McClelland & Stewart trims editorial in staff reshuffle
McClelland & Stewart has made several major staffing changes in the past week that will result in a leaner, more aggressive company, according to president and publisher Doug Pepper.
Last week, vice-president and associate publisher of non-fiction Susan Renouf announced her retirement. That announcement was followed on Tuesday by several layoffs within the company. The most high-profile staffer to be let go was executive editor Dinah Forbes, who had been with the company for more than 20 years. Editorial assistant Aruna Dahanayake and office manager Barbara Phillips were also let go.
Pepper says the cuts will allow M&S to be more aggressive in acquiring big-name authors, particularly on the international front. “We just have to become more responsive and more ambitious in our acquisitions,” Pepper told Q&Q. “We have to be more aggressive as a team, but we also need to shift where we’re spending our money.”
There are no immediate plans to replace either Renouf or Forbes, but Pepper did not rule out the possibility of a significant new hire in the coming months. In the meantime, it seems inevitable that M&S’s current editorial team will be forced to do more with less. “I’m asking people here [to] ramp it up, [to] become more aggressive in the amount of books we do,” Pepper said.
The restructuring, which leaves a major editorial vacancy in non-fiction, has left some in the publishing community wary of where the company is headed. Agent Jackie Kaiser of Westwood Creative Artists told Q&Q, “We’ll be watching with interest – as well as a bit of concern – to see how the new organization will function in terms of acquisitions and editorial development.”
In the immediate future, the editorial hole will be filled in part by Pepper himself, who will acquire and edit more non-fiction titles. Executive editor Lara Hinchberger will also begin acquiring and editing non-fiction, and vice-president and director of publishing operations Eric Jensen will continue to acquire non-fiction as well. M&S’s editorial department is rounded out by longtime fiction publisher Ellen Seligman, who will take on the additional title of executive vice-president; senior editor Anita Chong, who will now oversee trade paperback imprint Emblem Books; managing editor Elizabeth Kribs; and editor Jenny Bradshaw.
Pepper was emphatic that the cuts will not result in slimmer lists or alter M&S’s core Canadian publishing program. “I think we can be more ambitious internationally in terms of what we buy, but I certainly don’t see changing the mix for M&S to be more international,” Pepper said. “We are still very much a Canadian publisher.”
In related news, a veteran staffer at children’s publisher Tundra Books, a fully owned subsidiary of M&S, has also stepped down. Director of foreign and special markets Catherine Mitchell announced her resignation on Monday to pursue other opportunities in publishing. Her departure follows the retirement of longtime publisher Kathy Lowinger, who stepped down at the beginning of the year.
According to Tundra managing director Alison Morgan, Mitchell’s resignation came completely “out of the blue” and is not tied to the larger restructuring. When asked if Tundra’s foreign rights sales would now be outsourced to The Cooke Agency International, which handles rights for both M&S and Random House of Canada, Morgan said the company is still deciding how it will replace Mitchell. “I don’t know if we’ve got as far as options on the table,” Morgan said. “I think we’re all figuring out how to move forward.”