Ah, Canadian publishing. That fickle mistress. Call me sentimental (or, actually, call me pretty biased), but I love everything to do with CanLit. Getting a job in, and being part of, the publishing industry is an amazing feeling, and I’m happy to do my part to develop and foster Coteau’s Canadian talent. To give you a bit of background, I’m currently the Marketing Manager at Coteau Books, which means I spend most of my time thinking of ways to get our books into the wide world and read by readers like you. That means keeping our social media accounts and website up-to-date, planning launches and readings for our authors across Canada, and generally helping build our titles from the ground up (which includes everything from helping to develop our catalogue, to writing copy, creating ads and support material for our titles, and submitting our books for awards and to reviewers). Coteau Books is a small press, so we all work hard behind the scenes to bring new and exciting authors and books to the Canadian market.
And people love reading CanLit! Look at all of the fabulous authors we have to boast about. The “golden age” of Canadian literature might be considered behind us, but when you’re in the thick of it all as I am, and are consistently following all the new books being published by our outstanding Canadian presses, you can’t help but be encouraged and inspired by the number of stories there are out there, and how many more are yet to be told (hey, I told you to call me sentimental).
I didn’t always feel this way about CanLit. Like a lot of other people (even voracious young readers, as I once was), I used to find reading about my own country, or even my own province, incredibly unappealing. You read books to escape your world, after all, not be drawn right back into the very place you’re so familiar with. Of course, this problem has been discussed at great length by a number of authors, including Margaret Atwood in Survival. The difference now is the shift in the Canadian identity, which includes an incredible number of diverse voices, all with stories to share. Instead of reading books about Canada, we now have the chance to read stories about virtually anything, anywhere in the world, by an author who happens to be Canadian.
Canada has always been a diverse country, and I think one of the biggest trends in Canadian publishing at the moment is the vast number of titles on this theme that are available to the public. Our publishers ensure there is something for everyone to pick up and enjoy, in any number of genres, from fiction to nonfiction, graphic novels to picture books. Couple that with the growing “buy local” phenomenon, which has people paying more attention to their consumer habits (including discovering local authors and books they weren’t previously looking for), and you have a thriving book industry that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down - and is instead transforming to suit the times.
It’s these people and websites like the newly-minted Hamilton Review of Books that allow us in publishing to keep doing what we’re doing, and get our books into the hands of readers. Coteau Books loves to discover new, diverse authors, and we are always striving to publish the best possible regional and Canadian content.
MacKenzie Hamon is a lover of food, books, and family (not necessarily in that order). She obtained her BA (Hons) in English at the University of Regina and her Master’s of Publishing from Simon Fraser University. Currently she’s the Marketing Manager of Coteau Books, and is based out of Regina, Saskatchewan.