Publishing: the occupation, business, or activity of preparing and issuing books, journals, and other material for sale.

This summer, starting in May, I was enrolled in the Publishing Intensive at Ryerson.

The program ended on Friday and I’ve spent the past few days relishing in my ability to go to sleep without worrying about an assignment that’s due the next afternoon.

In short, I liked the program. I almost wish it was longer, but, at the same time, we were all so burned out by early-July, we probably would have lost it if we had stayed another month.

There were six courses in total:

1) Trade Overview

A great introductory course with a very laid-back (but still knowledgeable) instructor. Some of what we learned in Trade came back in Sales & Marketing so it might have been easier to have them closer together…although there’s no guarantee we’d have remembered anything even if the classes were back to back!

2) Education Overview

This one wasn’t my favourite. It had nothing to do with the instructors, but more to do with the content. Basically, it left me wondering why teachers like going on strike so much when the publishing industry (including textbook authors and contributors) do pretty much all the work (K-12 textbooks follow provincial curriculum and almost always include easy-to-follow supplementary materials…so what’s the problem, teachers?). We were, however, briefly introduced to scholarly/academic publishing which I found very interesting – it’s like working in academia except without the extra degree(s).

3) Copy Editing

It was interesting but rough. There are so many minute grammar rules that no one bothered to teach us in school so we had to start with the basics and move our way up. It was the most tiring of the courses, I think, despite the instructors’ best efforts to keep us engaged. The program coordinators had also decided that the month of June would alternate between copy editing and another course:

4) Visual Skills

On the one hand, it gave us a break from copy editing approximately every other day. On the other hand, it forced us to use the creative half of our brain, so it was a struggle to move from “copy editing mode” to “cover design” mode in less than 24 hours (which isn’t even a helpful skill to have in real life because chances are, if you’re working as a copy editor, you’re absolutely not going to be designing the cover at the same time). I think of myself as a creative person, but, while I can put colours/words/images together, they come out mediocre – good, but not great. I think a lot of us had the same problem, where we’re all a bunch of “word people” (as our instructor called us), which made it hard for us to work on a visual level.

5) Production

It felt like the shortest class (even though it was only about a day shorter than Sales & Marketing) so it felt like we had an absurd amount of information thrown at us in a very small time frame. But we learned how to code an eBook! Which is fascinating and I really like knowing how to use XHTML codes. Plus our instructor was entertaining and incredibly helpful: he spent a lot of time working with us on an individual basis to make sure our eBooks fulfilled all of his basic requirements.

6) Sales & Marketing

Our instructor brought in a lot of guest lecturers from different companies so it was cool to get all those different perspectives (we had people from Kobo, KidsCanPress, and DK Books, just to name a few). This course was very group-work oriented which made sense but I’m glad it was at the end of the program when we all knew each other, otherwise it would have been terribly awkward to have to depend on other people for your final grade when you’ve just met them.

Overall, it was an interesting experience. And I guess it paid off, since I’ll be starting an internship in a couple of weeks (which means I must have learned something over the past three months, right?). It’s definitely intensive and I wouldn’t recommend it if time management is not your strong suit. Despite being an introvert, I made a lot of friends and, since the publishing industry relies heavily on networking and making connections, I’m almost positive I’ll see them all again.

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about:

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