In celebration of our 25th anniversary of children's publishing we are delighted to present the seventh edition of Onion Origins - from another Onion in our Sydney office.
Finding my calling...
I left High School clueless as what to do next, after a few tries in various not-quite-rights jobs, I found myself working at The Bookshop Darlinghurst.
It was soon very apparent to me that I had found my calling, being paid to be surrounded by books, talk about books, sell books! But, The Bookshop Darlinghurst did not sell any kids books; I would have to wait seven years before being able to re-ignite my enthusiasm for them.
I grew up in The Bookshop Darlinghurst, and over seven years figured out that what I really wanted to do was be a Sales Rep at Allen & Unwin. A&U had the best books, the best reps, the best authors, the best reputation and I felt that it was the place for me.
However, no one ever leaves A&U, so I had to wait! While I waited for a position to come up, I asked the fabulous Sandy Weir and Michael White what I could do to get a job at A&U. They advised me to get more experience in the more mass market side of book selling, i.e leave my comfortable Indie world and see the other side!
As luck would have it, Borders were opening up their first Sydney store, and somehow I got a job as their Marketing Manager for Macquarie Centre North Ryde (still not sure how that happened)! Going from Darlinghurst to North Ryde was a bit of a culture shock!
While at Borders I rediscovered my love of children's books (beyond Star Wars), I was in charge of the Kids Book Department and making sure it always looked great, no easy task when parents used it as a babysitting service while they shopped! The A&U list was always the best and I resolved even more that I had to get a job there.
I was there when Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban came out. It was so amazing to be part of this huge experience and it was a lot of fun! Later at A&U, I got to see how much hard work Liz Bray and the team did to get Harry out there!
Finally, someone left the A&U sales team, and I did everything I could to get an interview and the job, and I succeeded!
Selling the kids list to these incredible, dedicated booksellers was and remains a huge part of what I love at A&U. I have also been lucky enough to meet some of favourite authors, David Levithan, Neil Gaiman, Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix, and many others.
I consider myself to be an honorary part of the Children's Marketing Team and although I love our adult books, I probably love the kids list just a little bit more.
Ten years later I am still here, no longer a Rep, but still in sales, working in a job I love, for a company that is everything that I thought it would be. I am a lucky man.
- Chris Sims, National Field Sales Manager