Editor's note: Recently Powell's Books and Simon Fraser University held a contest to offer the opportunity of a lifetime: to participate in the Book Publishing Immersion Workshop with complimentary tuition, lodging, and airfare to Vancouver, British Columbia.
For two exhilarating weeks Marisa, our lucky winner, worked side by side with Canada's most successful publishing professionals to develop and present a complete publishing list ? book concept, sales and marketing plan, cover and catalog ? for a panel of industry experts.
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I started writing this thinking I would take you through an average day of the workshop, but that's quite impossible. No two days were alike, in terms of speakers or subjects, trials or triumphs. Probably the only daily consistency was the 10:30 a.m. break for coffee and cookies. How we all looked forward to our morning stretch and munch!
It was at these moments of respite when it was possible to reflect. All other moments were devoted to absorbing and creating. Fifteen-hour days were not exceptional. Altogether there were 18 participants, and we were divided up into 3 fictional publishing houses. In just two short weeks, we conceived half a dozen book ideas and then shepherded them into reality. By the end of the workshop, each book had a fully developed description, marketing plan, profit and loss analysis, press release, sold subsidiary rights, jacket copy, catalog copy, and cover design. Sales pitches were written, memorized, and delivered. All that kept our books from being entirely real was the text, though in one instance we had actually written an excerpt!
Back to those moments of reflection. At our morning break, at hasty dinners and happy hours, on our boat cruise around Vancouver, two conclusions worked their way to the surface. I knew that the things I had learned at the SFU Publishing Immersion Workshop would have a tremendous impact on my overall career. While I might never have to make a P&L work, I have a real understanding of production costs and print runs. I also knew that the people I had met, the community we were building, would be invaluable to me in so many ways. Hastings Editions, and the incredible women who made up our fictional house, will always be a source of pride and genuine sentiment.
I'll close with a peek at my personal highlights. David Kent's stirring manifesto on publishing's place in civilization. Afternoons turned into late nights filled with challenges and discussion. Michael Tamblyn's visually dazzling survey of statistics and context. The satisfaction of a good night's work, and then the next night's frustration and burnout. A peek into the mind and strategies of marketing genius Randy Chan. Excitement as the finished covers arrived. The panic and eventual elation of sales conference. Enjoyable wine, jelly beans, great friends, beautiful vistas, and dancing. Yes, publishing professionals are awe-inspiring dancers.