Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Children’s Editors part one – Carrie Gleason

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There has been a bit of a shakeup in the Canadian publishing world. Recently two editors have shifted places. Here, in part one, we will learn about one shining personality in the editorial field, Carrie Gleason.

Carrie Gleason was an editor at Lorimer until recently. Specifically, she was my editor for all my current Lorimer SideStreets books – Schizo, Hook Up, and Touch. She has made me rewrite more final chapters than you would care to believe – all while keeping me calm and focused. In other words, she’s brilliant. Recently she’s moved from Lorimer to Dundurn and I decided to take this opportunity to ask her about her life, her goals, and what she sees as the future of Canadian children’s publishing.

I give you - Carrie Gleason

KF: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Was editor among the list?

CG: In order, my career choices went something like this: princess, teacher, pop star, lawyer. I would have been an absolute failure at all of them, so I’m grateful every day that I ended up where I am.

KF: What led you into the job of being an editor?

CG: Chance. I had graduated university with an English and History degree and had been working at a bookstore. Although I loved working with books, I knew that retail was not a good fit for me. One day I was in the library browsing and found myself in the college course guide section. There I came across the Book and Magazine Publishing program offered by Centennial College. The rest is history.

KF: How long were you an editor for Lorimer Publishing and what were you in charge of?

CG: I was with James Lorimer & Company for almost five years, first as the Children’s and YA Editor and then as Associate Publisher of the Children’s and YA list. As usually happens in small companies, employees wear more than one hat. So although I started out mainly doing acquisitions, the company quickly turned its focus to a variety of marketing initiatives, from developing an email marketing campaign to teachers and librarians and increasing brand awareness at conferences and events. My role there changed as a result of these added responsibilities and so did my title. It was an exciting time to be at Lorimer and I was fortunate to have been mentored by many experienced industry professions.

KF: What was one of your memorable moments while working for Lorimer?

CG: There are plenty. One of the most rewarding parts of my job at Lorimer was publishing talented first-time authors whose works I really believed in. Seeing their books in print and being able to send them reviews and positive feedback from buyers and readers brought me great joy. Having authors and their books nominated and win awards is also a great rush — but then, all of my authors were winners in my books!

KF: You have recently moved on to Dundurn. How do you think this move will help you grow as an editor?

CG: Dundurn is a larger company, both in terms of staff and volume of books published each year. In my new job as Managing Editor I am still involved in children’s and YA acquisitions, but I also have the opportunity to do more hands-on editing, which I have missed greatly. In addition, I’m helping to oversee the editorial workflow for the entire list, which is giving me exposure to a whole new world of books for adults and the lovely people and events that come with that.

KF: What are your goals as an editor for Dundurn?

CG: Dundurn has an impressive children’s and YA list. I hope to contribute to that by helping shape and grow this publishing program in the future. I thought for a brief time that I might like to edit adult titles as well, but after seeing the word count of some of those manuscripts, I had change of heart. So many words in adult books; I think I’ve been spoiled by only reading YA and children’s books for the past 15 years!

KF: Where do you see the world of children and teen publishing heading in Canada?

CG: Canada has some fabulous children’s and YA authors, and we are respected for our top-quality publications in this genre world-wide. At home, I hope to one day see even more changes to the curriculum and reading lists in schools across the country to incorporate more awareness and discussion of Canadian authors and their works. It’s happening now, but slowly. Kudos to the authors who do a great job of promoting themselves by doing school visits, often with the help of the Author Booking Service, a valuable resource run by two Canadian authors. As publishers we, too, need to continue to reach out to teachers in Canada and show them what we’re publishing and how and why they should be using Canadian authored books in their classrooms. Outside of school, kids, teens, and their parents are inundated with books from the U.S., often backed by large publishing houses with more resources than Canadian publishers have. Canadian publishers and educators need to be onside to secure the future of Canadian books written for Canadian kids.

KF: Many teens I know still value the printed book over the electronic copy, do you see this from inside the industry or do I just know some strange teens?

CG: I do see this, too. I think there was this expectation that teens, because they are generally so technologically savvy, would be the first and largest readership to embrace ebooks. Although teens are reading digital books more and more, I am not convinced that they will ever forgo print books entirely. Teens spend a lot of time online already and when they want a break from the digital world, print books give them one.

KF: Do you have any advice for young writers who are trying to break into the industry?

CG: Small presses are your friends.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Kim Firmston

Kim Firmston is a writer and creative writing instructor in Calgary. Her teen novels Schizo and Hook Up were Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Bet Selections. Her short story "Life Before War" was shortlisted for the 2008 CBC Literary Awards. Her most recent novel for teens is Touch, about a teenage hacker with a troubled family life.

Go to Kim Firmston’s Author Page