Michelle Lovi is the founder and publisher at Odyssey Books and new imprints Publisher Obscura and Ensorcellia. After many years juggling a public service career with her role as Creative Director at Lip Magazine, freelancing as a web designer, and working as a publishing consultant, she turned to book publishing in 2009, when Odyssey Books was born. She publishes books that aim to entertain, inspire, provide an escape, develop empathy for others and make people think about their place in the world, both now and in the future.
She says she has always loved books and reading and was a prolific reader from a very young age, even though no one else in her family enjoyed reading for leisure. With a move from Canberra to New Zealand in 2018, she enjoys reading and editing on the beach in beautiful Kapiti, and hanging out in Wellington.
‘At Odyssey Books we like to go on adventures and take risks with the books we publish, and we appreciate readers willing to do the same with a new author,’ she says.
When it comes to her personal life, she says that despite having an ‘adventurous soul’, she hasn’t moved around or travelled much in her life until the last few years (pre-Covid of course). She has run Odyssey for over 12 years and is finally attempting to write her first novel. She is also learning Spanish, so she can speak with family she has never met and says she collects dragons, her favourite being one who blows incense smoke through his nostrils, which seems fitting for a publisher of many fantasty books!
Five books on Michelle’s list that she is loving
Court of the Grandchildren (Michael Muntisov & Greg Finlayson) is really topical at the moment because it looks at how the children of tomorrow will hold to account the actions of our current generations in relation to climate change. The book is also about the role of artificial intelligence in society; while intended to make our lives easier, it’s an uncomfortable idea for a lot of people. Current technological advancements make the situations in the near future presented in this book very plausible.
How To Wake A Butterfly (Loic Ekinga) – this poetry sings to my soul! It’s an incredibly moving coming-of-age exploration of a young man’s life and memories, lost love and found love.
Lush (Anne-Marie Yerks) is a great book for those who are keen to explore ideas in stories like The Handmaid’s Tale but want something less confronting or more appropriate for younger readers. Great YA dystopian fiction that doesn’t get too dark.
The GriffinSong Trilogy (J. Victoria Michael) is a beautifully written portal fantasy series with compelling world-building and complex characters.
The Chronicles of the Pale (Clare Rhoden) I generally prefer to read fantasy and watch sci-fi, but this series blends the two genres so seamlessly I was captivated all the way through the three books.
Five tips when submitting to publishers
- Research the publisher before submitting to them. Make sure that your book will fit well alongside others they have published and that they have taken good care of those books (professional and attractive covers, good-quality editing, etc).
- Treat your submission like you would a job application. Provide all the information they ask for and put your best foot forward. We invest in the author as much as the book and want to know you’ll be an asset to our house.
- Follow the formatting guidelines and make sure your manuscript is as error-free as you can. There is lots of free grammar software that can help you improve the presentation of your book.
- Be gracious if the publisher has taken the time to give you feedback. It’s very easy for a publisher to send a simple “no thanks”, so when they’ve made the effort to reply in more detail, it’s because they see potential and hope you’ll take it on board to improve your work.
- Keep trying. Just because one publisher passes on your book doesn’t mean someone else won’t love it. Sometimes it’s just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time (a bit like the main character in my WIP).
In the future, like most of us, Michelle hopes that Covid goes away.
‘I’d love to see my family in Australia again soon. While the AusNZ bubble is open now, it’s still quite risky to travel, the risk of being trapped if another lock-down springs up.’
She believes that the state of politics in Australia has got to improve. ‘I’m still enrolled to vote there, since NZ doesn’t seem to need my vote yet.’ She also hopes to own a chocolate factory one day and for more people to discover all the great books Odyssey Books have published so that their authors will keep writing them!
Find out more about books, authors, social media and how to submit your manuscript via the Odyssey Books website.