A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Mark Medley for a story on self-publishing in the National Post. It seems I forgot to mention it here on the blog (at least I think I forgot). It ran in many Canwest papers across the country. In any event, here’s the piece. Thanks Mark.
Archive for the ‘self-publishing’ Category
There’s a fascinating self-publishing story in the July Chatelaine about the extraordinary publishing journey of Mary-Ann Kirkby and her memoir, I Am Hutterite. She self-published in June 2007 and the book has taken off. She’s sold 75,000 copies! That is just amazing. She’s a Canadian bestseller 15 times over. There’s a brief sidebar to the story with some tips on self-publishing. I was interviewed briefly and there’s a mention or two in the sidebar. Every little bit of coverage helps…
This is quite unexpected. Okay, I’m shocked and thrilled at one and the same time. The Mark is a respected daily online forum for news, commentary and debate. One of their regular arts/books contributors is Mark Leslie Lefevbre, a writer and bookseller in Hamilton, and he has compiled a list of his favourite books of the decade. Somehow, TBLP has made the cut. How wonderful is it to be among a list of ten books of the decade alongside J.K. Rowling, Malcolm Gladwell, Linwood Barclay, Stephen King, and Robert Sawyer? Wow. I’m bowled over. You can see the entire list here. Thank you Mark!
Here’s a shot from Mark’s blog where he’s reading the original self-published edition of TBLP:
I’ve just stumbled upon a fascinating resource for anyone interested in the history of publishing in Canada. Created at McMaster University, my beloved alma mater, Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing is a web-based cornucopia of information, letters, essays, articles, photographs, and audio recordings about publishing in Canada. There are nearly 100 interesting case studies in the following different categories:
It really is a must-visit site if you’re interested in the world of publishing in Canada. My own editor Douglas Gibson figures prominently, and there are even scans of letters he’s sent off to one of his treasured authors, Alice Munro and a letter he received from another of his authors, the late, great Robertson Davies, one of my literary heroes. Doug had mentioned to me that he’d donated his papers to McMaster and clearly they are being put to good use.
In my travels within the site, I even found an article about Helen Humphreys by Kiley Kapuscinski that discusses her travails finding a publisher. Stephen Leacock‘s self-published but very successful 1910 book, Literary Lapses, was cited as an historical example of good works being overlooked by the publishers of the day. Then, I was quite surprised to find that I am actually mentioned in the article as a modern example of a writer who had faced challenges breaking in to the publishing world. I had no idea. Very cool. Here’s the brief excerpt:
I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. What has struck me over and over again, throughout this writing adventure I’m on, is just how gratifying it is to hear positive feedback from readers who have enjoyed the book. There is nothing more meaningful or rewarding. In the end, it’s what it’s all about. It’s why most writers are prepared to sequester themselves for long stretches of isolation. A positive review from a reader is, to a writer, what that one good shot amidst years of slices and hooks is to a golfer. It keeps us coming back, whether we’re banging on the keyboard, or swinging at the driving range. Thanks Jenn.
I’ve done a few interviews lately for broader stories about self-publishing, and the results are here. The Globe story was apparently trimmed quite a bit to fit the space they had available. But it’s always nice to be in the Globe. I did the Financial Post interview while standing on a pier in Digby, Nova Scotia at the start of our family vacation back in the early part of the July.
If you live in western Canada, you need no introduction to McNally Robinson. MR is the leading chain of independent bookstores west of Ontario. They are wonderful large stores with knowledgable staff, an amazing selection of books, and an unrivalled commitment to in-store author events. Well, last month, McNally Robinson opened their first Ontario store here in Toronto. I’ve been to the new store twice now and am very impressed.
I’ll be doing a reading and signing at MR on June 24th. If you’re in the neighbourhood, consider this your formal invitation to come to the event.
I’m now part of the roster of speakers available through Canada’s leading agency, Speakers’ Spotlight. One of their executives came to hear me talk about TBLP at the Women’s Canadian Club of Toronto a week or so ago and the invitation came shortly thereafter. I’m chuffed about it as they only take on a handful of new speakers each year, despite hundreds of requests for representation.
They have an amazing array of famous and prominent speakers (and now I’m there as well representing the not so famous and prominent contingent!). I’m available to speak not just about what I’ve taken to calling “my unorthodox journey to the published land,” but also about social media in general and podcasting in particular. Here’s the Speakers’ Spotlight profile they prepared for their website.
This past Thursday, I spoke at the monthly gathering of the Women’s Canadian Club of Toronto. What a wonderful group of interesting women from all walks of life. This club has been serving its members and the community for over 100 years having ccelebrated their first century anniversary in 2008. I found their mandate to be inspiring, even noble:
“The aim of the Women’s Canadian Club of Toronto is to promote Canadian identity, encourage Canadian unity, foster an interest in public affairs, and cultivate an attachment to Canadian institutions.”
I was warmly welcomed by 60 or 70 members before I was invited to the podium. I talked about my rather unorthodox journey to the published land and read a couple of passages from TBLP. We had a few laughs and there were even a couple of audience questions at the end.
Afterwards, Allison from Book City, a wonderful independent bookstore in the area, sold about 20 or so books, which I dutifully inscribed. The passionate bibliophiles at Book City, particularly the Yonge and St. Clair location, have been very supportive, even when I was peddling the self-published version of TBLP. Thanks to Chris and Allison and the rest of their team.
I have several speaking gigs coming up in the next few months ranging from book clubs to public libraries. If you have the slightest interest in where and when I’ll be talking about TBLP, you can check out the Appearances page.
Many thanks to Sandra Connery for inviting me to speak at the Women’s Canadian Club of Toronto. I had a great time.
Self-publishing TBLP was not my first choice. After I finished writing it, I spent the better part of a year peddling my manuscript around to agents and publishers with nary a flicker of interest. To many experienced writers, a year doesn’t seem a very long time, but I confess it did to me. In December 2006 I could see no evidence that I’d ever interest anyone in my novel. So it was not with excitement or anticipation that I signed up online with iUniverse to self-publish TBLP. No, I laid down my money with disappointment and a clear sense of unfulfilled dreams. But those feelings dissipated in time. My calculation was a simple one. I convinced myself (and I’m glad I did) that it would be easier to build an audience for my work, and interest agents and publishers if I could actually put a published book in their hands (okay, a self-published book that didn’t look like many self-published books). I was, and still am, fully aware of the often well-earned stigma of self-published books. For many readers, self-published works cry out that this writing, this story, this book, is just not worthy of mainstream publishing houses. The common refrain from critics is that if the quality is there, it will eventually find a home with a publisher. Intellectually I know this is not necessarily true. But it’s been true often enough to entrench this belief. I knew all of this, but went down the self-publishing road anyway, feeling that it at least gave me a chance to get my novel “out there.”
So what’s my view of self-publishing now? Well despite the success of my rather unorthodox journey to the published land, self-publisihing still wouldn’t be my first choice. Being published by a mainstream house brings so many benefits that it remains the goal to shoot for if you’re an aspiring writer (as I still consider myself to be). But, if that route doesn’t pay off, self-publishing is an avenue worth considering if the circumstances are right. As for my charmed year in 2008? None of this would have happened had I not first self-published TBLP. Were it not for the TBLP podcast and iUniverse, there would never have been the Leacock shock, Beverley Slopen, Doug Gibson and McClelland & Stewart, and all that has come since. So self-publishing worked for me. But because it has worked and I’ve somehow found a home with M&S, at least for TBLP, I’m hoping I won’t need to resort to self-publishing in the future. And that was the point of trying it in the first place. So, not necessarily self-publishing but self-publishing if necessary…