Monash University Publishing is thrilled to announce that Publishing Officer Sam van der Plank has been shortlisted for the 2022 ABIA Rising Star award. The Rising Star award recognises emerging talent in the Australian book industry whose record reflects ongoing excellence and growth in contribution to their profession. They must be currently working in the Australian book industry, and have been part of the industry for no more than 10 years.
Sam occupies a broad but pivotal role within the Publishing team, working across sales, marketing, operations, production and acquisitions. He was recently the driving force behind Monash University Publishing’s onboarding onto BooksoniX, a title management and ONIX dissemination system.
The winner of the Rising Star award will be announced at the 2022 Australian Book Industry Awards night gala event in Sydney on Thursday 9 June.
‘While those with a talent for operations often remain behind the scenes, Sam is the very definition of a team player, and his intelligence, ingenuity and commitment to improve Monash Publishing is truly exceptional,’ says publisher Julia Carlomagno, who nominated van der Plank for the Rising Star Award.
Read Sam’s full interview courtesy of Books+Publishing.
What key things do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
I wish I’d known when I first started that there was more to publishing than editorial and commissioning! Like many, I entered the publishing industry thinking that I might become an editor. By chance, my first entry-level role was focused more on the sales side of things. Since then this is the area I’ve progressed in, and now I love all things sales, stock and data.
What has been your biggest achievement/proudest professional moment?
Setting up Monash University Publishing’s entire backlist on a title management system was a big and rewarding project – don’t worry, bulk uploads were involved! Hitting send on our automated ONIX feeds for the first time was a great feeling.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned on the job?
It’s been hugely valuable to gain insights into how the ‘business’ of publishing works through my roles. Learning about the money side of the industry and my employers has been fascinating. Be it running costings on new titles, assessing a potential reprint, or analysing our sales data, I really appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to see what makes a particular book – and a company’s operations – financially viable.
What do you think this industry could do better?
Data! I think that historically many of us have shied away from looking too closely at metadata or thinking about what an ONIX file is, exactly. But these aspects of communicating our books to retailers and other partners are only going to become more important moving forward. Those publishers who recognise the importance of good metadata and ONIX practices – and who resource these areas accordingly – are likely to reap the rewards.
Where would you like to be in five (or 10, or 20) years’ time? And what do you hope the industry will look like then?
In a few years I would love to be in a role related to one or some of the areas that I’m currently involved in: sales, stock and data. Perhaps I would have greater responsibilities and have become more specialised in a particular direction.
For the industry, I would love it if it turns out in many years’ time that print books are still flourishing and that independent, physical bookshops continue to play a central role in our bookish culture. It would also be a wonderful development if in this future scenario we have an even greater multitude of successful Australian publishers, publishing a more diverse range of authors and employing a more diverse array of publishing people – who, as we all know, are the best people!