Aug31

Editia: A digital-first Australian publisher dedicated to longform journalism and non-fiction shorts

Editia is a new digital-first publishing business devoted to longform journalism and non-fiction shorts. Based in Australia, Editia was founded by journalist and digital blogger, Charlotte Harper. In this case study, we find out more about Editia and how it fits within the current digital publishing landscape.

Please tell us a bit about Editia and your plans for the future?

Editia is a new digital first publishing business devoted to longform journalism and non-fiction shorts. The name Editia (pronounced “edeesha”) is derived from the Latin “editio” meaning the “publishing of a book” or “an announcement”.

Titles in our list are between 10,000 and 35,000 words long. They may be extensions of magazine features or newspaper articles; reinterpretations of academic, government or business research; or completely original works. They may contain hard news journalism, quirky and unusual feature-style content, or practical infotainment.

We are already in talks with authors about titles in the fields of the arts, culture, literature, media, travel, technology, politics, business, economics, science, sport, crime, society, life and food, and seek to build our list in these areas.

Our high-speed production schedule gives us flexibility to publish and update newsworthy books in a timely manner. Social media allows us to keep readers in the loop. Editia is based in Canberra, Australia but all of our titles are available globally – and where possible, DRM-free. We plan to publish between six and eight titles a year for now, but have scope to grow with the market.

Is there any reason you chose this moment in time to launch Editia?

I’ve been working towards the launch of Editia since late 2009, researching the market, building appropriate skills, considering the best direction to take, connecting with the right people to help me make it happen, and saving up to cover the costs. Everything fell into place for me during the first half of this year, happily just as the ebook and tablet/ereader market reached critical mass.

You have stated that Editia will focus on “longform journalism and non-fiction shorts”.  Why did you choose these formats to focus on?

It has long frustrated me in journalism, whether as a literary editor, magazine editor, newspaper section editor or sub-editor, that stories have been written to fit set spaces, rather than to appear at their natural length. If I could retrieve all the fine offcuts I’ve had to trim from articles over the years, readers everywhere would feast upon them.

I love the idea of books that are longer than magazine articles but not as long as the usual printed book. The fact that ebooks can be updated on the fly (we made three substantial additions to Crowdfund it!’s text one hour before publication this week and will continue to update it regularly) makes them perfectly suited to journalism and non-fiction. I also believe that social reading, including sharing of highlights and comments on content, will come into its own with these genres.

There are two other important reasons: firstly, most of my career experience is in print and digital journalism and short non-fiction. Secondly, there is plenty of evidence of reader demand for such works.

Is there any reason you chose Crowdfund it! by Anna Maguire as your first title to publish?

Anna was in fact working on a separate, longer title when she approached me with the idea for a shorter work on crowdfunding. I said yes on the spot, because I’d experienced the power of crowdfunding myself late last year when the Emerging Writers Festival ran a Pozible campaign for a digital event in Brisbane. It was a great conference, and the campaign helped build a camaraderie among panellists and attendees that was unlike anything I’d seen before. Crowdfunding is incredibly powerful, on the up and up, and here to stay. Full credit to Anna for seeing the potential for a book in it, and for working tirelessly to ensure her title was first to market in this country.

Please tell us a bit about your marketing and/or social media plan for Editia?

Print and broadcast still have a role to play, but any coverage about Editia and its books that allows a potential reader to click once and then buy the book is our priority. Social media platforms, particularly Facebook, Twitter and book-specific channels like Goodreads, Readmill and The Reading Room, are a critical part of our plan.

Currently you only sell Crowdfund it! via your website in ePub format – though you state that it will be available via major ebookstores from September 2012.  What do you think will be your most important platforms and markets moving forward?

I expect that independent bricks and mortar booksellers with ebookstores will play a huge role for us. Their loyal customers are exactly our target market, and I will be working hard to foster existing relationships and to bring new business to them when I can – starting with our launch at Gleebooks on September 23. Digital-only players like Booku.com, Booktopia and The Reading Room will be vital partners too. Kobo’s social reading technology makes it a key part of out strategy, and I’m keen to see more of what Copia has to offer on that front. We’ll be working with the US giants too, of course, because many of our customers choose to read on the Kindle, iPad or Android devices.

Who do you see as your competitors, and how does Editia differentiate itself from them?

In Australia, we have no direct competition. None of the major publishers has a fast turnaround longform journalism or short non-fiction program. Black Inc’s Quarterly Essay is print driven, and in terms of content, mostly about politics, which is not a major focus for us. I’m a huge fan of Byliner, The Atavist and Kindle Singles. They are certainly competition. How are we different? We’re Australian! We see the world from a fresh perspective. Also, each book is precious to us. While the production schedule is fast, all our energies are directed on that one book from the first line of copyediting until the publicity campaign is well underway.

Your Corporate Advisory Board is an important part of your business plan.  Please tell us a bit about that board and how it came about?

I have been incredibly fortunate over the past three years to have stumbled upon the most talented, smart, experienced and enthusiastic group of like-minded bookish geeks you could imagine. We met via social media (mainly Twitter), at conferences, during literary festivals, and in bookshops and cafes. These people welcomed me into their world, and provided friendship, advice and the confidence to pursue the Editia plan. If publishing was like mining, perhaps they’d all be business partners. It’s not. Profit margins are small, and every book is a gamble. Appointing a corporate advisory board ensured I could call upon the members of this team for small bursts of mentorship and support without requiring them to take any financial or legal risks.

What are your hopes for Editia over the next 12 months?

Firstly, I’m keen to ensure that everyone around the world who is interested in crowdfunding buys a copy of Crowdfund it!, because they will find it such a useful guide to all the main players, and potential campaigners will be hugely inspired by the case studies and tips. It’s a must-read for anyone who is intrigued by this cultural and technological phenomenon.

I am looking forward to converting early talks with several potential Editia authors into contracts that lead to equally compelling short reads.

Finally, I’m excited about the potential impact of the Editia Prize on Australia’s media practitioners, whether they’re up and coming writers/students wondering which direction to take or experienced print hands looking to become entrepreneurial journalists in the next stage of their careers.

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