#InsideDundurn with Jenny

#InsideDundurn with Jenny

Posted on November 30 by Kyle in Interview
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Anyone who has submitted a manuscript to a publisher likely has wondered where it's landed, and what will happen to it now. While we can't make promises for what happens after, we can answer one of those questions in two words.

Meet Jenny.

She's the Editorial Assistant; the go-to person for all Westside questions. (Editorial is on the west side of the office, but she's also our resident musical theatre aficionado, so...)


"What I do is help the editorial department," Jenny says simply, taking a breath and saying "... with a lot of different things from scheduling and corrections all the way to getting our books to design."

How many books do you think that translates into? Half of our books? More?

"I have read probably, at least... a little bit of 90% of our books published in a year. Before the books go to printer I have to do something called a fresh eyes check. That's when someone who's never seen the book looks at it, scans the pages to make sure everything makes sense. Often those are the people who can find errors, words that are missing, and weird design stuff. A lot of times I'll get an idea of what the book is about by then. Sometimes if it's really good, I'll read it a little bit too."

And....? We're waiting for the best part.

"And I track our submissions. I even have the entire slush pile on my desk."

The slush pile, for those not in with the cool lingo, is made up of all the unsolicited manuscripts that get mailed or e-mailed in to a publisher for consideration.

Wait, did we hear that right? People still send things via snail mail?

"Some manuscripts still get sent via mail. It's not dead," she affirms, "We get a lot in terms of range: lots of history, fiction, kid's books, middle-grade, and YA."

"Cliche as it may sound, you never know what may make a good book."

And Jenny would know, too. As a former English Lit major, she's a big fan of Canlit and literary fiction and been around the block during her time doing internships. Starting off at Fitzhenry & Whiteside, then OwlKids Books, and Oxford University Press before her internship at Dundurn.

Let's see, that covers two of the three common types of publishing. Just for fun, we asked Jenny for a quick lesson in the types of publishing.

"Let's see. The first is trade publishing. That's for the market that the average reader would think of regarding books. What they'd find when they go to their local bookstore, and that's where they would find books for the trade market. It's your fiction, your historical books, books for kids and teens."

But aren't educational books also those things?

"They can be yes, but educational publishing caters to educators. Those are books for anywhere from kindergarten to grade 12. As well as post-secondary textbooks. Sometimes a little bit of academic textbooks."

"And scholarly publishing is done by university presses. They publish professors. Mostly. That's also for the university market and for other academics. That's how professors publish and get tenure. It's part of their job."

Cue long awkward silence.

"Law publishing is for lawyers," Jenny states obviously, both of us bursting into laugher a few seconds later. "We don't talk about that side. Lawyers probably do but we don't."

Moving on, and as we like to end things, what does Jenny like to read?

"I read a lot of YA, fantasy, and literary fiction," she says, "I'm reading an older book right now called House of Leaves. I probably looked really foolish recently. I had to put it upside down for about 15 minutes while on the Go Train because the words were upside down; but I probably just looked like an incompetent reader. I don't normally do that!”

Don't worry Jenny, we don't judge. We're all booklovers here.