Meet the UQP team: Felicity Dunning, editor
How long have you been in your role?
I joined the UQP team as an editorial assistant in 2016. After being in that role for a little over a year, I started working on book projects as an editor (and have been loving it ever since!).
What drew you to being an editor?
Like most editors, I’ve always been a reader, so the idea of being paid to read books was a big drawcard. But I also love to re-read books and think about the characters, setting and action over and over. That was probably a big giveaway that this was the right job for me.
How did you get into publishing?
I actually started out training to be a high school English and drama teacher, but I quickly realised that I loved marking and didn’t love classroom teaching! This led me to enrol in the Writing, Editing and Publishing program at UQ, where I met peers who loved drafting and re-drafting text as much as I do. From there, I got my first job editing academic texts and program resources at the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, where I worked with a team of psychologist authors for three years.
What does an average day look like for you?
Since I work across the lists at UQP, it can be anything from being deep in an edit, reading manuscripts on submission, briefing cover designs, proofreading poetry or checking picture book proofs. And emailing authors to share editorial ideas, cover concepts and book pages, of course! Having such a diverse spread of tasks means no two days are alike, but it can also be a lot to stay on top of, so I keep detailed project schedules and task lists.
What’s the best part about your job?
The moment when an author receives their finished book. This moment is the result of months of hard work through the editorial and production process, and often years (or even decades!) of work for the author. Handing the finished copies to the author in person, or sending them in the post, is the exciting first step of getting their book out into the world.
And the worst?
The moment when an author receives their finished book! While it’s hugely satisfying to have the printed book ready for the world, it’s a bittersweet moment as it means the end of regular contact and close collaboration with an author (at least until their next manuscript lands).
Most memorable day in publishing?
I don’t know if I’ve had one day in particular, but there have been a few times when I’ve been an early reader on a manuscript that feels destined to become a bestseller or an enduring classic. The buzz of being one of the first people in the world to meet those characters and hear that story is an amazing part of this job.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m finalising the heart-warming (but also heart-breaking) YA novel Henry Hamlet’s Heart for printing. This tremendous book by Rhiannon Wilde won the 2019 State Library of Queensland Glendower Award, and working with Rhiannon has been a delight, so this is a bittersweet moment for sure! Next on the list is the 2020 Glendower winner: Fiona Robertson’s intriguing and impressive short story collection titled If You’re Happy.
What advice would you give someone wanting to work in publishing?
Take every opportunity you can. There are many different pathways to working in editing and publishing, and any/all experience you can get will prove worthwhile down the track.
What do you like to read for pleasure?
I’m (not-so) secretly a big fan of science fiction, especially classic sci-fi like the works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and John Wyndham, and YA dystopian sci-fi like Julianna Baggott’s Pure trilogy. I recently read Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things, which I loved and will definitely re-read soon.