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MPub Alum Jazmin Welch on receiving credibility and experience with the MPub program

Jazmin Welch graduated in 2021 from SFU’s Master of Publishing program. She now owns and operates her own book design studio, fleck creative studio and design books for Arsenal Pulp Press. Jazmin spoke with us at SFU Publishing to share more about her experience with the program and the impact it has made on her career to this day.

 

Tell us about your background before applying to SFU’s Master of Publishing program.

I went to school for fashion communication at Ryerson University and I always knew I wanted to be in art or design. As someone who spent much of my youth drawing and painting, I applied for the fine arts program at the Ontario College of Art & Design University, but I decided that I would prefer to keep art as a hobby, and try to get into design instead.

At Ryerson I was learning about colour theory, typography, photography, web design, and all sorts of fun design skills.

When I graduated, I just started trying to pick up odd jobs as everyone does, and I thought I would get a quick job in graphic design but that was definitely not the case. There were just so many other graphic designers who were entering the job market. So I did other things like photography and anything I could get my hands on. I eventually got a job in a really tiny creative agency, and started working in project management and then switched around a little bit and worked as an account manager in corporate marketing working on our projects for some fortune 500 companies. I worked with a lot of freelancers to do our production work and that was slightly soul crushing because I was always wanting to be the creative person. Because of my typography experience in my undergrad, I was hoping I would end up doing editorial layout for magazines. So I saved up to eventually quit, and started my own business — I wasn’t 100% sure that it would be in the book world, but I knew I loved everything to do with paper and book design.

 

Why did you choose to apply for the master of publishing program?

While I was at my marketing job, I interviewed for a couple of design positions, but the feedback was always like, “We liked your portfolio, but we want to go with this other person who actually has book design experience.” No one would hire me on the basis of having design knowledge. And of course, I didn’t have much of a portfolio for book work yet. I knew I had to do something that would actually get my foot in the door. 

I was also going on LinkedIn to look at all the people who had jobs that I wanted, and looking at what their experience was. It pretty much came down to just the Ryerson University Certificate in Publishing or the SFU Master of Publishing. I wasn’t very interested in some of Ryerson’s classes so I moved from Ontario to BC for the Master of Publishing. It was always a dream of mine to end up in Vancouver, so it wasn’t a hard sell for me. 

The Master of Publishing program was good for me because I just felt like something solid needed to be put on my resume to actually get a job in book design. So that’s what landed me at SFU.

 

What was your most impactful experience in the SFU Publishing program?

Meeting a lot of people in the industry had the biggest impact. The idea of meeting CEOs of massive companies was so terrifying at first, but the professors and people in the industry that came to the school were all there for us, and were very easy to talk to. It made me realize that we’re all in this together.

The greatest thing was just meeting people and knowing that they are people that I could reach out to, and that I shouldn’t be afraid to make connections. Having the master’s degree on my resume became a huge bonus that also gave me the confidence to be able to reach out to people for work as well.

 

What was your biggest takeaway from the MPub?

Honestly, my biggest takeaway has been learning to think more critically about the industry, because I think publishing is such a traditional industry in the sense that so much of what we do is the way it’s always been done. I think the program did a good job of training us to think more broadly about societal and systemic issues happening in the industry. Of course, there are a lot of tangible skills — like learning how to do a profit and loss sheet — but I think the critical thinking piece is the most important element. It’s not something I’m necessarily acting on now in my business on a day-to-day level, but it is something that’s always running through my head — like, how can we change the way things are being done? How can we bring more inclusivity and diversity to the industry? 

The critical thinking component has impacted the way that I respond to the people around me and the type of work I take on. I wasn’t expecting the masters to actually touch on many of these things, but they did a good job of recognizing the destructive role that publishing has had on colonization in Canada. There are human issues and there are so many issues to address, no matter what part of the industry you’re in! I think that the critical thinking piece stayed with a lot of us when we left.

 

What skills did you gain from the MPub that you find yourself applying to your day to day work?

I think the biggest one for me was editorial. I came into the program with a fairly robust design understanding, so there were definitely a bunch of book design skills that I brushed up on and enhanced through the program that I do use on a day to day basis, but I really learned a lot about specific skills like editorial markup, which I now use. Publishing is a very traditional industry and things are done in quite a systematic, straightforward order, so learning all the steps in how things are done, and the phases of editorial has been really integral for my role as a designer and where I fit into the publishing process.

 

Do you have any professors that stood out and impacted your education?

I feel like John Maxwell was such a great resource for us to sit and talk through anything. His Text & Context class was the critical thinking piece that I mentioned, though all the professors incorporated it as well. I feel like it’s always the teachers with the hardest courses that I like the most because they’re really encouraging us to dive way deeper than we would on anything else. We had to write 1,000 word essays, which is so short, but so difficult to get right because we had tackle important issues with so little space while researching it well and creating a good summary. I think the beauty of the course was that we were trained for situations where we’d need to speak out about important issues — you can’t just get into a long rant about something, you have to make it accessible for a larger audience and be concise. So having someone like John who has an endless wealth of knowledge, but also encourages you to look for the answer to your own question was awesome. 

All the MPub professors were accessible and available and I knew they were always there for us. Anyone from the program could tell you how much they loved Jo-Anne who wasn’t a professor, but a manager for the program. She’s always there to help us with admin questions, but she’s also just a fantastic resource for pretty much everything. She’s the number one cheerleader for all the students. 

 

Tell me a little bit about your work with your fellow MPub grad Leanne Prain. What was it like to design her book?

Her book is coming out this spring, and it just arrived like the other day from the printer! It’s called The Creative Instigator’s Handbook and Leanne was so lovely to work with. We did the cover and layout together. and then the layout on the inside. 

It used to have an illustration only cover, but when the sales representative recommended that we add photos. So we revamped the cover and changed the book title. I’m very happy with where it landed! The whole book from front to back is so bright, fun and cheery with a lot of little icons within it’s pages as well. We’re trying to make all of our books more accessible, so Leanne wrote the alt text for all the images for us, which is a lot of work, but she was all hands on deck. I love this book. It’s such an exciting read for people that have any love of craft or art but want to use it for their own activism!

 

What kind of advice do you have for people thinking of pursuing the Master of Publishing degree?

My one piece of advice is that you’ll get out whatever you put in. And I think that’s always a tricky balance because everybody’s got their things going on outside of school. I worked the entire time that I was in the program, and of course many of us have bills to pay, but I think it’s important to put your all into projects, go to extra meetings, and use the extra library help. It’s also good to know that if you have a specific thing you’re passionate about, you can talk to your professors about adjusting certain projects to focus on what you specifically want to learn. 

For example, I had already done an undergrad in design, so in one design class I asked if I could research something else for one of the projects that I was interested in. My professor was happy to accommodate and I really enjoyed getting to learn something new!

Making connections is incredibly valuable as well so getting the most out of the program also involves meeting as many people as you can!

In a small program like this, you can really take advantage of so many learning opportunities. That would definitely be my biggest piece of advice — just know that you have control over what you get out of the program.

 


Apply for the Master of Publishing program by February 1, 2022!

Don’t miss out on this opportunity — Learn how to apply here!

SFU’s Master of Publishing (MPub) program is the only program in Canada to offer a postgraduate degree in publishing, and is the country’s premier training ground for publishing professionals.

Taught by publishing practitioners and research faculty, along with masterclasses from industry leaders, the program offers a blend of seminar and hands-on project courses that provide tomorrow’s industry leaders with the knowledge, skills and understanding needed for a successful career.

Students who graduate from the program will gain…

  • A solid grounding in the informing principles as well as the art and business of publishing
  • Connections with working professionals who will become their colleagues
  • Invaluable practical skills to carry into a career in any print or online publishing activity!

SFU’s MPub program helps graduates develop the practical and conceptual tools they need to launch their career in the fast-changing publishing industry and contribute to the creative sector in Canada and beyond.

The deadline to apply for the MPub program is February 1, 2022.

To be considered for admission to the Master of Publishing program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum second-class average (3.0 or greater GPA).

Applicants must also:

• Demonstrate a background understanding of the publishing industry;
• Be capable of using page layout software;
• Be familiar with the basic principles of marketing and accounting;
• Demonstrate basic competence in copy editing and proofreading;
• Demonstrate excellent skills in spoken and written English.

Apply now!

Contact
To request more information on the Master of Publishing program, please contact:

Jo-Anne Ray, Program Advisor

Phone: (778) 782-5242
Fax: (778) 782-5239
Email: pub-info@sfu.ca

Address: Program Advisor
Master of Publishing Program
Simon Fraser University Vancouver
515 West Hastings Street, Room 3576
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6B 5K3

Student Services
For general information on graduate regulations, fees, scholarships, awards, and bursaries, or to request a Simon Fraser University Calendar, please visit SFU Student Services.


Levelling Up: Casey McCarthy’s Publishing Journey

When SFU School of Communication alum Casey McCarthy received a promotional email about the master of publishing (MPub) program, she decided to pursue the program to upgrade her strengths and abilities.

“I just wanted to take my skills to the next level. I was looking for something more transferable. I didn’t want to focus on one set path, but focus on things that I really enjoy doing — which is writing, research, and conveying information,” McCarthy says.

She was intrigued by the MPub’s media project which involved putting together proposals, a business case, and coming up with an original media business. She was able to apply what she learned as a communication and publishing student to this project while further developing other skills.

“It was time to try something new, while using my existing skills in a different way,” McCarthy explains.

Self discovery

Not only did the Master of Publishing program teach her the process of writing, publishing, and selling a book, but McCarthy expresses that it also helped her learn more about herself on a deeper level.

Casey McCarthy working in her professional placement
Casey McCarthy working in her professional placement for her Master of Publishing.

“I’ve learned more about what my values are, the kind of career path I’d like to see myself have, the kind of organization I’d like to work with, and the kind of people I’d like to work with,” she shares. 

In addition, the program helped her work on her decision-making skills. Receiving criticism on her projects from different industry guests taught her to make solid decisions and understand why she made them.

In these scenarios, students would present, pitch, and defend their ideas in a way that made people understand it clearly.

“I learned that you cannot please everyone. Not everybody is going to agree with you, so you need to be able to explain your rationale for making your decision, and try to persuade them about why it’s a great idea. You need to stick to your guns,” McCarthy emphasizes. 

Skill development

Although she has been pursuing her masters degree online, she says the program helped her develop interpersonal skills through group dynamics. 

“In the program, you learn a lot about working in a respectful and collaborative way. Great ideas come out of this positive, collaborative, creative environment.”

Drawn to work on communications and publication projects for an institution like SFU, McCarthy hopes to also explore her passion for writing and research in her long term career.

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


Emerging Leaders in Publishing Day 4 Highlights

We launched the day with Ruth Linka, Associate Publisher at Orca Books; Adria Iwasutiak, Director of Publicity and Sales, Simon & Schuster Canada; Rob Firing, Literary Agent at Transatlantic, and Kevin Hanson to speak more about the future of publishing in acquisitions, publicity, contracts, rights, and agency. One advice for students who would like to work in marketing or communications is to make sure you are proficient with zoom. Another key insight for branding is that it is critical for a company to affirm their core values if there are any problems or public criticism.

Next, we had Ryan McMahon, podcaster and writer; Matthew DiMera, Founder of The Resolve; Jael Richardson, Founder and Executive Director of FOLD; Katie Hearn, Editorial Director of Annick Press; and Emily Dundas Oke, Media Manager of Massy Books, Rania Husseini, and Noah Genner to discuss about the next era of the publishing industry. One of the highlights from the conversation was about amplifying the voices of BIOPIC creators and underrepresented communities. Recently, Annick Press established a mentorship program to help elevate the voices of these communities. Another trend that is predicted to continue is having a hybrid of in-person and online events.

Lastly, we finished the summit with closing remarks from Kevin Hanson, President, and Publisher at Simon & Schuster Canada.

Thank you to all our panelists, speakers, students, attendees, and sponsor (Simon & Schuster Canada) for joining us! We hope to see everyone again at next year’s Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit.


Emerging Leaders in Publishing Day 3 Highlights

Jane Friedman, co-founder of The Hot Sheet gave an exciting presentation on Publishing in a Pandemic: A Glimpse of Future Opportunities & Challenges. To recap the video presentation click here. One of the biggest surprises was that COVID has led to record sales in US print, with an 8.2% increase in sales. This growth was mainly driven by sales in children’s books, since parents wanted to keep their kids entertained and educated during lockdown. She also conveyed the significance of updating book keywords and information online so people can easily search for it. Below are some images from her presentation:

We also had invited Craig Riggs, Partner at Turner-Riggs and co-founder of ReaderBound, to give a presentation on Direct-to-Consumer Sales and Sale Writ Large. Craig spoke about the changes from brick-to-mortar stores to online sales channels. He also gave recommendations on how to drive more sales on websites by having more information about a book (awards, reviews, categories, etc), seasonal previews, showcasing books by having sections such as “must-read” and “latest releases”, running cheap experiments by collaborating with others, and more. Here are some images from his presentation:

Subsequently, we had panelists Brian Lam, President and Publisher at Arsenal Pulp Press; Elizabeth Hilborn, Rakuten Kobo’s Director of Content Sales, and Andrew Wooldridge, Co-owner and Publisher at Orca Books, Craig Riggs, and Kevin Hanson to talk about the changes in retail, sales, metadata, and social media. Particularly, they emphasized the importance of metadata and using social media and events for authors to engage directly with readers. To view the video recording, click here.

 


Emerging Leaders in Publishing Day 2 Highlights

We started the day with Stephen Collis, Poet and Professor at SFU; Kevin Hanson, President and Publisher at Simon & Schuster Canada to welcome our MPub students to the Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit.

Next, we had Noah Genner, CEO & President of BookNet Canada to talk with our students about data in publishing and how the industry has been affected by COVID-19. Noah spoke about several topics such as bibliographic data, sales data, library circulation data, the Canadian book consumer survey, the Canadian leisure time and reading data, and ad-hoc surveys. Below are some images from his presentation.

 

Following Noah’s presentation, we invited Rania Husseini, Senior Vice President, Print at Indigo Books & Music; Cevin Bryerman, Executive and Publisher of Publishers Weekly, Noah Genner, and Kevin Hanson to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted the publishing industry and their respective workplaces. Specifically, they dived into subjects such as the challenges of the physical and online channels, how readers value diverse authors, supporting local authors, finding new ways for authors to engage with their readers, and etc.

To replay the video events from Day 2, click here.


SFU Publishing Launches the Greg Younging Publishing Award Endowment

Cree man with dark hair and glasses guest lecturing at a university

It is with great pride and pleasure that the SFU Publishing Program announces the establishment of The Greg Younging Publishing Award Endowment.

The endowment will create a fully funded opportunity for an Indigenous student to complete the Master of Publishing (MPub) degree at Simon Fraser University.

This award honours Dr. Gregory Younging, who was the first Indigenous graduate of the MPub. It was during his studies at SFU that Greg began his work on what would become the influential book, Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guidebook for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples. The guide is fast becoming a staple for writers, editors, and publishers throughout North America.

“Greg was a huge presence in publishing in Canada. We worked very closely with him here at SFU and following his passing on May 3, 2019 we knew we wanted to establish something lasting that would further his life’s work, which was to build a stronger Indigenous publishing infrastructure in Canada. Greg was very aware of the opportunities that education can provide, and we hope this endowment will be one of those opportunities. Having the support of publishers from across the country has been affirming. We are thrilled to announce today our first multi-year commitment: a three-year, $45,000 donation from Penguin Random House of Canada,” said Suzanne Norman, industry liaison for the SFU Publishing Program.

The endowment will be built over the next three years, with the goal of welcoming the first award recipient in fall, 2025.

The Master of Publishing Program is an 18-month professional program comprising academic and professional experiential learning. It was founded 25 years ago in consultation with members of the Canadian publishing industry which continues to strongly support the program’s students through hosting professional placements and as new hires, as well as teaching as guest faculty and serving on advisory boards and funding projects.

Applications to the MPub close each Feb 1, with successful applicants beginning their studies that fall.

For more information, please contact Suzanne Norman snorman@sfu.ca.

Download the full press release.


The Greg Younging Conversation

May 5th, 2 pm PST

Zoom

Free

Register at Eventbrite

Dr. Greg Younging was a nationally and internationally renowned expert on Indigenous publishing and a tireless voice and advocate for raising Indigenous voices in Canada.

In celebration of his work and his life, the Canadian Institute  for Studies in Publishing and the SFU School of Publishing are deeply honoured to launch The Greg Younging Conversation.

This annual event will celebrate all aspects of Greg’s work from poetry to music to building toward a robust and thriving Indigenous publishing industry in Canada.

Greg was a true bridge-maker and could bring together even the most disparate voices, even if just for a short conversation.

One of Greg’s earliest mentors was Jeannette Armstrong, founder of the renowned En’owkin Centre in Penticton. Jeannette is this year’s featured speaker and will talk about his work as a publisher, poet, scholar and advocate.

In true Greg style, this event will be a conversation and Jeannette will be joined by Deanna Reder, chair of Indigenous Studies at SFU. Time will be provided to open the conversation to all in attendance.

The Greg Younging Conversation will take place annually on the first Wednesday in May.

Jeannette Armstrong is Syilx Okanagan, a fluent speaker and teacher of the Nsyilxcn Okanagan language and a traditional knowledge keeper of the Okanagan Nation. She is a founder of En’owkin, the Okanagan Nsyilxcn language and knowledge institution of higher learning of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. She currently is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Okanagan Philosophy at UBC Okanagan. She has a Ph.D. in Environmental Ethics and Syilx Indigenous Literatures. She is the recipient of the Eco Trust Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership and in 2016 the BC George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award. She is an author whose published works include poetry, prose and children’s literary titles and academic writing on a wide variety of Indigenous issues.

Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis) is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Indigenous Studies and the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. She is a founding member of the Indigenous Editors Association (see www.indigenouseditorsassociation.com); currently, she is co-chair, with Drs. Sophie McCall and Sarah Henzi,  of the Indigenous Voices Awards. (see indigenousvoicesawards.org)

Greg Younging may best be known more broadly for his work as the author of “Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guidebook for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples” a seminal work that began during his time as a Master of Publishing student at SFU. The guide is fast becoming a staple for writers, editors, and publishers throughout North America.

His reputation in Canada as a leading scholar in Indigenous Studies often led him to take on important but sometimes very difficult work, including as Assistant Director of Research for the Canadian federal government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada.

Greg’s passion for making more space for Indigenous writing and publishing led him to complete a PhD focusing on copyright and Indigenous stories and at the time of his death in May 2019, he was a professor and co-ordinator of the Indigenous Studies Program at the Irving K Barber School of Arts and Sciences at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan.

A member of the Opsakwayak Cree Nation, Greg was the managing editor of Theytus Books, Canada’s oldest fully owned Indigenous Publisher from 1990 to 2003, returning to the role in 2016 until his death in 2019.

He has worked for a number of organizations including: The Royal Commission On Aboriginal Peoples, Assembly of First Nations, Committee Of Inquiry into Indian Education, Native Women’s Association of Canada. He was a member of Aboriginal Arts Advisory Committee of the Canada Council (1997–2001) and the British Columbia Arts Council (1999–2001).

As a professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, Greg had a profound impact on the university.

He published numerous works, including nonfiction and poetry.


Interview with the Winner of the Greg Younging Undergraduate Award, Alex Krilow

Congratulations to Alex Krilow, a third-year Communications and Publishing student who has won the first-ever Greg Younging Undergraduate Award in Publishing!

The Greg Younging Undergraduate Award was established in honour of Dr. Gregory Younging, who devoted his life advocating for Indigenous publishers, creators, writers, and designers across Canada. This $1000 award is granted annually to an Indigenous undergraduate student enrolled in our minor in Print and Digital Publishing to encourage the training of emerging Indigenous publishers in Canada.

Below is our interview with Alex Krilow, who is the recipient of this year’s award.

1.How do you feel as the first-ever recipient of the Greg Younging Undergraduate Award?

I am very honored to be the first-ever recipient of the Greg Younging Undergraduate Award. Throughout his life, Greg Younging has made incredible contributions in many different spaces such as publishing, the Indigenous community, the art council, public services, federal initiatives, and much more. I am thankful to win an award that has been dedicated to such an amazing man.

2.Why did you apply for the Greg Younging Undergraduate Award and how will it impact you?

I received an email from the Indigenous Student Centre at SFU and applied because I met the qualifications and thought it would be a good opportunity. This award will allow me to concentrate more on my studies and continue school without being stressed about my finances. As well, I hope to attend graduate school in the future, so completing my undergraduate degree without having any debt would be a great foundation.

3.How does Greg Younging inspire you and why is the award meaningful to you?

Seeing how much Greg has accomplished in his lifetime is inspiring because he motivates others like myself to follow in his footsteps and shows us what we can possibly achieve. This award is meaningful to me because much like Greg Younging, I want to support the Indigenous community. Currently, I am working for the Indigenous training program with Canada Border Services Agency, where I help with federal initiatives related to Indigenous studies. I am also volunteering as a social media assistant for the North Fraser Metis Association

4.Why do you think it is important to have more Indigenous voices in the publishing industry?

Throughout history, Indigenous voices have been put on the backburner, and in many situations, our voices have been under shadowed by other prominent figures in society. In the past, many Indigenous voices were suppressed, especially those who attended residential schools. Moving forward, it is so important to have our voices be heard and encourage more Indigenous writers and publishers to tell their own stories. Having more Indigenous voices and acting as a role model for other future Indigenous writers can inspire them to accomplish their own goals.


MPub Magazine Media Presentation 2021 Recap

Recently, our MPub students had the chance to share their Magazine Media projects with industry professionals and classmates of the publishing community. The three teams presented their plans to a panel of industry experts: Jessie Johnson, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Asparagus Magazine; Anicka Quin, Editorial Director of Western Living and Vancouver Magazine; and Tania Lo, CEO & Co-founder of Tandem Innovation Group. The three panelists gave their feedback and advice on the different aspects of the team’s business plans including their mission, audience, competitors, business goals, marketing channels, and sustainability strategy. 

 

The first team was The Modern Local, a digital publication that encourages readers to live local and connect with their neighbourhoods by sharing stories about community issues, arts and culture, and activities. As an online lifestyle magazine for a community-minded generation, their mission is to serve readers exclusively in the tri-cities: Langley, New Westminster, and Maple Ridge. The panelists praised them for their creative tagline, “Find the good life close to home” and for their workshop idea of creating a “best of local” award show to cultivate sponsorships. 

 

See more of their work here.

 

Next to present was Spoil, a sumptuous web and print magazine showcasing food and cooking culture from across the world. Spoil is committed to fostering curiosity, connection, empathy, and diversity through a deep and nuanced passion for food. In particular, the panelists were impressed by the team’s chic design and quality of their magazine, noting that it was “delicious to look at.”

See more of their work here.  

 

Last to present was Sprouts, an accessible hub of trusted information for parents with research-based content that contains actions and activities to help include kids in the conversation about the world we live in. Sprouts aims to curate actions and activities to do together to help kids learn and shape their future. Specifically, Sprouts was applauded for their content creation and audience personas. 

See more of their work here.

The presentations allowed the teams to showcase their months of hard work to the publishing community and a panelist of industry professionals. Thank you to everyone who joined, we are looking forward to seeing you again for next year’s Magazine Media Presentations. 


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