Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Eureka! She’s signed a publishing contract

So, you decided to write a novel – an historical novel. The first piece of fiction you have written since a dreadful short story in year eleven. You have an idea of a time period. You begin to research. But actually you have no idea what you are doing. You just write. You get some early encouragement. Get shortlisted for awards. Win a short story prize. You keep on writing. You have a full, redrafted manuscript before you realise that the whole damned publishing industry is market driven — the manuscript you’ve written won’t fit neatly on the bookshop shelves.


You should have known this. You are a librarian. You are used to putting books in categories. But the truth hits home at the Historical Novels Society of Australasia Conference as you listen to a grim publishing panel rip your colleagues’ work apart. They tell you most Australian book sales take place in Kmart or Big. There is a big demand for rural romance, why not try your hand at that?

You realise your manuscript is going to be hard to pitch — an historical coming-of-age about fairy tales and facing the truth. With both adult and young adult viewpoint characters. Like, what were you thinking? You sink to the bottom of a dark pond. You drive your room mate crazy with your OMG why-didn’t-I-realize script.

You attend MWF — a session on publishing perspectives. You are told colouring books are artificially inflating print book sales. That mainstream publishers can’t take a risk. They have to make money. This is the era of the small press. Hadn’t Black Rock, White City, just won the Miles Franklin Award?  A small press! You remember the only smiling face on the HNSA panel was a publisher from an independent press.

You Google the Small Press Network, start sending out query letters. You also attend a Literary Speed Dating Event at Writers’ Victoria. You get quick responses from the small presses – far quicker than you get from the established publishers. They’re working smarter, electronically. You get loads of encouragement. Rejections too. You start a new project. That’s what you do, isn’t it? Move onto the next book. You consider self-publishing. Remember how much you suck at administration. Still you are waiting. A few, independent publishers have asked for your full manuscript. You notice that opening your email makes your tummy ache. You consider staying in bed. Forever. You think maybe you’re not cut out for this.

Then an email from Odyssey Books arrives. The opening line says:

“Thank you for sending us “The Tides Between”.

You brace. Think the word “Unfortunately” is going to come next.

“It’s an original concept with a great voice and well-developed characters. We love it and would like to publish it.”

Publish? You blink, shake your head. Read again more slowly. Publish! A mercury shot of realization. You leap out of bed, calling your husband’s name. He’s not in his office. You turn, this way, that. Search the garden, the shed, his bike rack. Gone. He’s gone. You are shaking, crying, running in circles. You think frenetic is a good description. You send a text to your husband, ring your mum, tell your writing buddies, put the news on the family Viber group, answer responses. Then you sit, letting the news sink in. Your book may not be Kmart or BigW material, neither is it a rural romance. It certainly doesn’t fit neatly on the bookshelf. But someone loved it, enough to publish it. You think this truly is the era of the small press. That Michelle Lovi at Odyssey Books has just become your new best friend.


Cuts, colours and the magic of Christmas


Getting back on the horse – the 2017 Australian Women Writers’ Challenge


  1. Sabina

    Hi Liz,
    Very, very, very exciting news, congratulations. Sounds like things have been tough and what a great start to the new year.
    Great job and looking forward to purchasing it as a book and having a good long read,
    All the best, Sabina

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Sabina. I was going to send an email if I didn’t hear from you.

  2. Carine

    Woohoo! Awesomely done, so proud of you. xx

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Caz. Don’t forget you helped me name the characters.

  3. Oh my giddy goodness! What brilliant news! I’m delighted for you, Elizabeth. Congratulations! xXx

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks! I’m more than a little bit excited. 🙂

  4. Well done you have achieved something that many people dream of.

  5. Hi Liz, Fantastic news! Congratulations. Perserverence does pay off. Now, of course, you have to go through the publisher editing mill. All the best. Enjoy the journey! Cheers, Earl

  6. Debbie Harrington

    I especially love a book that doesn’t fit a specific category. I’m an Outlander” fan, so I understand. Can’t wait to read your book.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      I have also enjoyed Outlander. I love the mix of history and magic.

  7. Vicki Stokes

    So awesome! I look forward to reading it. 🙂

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Let’s hope it”s not too disappointing. 🙂

  8. Gwych! Methu disgwyl i’w ddarllen!

  9. Joyce Smith

    Newyddion gwych, llongyfarchiadau! I’ll be first in to buy a copy. Joyce.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Diolch yn fawr Joyce. Your support means a lot. 🙂

  10. Bob Leschen

    Absolutely delighted for yuu Liz. At the beginning of my writing journey you set me on my path.Thank you so much. I’m thrilled for you knowing just how hard is this writing game. Looking forward to reading it in good time. Oh, I’ve just finished my memoir which will be printed shortly. You are of course on my gift list.
    Bob Leschen.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Bob! And well done finishing your memoir. I look forward to reading it!

  11. Jane Goodwin

    Hi Liz this is such great news. You have run the race and got to the finish line.Hooray! Whats your next book about? Jxx

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Jane. Remember that night at St Luke’s with that lady talking about Jessie Martin sailing round the world and the courage to dream. I’d love to tell her how it all ended up.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Next book will be written from the point-of-view of Owain Glyndwr’s wife. Glyndwr is pretty famous in Wales but they rarely talk about the women who went to prison as a consequence his rebellion. 🙂

  12. Well hurrah Blackadder!!!!
    That is wonderful news Elizabeth. I look forward to reading this one day soon :-)))

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Genevieve. It took awhile but I got there in the end.

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