Life as a publisher…

Girlfriend Mag Prize winner SeLast week we had the pleasure of hosting Se, a winner of a Girlfriend Magazine competition to be a publisher for the day. Winning from over 1,000 entries, Se joined us to learn the ins and outs of publishing with a whistle-stop tour of our world of books in our Sydney office. 

We thought we’d get Se to share her day, but first, what about the answer to the question that won her the opportunity to spend the day with us: ‘What would you do if you were a publisher for the day?’

I can’t tell you what my response was as I simply can’t remember it. What I can tell you is that it won me the exciting opportunity to experience a day at the Allen and Unwin Office in the shoes of a publisher!

Her answer was in fact the rather lovely: “I’d skim over each manuscript and visit hundreds of worlds, while losing myself in each cover art, before anyone else – a day to escape reality.”

Becoming a publisher for the day

My day at the Office was on the 1st of July. And while I was excited, I was also extremely nervous. As I paced back and forth in the reception room, it felt more like my first day at work rather than a special occasion. But by the time I had met the Allen and Unwin team, I was no longer nervous. I don’t know whether it was their kindness, humour, enthusiasm, passion for books or love for cake. Maybe it was a bit of everything. What I do know is that I felt an immediate connection with them.


Skyping Barry Jonsberg
BRB, just Skyping Barry Jonsberg,

After a quick tour of the Office, followed by cake and tea for morning tea – I felt like a publisher already – it was straight into learning about the ins and outs of publishing a book, along with a Skype chat to one of the editors at the Melbourne Office.

I also learnt about design, publicity, had a discussion about the rights of Allen and Unwin, and had a friendly Skype chat with the lovely and very passionate author, Barry Jonsberg. He was so interesting to talk to and has raised my love for writing (if that’s even possible).

My day at the Allen and Unwin Office was quickly coming to an end with only the cover workshop to get through. I thoroughly enjoyed comparing, discussing and sharing my opinions about different book covers. It felt very rewarding.

Cover critiquing
Doing some cover critiquing of books, including the forthcoming Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James

Selfie time!I loved everything about my day at the Allen and Unwin Office. I loved the cake. I loved being surrounded by books and people who read books. I loved learning about the different aspects of publishing a book. It was so intriguing to learn about how an idea in an author’s mind is developed into a book that ends up on the shelves of a store, my school library, or my overflowing bookcase at home.

I’ve always considered becoming a publisher, but after my experience, I’m definitely considering going back for work experience. Who knows? Maybe I’ll work at the Allen and Unwin Office someday.

Thank you Se! It was a real pleasure having Se here, she was full of enthusiasm and intelligence and a love of books, offering up some fantastic feedback (and she took home some more manuscripts to read & report on!), so we’re delighted that Se is considering publishing as a future career!

  • Kit Carstairs

    What a wonderful initiative to engage the ‘young ones’ in something that they love. Who knows, maybe she will end up making it to the role of ‘publisher’ and will discover the next Harry Potter style series! Idealistic and passionate people are what make working in publishing so wonderful. Good luck with your future, Se!

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