In this weekly series, we take you behind the scenes to get a glimpse of the glamorous life at Adelaide’s premier publishing house. This week, meet our events guru, editorial assistant and all-round office doer Maddy Sexton.
What made you want to work in publishing – and how did you get your start?
I wanted to work in publishing since I was about eight, which seems like a lie, but I have a whole collection of ‘published’ work hidden in my parent’s garage with thrilling stories including ‘The Adventures of Starfish’, a story about a starfish (named Starfish) who goes out one day and then comes home (that’s the entire story), among other things. I’d write, illustrate, and bind all of my stories and tell anyone who would listen that one day I would be an author.
I actually came to be in publishing very much by accident, mainly because I never thought I’d be able to crack into the field. A friend of mine used to work at Wakefield Press, and when she got a job in Melbourne, she suggested that I go for the role, and the rest is history. I’m very lucky to be here!
What does your typical day at Wakefield Press involve?
It’s a lot of reading – emails make up most of my material, but I also do a bit of proofreading and editing bits and pieces that come across my desk. My main job is events coordination, so the rest of my day is usually filled with organising book launches and other events for our authors. The rest of the time I’m trying to keep the bookshop stocked up and looking nice, which helps to break up my work a little bit.
What’s the most absurd or surprising thing that’s ever happened to you on the job?
I’ve only been here for a year, so I don’t have any exciting stories really! My biggest surprise was getting the job, followed closely by finding out just how glamorous it is to work in publishing! It’s kind of funny sometimes answering the phone and having a conversation with someone which seems to be quite normal and relaxed, and then just before they hang up you find out you’ve been talking to a TV network producer without even knowing it!
What’s the best thing about working in publishing?
The best thing for me is being able to work on lots of different books in (usually) really small ways, and knowing that although I might not have been credited in the book, I still had something to do with bringing the book into the world. It’s very satisfying, especially if the book was difficult to work on!
What’s the worst thing about working in publishing?
The constant suspicion that I’m not meant to be in publishing, and that someone will walk in and say ‘Hey, what are you doing? You’re not meant to be here!’ and kick me out. Otherwise it’s great!
What kinds of things do you love to discover in a book (on the job or as a reader)?I love when there’s a little ‘A-ha!’ moment in books, where the penny finally drops for you as the reader but might not have dropped yet for the characters. Also, I love weird humour (I read too much Lemony Snicket as a kid), so it’s always good to find a ridiculously placed bit of comedy in a book.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
It’s embarrassing but my bedside table is really just a ridiculously tall stack of unread books that I keep adding to in moments of weakness. One day it will get so tall that I can’t get out of bed, but I’ll probably still add to it. Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman is on top, along with The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. I finished Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 recently, which I really enjoyed – one less on the stack!