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Simply Read’s Kallie George on the art of being one’s own publicist

Authors working in publishing is nothing new. Melanie Little (House of Anansi), Andrew Steinmetz (Véhicule), Don LePan (Broadview), Michael Holmes (ECW), Halli Villegas (Tightrope), Corey Redekop (Goose Lane), and the Coach House trifecta of Alana Wilcox, Evan Munday, and Leigh Nash, all demonstrate that the barriers between “office” and “talent” are very permeable.

(Q&Q‘s own Zoe Whittall wrote about this odd, occasionally awkward situation back in 2007.)

Kallie George is in a slightly more awkward situation. George is the publicist an editor/publicist for Simply Read Books in Vancouver. She is also a picture book author, whose newest title, The Melancholic Mermaid, is published by … Simply Read. And so she is the unusual position of being her own publicist. (Granted, a lot of authors act as their own publicists, but rarely in an official capacity.)

George, who started working for Simply Read three years ago, has been straddling the publishing/writing divide for a long time now. As a kid, her parents helped her create specially printed versions of her stories that she would give out as Christmas presents. “I loved to create stories,” George says, “but loved the publishing process, too.”

For her first book with Simply Read, Mr. M the Exploring Dreamer (published earlier this year), George was approached by publisher Dimiter Savoff to provide the text. The Melancholic Mermaid, on the other hand, was a book she pitched to them.

It seems like a difficult situation to navigate, but George claims it has never been a problem. Certainly, she says, she has never been tempted to push her own book before someone else’s – or, conversely, to hold her own back to avoid the appearance of conflict. “I love all the books I work on at Simply Read,” she says.

At the same time, while it is part of her job to get the book into the hands of review editors, she admits to be being both excited and nervous about the prospect of getting reviewed – especially in Q&Q: “I know you guys can be tough,” she says. (But fair, right?)

There is one definite upside to this situation: unlike most authors, George will likely never be overheard complaining about her publicist.