From Medieval Books to Book Marketing
Finding a Space for Your Voice
Greetings, everyone! I am Marian Toledo Candelaria, the new marketing assistant at WLU Press. I have worked at the Press since August 9, and I am in charge of developing social media content for our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Apart from managing social media accounts, I contribute to general communications and marketing initiatives at the Press. This role is rather different from the one my academic background might have predicted, but I enjoy challenges and learning, and I am eager to apply my experience and skills to promote Canadian publishing.
I knew before graduating that the academic path was not for me, but I was not entirely sure what direction my career would take. Recently, I graduated with a PhD in History and Scottish Studies from the University of Guelph. As a medievalist, I am concerned with intersections of Scottish identity, kingship, and historiography. I mainly work with textual transmission and manuscript studies in Scotland between the twelfth and early fifteenth centuries. Therefore, I am not new at working with books—but I am new at understanding book production in the twenty-first century! When the position of Marketing Assistant at WLU Press was announced, I knew it posed an exciting opportunity to be involved in academic-related endeavours, and within the book industry, without being in academia. The WLU Press team has taken me under their wing, providing me the space to grow in a new professional direction.
Because I have now been at my job for two months, I have been able to reflect on the similarities and differences between my current line of work and my education. If one can understand how people transmitted their ideas during the medieval period and for what purpose, it becomes easier to understand how we, in the twenty-first century, understand and communicate our ideas of the past and present. While medieval authors and commentators often transmitted ideas through long handwritten tracts, and while medieval readers often transmitted their own understanding by scribbling in the margins of the parchment folios (called marginalia in my field), today we use published books, social media, and online publications to comment and transmit ideas. We might be wary of inscribing our responses to texts in the margins of our printed books, but we provide ample commentary in the form of Twitter and Facebook posts, Instagram stories, and blog posts. During the twelfth century, books were painstakingly hand-copied by scribes working in monastic scriptoria, were written on parchment or vellum, and were illustrated on occasion. Now, we can produce thousands of books very quickly and sell them throughout the globe! Learning and knowledge is not the domain of monks anymore: it is accessible to us all. With the arrival of digital book formats, knowledge is disseminated even more widely and quickly than ever before.
One of the most important and fun parts of my job is to communicate news about the Press and its books in a way that is interesting for social media followers. Like Geoff Keelan before me, I am the “invisible hand” behind the Press’s social media accounts. Having our content retweeted, liked, or commented on works in ways similar to the way medieval marginalia worked. The main difference is that social media has amplified the reach of readers’ voices and thoughts, making a social media post readily and widely accessible. Readers’ opinions and thoughts are no longer hidden away in the margins of a book. It is through social media, blog posts, and website content that we make our authors’ voices heard.
As a marketing assistant, I am involved in the publishing process in numerous ways, mostly behind the scenes. I am excited to embark on a new professional journey with WLU Press, and to promote the press’s commitment to excellent scholarship and knowledge transmission.