Monday 17 February 2014

Traditional Christian Publishers in Australia

by Narelle Atkins

The Australian Christian publishing industry is smaller than the US market. I have compiled information from three traditional, royalty paying Australian publishers who sell books with Christian content in the Australian market. They will accept unagented submissions. Lucy Morgan-Jones wrote a post for our blog last month that discussed working with an agent in the US market. 


Acorn Press is a not-for-profit publishing company. Paul Arnott, Chair of Acorn Press, has kindly answered my questions regarding their manuscript submission requirements. 

Narelle: Is Acorn Press open to unsolicited submissions from new authors? 

Paul: Yes, we are. 

Narelle: Are there any specific projects, genres or categories of books that Acorn Press is looking to publish? 

Paul: We have a policy of only publishing non fiction, although later this year we plan to publish our first novel. However, it is unlikely that we will move into fiction. All our books are written from a Christian perspective, rather than just for Christians. Increasingly we are seeking to break into the general book market. Simon Carey Holt’s book Eating Heaven is a good example of this kind of book. 

Narelle: Does Acorn Press have any specific submission requirements or guidelines? 

Paul: They can be found on our website at: 

Narelle: How long can a writer expect to wait if they email one of the Acorn Press editors? 

Paul: You will get a quick response to an email but it may take up to three months for our editorial panel to assess a manuscript, make recommendations to the board and compile a budget. 

Narelle: Paul, thank you for providing additional information on Acorn Press. If you’re interested in submitting to Acorn Press, please visit their website, study the submission guidelines and read a range of Acorn Press titles to learn more about the types of books they publish. Anne Hamilton wrote a review of Eating Heaven on our blog last year. 

YOUTHWORKS MEDIA (incorporating Aquila Press, Blue Bottle Books, Growing Faith, Christian Education Publications CEP, Anglican Press Australia APA, and Fervr imprints) 

Youthworks Media is a not-for-profit ministry organisation. Julie Firmstone, Assistant Director of Publishing, kindly provided the following information on the submission guidelines for their imprints. 

Youthworks Media is open to unsolicited manuscripts from new authors. Their key periods for contracting books are August-September (for the first half of the following year) and February-March (for the second half of the same year). Submissions are closed for 2014 and they are currently accepting submissions for 2015.

Youthworks Media accepts unsolicited manuscript submissions for any of the following categories: 
  • Youth books (Non-fiction) 
  • Youth Bible Studies 
  • Youth ministry resources 
  • Children’s books (0-4s, 5-8s) 
  • Children’s ministry programs and resources (Sunday programs, After school and holiday clubs, evangelism, crafts and games) 
  • Family books (for example, parenting and family issues) 
  • Educational curriculum for High Schools 
  • Tracts for youth, children and families 
  • Bible Commentaries 
  • Christian living 
  • Leadership 
  • Music CDs 
Youthworks Media are unlikely to be accept: 
  • Inspirational books 
  • Adult fiction (although we would consider fiction for children and youth) 
  • Adult devotions or studies 
  • Financial management 
  • Poetry 
  • Plays/scripts (unless it is a collection for use in youth or children’s ministry) 

Submission guidelines: 
  • A full or partial manuscript (at least 2 chapters)** and/or a synopsis (of no more than 300 words) which includes the target readership, purpose/intent, biblical foundation and chapter titles. 
  • Author’s CV including past writing experience (published and/or professional); relevant qualifications and experience (for example, educational or ministry); details of church attendance and ministry involvement if any. 
** Please note that only full manuscripts for children’s picture books and all tracts will be accepted. 

Email submissions can be sent to Julie.firmstone (at) youthworks (dot) net 

Hard copy submissions can be mailed to: 
Marshall Ballantine-Jones 
Executive Director of Media 
P.O Box A287 
Sydney South NSW 1235 

Electronic attachments may be in PDF or WORD format and should not be larger than 3MB. Hard copies will only be returned on request and a stamped self-addressed envelope should be included with your package. Once the submission has been received, an acknowledgement of receipt will be sent via email. Please supply an email address even if your submission is made via post. 

Narelle: Julie, thank you for providing submission information for your imprints. If you’re interested in submitting to one of the Youthworks Media imprints, please visit their website and read a range of books from the imprints they publish. Three Youthworks Media titles won the 2013 CALEB Award in their category, including Wonderfully Madison by Penny Reeve and Jemima Trappel (CEP) and Youth Ministry on the Front Foot by Zachary Veron (series editor, APA). Teen Sex by the Book by Dr Patricia Weerakoon (Fervr) won the non fiction category and the overall CALEB Award.


Rhiza Press is a brand new family friendly imprint from Wombat Books. Please note that Even Before Publishing (EBP) is no longer open for submissions. Rochelle Manners, founder and director of Wombat Books, has kindly answered my questions regarding the submission process for Rhiza Press. 

Rochelle: First can I just clarify that I am not marketing Rhiza or Wombat as Christian publishers. Rhiza is marketed as family friendly, the same as Wombat Books. As a result, our submissions are slightly different but we will still release some books that explicitly share the Christian faith. 

Narelle: Is Rhiza Press open to unsolicited submissions from new authors? 

Rochelle: Starting from March 1, 2014, Rhiza Press is open for new submissions from new, emerging and established authors. Wombat Books is always open but specifically calls for certain lists at times. 

Narelle: Are there any specific projects, genres or categories of books that Rhiza Press are looking to publish? 

Rochelle: Rhiza Press is looking for books that are primarily as follows: 
  • Biographies that are dramatised. We prefer biographies that read like fictional work, in that they show, don’t tell and engage the reader in the moment. Biographies on family issues. 
  • Young adult fiction books that are “family-friendly”, real, integrated stories, natural stories teens will relate to. Stories with such strong and engaging plots that the story sells without having to have any issues such as swearing, or sex. In other words book that are so good that they don’t need to push steamy boundaries to engage, but the story engages all on its own. Faith messages that are naturally integrated are welcomed. 
  • Adult fiction novels that are aimed at adults, adult themes, but still family friendly and with content that may push more boundaries than the style of Christian fiction, but allows real issues and real (but subtle) messages that people can relate to. 
Narelle: Does Rhiza Press have any specific submission requirements or guidelines? 

Rochelle: There are specific submission requirements and guidelines that we enforce and we won’t read manuscripts that don’t do this. You can find them all on our website but here is a quick list:
  • We don’t respond to query letters. Full submissions or at least four chapters submitted will be reviewed. 
  • Initially we are more looking at stand-alone titles.
  • We are not calling for non-fiction submissions at this stage, except biographies.
  • YA and adult fiction is welcomed. Please read our early titles when they come out or if you are interested review some of our EBP titles such as recent releases The Celtic Stone, (Nick Hawkes) and Suzannah’s Gold (Carol Preston). Or review some of our YA Wombat titles such as Lynne Stringer’s Verindon trilogy or Lisa Taylor’s Motive Games. These Wombat examples would be books we would now start considering through Rhiza in the future.
Narelle: Does Rhiza Press publish Christian fiction titles? If yes, can the stories be overtly Christian or should they be more subtle Christian worldview in tone to fit the family friendly guidelines? Will any Christian fiction Rhiza Press titles be marketed as Christian books? 

Rochelle: Rhiza Press will publish books that include Christian content, but our focus will be on books that will sell based on their genre not on whether they are targeted at Christian audiences or not. Saying that though some of our novels will have clear Christian faith presented and as such will definitely be marketed to the Christian audience. Our initial releases have varying levels of Christian content, some more obviously Christian, but all written to be strong in their genre as well (YA historical/contemporary/suspense, romance and so on). 

Narelle: How can a writer submit a query to Rhiza Press? How long can a writer expect to wait if they submit a manuscript to Rhiza Press? 

Rochelle: Rhiza Press does not accept query letters. We consider submissions where at least four chapters are included to consider. We prefer email submissions: submissions (at) rhizapress (dot) com (dot) au but postal submissions are also considered. We may respond to a query letter, but it will always be that we don’t decide anything from a query letter so your best plan of action is to submit with a good cover letter and at least four chapters. It is normal to take 4-7 months to review manuscripts, but occasionally longer than this time. 

Narelle: Rochelle, thank you for providing additional submission information for Rhiza Press. If you’re interested in submitting to Rhiza Press, please visit their website, study the submission guidelines and read a range of Rhiza Press, EBP and Wombat titles to learn more about the types of books they publish. ACW blog member Andrea Grigg’s contemporary romance, Too Pretty, will be an August 2014 release from Rhiza Press.


  1. Thanks Narelle, its good to have an overview of what's available in the way of publishing closer to home.

    1. Hi Cat, I agree, it's interesting to learn more about what's happening in publishing in our part of the world.

  2. Thanks Narelle for taking the time to research this.Having the submission requirements so clearly spelled out will save a lot of heartache for new authors. Once the guidelines are there it's a plan to work with.

    1. Hi Rita, Yes, this is true. One of my goals with this post was to create a one stop place for writers to learn and explore the different traditional publishing options that are available in Australia.

  3. Thanks Narelle for giving this overview of publishers in Australia that accept books from a Christian perspective. Great to hear from the publishers what they are looking for and about the submissions process. It would be interesting to have similar information on Christian Presses in New Zealand - like Splashdown Books and Daystar Publishing. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Jeanette, Daystar doesn't fit the traditional, royalty paying criteria I've used for this post because they are a not-for-profit subsidy publisher. We haven't really looked a lot at sci-fi, fantasy and speculative fiction genres on the blog, which is Splashdown Books' specialty. That's a good idea for a future post.

  4. Yes, thanks Narelle for the overview.

  5. So does this mean there are now no christian publishers in Australia of Christian Novels?
    Rhiza how will we know if the book is a Christian Book or a family Friendly and What exactly does Family Friendly mean? What is the difference between Christian and Family Friendly. Does it mean some will have swearing or soft sex scenes etc? Or will the Christian ones be marketed at Christian bookshops and the others at non Christian bookshops?

    1. Hi Jenny, Yes, you are right. There is no longer a traditional, royalty paying publishing imprint in Australia exclusively for Christian fiction books now that Even Before Publishing is closed for submissions.

      My understanding, and others can jump in and correct me if I'm wrong, is that family friendly refers to a clean read. No explicit sex scenes, violence or bad language. The type of book a 13 or 14 year old could read because it doesn't contain offensive content. I assume the book cover and back cover copy will indicate whether or not a family friendly book has a faith element in the story. A book with an undeclared or unspecified faith element in the story may receive low star reviews on the review sites from unhappy readers who didn't realise they were buying a religious book.

      A family friendly book may not contain a faith element. It could be written from any worldview as long as the content is clean and isn't offensive. Christian books are usually family friendly because the vast majority of Christian books are a clean read. Some edgy Christian fiction books would be the exception.

      I'd be surprised if a family friendly book contained swearing or soft sex scenes. Harlequin has a Heartwarming line that is a traditional romance and clean read without any faith content. The Harlequin Reader Service markets the Heartwarming books with the Love Inspired books. I assume Rhiza Press will be a combination of clean reads and inspirational/Christian reads.

    2. Narelle this is correct. There are in fact a lot of publishers in Australia that publish books with faith based stories. I think you will find that all of the books that Rhiza publish will still be books Christian readers will enjoy but the focus is on being real to appeal to a larger market and encourage/inspire people in a larger market. You will find if you look at the upcoming list so far of Rhiza plenty of Christian faith strongly involved. Just the difference we see is that our books we aim to focus instead on the genre of the book and the style rather than the faith/market. In fact they may have just as must faith as before in EBP but they will be marketed as romance or suspense rather than Christian. I guess it comes from the attitude of being in the world still (not of, so still clean, but in it)... hope that helps explain it. Will there ever be mistakes made or swearing though, perhaps, but only if it is real and can give a strength to a book not take it away. You will be able to tell which books you like easily enough.

    3. Thanks for the info. Just wondering where will be books be sold Will Koorong and Word take them being they are not a Christian publisher? Or will they be in bookshops like Dymocks?

    4. Hi Rochelle, Thanks for stopping by and answering our questions :)

  6. This is a great post, which I'll bookmark. Thanks, Narelle, for putting it together so comprehensively. And thanks also to Paul, Julie and Rochelle for telling us what you'll be looking for. It's good for us to have this information at our fingertips to know who to approach with what.

    1. Hi Paula, I appreciate the contributions from Paul, Julie and Rochelle. It's great to have this information on our blog where we can easily locate it.

  7. Thank you for the information and will certainly send authors who ask me the question about Aussie publishers to your post here. I was especially unaware of most of the information from Acorn.

    1. Hi Mary, Yes, it's good to have one place to send writers who are looking for publishing information. Hopefully this information won't go out of date too quickly.

  8. Thanks, Narelle. It's good to know how the Christian publishing scene is moving in Australia at present. Great post.

  9. Hi Narelle, thanks so much for posting this. As someone who is very new to the 'writing scene' it's great to know what's going on in Australia, traditional publishing wise.

    1. Hi Linsey, I hope you'll find this post a helpful resource. Thanks for stopping by :)

  10. Thanks Narelle for clear guidelines for these three publishers and for your clear answer in regards to Jenny's question. Very helpful.

    1. Hi Dale, I'm glad my response to Jenny's question was helpful.