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Me and My Job: Hazel Cushion
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Posted by IPG

1 What is your job title and company? And roughly how many people work for your company?

I’m the founder and managing director of Accent Press. We now employ 20 people on a full-time basis, plus lots of freelance editors and designers.

2 What are your qualifications and working background, and when and how did you take on your current job?

I originally trained as a silversmith and used to work on cruise ships and in the wine business. It was only after completing an MA in creative writing that I decided to start a publishing company. I had no publishing experience, which has often been an advantage as I have been pretty fearless. Of course, I made lots of mistakes, but I have also been able to embrace new opportunities like ebooks.

3 What does your average working day entail?

My day usually starts in Octavo’s, our new book café and wine bar in Cardiff Bay. I check everything is OK there before heading up to our main office 40 minutes north of Cardiff. I’m very hands-on with all aspects of publishing and so my day can involve commissioning or cover design as well as the day to day running of the business. I then head back to the book café for the last two hours of the day.

4 What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the variety: I have the attention span of a teabag so love the fact that there is always a new book to get excited about. I also love the people—we have a great team and some fabulous authors. I guess the very best bit is making those authors’ dreams come true by turning their toil into beautiful, marketable books.

5 What achievements are you most proud of?

I am most proud of raising triplets while also building my business. They were seven years old when I founded Accent Press and are now 20 and all at university. It was often a juggling act but I do believe they learned a great deal from watching me grow the business. Probably the most important lesson was that they sometimes saw me fail, reflect, recover and move on.

6 What are your biggest challenges?

As the company grows my biggest challenge is developing the team and constantly adapting to an ever-changing market. What worked well last year maybe won’t this year, and we need to constantly seek out new opportunities.

7 What have you experienced in your job and publishing that you didn’t expect?

I have been very impressed by the generosity shown to each other by fellow publishers, especially within the IPG. I can’t think of another industry where people share advice in such an open and supportive way.

8 What is the best thing about working for an independent publisher?

I think the huge advantage we have in being independent is that we can be more nimble and adventurous than larger companies. Since our cost base is much lower we can take risks on unknown authors and grow them as brands.

9 How do you switch off from your work?

I don’t!

10 What advice would you give anyone wanting to start or progress a career in publishing?

Do it. I only grew up and found out I wanted to be a publisher in my 40s, and really wish I found it earlier.

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