Professional Placement Profile with Claire Cavanagh

During the Summer, Claire Cavanagh, a current MPub student moved from Vancouver to Newfoundland to complete her thirteen-week professional placement with Breakwater Books, a publishing company with a focus on trade and celebrating the unique stories of Newfoundland and Labrador. Claire has now completed her professional placement as a Foreign Rights Consultant and has transitioned to a full-time position as a sales coordinator.

For many students, one of the most challenging tasks in the MPub program is securing a professional placement.

One piece of advice that Claire gives is to research the company you are interested in and network with employees from there, even if there are no job postings online.

For Claire, that is exactly what she did. While doing her research, Claire found that Breakwater Books had an outstanding Foreign Rights Program. With guidance from the SFU Publishing Program, Claire was able to talk to Rebecca Rose, CEO of Breakwater Books. Although Claire had no prior experience with foreign rights, Rebecca was impressed with her interest and their conversation. Eventually, Claire was offered a professional placement as a Foreign Rights Consultant.

Initially, Rebecca never thought of reaching out to SFU Publishing for professional placements because it was very far from Newfoundland. One of the challenges at Breakwater Books was the difficulty of finding qualified trained publishing professionals in Newfoundland. Many departments required one person to do two roles. The Program’s industry liaison, Suzanne Norman, a native of Newfoundland, has long wanted to work with Breakwater Books and was overjoyed to finally work with the company.

Moving forward, Rebecca says that she would recommend and look into the professional placement program at SFU when hiring.

 

One of the things that Claire enjoys about Newfoundland is the beautiful scenery and culture of the city, which is similar to her home country of Ireland.

“There are so many artists, plays, authors, book readings, literary festivals and galleries that make the place so unique and special,” she says. In addition to this, Rebecca is also proud of their community and literary festivals that allow them to showcase their local authors.

One of the exciting initiatives they are working on is the preparation of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest trade fair for books, which is happening in October 2021 in Frankfurt, Germany. Canada was the Guest of Honour at the fair in 2020, but due to Covid, the Honour continues into 2021.

Frankfurt is the premier industry event during which authors, agents, and publishers run through frantic days of selling and buying rights internationally. For Breakwater attracting interest in their titles can make a huge difference in yearly sales.

To prepare for the Frankfurt Book Fair, Claire’s tasks have ranged from contacting different agents, setting up pitch meetings, working on subsidiary rights (which can include translations, language, geographical among others), and preparing for non-stop meetings and networking. Although everything felt very new in the beginning, she honed many different skills such as pitching and navigating the international diversity of the publishing industry.  In this role, Claire worked independently and developed deep and lasting connections within the industry.

Through her professional placement, Claire has realized that she loves working on deals and foreign rights, and this is now her career aspiration. As Claire digs into her first full year at Breakwater Books, she offers this advice to publishing students or even those who are just entering the industry:

“Consider jobs in smaller cities. There are great publishers all over Canada and taking the chance to do something different can be a fantastic opportunity for a person to grow professionally and personally.”

 

If you have an interest in hosting a Master of Publishing student for their professional placement, please contact Suzanne Norman at snorman@sfu.ca

About Breakwater Books:

Established in 1973, Breakwater Books was founded on the principle of preserving the unique culture and stories of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritime provinces.

Since that time, Breakwater has developed into a high-quality trade publisher, releasing twelve to sixteen titles a year – including children’s picture books, young adult fiction, educational curricula, literary and commercial fiction, non-fiction, and poetry – while continuing to support its culturally significant backlist titles.

Breakwater takes pride in fostering the careers of emerging and established writers alike. Many authors and titles maintain strong links to Newfoundland and Labrador and the North Atlantic, while other Breakwater authors hail from all parts of Canada. A burgeoning translation and foreign rights program makes Breakwater’s list of both national and international interest.

For more information contact Breakwater at: info@breakwaterbooks.com

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