Samantha Beiko graduated from Humber's Creative Book Publishing Program (CBPP) in 2010 and has just landed the position of Co-Publisher, ChiZine Publications. She told us a bit about her path to get there and how Humber helped it happen.
What is your current job title and what does that mean on a daily basis?
My title is Co-Publisher, ChiZine Publications. This actually equates to anything and everything under the sun. Typically, it’s operations duties: keeping up to date with contracts, submitting and curating info for US and Canadian distributors, attending sales conferences in the US to present titles, handling POs, determining print runs, requisitioning quotes, editing and acquiring manuscripts, book typesetting, packaging, website updates... the list goes on!
We’re a small press, so we have only three core employees, with a few remote contractors for editing, proofreading, submissions, and typesetting. A lot falls on me because I can get things done quite quickly and I have access to every level of production. I’ve got a time-sensitive to-do list that I tackle each day, plus answering emails, putting out fires, and generally being a go-to for any internal questions!
What was your career path to get where you are now?
I went to Humber in 2010. After graduating, I was an intern with ChiZine, plus I worked some other part time jobs, like handing out the Metro News at 6 AM in front of HarperCollins… I’ve certainly come a long way from that!
From there, I worked a couple of odd jobs before landing at Type Books as a bookseller.
In 2012, I moved back to Winnipeg to work as a Marketing Coordinator at Signature Editions, a small press run out of a home in Wolesley, and moved on to another marketing position at a downtown non-profit.
Up to 2015, I was taking on a lot of side work in addition to working full time in an office. I did freelance book editing and typesetting, and helped quite a few independent writers through the publishing process. By July 2015 I was able to go 100% full-time independent contractor, and I’ve been working at home ever since. It took 5 years of saying yes to everything people asked me to do, and being constantly busy (at one time I was working three jobs) in order to pay the bills. I am still extremely flush with work, as I take on clients in addition to my work with ChiZine. Needless to say, it’s never boring!
How did your time at Humber prepare you for what you’re doing now?
A big part of Humber that prepared me for the real world of publishing was how fast-paced everything is. I also really appreciated all of the events, workshops, panels and presentations we went to as a part of the program. Learning about Print on Demand and eBooks back then and watching them progress to huge, viable industries now instilled the idea that this is an industry always in flux, and you have to go with the flow to survive.
Book Summit was probably my favourite aspect of the program. It was also where I met Brett and Sandra, as they presented in 2010, so I wouldn’t be where I am without that event!
What do you like most and least about your job and about working in publishing?
Because I’m full-time freelance, and I work from home in Winnipeg, I am constantly juggling many deadlines. The worst part is always feeling like you’re on call, so I really need to learn to set limits.
The absolute best part, which takes up the majority of my day, is working on projects from inception to print, and working at every stage. Seeing ideas come alive is so fulfilling, and I love going to events and presenting on panels, giving lectures, or facilitating workshops to share my knowledge and experience. People really appreciate having the book world explained to them, especially those who want to someday publish their own work.
I also work exclusively in isolation, in an office of one (plus a dog) so it can get lonely! I often go downtown to co-work with other book publishing friends who have offices down there, just for a change of scenery.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?
Say yes, even if you don’t feel you’re qualified or remotely experienced enough. Present that you can do it, work your absolute hardest to get it done, and allow your work to represent yourself. Publishing is a hard field to not only establish yourself in, but also not to succumb to feelings of desolation when the work doesn’t flow in. Just keep your nose to the grindstone, and before you know it, you’ll be the one people are asking career advice from.
Samantha Beiko. Photo by Teri Hofford Photography.