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Lauren Connell, Masters student of the Writing and Publishing program at RMIT University, recently won the 2023 IPEd Student Prize with her essay, “Can Australia’s trade publishing industry go green?” We asked her to share about what drew her to the topic and to tell us a little about her hobbies and plans for the future.

Q: Lauren, can you tell IPEd members a bit about yourself?

A: I’m a Master of Writing and Publishing student at RMIT (obviously!) living on unceded Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Country in the Macedon Ranges – about a seven-minute drive from Hanging Rock – in a small town called Romsey. I live on three-and-a-half acres, across the road from a herd of friendly black cows who happen to match my friendly black cat, Roman. I’m currently working in a contractual role with Oxford University Press alongside the Digital Product Management team. When I’m not studying, you can usually find me reading, serenading my cat or going for a run.

Q: How did it feel to hear that you were the winner of the 2023 IPEd Prize?

A: I first heard about the IPEd Student Prize in the first few weeks of Semester 1 2022, as we were brainstorming ideas for our industry analysis report assignment. I submitted my report for the prize after some encouragement from my tutor in the assessment feedback, but I never dreamed it would actually win! So, I was equal parts shocked and stoked when I first received the email from the judges. I happened to be at home with my dad who was – minding his own business – out the back taking the new puppy for a walk when he heard screaming from inside the house. Initially he thought I had set the house on fire or something, so he was quite relieved when he found me at the desk beaming at my laptop instead! For me, one of the best parts of the prize is knowing that the judges took the time to engage with my work so closely. It was a real treat for me to receive their feedback, and I’m so thankful they were willing to give so much time to read the work of all the students who entered.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your studies?

A: I was drawn to further studies in writing and publishing because I’ve always enjoyed working with words and stories and I just could never imagine working in any other field. After my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to pursue editing, but felt I needed more specialised knowledge and experience before entering the workforce (plus, it’s no secret that a master’s degree is pretty much a prerequisite for any entry-level career in publishing these days). I knew RMIT had a great reputation for hands-on courses and I was particularly keen on the program’s 480-hour publishing internship in the Bowen Street Press. That being said, my essay on supporting sustainable publishing practice in small and independent presses was written for a research-based unit in my first semester. That unit really shaped my understanding of the operation of the Australian publishing landscape overall.

Q: What initially drew you to your essay topic?

A: I think my upbringing in regional Victoria has subconsciously fuelled my interest in the environment and sustainability, but that really came to a head in the final year of my undergraduate program when I read The new climate war by Michael Mann. Mann’s book is another level of eye-opening, and it’s nearly impossible to come out the other side without the urge to act. I believe we’re all responsible – every individual, industry, government and corporation. That’s what compelled me to research sustainability in the sector I hope to work in. Writing this report has shown me how much the industry does care about this issue and that progress is finally starting to happen. It’s certainly encouraging and it does offer a sense of hope.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate?

A: When I started my BA in 2019, I identified as a writer and dreamed of writing full-time. But I realised early on that what I enjoyed most about writing is shaping and editing. I love reworking paragraphs, fleshing out metaphors, playing with punctuation and watching a text evolve. Seeing those improvements over the editorial process feels like solving a puzzle – it’s lots of fun and so satisfying when the pieces finally come together! I would love to eventually work inhouse in an editorial role, but there are still many facets of the industry I’d love to get a taste of before I graduate – like marketing, sales, production and rights.

Q: Do you have any interesting plans for the IPEd Student Prize money or reference books?

A: I’m so excited to peruse the prize’s reference books and subscriptions! They will be invaluable resources for my future work, whether inhouse or freelance, and will be incredibly handy in the final year of my studies. The Macquarie Dictionary subscription is particularly timely, as my current subscription is set to end in a month or so. I’d love to have more interesting plans for the prize money, but I think it will be deposited straight into the bank to help me through the final year of my degree. Although, I’m sure I could be persuaded (by myself) to purchase a couple of books from my wish list.

Q: What’s something that most people don’t know about you?


A: I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with distance running since I was ten years old, which I ultimately put on the backburner in 2021 to focus on my studies. After I graduate and (hopefully) settle into full-time work, I’d love to knuckle down into training again and complete my first marathon. I hear the Berlin marathon course is supposed to be pretty quick …​



The IPEd Student Prize acknowledges excellent work by a student of editing. It is designed to enhance the profession of editing and support students’ work on issues relevant to the industry. Entries for the 2024 Prize will open in September 2023. More information is available on the IPEd website.