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By Kylie Howard, Editors Victoria Events subcommittee

On 31 October 2023, we welcomed Tim Coronel, the General Manager of the Small Press Network (SPN), to speak at an EdVic Zoom event about small press publishing in Australia and the role of SPN.

Tim began by explaining a bit about SPN’s history. It was established in 2006 (originally as the Small Press Underground Networking Community – known as “SPUNC”) to provide a collective voice for small and independent publishers. At that time, small publishers felt a need for representation; the Australian Publishers Association was the only representative body for publishers, but its core business was (and is) large publishing houses. SPN now boasts a membership of over 200 (including approximately 130 publishers) and is headquartered at the Wheeler Centre at the State Library of Victoria. Membership is open to freelance editors, who can join as associate members. SPN and IPEd enjoy a mutually supportive relationship and SPN has recently endorsed IPEd’s Guide for Working with Self-Employed Editors.

Tim then went on to highlight how small publishers feature strongly in literary awards. The last two Miles Franklin winners (Shankari Chandran in 2023 and Jennifer Down in 2022) and the 2022 winner of the Stella Prize (Evelyn Araluen for her volume of poetry, Dropbear) were all represented by independent publishers. He also noted that authors who have otherwise struggled for recognition and representation have found support in small publishing houses. Tim gave the example of Alexis Wright, the multi-award-winning author, whose Miles Franklin-winning Carpentaria (2007) was rejected by every mainstream publisher in Australia before Giramondo put faith in her talent.

Tim also filled us in about the 2023 Small Press Network Conference, which was to be held at the Wheeler Centre in late November. He went over the program in some detail and offered tips on the best days to attend and sessions not to be missed. Tim very generously gave away 5 free passes to the conference to attendees of the session. The lucky winners were AJ Collins, Stephen Olsen, Charlotte Cottier, James Bean and Sheelagh Wegman. SPN also offered a 20% discount to all IPEd members.

EdVic was delighted to have Tim as a guest, and we do hope that he will favour us with his company at future events.