Meet the UQP team: Clair Hume, commissioning editor
How long have you been in your role?
I joined UQP in August last year, so about ten months.
What drew to you to working in publishing?
I have always loved books, which is probably the most common reason any of us are in publishing. But I also grew up around publishing because my mum is a writer and illustrator, so the process of story development and illustration was a regular part of my upbringing. I loved watching her ideas evolve into finished books.
How did you get into publishing?
I did work experience at Allen & Unwin back when they were on Rathdowne Street, but when I first finished school I did a Visual Arts degree and took a detour travelling and working as an underwater photographer. When I returned to Melbourne, I set my sights on books and publishing again. My first publishing job was a maternity leave admin role at Penguin. I used to read books inside a manila folder whenever I didn’t have work to do – my very own George Constanza Penski File.
What does an average day look like for you?
My brain hurts answering this question! There are a lot of moving parts. Reading, reading, reading. Providing feedback on manuscripts, covers and internal illustrations. Researching market trends, pitching new projects at acquisitions meetings, looking at costings for new books, making offers, negotiating contract details. Briefing editors on new projects. Looking out for our authors and helping them produce their best work. Admin. Attending and speaking at book launches and fairs and conferences. Scheduling titles and shaping our yearly publication list. [Are you bored of this yet?] Admin. Refilling the photocopier. Answering Q+As for the website 😊!
What’s the best part about your job?
Do I have to choose? There are so many elements I love. Reading a great story and helping it become a beautiful book. Seeing kids enjoy them. Working with many clever and creative people.
And the worst?
Disappointing people when I decline their submissions. Missing out on a submission I really want to publish.
What are you working on at the moment?
This morning I’ve provided cover art feedback, had a Zoom with an agent, and looked over a draft contract for an exciting new book we’re publishing next year.
What advice would you give someone wanting to work in publishing?
Don’t give up, get involved, look into creating your own work experience if you need to – initiative is always noticed.
What do you like to read for pleasure?
Some favourites in no particular order: Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais, Wonders of a Godless World by Andrew McGahan, The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell, Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Towes, The Mothers by Brit Bennett. And anything by the great Robin Klein.