Pages of an open published book.

From publishing to rights management

21 November 2022
Learning about all areas of publishing scored Sathsara a job at Penguin Random House
Sathsara saw herself as a future editor. Her publishing degree sparked new interests that led to an exciting career in rights management.

Ever since she was little, Sathsara Radaliyagoda has always had a fascination for books. When she was 14, she was trying to figure out how to make her passion for books into a career and discovered the Master of Publishing. She has always been a planner, and the long-term goal setting has worked out! She studied hard in high school and in her undergraduate degrees in order to study publishing at the University of Sydney.

Sathsara Radaliyagoda at her graduation.

Sathsara Radaliyagoda at her graduation.

She describes her time at the University of Sydney as exciting, inspiring and life-changing. It shaped her understanding of the publishing industry and the various roles available. Moreover, she was able to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds, and make lifelong friends and connections in the industry via the teaching staff. Every lecturer in the degree is a publishing professional or has extensive industry experience.

When asked about the biggest lesson she learned during her time at university, she says that there was always something to learn. It didn't matter if a student's elective didn't seem to be directly related to their degree, or that they wanted to get into one area rather than the other, Sathsara adds.

It is always helpful to gain knowledge in more areas of publishing than just the one you imagined for yourself.
Sathsara Radaliyagoda

This was especially true for Sathsara as she always imagined herself in editorial (which is indeed what most publishing students envision themselves in before they start the degree). While studying for the Master of Publishing, however, Sathsara learnt about rights management, which is the department she is currently in.

If I had closed my mind off to everything that wasn’t editorial, I wouldn’t have been able to develop interests in another aspects of publishing and ignite a passion I didn’t realise I had.

Sathsara currently works at Penguin Random House Australia and New Zealand as the Rights Coordinator - a position she started two weeks before finishing her degree. She says that the Master of Publishing helped her securing a job because her chosen industry recognised the degree as being one of the best introductions into publishing. 

I was able to use the knowledge I learnt about rights management from class directly in the interview.
Image of Sathsara Radaliyagoda in front of the coastline.

The Master of Publishing aims to cover all aspects of the publishing process from editorial to design and production, to sales and marketing. This helps students develop their understanding of the industry, and the various departments they can work in.

“What I love about working in rights management is that no day is the same!” Sathsara says. Her typical day starts off with emailing coagents in different countries to develop networks and create connections with international partners in the industry. She also drafts contracts and permission agreements for different deals.

The busiest times of the year are during the international bookfairs, such as the Frankfurt Book Fair, where publishers showcase their best new titles to be sold to other territories. Learning about rights and other aspects of publishing in the degree allowed Sathsara to pick up things more quickly in her role, especially the industry lingo.

Just getting your foot through the door is the most important thing.

"Whether it’s working as a receptionist, or marketing or rights assistant in a publishing house, there are so many ways you can use those roles to end up where you want to be," Sathsara adds.

She also works closely with the authors, which she believes is the best part of the job.

Knowing I am helping authors get published and recognised in different languages and countries is definitely high on the list of reasons why I get out of bed in the morning!”

Her greatest piece of advice for anyone considering studying publishing is to not limit oneself to one idea or department. And the lecturers at the University of Sydney, some of whom provided Sathsara with a reference for her first role, are here to help students on their journey. As Sathsara says, “Their main goal is to help you end up working in the industry of your dreams. I can guarantee that doing a degree in publishing definitely helps!"