Meet the Team: How Did We Get Into Publishing?


Getting started in the publishing industry can seem like a daunting feat, with many different areas and roles to choose from. There are different branches including trade, education, academic, scholarly and scientific publishing etc.  There are also a number of divisions in publishing that are often not as visible as the roles of publisher or editor. These range from sales, marketing, production, publicity, product, digital, legal, finance and more.

Sydney University Press (SUP) is a not-for-profit, scholarly publisher of research-based books that engage, inspire and stimulate debate. At SUP, we believe in the value of research, the power of knowledge and the ability of books to change the world. Our mission is to enable, support and facilitate the dissemination of outstanding research. We look to find new ways of extending the availability and accessibility of knowledge and increasing engagement with individual works.

Meet the Team

We’ve asked our team some frequently asked questions about their entry into the industry and advice for those wanting to make a start.

Susan: I’m the manager and publisher for Sydney University Press. I manage the business, and also commission new books for two of the SUP scholarly series.

Naomi: I’m the publishing manager and Sydney University Press, my main role is to steer our books through the publishing process, and liaise with our wonderful authors, copyeditors and designers.

Nathan: I’m the production officer at Sydney University Press. My tasks include typesetting, scheduling, ebook distribution and design.

Kelly: I’m the publishing projects officer at Sydney University Press. My main role is to provide marketing, sales, and distribution support to the team.

Q: Did you always want to work in Publishing?

Susan: I always wanted to work with books, but hadn’t considered working in publishing until the opportunity arose to restart SUP.

Naomi: I have always loved reading, but it wasn’t until I was about halfway through my undergraduate degree that I realised there was a whole industry devoted to making books.

Nathan: Initially I wanted to be a web designer, but I realised my skill set aligned better to traditional publishing.

Kelly: I’ve always enjoyed reading but didn’t realise there were so many different opportunities available that would allow me to work with books in some capacity.

Q: Did you study/ What did you study?

Susan: I studied a BA Library Science at Kuring-gai CAE (now UTS). It was probably close to the end for that degree, once KCAE became part of UTS the degrees changed into Information Management and Knowledge Management. I also have an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management at UNSW, which helped me with the business side of running SUP.

Naomi: My undergraduate degree was in economics, and then when it dawned on me that instead of crunching numbers I could devote my days to books, I enrolled in the masters of publishing at the University of Sydney.

Nathan: I studied a BA in Fine Arts and a Masters in Multimedia Design.

Kelly: I did Bachelor of Business degree at the University of Newcastle, and when I graduated I found out about the Masters of Publishing available at the University of Sydney and enrolled myself in the next available semester.  

Q: What are some of your previous roles and how were they applicable to working in SUP?

Susan: I would say I’ve worked at the confluence of IT, media and information management for most of my career. My first job post-uni was in the editorial library of the Sydney Morning Herald, where you needed to find answers to journalists’ questions really quickly. We had an in-house full text database of the SMH stories, and these needed to be checked each day to ensure that the text in the database matched what actually appeared in the print edition.

I also worked at the State Library of NSW as a reference librarian and then running one of their small businesses, ILANET, which offered network services to libraries around Australia. That was at beginning of the internet age, so we were an ISP for a while.

I came to the University of Sydney Library as a web developer, and I also worked as a freelance web developer for several years, including for the Sydney Writers Festival. Restarting SUP gave me the opportunity to bring all of my skills and experience together – running a business, checking the accuracy of text, and bringing the research to a wider audience.

Naomi: I spent almost 8 years working at a trade publisher, starting as publishing assistant and moving through the editorial department to become an editor. One of my focuses was on cookbooks and ‘image-heavy’ books, which has translated well to SUP’s archaeology series and Indigenous music, language and performing arts series, as the books we publish in these categories also require a keen attention to balancing textual information with graphs, images and tables.

Nathan: I’ve worked for Weldon Owen, Pan Macmillan, Hachette Australia, and Wolters Kluwer CCH. All gave me the skills working in production and design that I use today.

Kelly: I worked as a client services coordinator at a marketing agency before I started working at a trade publisher as a sales coordinator, and later as a marketing and publicity coordinator. I worked there for 3 years before moving to a children’s education publisher as a marketing coordinator for a time before coming to work at SUP.

Q: What do you recommend for someone trying to get into the industry?

Susan: When you’re starting out, don’t get too hung up on getting into your ideal role straight away. Many of our interns take a ‘foot-in-the-door’ role and then use that to move into editorial later, or in fact find out that they love production or sales or PR. And keep reading widely!

Naomi: Keep an eye out for opportunities outside of the editorial department: publicity, sales and marketing are creative and interesting areas to work, you don’t just have to be an editor!

Nathan: Be open to learning everything! Also, many people want to work as an Editor, but there are many good Publishing roles in Sales, Marketing, Publicity and Production that many people often overlook as a potential career.

Kelly: There are many opportunities in the industry that may not necessarily be what you have in mind, but they can serve as stepping stones into another role, or you may find that you prefer working in a different area than you had imagined. Intern or try to find an entry level role where you can. I’ve met so many publishing professionals with a wide variety of studies and experience, so definitely think about your applicable skills and how they can be used in the different areas of publishing. Read as much as you can!


If you have more questions, check out our blog post ‘Your Publishing Questions Answered!’.

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