Isabel Staas – ABIA committee member

22 Feb 2021

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I was born and raised in Sydney and have been working in publishing for almost twelve years now. 

When I’m not working, I am usually found paddling around at Malabar beach or Boy Charlton Pool, or (when the borders were open) strolling around Rome, nibbling on Picchiapò and Porchetta sandwiches. 

My favourite books as a kid were The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Worst Witch (do I sense a bit of a theme?) and the classic From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. When I visited New York for the first time in my early 20s, I spent a full day at the Met, almost navigating by my memories of scenes in that book. If you ever plan to visit, I highly recommend reading it before you go! 

What is that you do at Hachette Australia?

I am the Production and Audio Manager at Hachette Australia. This means that I look after the brilliant production team and run Hachette’s Audio publishing program. 

My day-to-day job is pretty varied. Sometimes I will be arranging audition tapes from actors, other times I’ll be negotiating with printers and on others I will be workshopping design briefs with publishers. 

Why did you jump in to volunteer with the ABIAs?

A wise woman once told me she got where she is today by never turning down an opportunity. That woman is my boss (hi Fiona) so, I took her advice on board!

I thought this was a great opportunity to get out and meet some of the other wonderful people working in our industry, get a little bit of insight what other publishers are up to, and have a ball of fun at the same time. 

What’s your role in delivering the ABIAs?

I look after the submissions and judging for the ABIAs. What that means is that I run the administration of the awards platform, help select the awards criteria, judging panels and ABIA academy members. 

What’s the best bit about helping out with the awards?

It is a lot of fun. The team are great to work with and I have met some wonderful, talented, smart and funny people throughout the ABIAs.

I also love knowing secrets, so having the inside scoop on the shortlists and winners is a big bonus for me. 

Was publishing always in your sights? How did you start out in your career and how did you “get in” to the industry?  

I think I got into publishing by accident. I studied Creative Writing at university and after graduating I was a little bit lost about what I wanted to do next. The GFC hit just as I was finishing up my degree and I started applying for any and all entry level jobs available. I was so scared that I would be on the dole forever! 

Eventually I stumbled across an ad looking for a Production Assistant. Because I come from a family of printers and I thought I could bluff my way through the interview, I really didn’t know anything about the processes or technical aspects of print production. Turns out I could, and I was offered my first real grown-up job at Hachette. 

Applying for that job was the best decision I ever made. Publishing is such an amazing industry to work in, filled with kind, funny and brilliantly smart people who spend every day nurturing talent and creating beautiful books.

I never thought, at the time, that a decade later I would be running the department, that’s for sure! 

Who would you like to give a big shout out to, for supporting you in your publishing career thus far? What have they done for you?   

The team at Hachette have been incredible over my career, in particular Vanessa Radnidge who has been a constant source of support, guidance and encouragement.

Vanessa is the kind of colleague and friend everyone should have in their life. She always has the time to help you, no matter how crazy her schedule is. She has wise words, funny anecdotes and box of tissues waiting for you when you need it. 

She is an amazing publisher, who connects with readers and authors on another level. She is tenacious and inspiring as a colleague and an amazing friend. She has given me the confidence and backing to go out and achieve so many things in my career

I am deeply grateful for having her in my life. 

Thanks Isabel!

Early bird tickets to the ABIAs are on sale here.