We’re starting a new regular column here at Twelfth Planet Press. Our first instalment is in the form of an interview with our publisher, Alisa Krasnostein.
Q: How did you get into the local publishing scene?
Alisa: During my postgrad years, a friend was beginning to get published in local markets. I began reading her work and then started to investigate the local scene. That’s when I discovered you could slush read for ASIM (Andromeda Spaceways) and I joined them to see what it was all about.
Q: Why did you start a publishing house?
Alisa: I wanted to see if I could do it, and do it successfully. I’d been learning the ropes of editing and publishing with ASIM for a while, first as a slush reader and then as part of the Collective. I had learned a lot about reading for acquisitions and also about many of the aspects of running a magazine behind the scenes. I wanted to have a go setting something up from scratch that would be mine. It was also around the time that there was a lot of discussion amongst writers, editors and fans about the lack of women on local awards ballots. The argument was that this was because women didn’t write science fiction. I thought this idea was ridiculous and I set off to have a specific interest in sourcing, encouraging and publishing Australian female writers.
Q: When did you find the time to work on your press?
Alisa: The perennial question! When I started Twelfth Planet, I was working a full-time job in the city as an engineer providing advice to state government. At the time, it didn’t feel like I had a lot of spare time – I used to work on the bus on the way into work, I worked through my lunch breaks, I’d work on the bus on the way home, and then for any and all spare hours before I went to sleep. I also tried to work all weekend free hours as well. It felt like I stuffed a lot of work into not much available free time and I got very skilled at multitasking and breaking bigger projects and tasks into the next executable job so that they could be picked up and completed in five minute timeslots when I got them. Knowing where you are going and the very next step on the path to getting there are crucial to using the time you have available to you effectively.
Q: How are things different today?
Alisa: It seems really quite hilarious now, thinking back on how little time I used to think I had. These days I’m at home with two little ones, working on a PhD in publishing, and running Twelfth Planet Press. And I’m also a Jamberry Nails independent consultant on the side because glitter. I could say, I don’t sleep much. And it’s true, I don’t. But coming off a recent bad bout of not juggling my commitments particularly well, or perhaps rather, making up for lack of time in the day by working late into the night and then having to get up to feed small people and change nappies, well, I’m attempting to get back to a better sleeping habit!
Most of the time I feel rushed. And like I’m fragmenting my attention into too many slivers. But on the other hand, it’s never been more exciting at Twelfth Planet. I’m eagerly anticipating the delivery of so many projects we’re currently working on! Our team is constantly growing with enthusiastic and talented members. And for the first time, I have both a personal assistant and a publicist! As I said, it’s all super exciting!
Q: What would you do differently if you had to start over?
Alisa: Thinking back, there are no projects I regret publishing. There probably aren’t any I would do all that differently. I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way and have a list of things to check before publishing a new book to make sure we don’t repeat past mistakes! If there was one thing I do wish I could go back and do differently, it would be to pay less (to no) attention to the naysayers and the haters. There will always be people who resent your success, even if that success is getting up in the morning, working on your thing and finishing it. Publishing isn’t a zero-sum game, readers read more than one book (often in a week) so other writers, editors and publishers aren’t your enemy – Netflix, gaming, and other forms of entertainment are. I would worry less about what people say about me and my press, and spend more time on my business, on building networks and relationships and learning about the changes in technology and distribution.
Q: How did you name your press?
Alisa: Ah it was the heady days of the debate about whether Pluto was as planet or not! We were in the middle of naming the New Ceres project and looking for a name for the publishing company. I was a staunch supporter of Pluto remaining a planet and for that to happen, a couple of planetoids in the Solar System, including Ceres, would have to be upgraded to planet as well. Tansy thought that was a sign and we decided to name the press the Twelfth Planet in our Solar System!