Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Behind the Books, with Senior Designer Courtney Horner

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Courtney Horner

When we think of the people behind the books we love, we generally think of writers. But many people work in a variety of professions to get those books onto your shelves. In our new series, Behind The Books, Open Book speaks with the printers, publicists, book sellers, book bloggers, event programmers and many others who work in the publishing industry.

Today we speak with Courtney Horner, a Senior Designer with Dundurn Press. After graduating with an Honours degree in Film and English from Wilfrid Laurier University, Courtney attended Centennial College's Book and Magazine Publishing Program. She is currently working towards a certificate in Digital Media Skills from the Ontario College of Art and Design. In her Behind The Books interview, Courtney tells us about a memorable work experience, her childhood dream and her days filled with history, magic and Celtic warriors.

Open Book:

How long have you been at your current job?

Courtney Horner:

I started at Dundurn in May 2008, so just over five years!


What does an average work day look like for you?


Most days I am juggling books that have already been typeset and are in various stages of proofing, books that are currently being typeset and cover designs for books that will be released two to three seasons from now. I might also be scheduling designs, getting quotes, doing image quality checks or reviewing ebook and cover designs. Whew!

At Dundurn we publish 120+ books a year and have three in-house designers dedicated to print design, so we always have lots to do.


What's the best thing about your job?


The best thing about my job is being able to be creative every day. Working on such a large list can be difficult, but one of the benefits is the variety it provides — one day I might be working on a book about the War of 1812, and the next I’ll be creating cover art for a teen series about magic and reincarnated Celtic warriors! There is always something new at Dundurn.


Tell us about a memorable work experience.


For me, the most memorable moments are when an author is happy with and appreciative of the work we’ve done. Recently John Henry, the author of Great White Fleet, took a few of us out for lunch to celebrate a job well done, and it was so nice to be able to relax and step out of our work roles. It was definitely a gesture that meant something to each of us. People might not know that a publisher works on an average book for over a year before it hits shelves, so we can grow quite attached to a project! It is fulfilling to know that you’ve done a good job.


When you were a kid, what was your dream job?


When I was younger I wanted to be a veterinarian. But for as long as I can remember, my mom has told me that I should write for a living. Who knows — maybe one day I’ll be on the other side of this publishing process!

Visit the Open Book Archives for more Behind The Books interviews.


I design is of the utmost importance. As a new Dundurn author, I am excited to see what you come up with for the cover of my first novel, Bird's Eye View. And I will take the hint about lunch!

Working as book formatter/cover designer is stressful especially when dealing with deadlines. And I agree, being creative and bringing the best in you to publish a great book is always fulfilling.

Thank you, thank you, thank you - to Courtney and the other people who turn our words into such great looking books. Shelf appeal is just as important as literary appeal, when it comes to book sales.

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