Meet The Publisher: [12.07.2012]
KEITH STEVENSON from coeur de lion
coeur de lion publishing was established in 2006 to bring fine Australian speculative fiction to a wider reading public.
Keith Stevenson is a speculative fiction editor, reviewer, podcaster and author. He is the publisher with coeur de lion publishing, an Australian-based independent press which has, so far, picked up three Aurealis Awards, one Ditmar, one Vogel and a World Fantasy Award for its published titles.
When was the last time you were lost in a book? I’d have to say it was when I was reading China Mieville’s Embassytown. Not only is it a rock solid science fiction story about the interaction of human and alien cultures, but the ideas it expounds about the limiting effects of language on individual and group perspectives and thought were deeply engaging.
Why did you become a publisher? I’ve always been a writer and a reader and through my own work and study that extended into editing, most notably with Aurealis Magazine. After that it was a logical extension to move into publishing. There are so many talented and unique Australian speculative fiction writers working today, I wanted to do my bit to provide a platform for those writers to reach a wider audience.
How did you become a publisher? As a writer I became interested in editing, mainly to make my own work better and pursued that through a writing and editing course at TAFE. I then got involved in Aurealis Magazine, firstly as a reader then submissions manager and finally took on the role of editor for three years. It was exhausting but rewarding work, and after I’d finished with Aurealis, I found that I wanted to keep editing. I had a lot of contacts in the SF community and I’d amassed a fair bit of knowledge about book production via the magazine, so I founded coeur de lion publishing in 2006 and we’ve been putting out titles on a semi-regular basis ever since. I enjoy working collaboratively with individual authors and I also enjoy learning new skills. Our latest foray into ebooks has opened up a whole new avenue to get our work out there which is really exciting, and SPUNC have helped tremendously with that.
Three skills every independent publisher needs are…? Only three?! Well you need to have a feel for what makes a good story and how each work can be developed to make it the best it can be. You have to know and understand the segment of the market you’re working in, what people want and how you can differentiate your ‘product’ from all the others out there. And you need to be able to leverage the contacts and limited resources you have to create knowledge of and interest in your titles.
What is the most exciting thing about your job? Two things that are interconnected really – finding a work that is original and blows my mind, and working with the author to develop it into something truly magical.
What are the biggest challenges facing independent publishers/your company at the moment? It’s always been hard to get titles seen and read, particularly with a non-existent marketing budget. With the advent of ebooks, it’s made it easier to publish work, but then it’s easier for everyone else too. There is a LOT more independent product out there now, and a lot more of it is self-published. There is a danger that individual voices will be lost in the sheer volume of work that is being produced. The ‘gatekeeper’ model of established publishers and book vendors has been blown apart. That’s why an organisation like SPUNC is so important. It gives independent Australian publishers another way to pull resources, lift ourselves above the background noise and get our works seen.
Screen VS Page? There’s a lot to be said for working on the page. I do onscreen editing, but I prefer old school mark up with pencil and paper. Though it takes longer I think the end result is better. But in terms of reading, it has to be screen. I love my Kindle and I read almost exclusively on it. I am not a fan of the iPad-toy.
When I’m not busy publishing fantastic Australian writing you can find me…? Reading fantastic Australian speculative fiction!