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Awards: Publishing Q&A with HarperCollins Canada - Part 4

It’s time again for the next installment of my publishing series - Awards!

Now, this part of the publishing process was one that I hadn’t even thought of but I’m not sure how this role slipped my mind. Of COURSE there would need to be a submission process for awards and there would definitely need to be a team behind that. Awards are given out every year in the literary community and they are held to a very high standard because some of the most important books throughout history are included in those line-ups. I was lucky enough to ask Mary Delong some questions about her role as an Awards & Publishing Assistant. Kaylee: How did you decide this career/what drew you to this career? Mary: It was both a process of elimination and a pursuit of passion. I was surrounded by books while growing up, so I’ve always been drawn to the writing world. Over the years, I worked in digital marketing and magazines, but I found it wasn’t the right fit for me. I didn’t want to be an author, but I loved the idea of supporting their work. So, here I am! K: What has your journey been like to get to where you are? M: It’s been roundabout! I didn’t come out of high school with a goal to make it in the publishing world. I moved cities, went back to school for a publishing certificate, and did a few internships before arriving in my current role. K: What is included as part of your day-to-day work? M: About 50-75 percent of my job revolves around awards submissions. When I’m not working on awards, I take on all kinds of publishing operations, including planning for in-house author events, working on design projects, and reading manuscripts. K: What is the level of collaboration between the author and editor? M: It really depends on the project. Nonfiction has a different process than fiction because the book doesn’t usually become a manuscript until after it has been acquired. At the end of the day, the author has creative control over their work, but the editor is there for guidance. K: What is something that is a part of your job that was unexpected? M: I never considered how much work goes on behind the scenes to submit authors for awards. Canada has many literary awards, and new ones start up every year. All of them have different criteria and submission requirements, so it’s crucial to maintain an attention to detail and be driven by deadlines. K: What is the process of acquiring a manuscript and deciding to take it on? M: The process usually begins with a literary agent sending a proposal or manuscript to an editor. The editor reads it, discusses with the editorial group, and decides if it’s something we want to publish. Once the editor is seriously considering the project, he or she will discuss with sales and marketing and set up a meeting with the author and agent. The editor will also run a P&L (Profit and Loss) statement to determine the project’s financial viability. If all teams give the green light and the P&L looks good, the editor may make an offer. I really enjoyed receiving Mary’s responses because it gave a good insight into how acquisitions work, how books get submitted for awards and just the general plethora of work that she gets to do as part of her role. The more that this blog series progresses, the more I love publishing and would have one heck of a time choosing a career avenue! Mary had a similar process to others in the fact that she was able to complete a few internships before landing her current position and I cannot repeat enough how great of an experience it is to make use of those avenues. If you aren’t 100% sure where you want to go, there are many internships available to get hands-on with different departments. If you are interested in checking out some award winners and nominees, be sure to check out Indigo’s website where they have a great section devoted to these books. Stay tuned for next weeks post which is the 5th and final installment where we will be talking about the Sales side of publishing. See you then!

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