Q & A with Elizabeth Jo

Elizabeth Jo interned at SUP in March 2021 as part of the Master of Publishing degree at the University of Sydney.

What have you been working on at SUP?

The degree has a heavy emphasis in editorial so I’ve used the internship to delve deeper into other aspects of publishing. I focused more on marketing and communications: compiling media contact lists, writing a few press releases, posting content for SUP’s Instagram, and devising questions for author Q&As. On the more production side, I’ve also had a hand at managing metadata for backlist titles, indexing and proofreading. 

What has been the best part of the role? How about the most challenging?

I don’t think I could’ve gotten this breadth and depth of knowledge anywhere else. SUP is a smaller, tight-knit press, so you really get to experience firsthand how a book goes from an idea to a physical product, which has been surreal and incredibly rewarding.   

Because SUP tends to publish quite niche, academic books, it was sometimes challenging to translate or summarise them for a broader audience. Converting a dense text that is someone’s life work, into a caption or three dot-points in an email pitch, is not that straightforward. This is especially the case when dealing within academia. In saying that, the challenges make it all the more rewarding when a deserving but lesser-known author gets more exposure, or simply when you find the perfect, punchy quote for social media.

Has anything surprised you about SUP/scholarly publishing?

I was surprised about how much roles overlap but I quickly learned the beauty of smaller presses means everybody pitches in. Whoever worked closely with a certain book will probably do the indexing, everyone does a bit of social media, books get passed around for different stages of editing or typesetting. As mentioned, it’s been one of the best parts to see and try a bit of everything.

What skills have you used most during your internship?

My writing skills have definitely developed with a greater focus in marketing and liaising. I’ve had a hand at news writing, academic, and purely creative writing but the conventions for all these forms differ greatly from what I’ve done at SUP. For example, you can be writing a press release that needs to incentivise people to read and review the book. Simply summating the text or arguing key points does not do this - highlighting what is special and an appeal to emotion is key! 

What was your dream job when you were 12? What is your dream job now?

I wanted to be a teacher, author, or a vet. I quickly realised being a vet wasn’t the job for me if you had to put dogs down. Now, I’m not certain as I have so many interests but something that’s fulfilling and potentially lets me travel for work, sounds like a dream to me. Teaching (and writing) is never fully off the table!

You have to take a week-long road trip with a fictional or historical character. Who do you choose and why?

Most of the books I’ve read happen to be about some pretty terrible protagonists who would make even worse road trip companions (Raoul Duke I’m looking at you.) Maybe Samwise Gamgee? He’s reliable, loyal and our trip would be a lot less stressful than the quest to save Middle Earth.

What are you planning to do next?

I’m excited for where the publishing industry takes me! Foreign rights has peaked my interest but anything that allows me to continue reading, writing, or working with books would be incredible.

Elizabeth Jo is a graduate of the Master of Publishing at the University of Sydney. She has previously completed a Bachelor of Arts with a major in English Literature and is currently working at HarperCollins Australia.