Meet our Books Commissioning Team

August 16th, 2023

Get to know the faces behind CSIRO Publishing's books and learn what kinds of ideas get their attention.

A pile of books rest on a large rock, surrounded by plants. In the background are large trees and blue sky with scattered clouds.

Books can take years to produce, but they all start with an idea. And it’s our books commissioning team’s job to help develop that idea into the final product that sits on your bookshelf.

Ever wondered what makes a good manuscript or proposal, or what a publisher looks for in an author? We asked our books commissioning team about the kinds of books they work with, what catches their eye, and what they’ve been reading lately.


Briana Melideo smiles at the camera. She is wearing a pale black top.

Briana Melideo (Photo: supplied)

Briana Melideo, Books Publisher

Tell us a bit about the focus of your work. What subject areas or genres are you working with?

I lead the book publishing program at CSIRO Publishing, working across our entire range from children’s books to general trade titles and through to academic reference works. I have a fantastic team of commissioning editors, with George Knott (professional and research titles), Melinda Chandler (adult and children’s trade titles) and Eloise Moir-Ford (academic and professional titles, currently on maternity leave until early 2024), as well as our fabulous editorial and production team. It’s an absolute privilege to watch something develop from a tiny twinkle of a concept through to a published book that will entertain, inform and engage a reader.

I have a particular focus on our children’s list, including picture books and chapter books for readers aged from 5 to 14 years. I love working with our talented authors and illustrators to create works that showcase the wonders, excitement, and fun of science!

What do you look for in a manuscript or proposal?

I’m interested in proposals that present new concepts, or present established ideas and thoughts in a unique manner or for a new audience. I look for authors who are passionate about their subject matter, but also have an awareness of who they are writing for, and what their readers are seeking. It’s also great to know why an author is motivated to write a particular text, as this helps us as publishers to refine and shape an idea, while ensuring we support the author’s aims.

Tell us about a book you read recently and liked!

I love Australian fiction, with the sense of connection you get from recognition of landscape, language and characters, and I can’t go past a good crime novel! Lately I’ve enjoyed reading more non-fiction, including a fascinating exploration of Winston Churchill in The Splendid and Vile by Erik Larson. And I’ve been consulting my well-used copy of The Compact Australian Bird Guide to identify some species spotted in a recent visit to Darwin!


A black and white photo of George Knott. He's smiling at the camera and wearing a shirt and vest.

George Knott. (Photo: supplied)

Dr George Knott, Books Commissioning Editor

Tell us a bit about the focus of your work. What subject areas or genres are you working with?

My emphasis at CSIRO Publishing is to bring out impactful and rigorous books in the professional and research space, as well as books that help connect readers with leading science and science communication. CSIRO Publishing has special strengths across ecology, wildlife, plant science, sustainability and soil science, to name a few areas. Increasingly, asking and answering questions in science involves cutting across disciplines.

I especially welcome proposals that bring in a variety of perspectives and which address challenging questions facing people and the environment.

What do you look for in a manuscript or proposal?

Each proposal is different and each manuscript is different. What is perhaps common to promising book ideas is a clear sense of purpose. The publisher and, in some cases, reviewers, need to understand why the proposed idea should be published as a book. This could be that it fills a gap in the current literature or it could be that it addresses a new problem, or an old problem in a new way.

I’d also emphasise that all authors are different too, with varying backgrounds, types of expertise, and (of course) amounts of time they can dedicate to writing.

Although we have a strategic direction as a publisher, it’s also fair to say that authors frequently surprise us with their ideas, ideas which we would never have come up with ourselves. If you do have a book proposal you’d like to suggest, we welcome your interest.

Tell us about a book you read recently and liked!

Always a difficult question! Recently I read Around the World in 80 Books by David Damrosch. I liked that this book consists in short chapters, so is easily readable over a period of time, and I loved being introduced (and re-introduced) to wonderful books from around the world. It reminded me how vast and unknown much of the world remains and the power of words to elicit wonder. My copy is also a beautiful object in itself.


Melinda Chandler smiles at the camera. She is wearing a pale pink jumper.

Melinda Chandler. (Photo: supplied)

Melinda Chandler, Books Commissioning Editor

Tell us a bit about the focus of your work. What subject areas or genres are you working with?

I have recently had a role change, transferring from the marketing team and joining the books team as a commissioning editor. It’s been an exciting and challenging move!

My focus is on science and natural history themed titles for adult readers that have broad appeal. I think storytelling is important in non-fiction writing and I love books that meld science, art and emotion too, so these are the type of titles I’ll be pursuing. I’ll also be commissioning some children’s titles, which is one of my greatest delights!

What do you look for in a manuscript or proposal?

I am looking for writers that can make science and nature writing, concepts and activities accessible for everyone. I didn’t grow up in a science-minded household, nor did I study science beyond Year 10 in school, and so I value writers who can express themselves in approachable language.

We publish beautiful children’s books, and I hope to continue that trend. I’m also keen to commission more kids’ titles that blend humour and science. The natural world is full of strange and wacky things, and so presenting science topics in a fun way is important, especially as most kids enjoy anything gross and weird.

Tell us about a book you read recently and liked!

I love to have a pile of books by my bedside table – if the pile gets too low, my anxiety rises. I read contemporary fiction, especially crime or something with a dystopian future. Not sure where this bleak fascination comes from – I’m pretty sure I’d be the first to be eaten by zombies with my poor eyesight and lack of speed, so perhaps I’m looking for survival tips!

Although these are not recent reads, one of the books that inspired my love of both science writing and illustration is A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World’s Extinct Animals by Tim Flannery and Peter Schouten. And many, many years ago when I worked at Collins Booksellers, I was entranced by the picture book If by Sarah Perry. It was imaginative, clever and funny (if toes were teeth – Google it!).


If you think you’ve got a book in you, check out our resources for authors for more information about the kinds of books we publish, preparing a proposal, and what to expect from the publishing process.

Don’t forget to take a look at our extensive catalogue of books to see what we’ve already published.