Fremantle Press picks up new CEO

WHEN Alex Allan took over the reins as CEO of Fremantle Press late last year, there was little time to get settled in.

The press’s big event of the year, the Hungerford Award was just days away, while Fogarty Literary Award winner Brooke Dunnell’s The Glass House had just arrived.

“There is so much talent and opportunity here, and it feels like a very exciting time to be joining the wonderful team at Fremantle Press,” Allan told the Herald.

She’s also joining as the organisation starts the early planning for its next major milestone.

“As we look to 50 years of Fremantle Press – not so far away now – I will be focused on growing the capacity of the Fremantle Press team, embedding the expertise we have developed here and retaining our talent wherever possible, so that our small publisher continues to be a stalwart contributor to the publishing industry nationally and internationally,” she said.

We asked Allan what her plans were for Fremantle Press.

“We want to continue the important work of representing WA stories and writers, reaching more readers here, and more broadly in Australia and internationally. Our ambition is to create books with impact, books that tell stories with universal meaning, but also shine a light on the uniqueness of our corner of the world.

“Over the years Fremantle Press has developed strong partnerships with libraries and schools, bookstores, writing festivals etc and we have a loyal base of supporters who share and talk about our books. 

“So it will be business as usual with lots of outreach via our website and social media, as well as an ongoing program of community based events. 

“What we would love to do more of is listening to our readers’ feedback – what are the stories they love, what do they want to see more of, what are the untold WA stories that we should be seeking out and bringing to our readers? 

“If readers would like to receive our newsletter and stay in touch with the press they can do so.”

“Authors and illustrators are brave. Making something – anything – and putting it out there to be judged is risky – like baring your soul.

“So it is a real privilege to be able to support and advise authors and to help them launch their creations into the world. 

“The process of getting from the blank page to a finished work is something that you can never tire of in publishing – it is incredibly exciting and rewarding to work with those creators.”

Allan spent 20 years working in the publishing industry in the UK after graduating from a Bachelor of Arts and Law at UWA and started at the ground level.

“My first jobs were admin roles; for example, printing out emails and sending them in the internal post (that was a thing for a while when no one really trusted email) but through my legal training, and knowledge of contracts, I was lucky enough to get into film and TV tie-in publishing in the early 2000s, and from there into illustrated non-fiction and children’s publishing more generally. 

“That experience has really impacted the way I think about books now – books are for everyone, and there is a book for everyone, even those who are intimidated by dense text and who might not consider themselves a reader. 

“The telling of stories and the sharing of knowledge are so important – which is why the rise of audiobooks, for example, has been such a wonderful and welcome development for the publishing industry.

“Fremantle is a place packed with history and stories.

“The mouth of the Swan River – the Derbarl Yerrigan – was a hub long before it became the Port of Fremantle. 

“So it is a place imbued with stories old and new, good and bad – and it is a place of great natural beauty and meaning. 

“So it feels fitting for a publisher to be situated here and I hope that the books we publish here will resonate with readers across WA and beyond. (Plus there’s the personal enjoyment of being the first to enjoy the welcome sea breeze!)”

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