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.

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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.

ABIA extraordinaire, meet Gillian Haines

16 Mar 2021

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I was born in Sydney but grew up in Hobart. My husband and I moved back to Sydney for better job opportunities in 2015 and after five years of being assaulted by cockroaches and the heat we fled back to Tasmania just in time to work remotely in 2020. When I’m not at work I am probably about a metre away from my desk, on the couch reading.

You have so much experience in the industry, from interning at Murdoch Books and Hachette Australia Books, to your current role in events at the Australian Publishers Association. What has been your favourite part of working in the industry so far?

A real highlight has been working with the APA’s Children’s Publishing Committee and the Australian Booksellers Association to provide professional development seminars for booksellers and publishing professionals who work with children’s books. 

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

I manage the project from the APA side of things, which means making sure everyone has access to whatever they need to get their tasks done, and helping when needed. I answer a lot of enquiries about the awards, and also do loads of admin. The ABIAs has been part of my job at the APA since 2017 so I’ve worked with some really great committee members over the years.

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

When I moved to Sydney and started a Masters of Publishing, I didn’t have much of an idea of what I particularly wanted to do aside from read books (so original in publishing). I learnt a lot about all different aspects of publishing. My internship at Hachette was particularly good at providing me with opportunities to try a range of things and also talk to staff in different departments. My first proper job was at the APA as Team Assistant, a job which very quickly morphed into a rather ad-hoc assortment of responsibilities to do with running the office, but also helping with the ABIAs and other events. Since moving back to Tasmania I’ve dropped all the office stuff, and am focused mostly on the ABIAs and our education awards, the EPAAs, as well as assisting with our professional development programs.

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 really have to say a huge thank you to Agata Mrva-Montoya from Sydney Uni Press who also taught me at Sydney Uni. She’s incredibly encouraging, one of the best teachers I’ve had, and I have enjoyed being able to catch up with her at various industry events since graduating.

What are you reading at the moment?

I have almost finished Born Into This by Adam Thompson, which is a short story collection published by UQP Books. I am pretty sure it is going to be an all-time favourite, the writing is incredible and every time I finish a story I can’t stop thinking about it.


Thanks, Gillian!

If you’re keen to join Gillian and the committee at the ABIAs 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.

Tickets are on sale!

4 Feb 2021

Celebrate the joy of books at this industry night of nights live event including a Virtual Awards Broadcast punctuated by entertainment and merriment. Celebrate on Wednesday 28 April 2021 at Carriageworks, in association with Sydney Writers’ Festival.

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

Seating will not be allocated. It will be available on a first in first served basis.

BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW

The 2021 ABIA Live Event and Virtual Awards Broadcast will be a Covid Safe production, and will abide by all directions and guidelines provided by government authorities in relation to Covid safety.

In the case of cancellation, border closures or any other government direction affecting attendance of the Live Event, your ticket will be fully refundable.

Carriageworks has implemented an operating framework to enable the safe running of events in an environment impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

For more information visit : https://carriageworks.com.au/journal/carriageworks-covid-19-safety/

To keep up to date on nominations visit abiawards.com.au or subscribe here.

For any enquiries please email abia@publishers.asn.au or call the APA office.

Date28 Apr 2021
Time6:30 PM – 11:55 PM
VenueCarriageworks,  245 Wilson St, Eveleigh NSW 2015
Full price tix $200 for Members $220 Non Members