Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Publishing, with Britanie Wilson & Jeremy Lucyk (Part 1 of 2)

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Britanie Wilson

Britanie Wilson and Jeremy Lucyk attended Centennial College’s Book and Magazine Publishing program, where they realized there was a dearth of information in digital form for new publishing grads and professionals.

Britanie, now an Assistant Editor for a Toronto-based trade publisher and Jeremy, a freelance editor with an educational publisher, decided to address this issue. Their solution is a miniseries of ebooks called Entering the Publishing Industry and its complementary website, Working in Publishing. The site is maintained by the authors, along with publicist Jude Kahn and publisher Mark Stanski. The first two books in the series, A Very Brief History of Book Publishing Industry and The Editorial Department are now available.

This week and next, we will talk to Britanie and Jeremy about the new series, their perceptions of and experiences in the publishing industry and what they have to tell aspiring and evolving publishing professionals.

Today we start with Britanie, who gives us a sneak peak of the tips and information that can be found in the Entering the Publishing Industry series.

Open Book:

Tell us about your books and why you decided to write them.

Britanie Wilson:

Our books are a friendly introduction to an otherwise fairly secretive and concealed industry. It is that way for many good reasons, but we found that when we first became curious about publishing, it was very hard to get a good idea of what the job culture was like, apart from the obvious ideals that those who love books make it out to be, and that’s tough when you’re really trying to picture yourself in a job that you may keep for a good portion of your life. This series is meant to address the void of publishing industry information for everyone from high school aged students to undergraduate university students to early entrants in publishing houses, and hopefully help them visualize whether this is somewhere they’d fit and enjoy, and if so, where they may best bring their skills to the table.

OB:

What are some of the greatest challenges facing young professionals entering the publishing industry? And what are some of the pleasures?

BW:

The most obvious challenge I can think of is the challenge facing most industries and young people entering them right now — a lack of jobs. While this is a very real reality right now, and we don’t tiptoe around it, it doesn’t mean that there are no jobs, and it also doesn’t mean that if you do the right things, have the right attitude, and bring something new and refreshing to the table, that your chances of getting a job won’t be greatly increased. The biggest pleasure of the industry right now is that we’re entering the industry at a critical time, and it’s both scary and exciting. There’s so much potential with digital platforms and technology being mixed into this old print culture, and we believe there’s really room for both to survive, and strive, believe it or not. We’re literally witnessing history happen in this industry as it decides how to deal with these issues, and that’s really something that’s just invaluable in terms of experience.

OB:

Why are ebooks the right format to deliver this information?

BW:

The benefit of ebooks is that they’re perfect for smaller modules of information, like our book series, because they eliminate the heavy printing costs (the highest costs in publishing), they allow for a lower price point, which is perfect for our target audience — students who are already running with a very tight budget, and they allow us to explore new avenues of publishing from a writer’s stance. We can update these books very easily at any time — something that will be required, as the industry is vastly changing at an ever-increasing pace, and we can do so without reprinting a whole new edition.

OB:

Is publishing a unique industry, in your opinion? How would you describe the Canadian industry?

BW:

I think it is, very much so, for a variety of reasons. For one, it’s an extremely unpredictable business. Those well-versed in business would take one look at the publishing business models and run in the other direction. It’s not very profitable at all, and therefore runs on very tight budgets and really relies on a few good sellers to get it through to the next year either breaking even or making a profit. It also involves a great amount of emotion — not always the best mix with business, but it makes for a vibrant and sometimes unpredictable work life. Authors are extremely attached to their material, and have every right to be, as they sometimes put years of their life into these books. And editors and publishing professionals have their own ideal book culture in mind. These sometimes clash, but when they do come together, as they almost always do, the product is quite amazing.

OB:

Is there a concern that there are too many students graduating from publishing programmes, compared to jobs available in the industry? Or is it a case of the more, the merrier?

BW:

I think it’s frustrating coming into the industry out of a publishing program and not being able to find anything, as it would be in any industry. For us, we believe the more young people that get into the industry, the better, as those are the people with the right mix of ingenuity, love of books, and technological understanding to push this industry in the direction it needs to go for a bright future.

OB:

What excites you most about publishing?

BW:

I always said if school didn’t cost so much I’d probably stay in it as a career. I love learning, and being an editor means every book brings a new subject, a new challenge, and a new way of looking at the world.

OB:

With the gift-giving season wrapping up, what are some Canadian books you were giving (or hoping to receive)?

BW:

I’d love to get my hands on a copy of Alice Munro’s most recent title Dear Life.

OB:

What are you working on now?

BW:

I am currently editing two non-fiction Canadian historical titles.


Britanie Wilson has an Honours Specialization in English Language and Literature from the University of Western Ontario and a certificate from Centennial College’s Book and Magazine Publishing program. She has worked as an editorial assistant, a promotional writer and a freelance editor and indexer. Britanie currently works as an editor for a Canadian trade publisher in Toronto.

For more information about A Very Brief History of the Book Publishing Industry please visit the Centennial College website.

Buy this book online at Amazon.

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