Read an interview of Meizhen Dang, publishing director and owner of a children’s book publishing agency in downtown Ottawa, Canada.
How has your career path changed since your post-secondary education?
It was an interesting one. I didn’t expect myself to be a book publisher till very late.
After I graduated from the University of Ottawa with a PhD in physics, I worked a few years at the university as a research associate. Meanwhile, DC Canada Education had an ESL co-publishing project going on. I took the challenge to coordinate the two teams (one in Canada and one in China) to complete the Learning English textbook project, which lasted more than 6 years.
It’s always been a struggle between what to do with my career: whether to continue on scientific research or drop that and move on to book publishing. At the end, I think it’s my love for children and education exceeds my love for becoming a scientist.
What made you open a publishing firm?
By accident. Actually I didn’t. It was my husband who was invited to save an English textbook co-publishing project. So we got the opportunity to work with Canadian and Chinese publishers to develop a whole series of English textbooks from grade 1 to grade 12 for Chinese schools. Later, we started to publish other titles in addition to the Learning English textbook for both ESL market and educational market worldwide. The Charter for Children is one of the first series we published for Canadian Children/Education market.
Why children’s books?
Children books are both important and fun to work with. They also connect to the ESL market better. I believe education can change a child’s future or even their family’s. When we publish books that can inspire children and open their minds and visions at early years, it helps them all way up to their adulthood—which is why we keep working tirelessly day and night.
What made you start the Love for the North fund?
I always think about people who live up north, especially in winter time. They’re the ones Canadians can be proud of. Strong and brave, and they expand our horizon by living on the top of the world. And yet, the children don’t have easy access to resources like children in other places. So we started the Love for the North campaign – trying to send more books to schools up north.
What message do you have for children’s book authors?
Write your books with a purpose. Think about it like you’re creating a special gift for your child. It is a gift not only for you to like; it has to be liked by children. There are so many brilliant children books on the market. Do your research before you start.