Category : Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Meet Project Manager Alison Strumberger

alison-1How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

Multifaceted. As a project manager it is my job to educate and support authors through their self-publishing journey, assisting with everything from manuscript formatting and submission, to illustrations and editing and design, and finally to book distribution. In addition to working closely with authors to bring their books into the world, I manage the editing department here at Tellwell. In this part of my role I draw on a decade of editorial experience to focus on refining our services, recruiting the best talent around, maintaining quality assurance, and supporting a team of thirteen dedicated editors who are passionate about helping authors tell their stories well.

What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

My days almost always begin in my inbox as I make my way through emails, answering questions from my authors and acting as a liaison between them and our designers, illustrators and editors. Quite a bit of my time here is spent collaborating with the rest of the in-house team about ways to improve on our processes. Invariably in the afternoon, I will find myself embroiled in an intense game of foosball in the break room. I prefer to play defence.

What is the most common misconception when it comes to editing, in particular in the self-publishing industry?

There are a number of misconceptions about editing, I think because the results of professional editing are often intangible. I would say the biggest of these is “I don’t need editing.” Every author has an editor; it is an essential stage in the publishing process. David Foster Wallace had an editor. Michael Ondaatje has an editor. Editing is so much more than adding missing periods and removing comma splices. Editing is also about style and nuance, it’s about the big picture of a narrative, it’s about character and logic and removing embarrassing unintentional puns, it’s about a fresh set of eyes reading your work as a reader would: critically, looking for the meaning, and really working to draw it out.

It is true when self-publishing that deciding to have your book edited can add substantially to your initial costs, but the investment will increase the quality of your final product exponentially, thereby setting your book apart from the rest. As Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying, “The difference between the nearly right word and the right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

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Meet the Team

Book Marketing Consultant Kendal Gerard’s take on joining Tellwell’s team

Kendal and her daughter Frankie.In January 2017, my family made the decision to move from Toronto to Victoria, BC (if you’ve ever spent a January in either location you’ll understand why.) I was right at the end of my maternity leave — my baby daughter had just turned one — and, in and amongst the chaos of selling our house, buying a new one, packing our boxes and changing our contact information everywhere, I was looking for flexible work in book publishing, specifically in children’s book publishing, which is where I have worked since graduating from Queen’s University in 2007 and the book publishing program at Centennial College in 2008.

By May, when we redeemed our one-way tickets to Victoria, I had been off work for nearly two years. (Though, believe me, I had read a lot of books in that time.) I had used the final few months of my pregnancy to complete a Masters in Education at the University of Toronto, which I had been chipping away at for a number of years while working full-time as the Marketing Manager at Owlkids Books (publisher of Chirp, chickaDEE and OWL magazines,) and my daughter was now nearly one and a half. In those two years, while I was home reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear for the umpteenth time, Tellwell had sprung into existence and I imagine I found this talented group of people much in the same way that you did — kudos to the individual who handles our SEO.

I didn’t have to spend very long on Tellwell’s website to realize that this was the place I wanted to work once we got settled in our new province. Even though no jobs were being advertised, I got the impression that Tellwell was the kind of company that would always find a way to make room for hard-working, enthusiastic, experienced people. Their commitment to helping authors create the best books possible means building a big team — so that every book will be matched with the ideal project manager, editor, designer and publicist. My first impression was not wrong and I was able to join Tellwell’s marketing team part-time in September, where I work on children’s books exclusively.

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Meet the Team

Meet Project Manager Derek Rodway


me1. How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

As a Project Manager I oversee the entire production process for our authors and educate them along the way. I manage each book as it flows through the hands of our very talented editors, designers, illustrators, and marketers.

2. What does a typical day on the job look like for you? 

The majority of my day is spent communicating with authors through emails or phone calls. I manage anywhere from 50-80 authors at one time, each at a different stage in our publishing process, and each requiring regular updates on the progress of their book. I also regularly participate in meetings to discuss our production process and try and find ways to improve it. Oh, and I always manage to sneak in a foosball game!

3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

My favourite part of the job is definitely the team of talented people that I get to work with. They make coming to work a lot of fun. Beyond that, I love watching the books come to life — Seeing our design team take a plain old word document and transform it into a beautifully designed book is extremely rewarding.

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Meet the Team

Meet Publishing Consultant Meara O’Shaughnessy

mearaAs a Publishing Consultant, my role is to reach out to authors who have expressed an interest in our services and to help them determine the most effective way for them to achieve their dream of getting published.

2. What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

I spend most of my days on the phone discussing the various aspects of the publishing industry with authors, assessing manuscripts and responding to lots of emails.

3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

I love listening to passionate authors describe their work. There is something so refreshing about hearing such uninhibited excitement that really brightens my day!

4. What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is preparing authors for the production process. Often times authors will hold tight to their material up until the production stage, and it becomes very difficult for them to approach the process with an open mind. I have to remind them that they are coming to us in part for our professional insights, and industry knowledge – we want to make their book the best it can be and it’s hard to trust something so close to you to someone else.

5. What’s the most common question you get from first-time authors?

“Will my book sell?” is absolutely the most common question I am faced with, and it’s a tough one because there really are no guarantees. This question does give me the opportunity to explain the benefits of marketing however, which is a part of the process I honestly believe every author should invest their time and energy into, as it can really make or break the success of a book.

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Meet the Team

Meet Book Marketing Consultant Tyler Hooper

img_40401.  How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

As a Book Marketing Consultant my job is to inform you, the author, on what sort of marketing strategies and avenues are available for your book.


2. What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

Each day is a mixed-bag! Some days I’m on the phone doing marketing consultations, other days I am deep into designing websites, or coming up with a plan for marketing outreach. The only consistency is coffee. Lots of coffee.


3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

Talking to authors over the phone and hearing their passion for their book is what I enjoy most. It’s amazing to hear all the diverse stories of how authors came up with their book and how it all started. It’s very inspiring!


4. What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Time management. It’s easy to get sucked into designing a website and then wonder where all the time went. I set notifications throughout the day to keep me moving through tasks.


5. What is your favourite marketing service and why?

The book marketing consultation. I like to openly talk with authors about their book and come up with a personalized strategy for each author.


6. What is your number one marketing tip for authors?

All book marketing in the assisted self-publishing world starts with you, the author! You really need to be your own publicist, voice, and advocate for your book. Tellwell’s here to help construct a map for your journey, but you’re the one who gets to experience it all.


7. If you were to publish a book, what would it be about?

It would be non-fiction and it would probably have something to do with history. I like exploring stories that take you to certain period in time.


8. What did you do before joining the Tellwell team?

I worked as a journalist in both print and for a community TV station.


9. What books do you love to read?

95% of what I read is non-fiction. Erik Larson is my go to for historical narrative non-fiction. You really can’t go wrong with anything written by John Vaillant, Joby Warrick, Sebastien Junger, or Truman Capote.


10. Other than reading, what do you do in your spare time?

I am getting pretty hooked on trail running at the moment. Getting out into the outdoors is important to me. I also like to write long-form pieces. It’s good to stay busy and have goals.


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Meet the Team

Project Manager Sean Santin shares more on book distribution

sean-headshot1. How would you describe your roll at Tellwell?

As a Project Manager I find I spend much of my time educating authors through the Tellwell process as well as informing them about the world of assisted self-publishing.

2. What does a typical day look like for you?

After my walk to work, I grab a coffee, jump into some emails, schedule my phone calls, and prep for team meetings… oh and I’ll try to squeeze in a game of Foosball somewhere in my day.

3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

Honestly, I enjoy talking to our authors about their books; I recognize many of them have been working on their book for years, for most authors it’s become a big part of them.

4. What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Really, it’s a lack of time – there is just a large amount of information to cover for all the authors during the process and it can prove difficult to carve out the time each author needs!

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Guest Post Meet the Team

Guest Post: Publishing Consultant Mitchel Anderson celebrates two years at Tellwell

img-20171024-wa0006What brought me to Tellwell at first was my determination to have a career in books and literature. As soon as I could reliably make my way through a novel at a young age, I would be asking for a new book every week until I had amassed what is a small library. The value of a good book was never lost on me which can be heard in stories my family would tell about how particular I was about the condition of my books. This carried me through my English Literature degree from York University in Toronto where I had the pleasure of arguing about the meaning of books with people much smarter than myself.

What drew me to Tellwell specifically was the different perspective we take to publishing in general. While authors I have known would lament about the difficulties of finding a publisher I would always ask why they didn’t self-publish, but the logistics never seemed to make sense for them. When I first arrived here at Tellwell and spoke to our founder Tim Lindsay, I realized the rare opportunity we had to put the freedom and control back in an author’s hands and help contribute to the global body of literature.

Coming in at the ground floor I had rare opportunities to be heard in the development of our company and I have always made it my responsibility to listen to the feedback we receive from our authors about their experiences here and elsewhere and use that to help shape our direction going forward. My favourite parts of my job are listening to our authors discuss their projects and being able to step in with my expertise to show them that what was previously an intimidating venture is actually very approachable as long as you have clear information and the right team.

At the end of the day, I firmly believe that creator-owned fiction and nonfiction is the only way to guarantee a diverse and lively discussion in literature. If every author listened to rejection and never took a chance on their vision, we would never have seen the likes of Dr. Seuss nor would we have the influential The Joy of Cooking, which was originally self-published during the Depression and used as a proof of concept for further consideration with traditional publishers. This is a route many of our authors take here at Tellwell and we do everything in our power to make sure they are situated in the best possible way to do so.

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Meet the Team

Meet Tellwell’s Book Designer Tara Price

1. How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

tara-cropAs a graphic designer, I design books. It’s really that simple. I lay out covers, format manuscripts, prepare files for our printer, and finally convert the files to eBooks. I also help the design team stay on top of technology and best practices in design.


2. What’s your favourite part of the job?

Taking our authors’ initial ideas or concepts, and creating something that they love. When I hear an author is ecstatic with their cover design or book layout, that’s the best part of my day.


3. What do think is the most important aspect of an author’s cover design?

Grabbing your audience’s attention. It doesn’t matter if it’s done through amazing typography or stunning images or dynamic use of colour; the important part is to know your specific target audience so you can get potential readers past the cover and into your book.


4. What are some tips you have for authors when it comes to cover and interior design?

Look at other books in your genre and let us know the ones that really speak to you. As a designer, I’m slightly more of a visual person. Seeing what you love helps me create something you will love.

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Meet the Team

Learn about the roles of a Project Manager with Amanda Richardson

image-uploaded-from-ios1. How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

I’m a project manager here at Tellwell, so a huge part of my role is guiding authors through the process of self-publishing. This can range from connecting authors with editors, illustrators, and designers, through to discussing pricing options and distribution channels. I do my best to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone involved, but every day presents new situations and challenges, so there’s never a dull moment.

As a part of a small company, we all wear a lot of hats, so I also work closely with our editing team, write a lot of our external copy, and work with my team to continually improve and develop new and existing services.


2. What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

Typical days are pretty atypical with a job like this, but the one true constant is emails. There are always emails to be answered, files to be transferred, and authors to talk to. We’re a pretty collaborative workplace, so there’s a lot of brainstorming new ideas and troubleshooting hiccups, and I love that I have such an awesome team to rely on each day.


3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

My authors’ success is my success, so whether it’s helping someone learn a new program or congratulating them on officially publishing their title, I love getting to experience these victories with my authors. We work so closely over the course of several months that you can’t help but be proud when they figure out the PDF markup tools or make their first sale.

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Meet the Team

Meet Book Marketing Manager Francesca Jackman

fj-blog1. How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

I’m the Book Marketing Manager, which means I’m responsible for our marketing program and the services offered to authors to help them promote their books. A large portion of my day is dedicated to working directly with our clients on the marketing aspects of their project, but I also spend a lot of my time developing the program through hiring and enhancing the resources and tools at our disposal.


2. What’s your favourite part of the job?

I’m an avid learner, so my favourite part of the job is that I’m learning new things every day, whether it be through authors and their work, or through the book marketing industry itself. Coming from a journalism background, I also love the fact that no day is ever the same, and the work is always diversified by the range of authors we work with and their unique projects. This job certainly keeps me on my toes, and I love being constantly challenged to learn more, and broaden my understanding of the book marketing industry.


3. What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is letting go. I’m a passionate person by nature, and once I invest myself in a new author’s project, it’s difficult to pass the baton over to them when our time together is finished. We have the pleasure of being able to work with many authors as they begin the book marketing component of self-publishing, but at the end of the day, our main job is to empower those authors to embrace marketing. Unlike publicists, who are actively promoting an author’s work over an extended period of time, we focus on providing the resources, tools, and education necessary to have authors executing marketing strategies on their own. What they do with it from there is up to them. I now understand how difficult it must be for teachers who have to say goodbye to another group of their students each year!

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