Meet ABIA committee member, Sally Wilson

19 Mar 2021

Heya Sally, so what’s your life story in a nutshell?

I’m born and bred in Brisbane, where I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on. I have fond memories of visiting my local library every week and raiding my parents’ bookshelves – I probably read some quite inappropriate books (think 80s hits by Shirley Conran and Colleen McCullough!). After uni, I spent many years living and working in Sydney and Singapore. These days when I’m not at UQP, I’m usually being a taxi driver/chef/sherpa to my three children. Outside of work and family, I love reading, cooking (baking is my therapy), going to the theatre and swimming or hiking whenever I can. I have a lifelong passion for all things Italian and have studied the language since I was six, so I’m always trying to find opportunities to practise or eat pasta!

You are clearly a person of many talents, taking up the social media and digital aspects of the 2021 ABIA’s and in your current role as the Marketing & Publicity Executive (Digital Lead) at the University of Queensland Press. Are there any particular projects you’ve worked on in the past that you’re particularly proud of?

Most recently, working on the redevelopment of the new UQP website was a huge but rewarding project. It was incredible to be given a blank slate and conceptualise the look and structure of the site, research publishers’ websites from around the world and design a website that we felt suited our books and audience. At the same time my husband was very sick, so I juggled working from hospital and caring for him. After many months of work, we launched in March 2020 – just in time for a global pandemic and a surge in online sales!

 Tell us about your role on the ABIA committee and what brought you to join the committee.

I’m the person for all things digital/social media, with the help of the great team at the APA (follow along @abia_awards!). I love the Australian publishing industry and an opportunity to celebrate books and publishers was one I couldn’t resist. Here in Brisbane we can sometimes feel a bit removed from the bookish action down south, so it’s nice to connect with fabulous creative publishing people and make a contribution to the broader industry.

How long have you worked in publishing, and how did you get started in the industry?

I’ve worked in magazine and book publishing for nearly 18 years now and I’ve been at UQP Books for over three years. When I first moved to Sydney, I applied for jobs at magazine and book publishers in Sydney. I took the old-school approach – cold calling publishers and sending them my CV (looking back I can’t believe I did that). But I was annoying persistent and within a few months I scored a job at Australian Consolidated Press. 

Who would you like to recognise in the industry as someone who has supported your career in publishing? What did they do for you?

I’ve been fortunate to work with lots of inspiring and creative people, but I must give a shout-out to my current team at UQP: Louise Cornegé, Jean Smith, Maddie Byrne and Yasmin Smith. They are such a supportive, encouraging, smart and creative bunch of women and I enjoy working with them every day.

What are you reading at the moment?

Where do I start? My bedside #tbr pile is threatening to topple over and kill me in the middle of the night. I’ve normally got a few books on the go, including fiction, non-fiction and cookbooks which I read like novels. Recently I finished Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey, and I’ve just started Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson. I’m also dipping into Ten-Ager by Madonna King and new cookbooks from Anna Jones and Hetty McKinnon. I’m always reading manuscripts and upcoming UQP books for work; at the moment it’s Where We Swim by Ingrid Horrocks – an ode to swimming, travel and nature that’s out in July.


Thanks, Sally!

If you’re keen to join Sally and the committee at the ABIA this year, and you work for a member company of the APA, view ticket options here.

General Admission tickets are available from the Sydney Writers’ Festival website.