Alice Lewinsky is part of Text’s dynamic publicity team, working across the list and taking care of our authors at literary events all around the country.
What was the book that got you hooked on reading?
I can remember hanging on every word as my older brother read me the breadth of Enid Blyton, so I might very well have him to thank for all this. Growing up it was the magnificent world of Australian young-adult literature that kept me reading; everyone from Melina Marchetta, Jackie French and Robin Klein to Sonya Hartnett, Maureen McCarthy and James Maloney.
How did you get into publishing?
I was bumbling my way through an Arts degree and taking on a very eclectic (and impractical) mix of subjects when I happened to pick up a semester of publishing studies. It was the first class that made me feel ever-so-slightly less terrified about life beyond university so I knew I was onto something. I quickly dropped ‘Advanced David Lynch Studies’ and ‘The Ethics of Reality TV 101’ and enrolled in a Masters of Publishing and Communications not long after graduating. While completing my Masters I kept busy with internships, volunteer positions and various other side projects before starting at Text.
What attracted you to Text?
I’d always read Text books and was a great admirer of their willingness to engage readers with critical, challenging and important writing and literature. And while I was studying publishing at university Text was regularly held up as one of Australia’s most dynamic and vibrant publishers, so it still feels like quite a personal coup to now be part of the team.
What’s an average day like?
There isn’t really an ‘average’ day in publicity but across any given week I might be: coordinating author tours and events, pitching books to journalists and media, mailing advance publicity copies, arranging author interviews and appearances, writing and designing publicity materials, planning book launches, collating review coverage, accompanying authors to interviews and events and just generally fielding publicity enquiries and opportunities.
I also handle our awards submissions and work closely with our marketing department, booksellers and distributors to organise stock for events and festivals throughout Australia and New Zealand.
What do you love about it? Or what keeps you inspired?
I love witnessing the moment of connection between reader and author, when the shy and admiring reader tells the unassuming novelist just how much their book meant to them. I’ve been that adoring reader many times before and have now seen firsthand just how rewarding it is for authors to meet their audience, so it’s wonderful to be a part of that process in some small way.
Tell us your favourite festival/on-the-road story.
Sitting down to dinner between Bob Brown and Tim Flannery while in Tasmania late last year was more than a bit surreal. I’d like to think they learnt just as much from me as I did from them but I’m certain that wasn’t the case.
Where is your favourite place to read?
Anywhere and everywhere really. In bed, down the coast, on the 86 tram. I especially enjoy reading while travelling and assembling my reading list according to the destination or setting.
Which Text book would you most like readers to (re)discover?
I can’t wait for readers to rediscover Mena Calthorpe’s long-out-of-print and unjustly forgotten novel, The Dyehouse, which we’ll be publishing as our 100th Text Classic this September. Set in a textile factory in 1950s Sydney, The Dyehouse is a beautifully crafted ensemble novel and an astute social-realist portrait of a bygone era.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working with award-winning journalist Peter Mares around the release of his vital new book, Not Quite Australian. In it, Peter investigates our growing culture of temporary migration and asks some challenging questions about Australian identity and multiculturalism. Drawing on personal stories, case studies and carefully assembled data, Peter has produced a considered and sensitive exploration of what it means to be not quite Australian in society today. So I’m currently working to assemble Peter’s publicity schedule and am looking forward to seeing him discuss this issue at events in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in publishing?
Read widely and wildly. Ask the most interesting people around you about their favourite books and read those. Every little bit of experience helps so grab any opportunity that comes your way.