0. Prep Work & Goals

Welcome to the inaugural post for my attempt to chronicle my journey through Simon Fraser University’s Masters in Publishing program. My goal with this series is twofold: to catalog modern publishing education while I toy around with various ideas for my thesis, and to journal my progress through a graduate program. With the exception of interesting, special topics, I’ll just be doing these once a month. I hope you enjoy the journey with me!

Week 0: Preparing for the program

Because I didn’t take any business courses in my undergrad, I was required to complete a few marketing and accounting textbooks before the term. Luckily, I planned ahead for this, and despite the accounting textbook being extremely boring, I finished the prereq’s with enough time to spare for other things.

I read a few books about the publishing industry as well, including one of the textbooks for the first term, Book Publishing I by the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. I also read Thomas Woll’s Publishing for Profit (highly recommend!) and Claudia Suzanne’s This Business of Books (outdated, but very good).

At the end of last week, professors in the MPub program also sent cohorts two mini assignments focusing on poster design and CSS coding. The poster was no trouble, as I’ve had significant exposure to InDesign over the last few years, but the CSS was a bit daunting, especially since I mostly learned it passively to correct export coding out of InDesign. Nonetheless, the CSS classes were extremely fun, so I’ve spent some more time this week compiling a bunch of ePub coding data to go through and experiment with. (As you may have noticed, this post has a dropcap… fancy stuff I’m learning! 😉 )

The one thing I still feel my skills are lacking in is graphic design. I can put together images, of course, but I really want to start designing. Altering existing fonts for unique book cover typography, and also actual illustration. Unfortunately, digital illustration is a skill that requires years of practice and study, but hopefully in the next few weeks, I can get some groundwork done.

My Goals

I have some pretty concrete things that I want to accomplish with this program.

I want to:

  1. Network with industry professionals as much as possible.
  2. Learn marketing in a real-world setting (not from a book).
  3. Explore my career options through Project Management, Acquisitions, and Account Management.
  4. Fill the gaps in my InDesign knowledge.
  5. Intern at a company focused in the SFF section of the market.
  6. Research and write papers useful to the industry as a whole.

Classes start September 6th!

19 thoughts on “0. Prep Work & Goals

    1. Thanks, Trista! It’s meant a lot of reshuffling around priorities, but I’m going to try and stay on top of the documentation… I think I just might manage it!


  1. I like your goals. Could they be more specific, measurable, Achievable, realistic and timely? I’m talking about SMART. Like, you want to increase interaction with industry experts in a month by 30%.
    Just sharing and I totally know that you will achieve what you set out for. Good luck and keep sharing those nuggets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They probably could be more SMART-based, for sure, but I’ve found in the last two weeks that the program is very chaotic scheduling-wise, and even assignment-wise, so I’m still finding my feet. But, I’m meeting with professors next week to start discussing my internship options, so i’m keeping my eye on the ball! 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!


  2. I’ll follow along. I’d love to work in book publishing and have considered entering a master’s program but I’d like to be sure that’s what I want to do before I go signing up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a bit of a mixed bag so far. I’m loving it a lot, but there’s a saying in the halls that you have to make the program your own. With the sheer volume of areas within publishing, that’s not surprising!


  3. I read my email and was ready to hit delete. I have so many emails.
    But I am so glad I took the moment. I am lucky to be included on the journey.
    I know you shares will include profess observations, helpful information but most importantly, personal monologues to make the stages of the journey so much more relevant to all who chose to not hit the delete button.
    I am now off to look up “dropcap”.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is difficult for me to write, because I see this now that I know you are gone, dear friend, but I love you. You have been such an important part of my world for the time you were in it. You made everyone you interacted with happy…. you made them feel wanted. I hope you rest well, and happy.


  4. Good luck with your classes. When I decided to get my MBA, I too had a lot of classes to make up since my undergrad was in laboratory medicine. I think it makes us more rounded in our knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s a very generalist, but intense program. The hardest thing right now is every professors uses a different piece of tech to inform their students of assignments and such, so I’m juggling a lot of new apps and websites. But I’m slowly getting the hang of it.


  5. Good luck with your Master’s program, Alex! I like the goals you’ve set for yourself, too. They’re realistic and feeding directly off of the classes you’ll be taking as well as your own interests (e.g., the SF&F angle). Also, I’ll be interested in hearing anything you have to say about the graphic design aspect. I know virtually NOTHING in that area, which is the biggest reason why I’m hesitant to create e-books and the like.* (That, and the fact that I don’t want to sacrifice what limited time I have for editing my WIP.)

    *The worksheets I make for my site are all done on Microsoft Word, then converted to PDF. Not very fancy, I know, but it’s all I’m capable of at the moment…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sara!

      Graphic design has been interesting. For the most part, we are looking simply at the design theory portion of design, but if you want to be doing any kind of book layout, InDesign is what you need to learn. It’s the standard, hands down. It’s got a monster of a learning curve though, so I recommend doing a free trial of Lynda.com and choosing one of their “Essentials Training” courses. It’s a great crash course on a program when you don’t have someone around to physically teach you. Another hint is to go to Creative Market (.com) every week and get their free downloads, like fonts and clipart. It’s all really high-quality stuff. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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