Student wins lucrative publishing contract

Mar 07, 2002, vol. 23, no. 5
By Diane Luckow

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Susan Juby hasn't completed her master of publishing degree at SFU, but already she has signed a six-figure contract with HarperCollins, U.S. for a series of three young-adult novels.

Juby's books are a comic look at life in Smithers, B.C. The deal calls for a book to be published each year, beginning in 2003.

Juby's first book, Alice, I Think, was published in 2000 by Thistledown press and short-listed for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel award.

Her second book, Miss Smithers, which garnered her the six-figure deal, will be published in 2003 and she has yet to write the third book.

Rowland Lorimer, director of SFU's master in publishing program, says the contract is extremely unusual for a new author.

“The average royalties for an unknown author might come in at between $500 and $10,000,” he says. He points out that best sellers costing $30 per book generate about $3 each in royalties.

“That's $9,000 in royalties, so this is an investment in real promise,” says Lorimer.

Juby, who was managing editor for Hartley and Marks Publishers in Vancouver before entering the SFU publishing program, had intended to use her new degree to teach creative writing part-time and to write part-time. Now, says the thrilled 32-year-old, she will likely spend more time on her writing.

Juby says her preference for writing young adult books likely stems from the fact that “I've never grown up. I've never gotten over the teenage years - it's an exciting time of life, very dramatic.”

In her books, she explores the lack of maturity rules that we have in our society and examines those that have been arbitrarily chosen as rites of passage, such as getting a driver's licence or a first job.

Juby won't finish her SFU program until the end of the year. Presently, she is planning her internship report, for which she will develop a curriculum on publishing for creative writers.

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