Last week I chatted with Nicky Johnston with the release of her lovely new children’s picture book, Actually I Can. Nicky’s story is very inspiring. So I thought it would be interesting to find out how Rough Draft, a small Melbourne publisher, started in 2011, came about.
So let’s meet Michael Hanrahan, of Rough Draft.
Hi Michael. Welcome to my blogging corner. Could you tell us how Rough Draft began?
My father was a writer so I grew up around books and publishing, so it’s not really a surprise where I ended up. I did a writing and editing degree at university with the aim of becoming a writer, but during the course I really enjoyed editing and it’s also a more reliable way to pay the bills, so my first job in publishing was as an editor.
I’ve been a publisher for three years, but I decided that’s what I wanted to do many years ago. My first job in the industry was at a small publisher, Wrightbooks, and after only a few months there I learned you can start a publishing business on a very small budget. It was a great first job in books – each editor had to do everything from start to finish, including marketing, applying for the ISBN, managing the printing, and unloading the books when they were delivered. I loved it.
A few years later we were taken over by John Wiley & Sons. I became managing editor there, working very closely with the publisher, so that was great preparation for eventually going out on my own. When I left Wiley I freelanced for eight years, along the way planning and scheming about one day starting my own publishing house.
In 2011 my partner Anna, who is a photographer, was working on a book with a couple of other photographers and they were looking for a publisher, so that seemed like the perfect opportunity for me! It was a book of animal images, so we got the RSPCA involved. I hastily registered the company, organised distribution, printing and all the other things you do, and before I knew it I had started Rough Draft. We produced a beautiful book and raised over $40,000 for our favourite charity, so it was a thoroughly enjoyable start. We’ve since released three more books, the recent being the beautifully illustrated Actually, I Can by Nicky Johnston which was released in August. We’re currently in discussions for three books for next year.
You get to meet all sorts of really interesting people in publishing, which is one of the reasons I enjoy it. And, even after working in publishing for 16 years, I still get excited when a book comes in from the printer. I think if there ever comes a day when that doesn’t excite me it will be time to go and do something else.
Thanks Michael for sharing. We wish Rough Draft a wonderful future.
Rough Draft’s aim is to publish high-quality fiction and non-fiction by Australian and international authors. And if the quality of Actually I Can is anything to go by, I know they will have a wonderful future. Nicky Johnson’s new book is commercially appealing, of high quality standard, and is beautifully written and illustrated.
To find out more about Rough Draft, please click here. You will see that Michael is often hindered at Rough Draft by a cat and a dog who both have Masters Degrees in Getting in the Way While People Are Trying to Work (I can relate to that).