Monday 20 August 2018

Tracking Down Children’s Poets

Recently I’ve been trying to locate copyright holders of poems to be published in an anthology I’ve compiled (Our Home is Dirt by Sea, Walker Books Australia). It’s not been an easy task for me, or for the publishers’ rights manager. Sadly, there is no national body which lists contacts for copyright holders*. However, the National Library of Australia has a very helpful, free service ( which assists not only in locating poets and other writers (where they have such information), but it is also handy for authors and others carrying out research. The Library has help pages for Library collection material:

If you are ever trying to locate an Australian copyright holder, you might, try the following: first, Google to see if your © holder has a website. Check to see if they have a blog or are on Facebook, Linkedin or other social media. Follow all leads such as searching published references, contacting the writer’s publisher/s, writing to the author’s last known address, asking other scholars and/or colleagues, searching phone books (if, for example, your author has an unusual surname).
If you are searching for a poet, you could try poetry websites such as the Australian Poetry Centre (; if you seek a playwright, contact PlayWrighting Australia or the Australian Script Centre ( or ). Most journalists belong to the Alliance ( while many authors belong to the Australian Society of Authors ( - Similar). Some children’s authors and illustrators belong to the various branches of the Children’s Book Council of Australia ( Writers’ centres in all states are another source to explore, while writers’ residencies might have accommodated your author at some time and still have his contact details.
You might also publish a notice in a newspaper or on an appropriate online message board, or you might consider using genealogical sources or examining acknowledgements and notes’ sections of articles about the writer whom you are seeking. One websites I found particularly helpful was the Copyright Agency Limited: ( while you might also try the Australian Copyright Council ( and/or the Public Lending Rights Office of the Arts (  For further advice, it may be worth contacting Intellectual Property Australia: (
Many writers, living and dead, have their papers held in the National Library, as well as in archives of state and specialist libraries, so it is well worth contacting archivists in individual libraries.                                                                                                      
For searching overseas’ writers, there is a help page at the University of Texas which gives tips on how to find copyright holders: Many American and European authors (and other artists, living and dead) are included in The WATCH file (
Finally, as someone who has spent many hours acting as literary detective in my search for copyright holders, can I suggest that if you are a published writer that in the very least you invest in a website through which others – anthologists, publishers, academics et al – can track you down? One other advantage of having a website is that the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) disperses money to writers whose work is downloaded from websites – but income-generating is a whole other issue!
© Dianne Bates
NOTE: As a result of finding so many Australian children’s poets don’t have an online presence, Dianne Bates founded a website to showcase their work and provide a means by which children, teachers, publishers and anthologists could make contact with them. In seeking funding for the website, Di applied to several agencies, including CAL but was unsuccessful so she sponsored the site.
Dianne (Di) Bates is the author of over 130 books for young readers. She is the founder/compiler of Buzz Words magazine and website.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Buzz Words Books would love to hear what you think.