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Charlotte Harper wins Walkley Grant

Emma Grey

Canberra-born publisher, journalist and mum of two, Charlotte Harper, has won a $5000 Walkley Grant for Innovation in Journalism, through her publishing business, Editia.

Charlotte was inspired to become a journalist by her aunt, who was a senior reporter and editor at two Sydney papers. “She wowed me with talk of interviews with people who changed the course of history,” Charlotte says.

Charlotte ran the live text and multimedia team for Fairfax at the Sydney Olympics (for which they won a Walkley Award) and had a column, Charlotte’s Web in the Sydney Morning Herald, which later formed the backbone of the book, Weird Wild Web. She was appointed books editor of The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, then came home to Canberra where she edited The Canberra Times’ Sunday magazine, Relax.

Initially devastated by the decline of newspapers and the redundancies of her friends and former colleagues, Charlotte started to embrace the digital revolution. After dabbling with a couple of sites, she launched her publishing company, Editia, in 2012. It’s the first non-fiction publishing house with a focus on long-form journalism and general non-fiction books.

Titles include Kevern write a book: The best of @Rudd2000, (which sold so many copies in its first hour of pre-orders that Editia’s website capacity had to be tripled overnight), 18 days: Al Jazeera English and the Egyptian Revolution (which won the ACT Publishing Awards prize for best non-fiction of 2015 and was shortlisted for ACT Book of the Year), Crowdfund it! (the first Australian book on crowdfunding) and The N00bz: New adventures in literature. The next upcoming title is Prison Post: Letters of support for Peter Greste.

“I’m hoping that by focusing on publishing longform journalism, Editia can provide some of my former colleagues with a new, financially viable channel for their work,” Charlotte explains. Editia offers intensive one-on-one training programs in book publishing, blogging, social media, website production, editing and feature writing in their studio at the Gorman Arts Centre. Journalists who want to try self publishing come for guidance, too.

Charlotte describes her previous frustrations as a journalist, having to cut feature articles down to fit arbitrary spaces. “As a literary editor and book reviewer, I often found myself ploughing my way through long non-fiction books that been padded out to conform to book industry expectations of length. The arrival of the Kindle and iPad means we can publish stories at their natural length now.”

Digital publishing has been liberating for Charlotte. “I love the idea of being able to publish a book when it’s ready to go, rather than several months down the track to fit in with existing book industry schedules. I like being able to delve more deeply in a topic than is possible in newspaper, web or magazine journalism. I’ve always loved books, for as long as I can remember, and wanted to create them. My first book was called Mr Water. I wrote and illustrated it, bound it and sent it off to Roger Hargreaves, the creator of the Mr Men books, in about 1978. I was six or seven at the time.”

With a start like that it must have been a dream for Charlotte to win the Walkley Grant for her work with Editia. The grant will go towards publishing the collected works of the finalists in the Walkley Awards for Feature Writing in book form later this year, and to pay small advances for and produce two longform journalism books during the next year.

“I’m thrilled that the Walkley Foundation’s judges have recognised Editia as worthy of financial and in-kind support,” Charlotte explains. “Being named among the winners will assist us beyond the initial $5000 grant by getting the word out about what we’re trying to do and helping us to secure further funding to continue to publish award-winning journalism-driven books.”

You can check out Editia and order books through Charlotte’s website here.

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Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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