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By Stuart Woods
August 20, 2012
3:12 PM

Filed under News

HarperCollins expands Canadian publishing program with Patrick Crean imprint

Patrick Crean, a stalwart of Canadian publishing, has joined HarperCollins Canada to form his own editorial imprint.

Patrick Crean Editions will publish between eight and 12 titles per year with a focus on Canadian literary fiction and non-fiction. Iris Tupholme, publisher and editor-in-chief at HarperCollins Canada, says the first titles could appear as early as next May.

“We’re not in any rush to put together a list before it’s ready,” says Tupholme, “but if Patrick has titles ready to publish then we’ll go full steam ahead.”

Crean, 62, has worked in publishing for more than four decades, having begun his career in 1971 at McClelland & Stewart. As founding publisher of Thomas Allen Publishers, where he worked for a dozen years before stepping down in January, Crean cemented his reputation as a discerning literary editor. Under Crean, Thomas Allen became the only wholly Canadian-owned company to publish two Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning novels (Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues and Austin Clarke’s The Polished Hoe).

Crean has also cultivated long-standing relationships with authors David Gilmour and Brian Fawcett, and published newcomers such as Sarah Selecky.

At HarperCollins Canada, it appears that Crean will continue in a similar vein. “He will publish what Patrick publishes best,” says Tupholme. “I think he has a wonderful eye for new talent, and he also has a terrific way of relaunching careers, and I think that’s what he’ll focus on at HarperCollins. I know that Patrick will bring something to HarperCollins that we haven’t had before, and that’s his own taste and his publisher’s intuition.”

For his part, Crean, who says he considered several options before signing on with HarperCollins Canada, is “absolutely thrilled” by the prospect.

“In these perilous times in publishing, editorial is under such siege by corporatism to produce, to make a profit,” he says. “Of course, HarperCollins is that, but they really and truly seem to be devoted to the editorial function and understand it, and that’s what drew me there.”

Crean adds: “The key in publishing is to have a good group around. The platform must be conducive to fine publishing, because if it isn’t it can turn into a nightmare.”

Crean will almost certainly have access to a larger acquisitions budget and sales and marketing team at HarperCollins Canada. The move also represents an expansion of the firm’s Canadian publishing program, which has had major success in recent years with Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes and Emma Donoghue’s Room

“Finally, HarperCollins Canada is big enough that agents and authors have a choice of editors to submit to for new projects, and I think that can only be good,” says Tupholme. “It will allow more choices for Canadian writers to bring their books to market.”

Crean joins an editorial team at HarperCollins Canada that includes Jim Gifford, Jennifer Lambert, and Noelle Zitzer, as well as vice-president Phyllis Bruce, who oversees her own eponymous CanLit imprint, Phyllis Bruce Books.

“We’ve all known Patrick for so long,” says David Kent, president and CEO of HarperCollins Canada. “We’ve competed against him for authors, we’ve admired the books he’s published. The chance of having Patrick as part of HarperCollins is just a wonderful addition to what we’ve had with the expansion of the editorial department.”

Tupholme says she believes Crean “will do some of the best work of his career at HarperCollins.”

She adds: “I think it’s a testament to the maturity of Canadian publishing that we can continue to invest in our great editors – editors who’ve had years of experience, and now we can find a way to support them even more fully.”

CORRECTION: Author Russell Wangersky’s editor at Thomas Allen Publishers is editorial director Janice Zawerbny, not Patrick Crean, as the original version of this story may have implied.

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