Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

Behind the Books, with Clare Hitchens

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When we think of the people behind the books we love, we generally think of writers. But many people work in a variety of professions to get those books onto your shelves. In our new series, Behind the Books, Open Book speaks with the printers, publicists, book sellers, book bloggers, event programmers and many others who work in the publishing industry.

As we celebrate Focus On: Waterloo Region, we check in with Clare Hitchens of Wilfrid Laurier University Press to find out how the cogs work at this thriving independent publishing house.

Clare is an ideal voice to speak for the Waterloo writing community. Not only has she worked as a publicist for Wilfrid Laurier University Press for the past decade, she also serves as a volunteer with the Eden Mills Writers' Festival as the Young Adult Author Coordinator and Social Media Coordinator. Outside of publishing, she devotes her time to the communication team for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society and sits on the Board of Directors for Facile, an organization that seeks to empower people with disabilities to take their place in the world through independent facilitation services.

Open Book:

How long have you been at your current job?

Clare Hitchens:

I started as the publicist for WLU Press when the position was created in 2002. At first I worked ten hours a week and filled the rest of my week in the shipping department.


What does an average workday look like for you?


Lots and lots of email! I respond to many requests from instructors and from media for books and also correspond with authors about publicity for their books. Some days I devote to sending out review copies. There’s always copy to write for book covers or catalogues, press releases to send... I’m not sure what a typical day is.


What's the best thing about your job?


Working in a book culture and working with others who value this as much as I do. I am also lucky that my press is part of Wilfrid Laurier University, which is a great community.


Tell us about a memorable work experience.


In the spring of 2007 we hosted two nights of poetry and jazz at The Registry Theatre in Kitchener to launch the Laurier Poetry series. It was magic. It doesn’t matter where I go, people always ask me if we’re going to do it again. I hope the answer is yes.


When you were a kid, what was your dream job?


As a teenager I thought maybe I’d be a photographer like my dad. I came to a career in publishing pretty late, after all my kids were in school, but it was a perfect time for me to go in a new direction.

Check back for more Behind the Books interviews with Ontario's publishing professionals.

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