Journey Into The Realm Of Bookselling
I’ve been a reader since I can remember. Even before I was an avid reader, my mother would read to me every night. The Harry Potter series being one of our favorites. As a teen, I was obsessed with classics. The Bronte sisters and Jane Austen were my go-to novels. And, as an adult, I dove deep into the worlds of fantasy and historical fiction.
It’s no surprise to me that I got hired at my favorite, local bookstore, Bay Used Books. I’ve been shopping there since I was 12 or 13. Working as a bookseller only confirmed my love of literature. With a constant flow of recommendations from other readers, and one-on-one book discussions with readers who loved the same titles and genres as me, the values of reading became much more apparent to me. Being a reader and a bookseller went hand-in hand.
Here’s what changed. In 2016 I started in the Public Relations program at Cambrian College. I was adamant about getting some education and experience to better myself and lifestyle. Unfortunately, during this time, the only reading I could get in was textbooks with similar titles like “Intergrated Marketing Communications” and “Introduction to Marketing”. I much preferred Isabelle Allende, Barbara Kingsolver, Susan Cokal, and of course, J.K Rowling, but I had to give them up to focus on my studies.
At the end of my three-year college program, I was tasked with finding a suitable position in the Public Relations field for a seven week placement. I had some ideas, but was thankful when I found a lead at Latitude 46 Publishing. After a quick interview with the publisher, Heather Campbell, my placement was confirmed, and I was delighted to stay in the book industry, which I didn’t think was a possibility for me.
Being a reader and a bookseller aided me in the basics of being a publicist for local, Northern Ontarian authors. However, being a reader and a bookseller made me blind to all the hard work that happens behind the scenes in the publishing process. As a reader/seller, you only see the completed work, as though the book is written by the author and handed directly to the reader. As a publicist, you start at ground zero. I work with the author and a designer to get a finalized product. This includes the layout, cover design, re-reading and editing, finding a printer to get copies, and the never ending deadlines. Then comes the hard part. Marketing the book so that booksellers are aware of it and buy it for their stores to sell to readers. This includes book launches, social media marketing, and making hundreds of connections to festivals, podcasts, blogs, etc, that coincide with the book’s theme and author.
I learned quickly that selling books is not an easy task. However, after my seven week placement with Latitude 46, I understand the need for their work. Latitude 46 is dedicated to publishing Canadian Literature, something that large book sellers tend to write off. Large booksellers want best-sellers and guarantee buys. But this doesn’t stop the small publishing press. They continue to publish titles that enrich Northern Ontario’s literary community and work hard to get great Canadian content out there.
Being a publicist for local authors, and supporting their books has been an amazing opportunity for me. Ultimately, my goal as a publicist is to sell more books, but in a much different way from when I work at the bookstore. At the bookstore, people walk in with the intention of finding a book, whereas a publicist
must find a reader. Two different stories, all for the love of a great read.