In this edition: introducing the Whitireia Publishing teaching team and the class of 2019, Q&A with PANZ President Peter Dowling, poet Helen Heath shortlisted for the Ockham Awards, and course graduate Rebecca Chester on life at BWB.
A new year, new students and a new tutoring team. Odessa Owens (centre) returns after a year off on parental leave, rejoining Marie Hodgkinson (right). The new face in the team is Theresa Crewdson (left) who worked at South Pacific Press/Lift Education for nearly a decade, and now pairs tutoring at Whitireia Publishing with her freelance work.
The first nine weeks are behind us, and projects are underway, so let us introduce the class of 2019 and fill you in on what we have been up to.
There are eighteen of us in this year’s intake, with some fresh from university, and others holding twenty years’ experience in diverse industries. Backgrounds range from science and conservation to theatre, journalism and education, with passions spanning the complete spectrum of literature.
We are learning all the ins and outs of publishing, from editing, marketing and typesetting, to InDesign, bookbinding and the history of books, with industry leaders sharing exclusive tips and gossip. In the afternoons, we focus on our team projects, which include books, journals, plays, newsletters and more. It’s a busy year – even two months in.
We have a ‘2019 Wellington Bucket List’ on the class whiteboard full of places to go and events to attend. It includes everything from a trip to Days Bay, to attending book launches and poetry readings. So far, we have ticked off Wellington Zoo, Zealandia and Armageddon, and eaten at a number of local restaurants and cafes, with Counter Culture being a fan favourite. Pub quizzes have become integral to our weekly routine for strengthening our fact-checking muscles.
Keep an eye out for future newsletters, which will discuss our projects in more depth. Confidentiality clauses will be honoured!
What is exciting you about the publishing industry in Aotearoa?
I’m excited that there is so much quality publishing in what is a buoyant market for New Zealand books. And I continue to be encouraged by how collaborative and supportive of each other publishers are here. We face our opportunities and threats together.
What are its main challenges?
Attempts by big tech and copyright pirates to erode intellectual property rights are a major threat, one that PANZ and our colleagues are addressing as part of the current review of the Copyright Act 1994. Ensuring publishers can sustain and grow their businesses in a high-cost environment remains a challenge, as does encouraging quality writing and illustrating when the financial rewards are fickle.
What are you reading now?
I’ve gone back to Gavin McLean’s Whare Raupo, the centennial history of Reed Publishing. Gavin, who passed away in Wellington on 7 April, was not only a fine historian but also had a deep understanding of the book business. I recommend it for any student of New Zealand publishing.
What is your advice for this year's Whitireia Publishing students?
Ask lots of questions of your tutors, visiting speakers and fellow students, and don’t worry about making the odd mistake (we all do that!). Learn more about te Ao Māori especially, but also other cultures and languages: our industry needs greater diversity and to market ourselves better internationally. And don’t get too fixated on working with one particular genre or sector – book publishing comes in many guises and most of them offer stimulation and fun.
Things with faces
Does this dog have a face?
This metal box with two
bolts for eyes and a slot
for a mouth? This black skin?
Can we see the face of this Syrian
child, now that it is white
with concrete dust? My toaster
has a jolly face and the
front of my car looks to
be smiling. I like to post
images online of things
with faces. Hashtag faces-
in-things. You’ve got pareidolia
too. Happy bags, sad power
points, surprised houses.
Helen Health is both a graduate and former tutor of the Whitireia Publishing course. Her second book of poetry Are Friends Electric?, published by VUP in 2018, has been shortlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. The Ockhams will take place on 14 May. We wish Helen the best of luck.
In a previous interview about her first steps in publishing, Helen said, ‘I don’t think I had even heard about the internet then and, of course, social media hadn’t been invented.’ Cut to now and her poetry features a vast exploration of technology, and she runs a rather fantastic Instagram account.
After winding down for the summer following the Whitireia Publishing course and sending copies of her CV to all her favourite publishers, 2018 graduate Rebecca Chester made the exciting transition into work at Wellington-based non-fiction publisher Bridget Williams Books.
She says about job-hunting that ‘initially, BWB didn't have any work going, but a few weeks later they called saying they had a day’s administrative work. I went in for two days and thought that would be it – but a week later got a call saying they had a six-month contract coming up for a production assistant. The timing was really amazing!’
Her work involves ordering images for upcoming books, clearing permissions with institutes and iwi, and helping with other production tasks when books are going to print and it’s ‘all hands on deck’. She says that her favourite thing about the industry is that ‘there is always something to show for all the hard work or late nights you put in’.
Rebecca says, ‘I guess my advice for students is not to compare themselves to other students in the class. Publishing is so varied, and the place I work is full of different personalities and skillsets. I was definitely not the smartest or highest achieving student in my class, but I have found a place where I fit and where my skills are being developed and appreciated. Focus on what you are good at!’
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