Talking Publishing with HarperCollins Canada’s Publicity Team

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to organize a book launch? Or what a typical media day with an author entails? Or how a tour goes from idea to reality? Well then you’re in luck, because today we’re chatting with publicists from HarperCollins Canada!

Rebecca, Publicist

SR: Describe your role at HarperCollins.

As a publicist I help set up interviews, events (now virtual events!), and make sure media can review the best books of the season!

SR: Why did you decide to work in publishing?

Ever since I was young I knew I wanted to help bring the stories I loved into this world.

SR: Describe yourself in three words.

Bossy, bubbly, and sleepy

SR: What is your favourite genre of literature?

Contemporary literary fiction

SR: If you could have dinner with any author (dead or alive) who would it be?

William Goldman, I hope he’d be as funny as he seems!

SR: Say you were doomed to read only one book for the rest of your life what would it be?

The Princess Bride – William Goldman

SR: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in this industry?

Stay organized and be flexible.

Alice, Publicity Assistant

SR: Describe your role at HarperCollins.

I am the Publicity Assistant for HarperCollins Canada. I am the publicist for a list of books but then I also do a lot of the admin for the department and manage the publicity intern program.

SR: Why did you decide to work in publishing?

For me it was as simple as a lifelong love of books and a real interest in language and the power of words to teach and influence.

SR: Describe yourself in three words.

This may be the most difficult question ever asked but here’s my attempt: Curious. Fun-loving. Heartfelt.

SR: What is your favourite genre of literature?

The books that have stayed with me the most are mainly literary fiction but… ALL OF THEM 😉

SR: If you could have dinner with any author (dead or alive) who would it be?

I think I would choose Jane Austen because I would like her to write me some elegant but shattering comebacks 😃

SR: Say you were doomed to read only one book for the rest of your life what would it be?

This question is so rude… But if I absolutely had to, I think it would be The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I loved it and no matter how many times I would read it, I would still learn something new each time.

SR: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in this industry?

I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is responsibility when it comes to whose voice is being shared and what their message is.

Cindy, Publicist

SR: Describe your role at HarperCollins Canada.

I’m a publicist, mostly working with creators and their books to help secure media coverage and events (so basically, I’m part book matchmaker, part hype-woman, and part armchair therapist).

SR: Why did you decide to work in publishing?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up so I actually kind of fell into publishing by accident.

SR: Describe yourself in three words.

“Over-caffeinated indoor kid.”

SR: What is your favourite genre of literature?

I tend to gravitate toward more character-driven (or even plotless!) contemporary fiction? (That’s not even a genre, so I guess I don’t know.)

SR: If you could have dinner with any author (dead or alive) who would it be?

As a general rule, I don’t think it’s a good idea to meet one’s heroes; however, it would be neat to share a meal with Hanya Yanagihara. I’m pretty sure it would be her saying smart and cool things while I chinhandsed and made hearteyes in her direction.

SR: Say you were doomed to read only one book for the rest of your life what would it be?

I think the answer probably changes by the day: today it’s probably Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion. Tomorrow: who knows? (I would like to state for the record that this is an incredibly cruel question.)

SR: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in this industry?

There is no such thing as a book emergency. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong and a liar.

Mike, Senior Publicist

SR: Describe your role at HarperCollins Canada.

I am a Senior Publicist with HarperCollins. My main responsibilities involve securing media coverage to help promote our books and also coordinating author events and tours (virtual or in-person). I am also the liaison for the Publicity department with the Canadian Publishing program

SR: Why did you decide to work in publishing?

Fortune and Glory! Also my love of reading and books.

SR: Describe yourself in three words.

Friendly. Imaginative. Reliable.

SR: What is your favourite genre of literature?

If I had to choose only one, then Memoir. I am a sucker for a great story – and I think the most interesting stories are those that people have actually experienced or endured, and are able to share with us readers. What is that saying? “Fact can often be stranger than fiction”

SR: If you could have dinner with any author (dead or alive) who would it be?

Anthony Bourdain. Not only would he have incredible restaurant recommendation in some far flung corner of the globe, but he would have incredible stories to share, and no shortage of laughs (or drinks!) Honourable mention goes to Barack Obama.

SR: Say you were doomed to read only one book for the rest of your life what would it be?

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Because 42.

SR: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in this industry?

That Book Publishing is a small industry. I have had the pleasure of working for several different publishers over the course of my career, and have met some wonderful colleagues over the years, and have made some great friendships. It is always great to bump into former colleagues at industry functions and events. Book people are some of the best people around.

Jaclyn, Senior Publicist

SR: Describe your role at HarperCollins Canada.

My role at HarperCollins is Senior Publicist, which means I very luckily get to work closely with a wide array of authors across all of our lists, including Esi Edugyan, Emily St. John Mandel, Jamie Oliver, Humble the Poet and many others.

SR: Why did you decide to work in publishing?

I decided to work in publishing because a love of books and literacy was engrained in me from a very young age, thanks largely in part to my mother taking me on trips to the library on a weekly basis. This inspired me to become a reading buddy in my youth, take my assignments in Writers Craft very seriously, specialize in English at University, volunteer at a literacy organization called Poetry In Voice, sign up for the Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College, and get my first job at Dundurn Press, all before landing my wonderful job at HCC!

SR: Describe yourself in three words.

Organized. Passionate. Thoughtful.

SR: What is your favourite genre of literature?

You know, I actually don’t have a super niche and impressive answer to this. I (very broadly) love fiction that explores human relationships. I do love a good thriller, though.

SR: If you could have dinner with any author (dead or alive) who would it be?

Claudia Dey and I have a very overdue dinner of burgers + beers that we’ve been planning, so that would have to be first on my list.

SR: Say you were doomed to read only one book for the rest of your life what would it be?

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is one of my all-time favourite books, so probably that.

SR: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in this industry?

I think a valuable lesson that comes up regularly is that there is always something new to be learned. Despite working in the business for 7 years, I find I am constantly learning new things, which a) keeps me on my toes and b) keeps things interesting. As anyone in publishing will tell you, no two days are alike.

Next month, we’ll be interviewing our editorial colleagues to get an in-depth rundown of the day-to-day life of an editor, and we’re hoping they’ll even throw a tip or two in for all you aspiring writers. If you have any questions you want to ask, feel free to reach out to us in the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader!

Happy reading,

Jesse

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