Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Publishing is like high school, especially in Canada

Apart from freelancing for seven years, I've worked for two publishing houses, both, funnily enough, romance publishers.

I never set out to work in romance, was never a romance reader. I wanted to edit dictionaries, people. Dictionaries.

I seem to keep falling into romance, and that experience keeps getting me jobs in romance. What I wouldn't give to get in to Penguin or Random House. But they frown upon my romance book experience and can't get it around their biased minds that editing is editing, books are books, and that an intelligent, savvy reader with a long resume and extensive education can edit any kind of book.

But that logic falls on deaf ears. It's a clique, especially in Canada. American publishing houses are far more open than Canadian publishing houses, and that's unfortunate because I'm in Toronto, the "capital" of Canadian publishing. I put that in scare quotes because, really, this publishing capital is small beans compared to NY.

Publishing in Canada is like high school. It's not just me that thinks this, either. I've heard other Canadian editors say this, and even had a career coach tell me people in publishing describe Canadian publishing like this as well. Well, that's just great. I didn't have many friends in high school, and was the weird girl who read in the halls and didn't want to date loser boys. Now I'm back in the hall in my adult life and I keep shaking my head wondering why. Silly me to think we would all leave high school behind...no, adulthood is just one big loop of grade ten. Over and over and over again.

Try getting an in-house or freelance job in Canada as an editor and you'd have more luck winning the lottery, marrying a royal, or dating any of the Hemsworth boys. Really. It's that cliquey, narrow-minded, and self-interested.

I applied for an editor position at a very famous publishing house and the very well-known Editrice of the house who ran the whole editing show emailed to tell me that while my resume was terrific, and everything was in order, that my lack of experience editing books that their house published was a negative and that she didn't want to watse my time or hers in trying to see if it could work out because she knew immediately it wouldn't. I was blown away.

All I wanted, and want, was, and is, a foot in the door to Canadian publishing and I was and am facing the ultimate snobbery I'd faced throughout my career: my romance editing experience is frowned upon and I might as well have been editing pre-school books all these years for all my experience was and is worth.

Let it be known that words are words and I can edit your romance novel, your CanLit title, a work of non-fiction, memoir or play. There's no need to play these playground games of you're better than me. And yet here I wait in the hall of "pick me, pick me" waiting for the cool kids to let me in...