Season 3, Episode 3: The Poetry of Publishing with Charlotte Nip

February 09, 2024

Stephanie Werner: Growing up, the world of books is where my imagination lived, like 95% of the time. novels, anthologies, and books of essays showed me that the world was so much bigger than what my eyes could see. They still do. On this week's episode, student host Emma Jean is joined by Charlotte net, a multitalented marketer, poet and writer, currently working at Penguin Random House Canada. Charlotte discusses her ever evolving role in the world of publishing, how she first discovered her voice as a poet and what it's like to be a social media influencer, on the side. I hope you enjoy.

CLIP: Twenty is a Dream by Charlotte Nip
Charlotte Nip: “Twenty half poems / on crinkled reciepts, a cross stitch of words loose / memories bleeding / through the fine line…”

Emma Jean: The world seems to me to be hard to understand sometimes, you know, as I try to make sense of these moments of sometimes ecstasy or devastation, but more often than not confusion and restlessness. I find myself going back to this quote from one of my favorite writers, Joan Didion. She once wrote that we tell ourselves stories in order to live. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images. This quote kept coming into my mind as I was talking to this week's guest.

Charlotte Nip: I'm Charlotte, I am a recent SFU M.Pub graduate. And through that program, I've been able to intern and now have a job at Penguin Random House Canada.

Emma Jean: Charlotte Nip as a storyteller. You may have seen her poetry in SAD magazine and Ricepaper magazine.

CLIP: Twenty is a Dream by Charlotte Nip
Charlotte Nip: “At twenty I go on cheap dates / pay for losing / bits of myself / to house-special wines / and the back of unkempt heads . . .”

Emma Jean: or in the marketing that she does for Penguin Random House Canada, or in her social media accounts  dedicated to books and Vancouver events, and food and live music. She’s also a graduate of SFU’s Masters of Publishing. Each of these avenues provide a different way for Charlotte to put these narrative lines through the disparate images of her mind and the world around her. She creates these narratives to convey the brilliance of a book, or her own experiences, or the experience of others to make her living. In short, she tells stories in order to live.

Emma Jean: So, like I said off the top, Charlotte works at Penguin Random House Canada.

Charlotte Nip: And what I do there is I'm a Marketing Coordinator for our lifestyle marketing team, working with our cookbooks, any kind of sometimes some health books, some more like nonfiction, wellness books, but mostly yeah, cookbooks.

Emma Jean: So basically, Charlotte is responsible for promoting books through social media channels, influencer marketing, design, emails, advertising and beyond. But before we get into that, let's flip back a few chapters and start closer to the beginning of Charlotte's life as she first fell into the worlds that reading had to offer her growing up,

Charlotte Nip: I always read, but it was very like academic like I felt like I was just always reading because you need to for school. But sometime in university, something changed for me where I was able to kind of read books that I was interested in.

Emma Jean: For the first time in her life, Charlotte began reading books that mattered to her. And that initial spark of passion is what led Charlotte to pursue her undergraduate degree in English literature. And, through the exploration of different genres . . . find her own voice.

Charlotte Nip: Yeah, definitely taking some like poetry. And like nonfiction memoir, writing classes, and university kind of really opened up my curiosities with writing.

Emma Jean: Charlotte remembers one specific course, and one assignment in particular, that stoked her imagination and gave her the confidence to start seeing herself as a writer.

Charlotte Nip: I think the activity was to create like a shopping list and through through that we took those images and created it into a poem. So I think that was kind of what started getting me thinking of like poetry and like, all these images in my head, like what am I supposed to do with these images? And then in turn, it became like poems that I wouldn't be able to draft finish being able to put words into imagery really stuck with me. And then I realized, like, ‘oh, maybe this is something I'm good at.’

Emma Jean: And she was. Charlotte started submitting her poetry for publication.

Charlotte Nip: My first piece was with Ricepaper magazine, which is an Asian Canadian publication, and then that kind of opened my world also like literary magazines and submitting. So yeah, I think that that was the start of it.

Emma Jean: Mm hmm. These images that come into your head, that you're able to put into poems do you see particular through lines and what you're drawn to and these different aspects of your work? Are there common themes, common ideas that you find yourself coming back to?

Charlotte Nip: I think I like writing, or reading about, like people's personal stories. So definitely a lot of like memoirs, lot of biographies, a lot of like, more of the symptoms like self help or wellness spaces, because I think I just really love reading about people's like, unique experiences with the world. I love reading also about like mental health, and like different, like, I guess, wellness experiences growing up, and definitely different topics. But I think it all comes back down to like people.

Emma Jean: It was people that Charlotte was writing about when she first started her entry into publishing as an intern for the aforementioned Ricepaper, and then as a marketing and publicity intern for UBC Press.

Emma Jean: What were you hoping would be on the other side of these experiences? Did you have an idea of different opportunities that you'd hoped that these internships would lead to any sort of career path in mind? Did those ideas change as you went through these different internships?

Charlotte Nip: I think with Ricepaper, it was definitely very like editing focus, like I was just brought on to work on different articles, really focusing on like that content piece, I guess, versus at UBC press, it was definitely more the marketing and publicity.

Emma Jean: On the other side of her undergrad, Charlotte was looking to expand her publishing game, which led her to SFU.

Emma Jean: I want to ask you now about your experiences with the masters of publishing program. What would you be able to tell me about what your goals were at the beginning of the program? What were you hoping to get out of it? And did those goals change or evolve as you went through the course of the program?

Charlotte Nip: Yeah, so I definitely was convinced that I wanted to be an editor when I joined the program, like I think part of my, my application to join was like, Oh, I'm, I'm going to be such a good editor. I have all this experience through like, Ricepaper Magazine, and all these contacts. And I think like after probably like, the first month or so, like, through doing the different courses, I realized that like, oh my god, there's such a bigger world, and like marketing and publicity, like, I feel like we're passionate and inspired by the assignments for those topics in those classes. I think I was really drawn to it and kind of like, got me thinking like, oh, like, can I be a marketer? Like, can I be a publicist? Like, do I need a degree? Or do I need any like, follow up courses or so on to to be that, because in my head, I always thought, like marketing people, they have to come from business school, they have to, you know, do like specific degrees to be able to get a job in that. But I learned from the program, that that's not always the case. Like, there's a lot of people that I've done this program and have come out of it being marketers. I think that was what was really inspiring for me. And I was like, Okay, maybe I'll try it. But what was funny is that, part of the program is everybody has to do a internship at a publishing house. And I ended up doing mine at Penguin Random House. So where I'm working at now, but as an editing internship, before there any kind of marketing opportunities available. So I think that internship really solidified to me that like, okay, yeah, editing might not be for me, like, I definitely still feel more drawn to marketing. And then eventually, like an opportunity opened up. So that's, yeah, that that was what I pursued to get to where I am now.

Emma Jean: Do you find that a lot of your colleagues have that experience? Is there a lot of room to shift into different roles and try different departments and maybe find something that's more suitable for your specific talents and interests? That a common experience do you think?

Charlotte Nip: Yeah, I definitely think so. Like classmates, that same thing came in come in, they wanted to be editors, but now are like book designers, or some people that have like a marketing publicity background, but now they're in sales. Like it's definitely very movable. Like I feel like a lot of people discover like, oh, I want to try something different and they're actually able to find careers in the new area. So yeah, definitely very open.

Emma Jean: Charlotte's role at Penguin Random House Canada has evolved over the years and allows her to touch on different marketing aspects within the publisher.

Charlotte Nip: I started that appetite by Random House which is our again like more lifestyle marketing cookbooks, food and cooking kind of imprint. But across Penguin, Random House Canada, we have like different other imprints that also touch on cookbooks, and then also some of our US imprints that we do distribution for so now I kind of work on like all lifestyle titles in the company.

Emma Jean: Wonderful. What would be your favorite part of your job if you had to choose?

Charlotte Nip: Okay, well, the best part of my job is the fact that I get to work on different projects and different tasks for all of the books that I get to work on. So I definitely love like that busyness and for me feeling like I can work on different aspects, whether that's like social media marketing or like ads or like sometimes like some design creation, to I think my favorite part is being able to feel so busy, but also so creative. Like I'm constantly like creating something or kind of like researching information or looking at data, like it just it feels very fulfilling to generate so much creativity.

Emma Jean: Mmm, that sounds like a great combination to always be having things to do. But they're always creative, interesting things that you're able to exercise that sort of creative instinct. That sounds wonderful.

Charlotte Nip: Yeah.

Emma Jean: What would you say your average workday looks like?

Charlotte Nip: I feel like no day is the same. Like one day can be like all meetings or another day can be a little bit more like stuff, like a long time to work on creative assets and researching different influencers. So I think you'd like the variety. But also in terms of like, if there was a topic that I could specify on like, I definitely love influencer marketing. I love kind of researching influencers and kind of reaching out to see if they would want to partner with us on opportunities. Like I think that outreach is really fun because I get to communicate with different influencers and kind of figure out like, what content they're creating, and build those relationships that we foster for different books that we publish. So that outreach part is definitely very fulfilling.

Emma Jean: Charles specialty in influencer marketing isn't just because of her marketing mind. But because it takes one to know one.

Emma Jean: I wanted to ask, I know you have your own social media presence, where you promote? Am I correct? It's one is the is the Instagram account dedicated to what you're reading all the different books that you're passionate about to use the term Bookstagram like an Instagram account dedicated to books. And then the other one is more your own outside interests, like music and, and food and different events around town of Vancouver. Could you tell me a bit more about that?

Charlotte Nip: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I think through working my job, I always wanted to create like a Bookstagram account, because, you know, I do somewhat outreach to different Bookstagram accounts. So I think one of the goals I had last year was like, okay, I'm gonna create my own Bookstagram account, I'm just going to document whatever I'm reading, and just like, share it to the world. And I think I had so much hesitancy and like a struggle with it, because I felt like I was already doing that for work. And so I just, I had no more like creative juices to be devoting to like my own platform. So I think eventually, last year, when my friends just convinced me like, Okay, you should just do it, just start the account and see where it takes you, which is what I did. So now I'm kind of like, on and off on it. Like I think sometimes when I read a really good book, or it's like really popular trending, then I'll post something and little kind of like, Hey, I'm still alive. I'm still around and so reading kind of posts. And then in terms of my personal Instagram, yeah, I think I've, I've always wanted to just post whatever, like experience a mat or a different kind of, I live in Vancouver, so different city happenings. That's more so just like a personal space to post if like, I'm trying a new cafe or if I go to like yeah, concerts and, you know, fun things that I get to do around the city with my friends.

Emma Jean: Fantastic. Would you consider yourself to be a big live music fan then?

Charlotte Nip: I am definitely a concert. fan girl a concert junkie like I, if there's anything anybody needs to know about me, it's that I love Taylor Swift, and I am a concert fanatic.

Emma Jean: Okay, I have to ask them. What's the best concert you've ever been to?

Charlotte Nip: Taylor's eras tour has been like the best concert ever.

CLIP: Taylor Swift Eras concert recording
Crowd: We! Are never ever ever! Getting back together!

Charlotte Nip: She sang for like three hours straight! Like there was no big breaks. Like she just had such a performance to every era that we're so unique and different. Like, yeah, highly recommend. Hopefully, people can get tickets to the Vancouver show. Because yeah, it's next level.

Emma Jean: Yeah, I think definitely one of my favorite concerts that I've been to certainly most memorable was when I saw when she came to Vancouver and did Red. And that was blew my mind! My little tween 12 year old.

Charlotte Nip: Yeah! Oh my god. So fun.

Emma Jean: And with that, Taylor Swift is mentioned on every podcast ever recorded. Congrats, Taylor! This recent era of Charlotte's own life is one marked by success, a job that is constantly creative that promotes literacy and culinary arts and allows time for your own creative endeavors. It sounds pretty ideal to me. But it's easier said than done.

Emma Jean: Now that you have this position where you can be creative full time, how has that changed your own creative output for your own work that you want to do?

Charlotte Nip: Yeah, I think it's definitely been really hard because I work eight hours a day, and that's a big chunk of your day that kind of gets blocked off for professional work. So I think it's often hard to find time after work to still be writing or still feel creative because you feel like oh, like, I just gave all my energy to a piece of work. And now I might just want to like, chill or just want to be with friends or just want to be as family like I want some rest time. Yeah, find me at the time. I think it's like the hardest part. But I think recently, I've been trying to dedicate like, maybe weekends, to see if I could like, maybe even find out like an hour or even like meeting friends at a cafe to work on something together. So it feels social, and I'm working on something productive. I think that has been helping. But I think yeah, most days, it's just a matter of like work and then trying to make a balance for like, friends, family and personal time.

Emma Jean: Going back to these different facets of your work and all of your different types of creative output.

Charlotte Nip: Yeah.

Emma Jean: What are your main goals for the future for these different paths?

Charlotte Nip: Yeah, so I think my next big creative goal is to publish something for myself, I think I always again, wanting to be a published author. But to get there, I think a full length novel seems very daunting. So I think to start with a chapbook because it feels a little bit more realistic.

Emma Jean: A chapbook is a small book of poems or stories for the uninitiated.

Charlotte Nip: And yeah, I've been kind of working on a manuscript right now. Kind of working with the editor to to get it edited and shape in potentially, I think I'll be submitting to different publishing houses soon. So hopefully, fingers crossed. It works out. Thanks. So yeah, I think really working on my checkbook getting published. And then from that, like maybe I would potentially look at publishing my own poetry book. Like if I get really good feedback and good engagement with Alec, maybe I could look into working on like a full length poetry book, because I think there's always like, I've always had these poems kind of in my head in my notebooks in my iPhone Notes app. They're kind of all there, like I just need to kind of put it together and kind of string it along around a central theme. So I think that's, hopefully, if within five years goal.

Emma Jean: Charlotte was generous enough to share a poem that she wrote about an earlier chapter, on the subject of growth, longing and what it is to be twenty years old.

CLIP: Twenty is a Dream, by Charlotte Nip
Charlotte Nip: Twenty is a dream.

Twenty half poems

on crinkled receipts

a cross-stitch of words loose

memories bleeding

through the fine line

At twenty I go on cheap dates

pay for losing

bits of myself

to house-special wines

and the back of unkempt heads      

I take

hostage in backseats

and sunroofs staring

at foggy Vancouver


At twenty I meet Hugh Dancy

in a bookstore        

 t          i       m        e            s     l     o    w   s

with my birthday drinks

My twentieth summer rolls

into London

Big Ben looks a little grey

I breathe the same

pollution as the Queen

At twenty I’m called a racial slur

for the first time in Chinatown

I almost throw

my Char Siu Bao across the street


I come home to ghosts

under my bed

vacuum the crumbs

of ripped receipts

to make room for


Twenty is a dream;

the sky is saltwater taffy;

Aegean waves around my every

curve, and I float.

Emma Jean: Thinking back to that poem, what would you want to tell yourself at twenty?

Charlotte Nip: My younger self so scared of not knowing what to do with my English degree like, I think I was so focused on like finishing degree so focused on like, you know, doing well on the courses that I didn't really, I feel like I didn't give enough time to really explore the connections and kind of explore like different maybe like different workshops, different reading opportunities, different reaching out to professors to learn more about, like a certain topic or a certain book that we're reading. Like, I feel like I didn't really reach out enough to make those connections, so I think if I could, I would probably tell myself to not be afraid to you know, stay after class and really learn more about whatever the professor's work was, or whatever book we're reading, seeing if there are different opportunities to learn different types of writing. Like yeah, I think that would be what I would want to tell my my younger self, but also like to not be afraid to just apply to the different submissions for literary magazines because I think for the longest time again, I felt like okay, how to finish this assignment, I had to like just write this piece to fit the teacher's requirements, and then from there, I just never did anything with my writing, like I just felt again, so academic. I wish like I can explore different literary magazines and maybe try to get published like at earlier times, then I would kind of get more used to the feeling of applying and maybe being published or applying and getting rejected and having that a better grasp of that process. And then if I guess that would be like an earlier start to getting my work, online and public.

Charlotte Nip: I wish there were more people that were open to talking about their experiences and kind of offering their advice to help with their career. So definitely I’m providing that support, but also like, yeah, I'm rooting for everybody. Like, I feel like if we put in the work, like I definitely feel very hopeful for everybody that's listening to you know, finish your degrees and kind of pursue your passions and all the different jobs that you might want. Like I feel it's very possible. So I'm hoping to anticipate like that good vibes and good luck to everybody and to continue, you know, powering on and being curious, I guess.

Emma Jean: If we do tell stories in order to live, then it seems like Charlotte and her images have enough to last a lifetime. I hope you do too.

Stephanie Werner: Many thanks to Charlotte Nip for sharing her passion and her poetry. What an absolute treat. You can follow her on Instagram @charlottenip and check out her Bookstagram at @seasonallyreading. Charlotte was also generous enough to share that if you're an SFU student interested in learning more about the publishing industry, you're welcome to reach out to her on LinkedIn with any questions.

Stephanie Werner: FCAT After School is produced by Emma Jean, Torien Cafferata, and Stephanie Werner, with help from Stu Popp and Tessa Perkins Deneault. We respectfully acknowledges the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Qayqayt, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, and Tsawwassen peoples, on whose unceded traditional territories our three campuses reside, and where many of the stories shared in our series take place.  If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to leave us a rating and subscribe to FCAT After School wherever you listen to podcasts. You can follow us on social media at FCAT at SFU. That's F C A T at SFU across all platforms.  For feedback or guest suggestions, reach us by email at: All links in the show notes. See you next time.