March 2022

Back to Issue 11

Stephen Matthews OAM in conversation with Rosanna Licari

Ginninderra Press moved from Canberra’s Belconnen area to Port Adelaide in 2008.

1.Stephen, Ginninderra Press has been in Australian publishing since 1996. In fact, in 2021 you received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to publishing.
Can you tell us about the history of the press and why you called the press Ginninderra?

I chose the name because it’s identified with an area in the northern suburbs of Canberra, where I was living at the time. I later discovered that the word Ginninderra means ‘throwing out little rays of light’, which I think suits our business very well.

2. What made you get into publishing?

I had been working for a business that edited government reports and similar commissioned publications, and before that, I had been a bookseller, so I knew there were many authors who couldn’t find a publisher for their work because it wasn’t commercially attractive enough. I thought it would be possible to find an economically viable way to publish some of those books.

3. Are you funded by any particular body?

We have never had, and have never sought, funding from any body or individual. My view has always been that subsidising publishing leads to over-production. If public money is available for the support of literature, it would, I think, be best spent on things such as funding public libraries more generously so that they can afford to buy more books. That would be more likely to benefit all publishers and writers.

4. What poetry publication is offered?
There are 4 strands to our poetry publishing. We publish full-length collections under the Ginninderra Press imprint. Then we have 2 chapbook series – Pocket Poets and Picaro Poets. The Pocket Poets series is open to poets who have been previously published by Ginninderra Press. The Picaro Poets series is open to all poets. And we publish The Crow, a quarterly journal, which is also open to all poets. There’s more information on the Ginninderra Press website.

5. What are the other genres you publish?

We publish non-fiction – mostly Australian social history and biography, and personal memoirs. We also publish collections of short stories.

6. How are writers selected for publication?

We’re open to submissions all through the year. We consider every manuscript we receive very carefully and decide whether it matches our interests and will fit into the rest of our list. I decide which full-length manuscripts we will publish. Brenda Eldridge (the significant other half of Ginninderra Press) chooses manuscripts for Pocket Poets and Picaro Poets and selects poems for The Crow.

7. How are publications marketed and distributed?

Our books are available worldwide on dozens of sites such as Amazon and Book Depository, as well as on the Ginninderra Press website. Many of our titles are also available in ebook versions. Retail distribution is via Ingram, though booksellers also buy direct from us.

8. What are the challenges of being a publisher?

The biggest challenge for us – and it’s important to remember that there are only 2 of us – is finding enough time to work on all the books we want to publish. Authors are naturally keen to see their book in print and we often have to apologise for slow progress caused by the very large amount of work we have on hand.

9. How do you see yourself positioned in the Australian publishing industry.

Ginninderra Press occupies an important and unique place in Australian publishing. We offer a path to publication for authors whose work doesn’t fit the mainstream but nevertheless deserves to be available. Our books cater to a discerning, if small, audience. As one of our authors aptly said, we are ‘a small but significant publisher of small but significant books’.

Ginninderra Press:

The Crow:

Picaro Poets and Pocket Poets: