When Covid-19 reared its ugly head, and we were all told to batten down the hatches, many industries took a hit and publishing was no exception. Luckily, adapting to change to is something Exisle has always been good at, and it wasn’t long before the unique initiative to train aspiring authors, dubbed Exisle Academy, was up and running. It is perfect for authors who feel a little lost when it comes to editing, pitching, publishing, and promoting their book.
One great thing that came out of lockdown was that people’s creativity was allowed time and space to reignite. Writers who just needed to complete that final draft or chapter were suddenly able to think about what their next steps might be. This meant that plenty of authors were looking to the future and starting to put feelers out into the world of publishing. This was the case for 18-year-old author Isabell Duff whose experience with Exisle Academy led to her signing a contract to publish her debut picture book Cookie.
Based in rural NSW with no prior experience of the publishing industry, Isabelle worked one-on-one with EK’s publisher, Anouska Jones, crafting the work to a point where the writer’s voice was fully developed and the story ready for commercial publication. “Working with Isabelle has been a real joy,” Jones said. “I am very pleased that as a result of our collaboration this delightful story will be published and made available to readers all over the world.”
Duff’s picture book was inspired by her dog Saffy, whose companionship gave her great comfort when she was experiencing depression. 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 making books with heart on issues that matter. Signing a book contract has been the icing on the cake for Duff, who found the Exisle Academy process very rewarding. “Exisle has been incredible: the whole team has been boundlessly generous with their time and advice and made Cookie possible. It’s has been a dream come true in every sense,” the young author said.
Exisle CEO Gareth St John Thomas says that the response to the initiative has been incredibly positive, with the initial intake being fully subscribed and one young author already being offered a contract for her children’s picture book.
“At a time of uncertainty, we really wanted to do something positive,” Thomas said. “We have a very experienced team globally, with a rich knowledge of both non-fiction and children’s picture book publishing. We decided to use this time, with much of the usual business of publishing in a state of flux, to offer writers passionate about getting their work published unprecedented access to our team,” he said.
As a result of the initial success of Exisle Academy, the programme has been extended and is now enrolling writers in a newly formatted course which will be delivered entirely online.