A strong history of support and networking
Many years ago, in August 1988, Ann Haddon and I opened Books Illustrated, a little cottage gallery in South Melbourne. Our focus was to exhibit illustrations from contemporary Australian picture books. Very soon it became a little hub for picture book creators and enthusiasts.
Later that same year a gathering of illustrators at Books Illustrated decided to create SoBI- the Society of Book Illustrators. It was a great decision. SoBI grew over a few years with members mostly in Melbourne and Sydney. We had wonderful gatherings where we discussed and addressed industry issues and held workshops and talks. A strong camaraderie developed nationwide that has grown and solidified over the years. SoBI decided to encourage members to join the ASA - Australian Society of Authors.
As the ASA is the key body representing and advocating for Australian writers and book creators, illustrators felt it very important to become members. To be acknowledged and recognised in the Australian literary landscape, especially in the children’s publishing industry. To have to have our role as authors understood and supported by the publishing industry.
I joined the Board of the ASA in 1996, representing children’s authors and illustrators.
Many strong and creative children’s authors and illustrators have been on the Board since that time, including Nadia Wheatley, Libby Gleeson, Hazel Edwards, Sophie Masson, Mark Carthew, Elise Hurst, Kirsty Murray and Liz Anelli. Libby and Sophie each served a number of years as Chairs. Ileft in 2016, confident that children’s publishing is recognised and respected as a major component of the whole industry and illustrators are acknowledged as authors.
In 2003 illustrator members invented and ‘built’ The Style File which soon became an important service offered by the ASA to their members and to publishers.
SCBWI – the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, is another strong, active and supportive organisation, who organise national and international events for their members.
Get to know your industry and supporters and organisations
The Australian children’s literature industry is a strong network woven from the diverse aspects of the industry. It includes many organisations that support authors and illustrators, and represent libraries, publishers, teachers, book shops, and those with particular related focuses and initiatives.
The ASA (Australian Society of Authors) in particular, is an organisation advocating for writers and illustrators. The Board is made up of professional individuals representing creators from all areas and genres of our industry – adult fiction and non-fiction, children’s literature, academic writing and poetry etc. Their strong political advocacy over the years has resulted in important initiatives for all authors. including Public and Education Lending rights and legal recognition of Copyright ownership and protection. Working with the Copyright Agency to achieve Digital Lending rights is an important current initiative. They offer support, guidance and advice for creators and useful services and events. These can be sourced through their website including contract advice, the Style File, workshops, mentorships and relevant news.
The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) has an active and inclusive membership nationally, with regular events and gatherings. Very supportive and welcoming with strong links to international publishing advice.
Independent booksellers have grown strongly over the past few years with many dedicating real attention to children’s literature, its creators and support of the Australian publishing industry.
Fellowships, Mentorships and Grants for writers and illustrators can be sourced through various bodies and organisations including ASA, CA, Australia Council and May Gibbs Literature Trust and each individual State Arts organisations.
The ASA is probably the best organisation to keep you posted about these.
Australian Society of Authors (ASA):
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI):
Illustrators Australia (IA)
Copyright Agency (CA)
Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA):
May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust
National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature (NCACL):
The Literature Centre
Australian Children’s Literature Trust (ACLF)):
Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF):
Bologna International Children’s Book Fair:
Australian Publishers Association (APA):
Australian Booksellers Association:
The Paper Bird Children’s Books and Art
The Little Bookroom:
Australia Council for the Arts
Australian Book Designers Association
Small Press Network
Illustrators and Authors in Schools
The ASA site has advice on:
• Booking Agencies - In most states that can help you organise sessions in schools to talk about your work and run workshops.
• Funding for residencies.