Q & A with Robbie Mason

Robbie Mason interned at SUP in the second semester of 2022 as part of the Master of Publishing degree at the University of Sydney.

What have you been working on at SUP?

A little bit of everything! I’ve done some marketing work; for example, designing a web banner and flyer, making social media content for recently-published books and conducting Q&A interviews with authors. I’ve done editorial work including writing alt text and proofreading. I’ve also done some indexing, which has involved learning how to use the digital publishing software IGP.

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

The best part was the people. Being in a healthy work environment really makes a difference. Everyone at SUP has been so friendly and encouraging. At no point did my internship feel like a chore.

The most challenging part was adapting to the work rhythm of new skills like indexing. I always felt I was a bit slow with indexing but it is a time-consuming activity. It was just a matter of getting used to labour-intensive tasks which you can’t turn around right away.  

Has anything surprised you about SUP/scholarly publishing?

I knew from my uni course, the Master of Publishing, that a lot of time goes into scheduling and planning the production of a book, but it still surprised me how important this planning is. Discussions around whether a book would be ready according to the schedule dominated almost every morning meeting. The other side of working with a small publisher is that everybody has a hand in everything. It’s a small team so people lend a hand where they can. It certainly makes things more interesting.

What skills have you used most during your internship?

I’ve used my knowledge of the Adobe Creative Cloud to create images and marketing material for SUP, probably more than I expected before starting this internship. I’ve never had ‘professional’ training in visual design but I’ve picked up and practiced these design skills through university courses and previous internships. Being an editor for the USyd student rag Honi Soit forced me to learn how to use the Adobe Creative Cloud in the first place, and that’s probably the best place to learn. I was thrown headfirst into the deep end back then! I also made a 64 page zine (a small print run of 50 copies) in conjunction with two DIY music/arts events earlier this year. It’s pleasing to see my visual design work being well-received considering I haven’t had extensive formal training.

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

From the moment I learned to read and write, I always wanted to be a writer. Either that or I was dreaming of being Australia’s next football (soccer) superstar. Tim Cahill 2.0. My parents are very old-fashioned (bless them) so I never watched TV as a kid. I rarely played computer games. There was no PlayStation in my household. Sometimes people reminisce about TV shows they watched when they were younger and I have no idea what they’re talking about. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I lost myself in books and spent many late evenings kicking a football with my brother or my mates or by myself, if no one else was free. I’d churn through fantasy and science-fiction books, often multiple per week. The football dream died hard. I stopped playing when I was 18. But I’ve had a few pieces of writing published here and there; I think enough to call myself a ‘freelance writer’ – whatever the heck that means anyway. And now I’m working with books. You could say I’m pretty much living my dream. So, yes, I’m a happy chappie.

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

This is a tough one! Dwight from The Office? He’s just so bloody weird, I think I’d be laughing the whole way, which would help pass the time. But he’d also be endlessly annoying so I’m not sure how that would go down…

What are you planning to do next?

No clue! I’m at a bit of an in-between stage where I’m about to finish my degree and this internship but the only work I have at the moment is my freelance writing which, at the end of the day, pays peanuts. I’m trying to avoid going back to hospitality at all costs.

Robbie Mason is a young freelance writer, creative, gonzo journalism enthusiast and zine-maker, currently studying a Masters of Publishing at the University of Sydney. He previously completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at the University of Sydney, for which he was awarded the University Medal. Robbie has written news, feature articles, album appraisals, live music reviews, creative essays, fictional short stories and more for a variety of publications including, but not limited to, Vice, Voiceworks, Honi Soit, ARNA, Verve Zine and Pulp. He likes modified cars, wearing fishnets on his arms when he’s not at work and a hot cup of tea in the morning while he watches strangers hakk on the internet. None of these things are meant to work together. Robbie makes them work.

You can find more of Robbie's writing via his newsletter at https://secondskineora.substack.com/.