“Read everything you can get your hands on”
Carolyn McNeillie studied painting in university. And yet, she jokes, “I knew I wanted to work in publishing because I skipped all my painting classes to read novels.”
But, Carolyn adds, she put in her time working in museums and galleries before really figuring it out.
“I knew that books were being published, and someone was doing that work, but it didn’t really occur to me that I could be a part of that. Then I heard about the Creative Book Publishing program at Humber, and I knew that that was just what I wanted to do.”
In the biz
Ever since graduating, Carolyn has been working in the publishing world, starting with an internship with Cormorant Books.
Now, only four years later, Carolyn is the digital marketing manager for House of Anansi and Groundwood Books where she’s responsible for “maintaining the social media accounts, websites, and blogs; working with authors on building their social media presence; and conceiving of and running online campaigns.”
For publishing students looking to follow in Carolyn’s footsteps, her advice is simple:
“Go to book launches. Go to publishing parties. Read everything you can get your hands on.”
Dreaming about books
And, we’d like to add, go to Humber! Carolyn calls Humber’s publishing program “very immersive.”
“For four months, evenings and weekends were dedicated to homework and studying. Publishing was all I thought about that summer.”
For a book lover, that’s probably not such a bad thing! And, Carolyn says, it was worth it. She learned about every aspect of the industry and made invaluable professional contacts.
“The program gives you a very full view of the various parts of the machine and how they all work together, and everything is taught by professionals who are currently working in the industry.”
From teachers to colleagues
This, according to Carolyn, not only gives students a “close-up, inside view,” but also the opportunity to make professional connections.
“Actually, in every single job I’ve had in publishing, I have had colleagues who taught me at Humber.”
Freedom to create
Some people would consider painting a more creative field than publishing or digital marketing, but Carolyn says that the creativity is exactly what she loves most about her work at Anansi and Groundwood:
“I have a lot of freedom to be creative in the way I run our digital marketing projects. The books we publish are incredibly inspiring and I have support to take that inspiration and run with it, which makes the job a lot of fun.”
As in pretty much any job field, there’s “too much work and too little time,” but Carolyn doesn’t focus on this. Instead, she says, “it’s been a dream.”