Audiobooks New Zealand
When we started, we said: We’re not going to give up. Publish it with us, and we’ll show your book to the world.”
Guest number 10 for ya's!
An independent publisher since 2008, Peter Dowling has been an editor for book and magazine publishers in Japan and the UK, he’s been a contract editor and writer with specialisation in Asia, Latin America and Oceania too. (Helped by the fact that he is IMPRESSIVELY multi-lingual, speaking English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Māori.) A Christchurch man, Peter has MA (Hons) and MBA (Distinction) degrees. He also does charitable work as executive director of Te Potiki National Trust, and was previously president of the Publishers Association of New Zealand and Publishing Manager of Reed Publishing (NZ.) That’s all in the past though! Currently, Peter is the Founder and Publisher for Oratia! Woohoo!!
Oratia is a publisher of books based outside Auckland, with distribution across New Zealand and representation in many parts of the world. The team is equally as impressive, with decades of experience in all aspects of publishing and a commitment to quality values in editorial, design, print and production. They also offer their publishing and communications skills to organisations and authors wanting to publish privately. I love me a proudly independent company, and these guys have been publishing 15 new titles a year since their inception - mainly prioritising good solid NZ stories in the form of picture books, histories, fiction, Te Ao Maori and illustrated works.
The company operates under the staunch leadership of 4 core staff and a myriad of contractors, meaning their capacity to be personable and actually work WITH their authors is unparalleled. Peter advocates for authors being able to have a key creative part in the formation of their publications - provided the content is worth it.
Graduating in the late 80s, Peter had a curiosity about cultures and language - with hardly any opportunity to grow in that area in his own country at the time. Naturally, he went abroad in search of better opportunities. That led him to work in Surrey with a large UK agency, with hard-nosed New York types managing the leak of journalism that dominated front pages to hone his style and talents. Being forced to learn on the job meant he gained broad skills to be able to implement here, (for example, the ‘Rights Department’ may exist for a large publishing company, whereas here, the ‘Rights Dept’ may be the same person who is also doing accounts - as Peter does himself.) But the blessing of ‘small,’ means they can focus their time and energy on the relationship with the author, meaning they get as much collaborative time to build towards the end product as possible.
Peter is an author himself, and alongside his own publications and linguistic interests, he is the editor of the NZ Book of Maori Place Names (which is, for real, a favourite book of mine...etymology? Yes.) He’s worked tirelessly to make sure that the NZ titles he’s had printed over the past year can make it home in time for stocking filling, and thank goodness he’s achieved it.
He believes that plugging away at things makes things stick, especially when it comes to putting books on the map. He’s currently managing the success of Tim Tipene’s novel ‘Patu,’ and propelling Dawn McMillan and her ‘Bum’ series into new stratospheres regarding global reach and interest. It is worth noting that Peter, who attends many book fairs all around the world, doesn’t see many of his local compadres walking the walk too. It’s not seen as a priority by a lot of publishing houses to bother getting Kiwi stories overseas, which is a total shame because there is the audience for it.
Oratia won the BOP Bologna prize for Best Children’s Publisher of the Year 2021, Oceania at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy - taking the title over 4 other prominent Australian publishers. The award is for the ‘creative nature of the editorial choices they have made in the previous year,’ and is awarded to only 6 regions globally. Oratia was cited as ‘an eclectic publishing house from New Zealand with a strong focus on high quality editing, design and printing.’
Peter’s first exposure to audiobooks was back when they were still on cassette tapes, then the good old compact disc. The first he remembers were Tom Sawyer, and hearing Flick the Little Fire Engine and Sparky the Talking Train recited by Dave Wier over the radio. Currently, he’s listening to CC Pyle’s ‘Amazing Foot Race,’ being a keen runner on top of everything else. Love it.
2022 sees the 4th of the new ‘Bum’ series, released here and in the States and UK, and the author is being asked for more to come, with an expansion into China. Other projects include an ANZAC title coming up in collaboration with a Turkish illustrator, and the story and artwork of Hundertwasser in NZ by Andreas Hersch.
His advice to young writers, and those wanting to ‘break in’ to the industry is;
If you’re keen to get an audience with Peter, he prides himself on being accessible to ‘Westie’ writers, and locals who have a unique story to tell. Head to the website: www.oratia.co.nz or if there’s a book you’re keen to find, contact the team through the same means.
Peter urges us all to support our local booksellers when and how you can, (cos we need them!) so if you have the chance to purchase a title through your local bookstore, please do - with thanks.
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Romy Hooper, Audiobook Narrator, Actor, Writer and Podcast Host