grow from nothing in such a short time! The effusive feedback we have received from our students, the wonderful generosity writers have shown in spreading the word online and on social media, and the incredible attitude everyone here brings to your work is inspiring.
Together, we're working to help more writers bring their ideas to the world - here's to the next exciting chapter!