It may seem like a scary time to contemplate a career in publishing, but that hasn’t stopped freelance editor Erinne Sevigny, who is enrolled in Humber College’s creative book publishing program this summer. On her way to Toronto, the Edmonton native has embarked on a cross-country tour of nearly two-dozen publishing houses, an experience she is documenting on her blog.
A few weeks into the tour, Q&Q spoke to Sevigny in Toronto.
How has the tour been so far? Fantastic. I didn’t know exactly what I was hoping to get out of it, but people have been so open to meeting with me to share their stories.
What motivated you to do the tour? I knew I was coming out to do the publishing program in Toronto, so I thought, Okay, if I’m going to drive myself there I might as well make use of the time and check some things out.
How did you decide on which publishers to visit? I tried to keep it as varied as possible. I wanted to get a broad perspective – from Arsenal Pulp Press, which does a lot of LGBTQ books, to Brindle & Glass, which is a classic literary press, to Imagine Books in Edmonton, which started in self-publishing, all the way up to Random House, which is a giant multinational.
Before you went on the tour, you wrote on your blog that people told you that publishing is dying. How do you respond to that now? I never believed that publishing was dying, myself. Part of the reason for the tour was to prove that. Actually, after meeting the publishers I have so far, I don’t think any of them really believed that or felt that. Obviously, there has been a cloud over the industry, with D&M Publishers filing for creditor protection, the Random House/Penguin merger, and all of these stories with a sense of doom about the industry. But I think that was from the outside looking in “ I don’t think that people in the industry have ever really felt that. There are challenges, of course, but there have always been challenges in publishing. Publishing has never been an easy ride, and so it’s nothing new.
Once the tour is over, what do you hope to do with what you’ve learned? The tour will officially wrap up at the end of April in Nova Scotia. But throughout the next four months, while I’m in Toronto doing the Humber program, I intend to visit more publishers in the GTA. I guess my personal journey ends with the Humber program. I’m kind of on a journey of exploration to see where I’ll fit in.
Are you leaning toward anything in particular? The editorial side has my attention, because I am working right now as a freelance editor. Again, I’m open to what I learn. I know that I probably have the capabilities in terms of the business side to go in that direction should I choose to. That decision will be made in a few months.
˜This interview has been edited and condensed.