By Stephanie Small
Despite constant and dire warnings about the tenuous state of the publishing industry, hopeful would-be publishers are still applying in droves for the chance to work for Canadian publishing companies. It may be difficult to break into that “Promised Land” where books and dreams are made, but one way to get the hiring manages at Random House or Penguin or HarperCollins to consider your application is to enrol in one of the many book publishing program. I attended the Humber College Creative Book Publishing Program (CBPP), and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to get a foot in the proverbial door of the publishing industry.
The Humber CBPP is an intensive four-month program designed to give students the tools they need to build a successful publishing career. The important thing to remember is that the program is accelerated. You will complete at least two or three semesters’ worth of training in four months, so be prepared for a full plate. The technology courses are particularly helpful, and the training I received definitely helped to prepare me for a great internship and many freelance opportunities. On the other hand, I found that the editorial courses were a bit too rushed to provide sufficient training. Fortunately, most classes were well-paced and allowed me to understand all of the key ideas without falling behind.
Though the time-crunch can be difficult, it is excellent training for the working world. You will be in class for eight hours each day, and attending that many lectures and labs is physically and mentally exhausting. On the plus side, there are a number of exciting field trips planned through the term to break up the monotony, and all of the instructors are industry experts who do a great job of making the material understandable, intriguing, and even fun. They are very understanding of just how demanding the program is, and they try to accommodate students by allowing short breaks every so often.
While you won’t be buried under piles and piles of reading, rest assured you will have plenty to do. Keep in mind that it is a college program, and the requirements are less academic than you may be used to right out of university. Assignments are numerous and frequent, but they aren’t overly difficult. Their aim is to help students understand and retain key concepts and to impart a sense of confidence rather than to convince you to quit. The best example of this is the oft-lauded “Enterprise”—a large project in which you and a group of your peers will start your own fictional publishing company. You apply every last morsel of information that you gleaned over the course of the program in one giant and intensely rewarding project.
In terms of location, the CBPP runs out of Humber’s beautiful Lakeshore Campus. You will be steps away from the lake and the fantastic Colonel Samuel Smith Park. The classrooms are all located in cottages that are full of character (and reputedly ghosts dating back to the campus’ days as a psychiatric hospital), but they have all been modernized with new fixtures and up-to-date technology. Unfortunately, you will be stuck in the same room all day every day (except when you use computer labs). Also bear in mind that food service is not great because most other programs are finished for the summer. There aren’t many good restaurants within walking distance, either, so pack a lunch or be prepared to drive.
All in all, the Humber CBPP was a fantastic experience and I highly recommend it to any prospective students. While I can’t tell you first hand how it compares to the other publishing programs, I can tell you that, as with any post-secondary program, your experience is what you make of it, and as long as you make an effort to learn, you will be well rewarded.
Stephanie Small has a BA in English Literature and Language & Logic from the University of Windsor and a MA in English (Public Texts) from Trent University. After completing the Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College, Stephanie did a digital internship at HarperCollins Canada. Stephanie worked as an editorial intern at The Porcupine’s Quill and is now doing freelance Ebook development for a number of publishers in Toronto. Stephanie currently lives in Windsor, Ontario.