Local New Zealand publisher Exisle Publishing launches the international Children’s Publishing Academy with a writing competition


Dunedin-based book publisher Exisle Publishing has launched an international Children’s Publishing Academy aimed at supporting budding children’s book authors.

The Children’s Publishing Academy provides a forum where authors can have the opportunity to learn from a leading children’s publishing professional as well as from other published authors.

‘Breaking through as a children’s author is incredibly difficult,’ shares Exisle Publishing’s founder and CEO Gareth St John Thomas. Many talented and passionate writers miss out simply because the barriers to entry are so high. We started the academy to change that.’

‘At the Academy, writers are invited to exercise their creativity to come up with a compelling pitch that makes publishers pay attention.’

Exisle Publishing previously launched the Exisle Academy a community which provides online instruction to writers who want to get published and offers both free and paid assessments.

‘With Exisle Academy, our goal was to train the next generation of authors, enabling them to navigate the confusing and challenging world of writing and publishing, and share their message with the world.’

‘We have published some of our students’ work,’ says Gareth, ‘but we are also pleased when they are published elsewhere. We are focused on making sure their voices can be and are heard and the Children’s Publishing Academy has been launched to focus specifically on children’s authors.’

Exisle is kicking off the launch of the academy with an international writing competition. Writers can participate free of charge at https://childrenspublishingacademy.com/pitching-competition/

Children’s book authors worldwide are invited to pitch their story with the chance of winning development opportunities through the Academy, as well as their choice of 3 books from the EK Books catalogue. Successful pitches will be published by Exisle Publishing under the EK Books imprint.

‘We have found lots of great talent through the Exisle Academy. Now, we are excited to be launching an academy specifically targeted at children’s authors.’

One success story from the Publishing Academy is Harriet’s Hungry Worms by Samantha Smith.

‘Samantha Smith partnered with our team to develop her book, Harriet’s Hungry Worms,’ says Gareth.

She took advice across the entire publication process, from editing the story to partnering with illustrators. The result was a publishing contract with EK Books.

‘Her book is now in bookstores and libraries worldwide and has been featured by media including the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and The Sunday Telegraph.

Judged by Exisle’s Gareth St John Thomas and children’s book author Dimity Powell, submissions are open until June 30, 2024, and winners will be announced in August.

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About EK Books


An imprint of Exisle Publishing, since 2013 EK Books has been on a mission to publish children’s books on themes that other publishers fear to touch. The EK motto is ‘Books with Heart on Issues that Matter’.

The EK books are crafted by authors and illustrators whose backgrounds include teaching and psychology. These creators have a knack for unpacking complex issues, making them engaging and memorable for even the youngest readers.

EK Books have been nominated for the Publisher of the Year (Oceania Region) Award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and among the awards and accolades our titles have received, we have twice won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for Book of the Year in Australia and New Zealand. Distributed and promoted in all English-speaking countries and in translation across Europe and Asia, EK Books provides hope, heart and entertainment for children worldwide.

ekbooks.org https://exislepublishing.com/

About Gareth St John Thomas

Exisle Publishing’s CEO and Publisher, Gareth St John Thomas, got his start in the industry at the age of 11, stacking warehouse shelves for his father’s Devon-based publishing house, David & Charles.

After spending time as a sales rep travelling to the far-flung corners of the United Kingdom, Gareth was soon running the company side by side with his father, David.

Thirty years ago, David & Charles was sold, and Gareth moved from England to New Zealand.

In 1991, he started Exisle Publishing. The goal wasn’t to build a huge business. Instead, Gareth wanted to shine a light on local characters, artists and writers, and bring books into the world which would never otherwise have existed.

About Dimity Powell

Award winning children’s author, Dimity Powell writes and reviews exclusively for children with over 30 published stories and digital narratives and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. She believes picture books are life essentials, like ice cream; to be enjoyed at least once a day. Her own include: Pippa and The Troublesome Twins (2023), This is My Dad (2022), Oswald Messweather (2021), Pippa (2019), the SCBWI Crystal Kite award-winning At the End of Holyrood Lane (2018) and the critically acclaimed, The Fix-It Man (2017), with more on the way! Several of her titles have been published in simplified Chinese, Polish, Spanish and Slovenian. She believes in the transformative power of reading and storytelling.

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