Corella Press: The Power of Indie Publishing Amidst a Global Pandemic

A guest blog post from Corella Press

Corella Press, a teaching press based in Brisbane, is known for publishing work that is playful, disruptive and inclusive, providing hands-on opportunities for students at The University of Queensland. Against the turbulent backdrop of a global pandemic, this year Corella Press has published Death of a Nom de Plume, a story of false appearances, mystery and romance by Dorothy Blewett, and launched an exciting new imprint, Little Corellas, which has two upcoming publications by student authors.

Bringing Death of a Nom de Plume to life  

The start of 2020 saw seven interns embarking on an internship with Corella Press, but little did they know how different their publishing experience was going to be… 

The team’s first in-person meeting gave everyone a chance to get to know one another and to discuss a potential manuscript that Corella had stored carefully on file, a crime cosy by Australian author and playwright, Dorothy Blewett. This unpublished gem provided the exciting opportunity for Corella to expand its collection to both recovered nineteenth- and twentieth-century Australian popular fiction, and upon the first read and creation of a Readers’ Report, the Corella flock knew this was the next addition to an already wonderful list of works. 

A couple of meetings later, the publishing team moved online due to COVID-19, and the publishing process was then conducted via Zoom, email, Google docs and instant message. There were many instances where Corella’s ethos of being disruptive, inclusive, and playful paved the way for Death of a Nom de Plume’s publishing process, even including a virtual pitch!

Structural editing and rounds of line and copy editing are key stages in the publishing process, and as they were done online, clear communication was vital. However, one key goal remained: maintaining the author’s voice, while handling any sensitive issues within the text responsibly.

Social media strategy, cover design and launching the book became the next focus, and the team were busier than ever. When the cover was revealed and the team hit publish on their polished manuscript, the feeling was bittersweet, and to make it even more poignant, Corella launched Blewett’s work at the beautiful St Lucia campus. 

Little Corellas giving voice to student writers

Little Corellas, the new imprint of Corella Press, was born when publisher Meg Vann was presented with two exciting projects that featured student voices. In keeping with Corella’s core aim of publishing work that adds to Australia’s literary landscape, Little Corellas is delighted to be championing the work of emerging writers by offering them the opportunity to be published in print.

Postcards from Future Queensland

In early 2020, The University of Queensland writing experts, Professor Kim Wilkins and Dr Helen Marshall, invited young Queenslanders to submit a postcard from the hopeful, post-COVID future as part of a new creativity project. Wish You Were Here! Postcards from Future Queensland has empowered our community to imagine a better future after the COVID-19 crisis through storytelling. Little Corellas is proud to present this imaginative project as our debut publication.

The upcoming chapbook will consist of insightful, creative and courageous contributions from primary, secondary and tertiary student authors. Throughout the editorial process, the Little Corellas team decided to organise these contributions into a three-act-structure within the chapbook—Lockdown, Release, and Beyond—so as to take readers on narrative journey, and leave them on a note of hope.

When envisioning a design for the chapbook, the team hoped to balance the futuristic storytelling theme with a retro, postcard layout, while referencing vintage design elements of classic historical chapbooks—but were unsure as to how one could combine these somewhat contrasting elements. At the time of writing, Little Corellas are having the most fun liaising with talented designer Vince Haig of Barquing, who is doing a marvellous job of capturing this vision. 

Little Corellas cannot wait for readers to immerse themselves into these stories of possibility that navigate isolation and loss, celebrate freedom and connection, explore new technologies, and envision Queenslanders thriving in a changed world.

Sparking emerging talent with the Crackle Anthology of Creative Writing 

Work is underway on the Crackle Anthology of Creative Writing, a collection of exemplary short fiction and creative non-fiction written by postgraduate Writing, Editing and Publishing (WEP) students at The University of Queensland. This anthology will be a new, ongoing body of work for Corella Press and the new Little Corellas imprint.

Current students Ren Koszarycz and Brooke Maddison saw an opportunity to publish the vibrant and engaging work of their fellow students and pitched the idea to Corella Press in mid-2020. In 2019, Brooke submitted work—and was subsequently published—in Jacaranda, UQ’s established academic and creative writing journal for the humanities. The benefits were identified for creating a postgraduate anthology that would sit alongside Jacaranda. Crackle will not only give exemplary students the opportunity to have their writing published in print, but will also allow UQ with the opportunity to showcase the talent emerging from the WEP program.

With a foreword by much loved Brisbane writer Nick Earls, the anthology will celebrate stories that crackle—short form creative work that has something to say. The anthology takes its name from the collective noun for a group of cockatoos or corellas, and in doing so aims to represent the diverse voices coming out of UQ. Little Corellas is looking forward to bringing these voices to the fore early next year when Crackle is launched.

At a time when independent publishing and giving opportunities to unique Australian voices is more important than ever, Corella Press embraces the words of Death of a Nom De Plume character, Alistair: ‘Books, my dear, are my life. There is no greater thrill than holding a new book in my hand.’  

This guest blogpost was written by Claudia Cait, Brooke Maddison and Kathleen Tamara Loxton who are WEP students at The University of Queensland, and have worked as editorial interns at Corella Press throughout 2020. Brooke and Claudia are currently editing Little Corellas projects, Wish You Were Here! Postcards from Future Queensland and the Crackle Anthology of Creative Writing, respectively. Kathleen co-edited Dorothy Blewett’s Death of a Nom de Plume

More information about Corella Press can be found here. All Corella Press projects are available for purchase here.

Leave a Reply