Name: Debra Millar
Company: Point Publishing Limited
My first job in publishing was… I joined Annabel Langbein Media in 2009 after working for 20 years as a journalist and then magazine publisher with ACP Magazines (now Bauer Media), so I was definitely a latecomer to books. It was a thrilling time to enter the book trade as Annabel was embarking on filming her first TV series, The Free Range Cook.
I managed the publication of the cookbook that accompanied the TV series and helped to set up some international rights sales. That book still ranks as the number one-selling New Zealand title through BookScan.
I’m currently reading… I am writing and publishing an illustrated history of my suburb, Point Chevalier, next year and my reading currently centres around that project. I’m reading Halfway Round the Harbour, the autobiography of historian and writer Sir Keith Sinclair, published in 1993. I intended to read only the early chapters relating to Sir Keith’s childhood years in Point Chevalier, but I’ve found it impossible to put down. He had a big life and he writes with great warmth and humour.
My biggest career highlight so far was… Joining Penguin Books in 2010 as General Manager of Publishing. I took over from Geoff Walker, who had been with Penguin for 25 years and published some of the country’s most important books to this day. Given I had amassed just 18 months of book publishing experience, it was daunting. But I like to think my journalistic instincts and nose for a great story stood me in good stead. I’ve felt incredibly privileged to share the life stories of some immensely private people, including most recently the basketballer Steven Adams, which was a four-year quest.