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Acknowledgements: Stuart Ross, Copy Editor

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

One part of the publishing process that's often overlooked is that of copy-editing. So, I consider myself very lucky that when I was looking for a copy editor to interview, Stuart mother-f'ing Ross answered the call. Ross is, at this point, an institution in Canada's literary press landscape. If Toronto's literary scene had a Mount Rushmore, his would probably be one of the faces dynamited into the stone. He's written a number of books of poetry (You Exist. Details Follow.), fiction (Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew), essays (Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer), and more. His latest book is a collaboration with 29 other writers, Our Days in Vaudeville. In addition to his own impressive writing, he edits an imprint at Mansfield Press, oversees the Patchy Squirrel Lit-serv of Toronto literary events, and runs a series of Poetry Boot Camps. He's also a very fine freelance copy editor, with a number of clients in the book publishing world. He very kindly answered my questions about time constraints, stetting, and dangling modifiers from his home in Cobourg, Ontario. (He even inserted a pretty sly copy-editing joke in one of his answers for the eagle-eyed among you readers.)

Acknowledgements: Elton D'Costa, Librarian

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

Many readers, authors, and publishing workers have fond childhood (and adult … but not, like, adult) memories of the public library. And in Toronto, we're spoiled with one of the world's largest and most frequently used library systems, the Toronto Public Library. While many of us make use of the library's many services, most of us don't know what a librarian does all day. To be perfectly honest, librarians are often unfairly neglected in the publishing ecology, being outside of the normal retail chain of events. Yet few would deny the importance librarians have in introducing readers to excellent Canadian books. The gracious Elton D'Costa has worked for the Toronto Public Library since 1998. Most recently, he was the Youth Librarian at the Parkdale Branch for five years. Currently, he works as Branch Head of Toronto's Humberwood Branch, near Finch and the 427. I dragged him away from his important duties to ask him a few questions about what exactly I was dragging him away from.

Acknowledgements: Carrie Gleason, Managing Editor

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

Few titles in book publishing are more mystifying than 'managing editor.' And that's partially because the job description can oscillate wildly from publisher to publisher. In general, however, managing editors do more managing than editing: they'll shepherd the manuscript (or 'lamb,' in this case) through its schedules and deadlines, with particular attention to what happens after the substantive editing (i.e. 'big picture' stuff) has been completed. This includes copyediting, layout, proofreading and more, though whether the managing editor does this him/herself or arranges for it varies from publisher to publisher. Either way, a managing editor is both an author's personal guide and horsewhip in the journey from manuscript to bound book. The managing editor oversees the editorial workflow for the entire list, and if you have a list as big as Canadian publisher Dundurn, that's a pretty hefty task. Luckily, Carrie Gleason, a seasoned editor of children's and YA books, is more than up to the task. Though Gleason is a relatively new addition to the Dundurn family, she's worked as associate publisher and in editorial at a number of other Canadian publishers, and has quickly picked up her managerial duties at Dundurn. (She's also a published children's author!) She scheduled some time to answer questions about the tasks of a managing editor.

Words & Curds: Ben Hatke, creator of Zita the Spacegirl

On May 11, I whisked comics creator Ben Hatke (Zita the Spacegirl, Flight) away from the Toronto Comics Arts Festival to enjoy some poutine and undergo an interrogation. The American writer and illustrator has just released the third (and final) Zita adventure, Return of Zita the Spacegirl, with First Second Books. We visited Big Smoke Burger, just across the road from the Toronto Reference Library, where TCAF was taking place. We both ordered a traditional poutine, and both – in an unusual turn of events – finished our poutines. (Or close enough.) I don't want to infer too much, but I think he was kind of excited that a poutine lunch was part of his Canadian itinerary. Over our lunch, we talked about the terrifying Wheelers in Return to Oz, the importance of costume design, and scrapple.

About Zita, the Spacegirl: (adapted from the First Second site): When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Horse-sized mice and living cannons are strange enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don't even phase her.

Down the Hall: Léonicka Valcius and #diversecanlit, Part 2

I met with Léonicka Valcius, organizer of the #diversecanlit, on Tuesday, May 6, to talk about the the issues, challenges, and solutions involved in making CanLit a more diverse enterprise. Part one of the interview appeared yesterday. The continuation follows. If you'd like to participate, you can join in the Twitter chats every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. (EST). Just use the #diversecanlit hashtag.

Down the Hall: Léonicka Valcius and #diversecanlit, Part 1

If you're new to the world of Canadian literature – heck, even if you're not – you could be forgiven for thinking it's very … well … white. Not just the authors – the staff of publishing houses, as well. Organizations like CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts) are doing work and counts to shed light on the gender imbalance in Canadian publishing (and reviewing in particular), but what about diversity along other criteria?

Acknowledgements: Sarah Jackson, Intern

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work for little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

If book publishing is like the small intestine, interns are the villi. Sure, the small intestine could still absorb nutrients from food without villi, but it would absorb so many fewer. (I never took Biology in school; this analogy would be entirely wrong.) Essentially, interns are extremely valuable and make so many projects and efforts beyond the bare bones of editing and distributing a book possible at a publishing house. As the Canada Book Fund says,'internships provide valuable training for new Canadian book industry professionals, who in turn accomplish useful tasks that the firm might not otherwise have had the resources to carry out.' Sarah Jackson just completed an internship for Toronto literary publisher, Cormorant Books, and kind of impressed her coworkers as a bit of a polymath. 'She was great at everything we asked her to try. Prepping press releases, helping out with cover copy, proofing manuscripts, reading submissions, designing e-vites, helping out with e-blasts.' Noted for her 'open mind and thirst for any and all knowledge throughout her time [at Cormorant],' Jackson answered a few questions about how an intern fits into the publishing ecosystem.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Copycats

Why do so many books about Africa have virtually identical cover designs?

Zombies

Bestsellers brainwash you to think like everyone else.

Circles

I recently pointed you at a Casual Optimist blog post about book covers featuring triangles. Now he's got one about concentric circles.

Wants

Words & Curds: Ed Piskor & Tom Scioli, Pittsburgh cartoonists extraordinaire

On May 6, Toronto's streets were already alive with cartoonists and comic book artists. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival was just days away and a number of acclaimed comic-makers were roaming the city's laneways. So I invited two of Pittsburgh's finest cartoonists, Ed Piskor and Tom Scioli, out for a poutine. Piskor is the creator of, most recently, Hip Hop Family Tree. Scioli is creator or such projects at Godland and American Barbarian who is now working on G.I. Joe vs. Transformers. We met at The Beguiling and walked over to the Annex location of Smoke's Poutinerie. Ed Piskor had the 'Hogtown' (topped with mushrooms, sautéed onions, bacon, and pork sausage). Tom Scioli had the 'Veggie' (using vegetable gravy), and I had the 'Veggie Deluxe' (topped with mushrooms, sautéed onions and peas). We talked about comics (naturally), the pop culture mecca of Pittsburgh, graffiti influences, and pierogies. The interview wound up being a nerd's paradise. (You've been warned.) In an unexpected turn of events, all three of us finished our poutines.

Words & Curds: Ondjaki, author of Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret

It was Wednesday, April 30. Poutine time once again! I met with one of Angola's most acclaimed authors, Ondjaki, who has brand-new English translation, Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret (translated by Stephen Henighan), published this spring by Biblioasis. Ondjaki was visiting Canada on a tour that involved Blue Metropolis, the Ottawa Writers Festival and the IFOA Weekly Series at Harbourfront Centre. We visited The Watermark Pub, on Queen's Quay, where we both ordered the Daily Poutine Special, which just happened to be peameal bacon. He was so close to finishing his, too. We talked about growing up in the '80s under Soviet influence, the importance of spaghetti westerns, beat cops (?), and suitcases full of potatoes.

About Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret: (adapted from the Biblioasis site) By the beaches of Luanda, the Russians are building a grand mausoleum to honour the remains of the Comrade President. Granmas are whispering: houses, they say, will be dexploded, and everyone will have to leave. Can the children of Luanda steal the Russians' dynamite, decipher Comrade Gudafterov's letter, and save their homes? With the help of his friends Charlita and Pi (whom everyone calls 3.14), as well as assistance from Dr. Rafael KnockKnock, the Comrade Gas Jockey, the rather gruff and smelly Gudafterov, and Crazy Sea Foam's pet alligator, our young hero must decide exactly how much trouble he's willing to face to keep his Granma safe in Bishop's Beach.

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