Archive for the ‘iUniverse’ Category

Three years later…

Friday, December 25th, 2009

For the last two years, on Christmas Day, I’ve posted about what has happened in my humble life since I signed up with iUniverse on Boxing Day in 2006 to self-publish my first novel. Every year at this time I re-read those two annual posts, One year later… and Two years later…. This year is no different. I just had a walk through those earlier two posts and find myself yet again counting my blessings. In my sideline life as a writer, it would be hard to top 2008. But I’ve had a wonderful time in 2009 and taken a few more strides down the writerly road. TBLP continues to sell well even though it’s been on bookstore shelves since September 2008. I also kept up a steady stream of readings, signings, and talks about the novel and the strange way it came into print. I think I’m up to about 60 book-related gigs since the Leacock Shock, with more being added steadily. Many authors dislike the “book tour” part of promoting their works. I, on the other hand, really enjoy getting out there and meeting those who have read the novel. It helps that most who read TBLP seem to like it, or at least they don’t dislike it enough to say nasty things to the author’s face. I’ve loved doing book clubs and public library readings, and bookstore signings. For me, that’s the fun part.

The big achievement in 2009 was outlining and then writing the sequel to TBLP, called The High Road. It was a great joy to write, and a great relief to finish, the sequel. It took about the same length of time to write as TBLP. What’s more, as 2009 wound down, McClelland & Stewart and my editor Douglas Gibson, agreed to publish The High Road in September 2010. Needless to say, in these uncertain times in the publishing world, I’m thrilled. In 2010, I became more active on Twitter and enjoyed connected with many writers and readers in this way. You can find/follow me on Twitter (@TerryFallis).

So I couldn’t be happier as 2009 draws to a close. My day job at Thornley Fallis has been busy and satisfying, and it’s shaping up to be a very fulfilling year professionally. On the writing front, the final manuscript for The High Road is due at M&S on January 11th so I’m in final tweaking mode. Then the focus moves to cover design and cover copy etc. Finally, I’m about ready to start outlining my third novel, as yet unnamed. It will not be another installment in the lives of Angus McLintock and Daniel Addison (although I expect I’m not through with those two yet). The characters and plot are still steeping in my mind but the general story line is there. It’s not as narrowly focused as my first two and I hope it might appeal to a broader audience. I think I’ll leave it at that for now. But it will be another satire.

All the best in 2010 and thanks for a year of encouragement and kind words from so many!

TBLP in Cambridge Library book club program

Sunday, May 24th, 2009


This is a very interesting initiative offered by the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge Ontario, about an hour west of Toronto.  They’ve created a Book Club in a Bag program as a support to local book clubs.  Included in the kit are eight copies of the book, a discussion guide, and a discussion leader’s tracking sheet, all in a Cambridge Library tote bag.

TBLP is one of the books offered through this innovative program.  They feature the original iUniverse edition of the novel which suggests that this library was a very early supporter.  Kudos to the staff for this interesting idea that I hope takes off.


Reflections on self-publishing

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008


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…

TBLP and public libraries

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Back in March 2008, I discovered that the Ottawa Public Library had ordered 15 copies of TBLP for its various branches. I was thrilled given that at the time I was just another self-published novelist trying to find readers.  Obviously the Ottawa setting of the novel helped.  I confess that before that time, I’d been more focused on getting TBLP into bookstores and online retailers.  I hadn’t really thought too much about libraries.  But if you consider just how many libraries there are across Canada, and what a critical source of new readers they represent, you quickly come to realize how important our public library system can be to a new author.  In the days after the Leacock announcement and before I signed on with M&S, most of the major libraries across Canada ordered the iUniverse edition (like the Winnipeg Public Library for instance).  So I’ve been curious whether the M&S version of TBLP would also be picked up.  Well, it’s starting to happen, for example in Calgary.  And the folks at Library Bound, a company that supplies public libraries, are helping.  In fact, they’ve featured it on their website in the “Drop in Best Seller” category. (No, I’m not sure what that means either but it sounds good to me.)

Two years later…

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Exactly twelve months ago today, I wrote a post on this blog entitled “One year later…“  The year before that, on December 26, 2006, I keyed in my Visa card number in the appropriate spaces on the iUniverse website and signed up to publish TBLP.  So in my post one year ago, I was reflecting on what an eventful year 2007 had been for me in my nascent life as a weekend writer, which culminated in the release of TBLP in September 2007.  Here’s a brief excerpt from that post exactly twelve months ago:

December 25th, 2007

“…One year later, my novel is widely available online. One year later, TBLP has won the (iUniverse) Editor’s Choice and the Publisher’s Choice honours. One year later, my podcast audience is still growing, and by the comments, still loving the story. One year later, I’ve had a successful Toronto launch and my first book signing. One year later, TBLP has aired on Radioropa, a leading European satellite radio network. One year later, every reader review, and the more formal published reviews have been so positive that most days, I tend to walk a few feet off the ground. One year later, more people have bought TBLP than I could ever have dreamed.”

I was clearly very happy one year ago as you can read.  Who knew that this year would be even better?  I had no idea that 2008 would bring such wonderful developments for me on the literary front.  Let me pick up where last year’s post left off:

December 25th, 2008

Two years later I was shocked and honoured to win the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.  Two years later I was thrilled to join the group of authors represented by the Beverley Slopen Literary Agency.  Two years later, Doug Gibson and McClelland & Stewart have published TBLP making it available in bookstores across Canada.  Two years later I’ve had the thrill of doing readings and speaking gigs at writers festivals with some of Canada’s finest writers including Joseph Boyden, Fred Stenson, Andrew Davidson and Bill Gaston.  Two years later, I’m nearly finished outlining the sequel to TBLP and almost ready to start writing again in earnest.

I certainly don’t mean for this to sound self-congratulatory in any way.  In fact, this is not a litany of accomplishments but rather a counting of blessings.  I write this with an almost overpowering sense of gratitude and a heaping helping of disbelief at my own good fortune.

Two years later, I’m drawn inexorably back to a phrase I blurted out in my impromptu Leacock acceptance speech last April, to describe how I felt about my surprise win.  It remains for me the most apt description, not just of the Leacock shock, but of the whole year.  2008 has been a head-on collision of shock and joy.

And looking ahead to 2009, it’s back to late nights with my laptop, trying to do it all over again with the sequel.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…

The Globe Review (…I can breathe again)

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, reviewed TBLP today in its wonderful Books section. My stomach has been in knots since I learned today would be the day. I can breathe again. It’s not bad:

More satire, please, we’re Canadian


May 3, 2008


By Terry Fallis

iUniverse, 257 pages, $21.95

A few years ago, CBC-TV foolishly cancelled Snakes and Ladders, a political dramedy set on Parliament Hill. The appetite for more Canadian political intrigue, especially with a satiric bent, is still there. But where do you find it in novel form?

First-time novelist Terry Fallis knew there was an audience. So he penned The Best Laid Plans and shopped it around to Canada’s publishers, but was not offered a book deal. So the tenacious Fallis self-published his 2007 book of fiction through iUniverse.

Fallis also submitted his own book to the judges of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. And this week, The Best Laid Plans won the $10,000 prize, beating out such A-list authors as Will Ferguson and Douglas Coupland.

This self-published wonder should be a cause for concern for the decision-makers at Canada’s faltering publishing houses about what should be jumping out of their slush piles, into print and on to national market.

The Best Laid Plans is not the best book of political satire I’ve read, but it’s amusing, enlightening – and Canadian. It deftly explores the Machiavellian machinations of Ottawa’s political culture, from the grassroots level in a fictitious federal riding during an election campaign, to the Wizards of Ottawa who operate the levers behind the curtain. This is a great platform to create satire that verges on parody.

Fallis, a former Ottawa backroom player who now runs the Toronto PR firm Thornley Fallis, is all too familiar with how the federal political game is played. The Best Laid Plans is written in first person through the eyes of the main protagonist, Daniel Addison, a 32-year-old former speechwriter to the leader of the Liberal opposition.

It’s immediately clear that Addison is a mouthpiece for Fallis’s own political views and the failings in Canada’s Parliament. This is how he starts his prologue: “I could take no more. With the backroom boys still driving Machiavelli’s motor coach, I was just a helpless, hapless passenger as they tossed the public interest under the wheels yet again. Just to be sure, we stopped, backed up, and rumbled over it once more. It was time to bail out. … On Parliament Hill, the pendulum of power swings between the cynical political operators (CPOs) and the idealist policy wonks (IPWs). It’s a naturally regulating model that inevitably transfers power from one group to another – and back again.”

After finishing his PhD on the side, Addison leaves his speechwriting job for a chance to become a tenured English professor at the University of Ottawa. But he owes one more favour to his Grit overlords: Find a Liberal candidate to run in the upcoming federal election against an entrenched Tory incumbent.

Addison’s lame-duck candidate is Angus McLintock, an indifferent 60-year-old Scots immigrant and professor of mechanical engineering. While the other characters are believably drawn, especially the Liberal leader’s obnoxious executive assistant, I struggled with McLintock, who seemed nothing more than a caricature when he was introduced.

McLintock is The Simpsons’ Groundskeeper Willie with a PhD. His pedantic tendency to correct people on proper English usage is odd since he speaks in a Scots dialect that sounds as if he just stepped out of an 18th-century Robbie Burns poem: “Aye, I cannae argue with you. Feel free to remind me what it feels like to face a rabble like that the next time me confidence clouds me judgment.”

Eventually, I came around, as the character developed into a chess-playing, hovercraft-building political rebel.

That Fallis’s political satire has won the Leacock could signal a sustained return of the go-for-the-jugular social and political satire missing in Canada these days.

D. Grant Black is a Saskatchewan journalist and editor who has considered self-publishing for his satire project.

Phew! I can certainly live with this…

The Leacock Medal… what a thrill…

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

I’m at a loss for words. It’s been quite a day. Thank you all for your support throughout this little journey of mine.

Here’s the news release. Here’s the CBC story. And here’s some video from the actual event.

There’s a whole weekend of celebrations in June. I’m starting to work on my speech already. Time for some sleep… if I can…

Forgive me but…

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I had one of those moments this evening. It felt kind of what I imagine it must feel like for an independent recording artist to be innocently driving to work and then suddenly hearing their own song on the car radio. I took my younger son Ben to a movie and then afterwards, browsed through the massive two story Indigo bookstore next door to the theatre at Yonge and Eglinton here in Toronto. It’s one of my favourite bookstores and I’m in there often. As I usually do, I gravitated towards the “F” section in Fiction. I don’t head there because I expect to find TBLP on the shelves. In fact, the only bookstores that carry my novel are the ones I’ve approached and supplied with copies. But I can’t resist taking a look anyway, often just to see which F authors would be flanking TBLP if it ever made it to their shelves.

Well, when I got to the F’s, my song started up on the car radio. There were ten copies of TBLP (front cover facing out!) right there on the eye-level shelf.


It’s one thing to pop into a bookstore you’ve already supplied with copies of your book and see it there on the shelves. You expect to see it. It’s no real surprise when you do see it, although it is cool. It’s quite another to be browsing in Canada’s major book retailer and with no warning, literally stumble upon your own book sharing the shelves with real F authors. For a moment, I thought I was having a stroke.

I snagged a friendly Indigo employee and asked him to check when these copies arrived, because I certainly had nothing to do with them being in the store. (This is not the same Indigo store location that will be featuring TBLP in February for eight weeks as part of the Publisher’s Choice award.) He checked the system and informed me that they had arrived on January 19th, about a week ago. Who knew! I didn’t.

The Indigo staffer then asked me if I were the author. When I told him I was, he went straight to the F shelf, pulled down all ten copies and headed to the nearest flat surface. He had me autograph them all and then placed “signed by the author” stickers on each one before displaying eight copies of TBLP on the “New in Trade Paperback” table near the front of the Fiction section. He placed the other two copies back in the F’s, still front cover facing out.


My stroke symptoms abated but I confess I was still tingling when Ben and I paid for the two books I was buying (Will in the World, Stephen Greenblatt’s acclaimed Shakespeare biography, and Jonathan Tropper’s new novel How to Talk to a Widower), and floated out of the store. Well, I was floating, Ben was just walking, holding my hand to keep me grounded…

TBLP on display at Indigo in February

Monday, January 7th, 2008

publishers-choice-logo.png One of the great benefits of earning the Publisher’s Choice designation through iUniverse is that TBLP will be showcased on a front table at a at least one Indigo store. I’ve now been given the information so I’m dutifully passing it on to you. Starting on February 19th, for two months, TBLP will be on display (and for sale of course!) at the Indigo store on the southeast corner of at Bay and Bloor, in the heart of Toronto’s shopping district. I’ll keep you posted and perhaps even take a photo when it all goes down later in February.

One year later…

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007



Exactly one year ago tomorrow, after months of futility and frustration with traditional publishing, I signed on with iUniverse to publish The Best Laid Plans. It was not the course I’d hoped to pursue. Like most first-time novelists, I had hoped to find an agent and a mainstream publisher. Alas, like thousands of other rookie writers, good and bad, I was unable to persuade anyone in traditional publishing even to read my manuscript, let alone publish it. So on December 26th, 2006, I took my first steps down the independent publishing route and signed on with iUniverse.

One year later, my novel is widely available online. One year later, TBLP has won the Editor’s Choice and the Publisher’s Choice honours. One year later, my podcast audience is still growing, and by the comments, still loving the story. One year later, I’ve had a successful Toronto launch and my first book signing. One year later, TBLP has aired on Radioropa, a leading European satellite radio network. One year later, every reader review, and the more formal published reviews have been so positive that most days, I tend to walk a few feet off the ground. One year later, more people have bought TBLP than I could ever have dreamed. One year later, the calls for a sequel have pushed me into outline mode for the next Angus/Daniel novel, which, yes, I hope will be published by a mainstream publisher.

But one year later, I couldn’t be happier. Happy New Year…