Sunday, March 01, 2015

Six Things Canadian Authors Should Know About Publishing

Curtis Sittenfeld recently wrote a blog titled “24 Things No One Tells You About Publishing”, which inspired author Scott Berkun to respond with “28 (Better) Things No One Tells You AboutPublishing”. Both blogs are terrific, mixing humor with poignancy with business and philosophy. Many points I agreed with, a few made me pause to think, and one or two I disagreed with.

The blogs made me realize that there are specific issues that Canadian authors need to consider. Given that a lot has been said in the other blogs, I’ve listed only six points.

. Despite the comments of a few publishers, authors, and agents I’ve heard at conferences over the years, it’s okay to use Canadian scenes, characters, and references. Plenty of American readers are happy to read stories set in Canada. The challenge has been convincing publishers of this. Of course, not everyone will take to your setting, but to ignore the unique and gorgeous geography in our backyards to appease an American publisher is a missed opportunity.

. If your published book is in certain Canadian libraries, you might be entitled to take part in the Public Lending Right (PLR) Program through the Canada Council for the Arts. There’s a list of rules for co-authors, illustrators, and so forth. If you qualify, you could receive a cheque every February based on random samples taken from larger libraries across the country. To learn more about how it works, go to

. You might also qualify for remuneration for published articles, short stories, books, etc. through the Access Copyright program. You can learn the details at

. Based on my self-publishing experiences, libraries in smaller cities and towns that aren’t part of a larger library system will buy your book directly. A professional query letter, flyer, and ordering information were all that I needed. Library wholesalers will also buy books from indie publishers, although expect them to ask for discounts.

. Doing business with Amazon can be costly, particularly if you have a larger book. They ask for a 55% discount, and you pay the shipping costs, and it isn’t cheap. Don’t rely on for print sales. If you don’t have a U.S. post box, it’s a pain.

. Finally, if you’re going to be a Canadian fiction author, you’d better have another income stream. It’s a fact of life for 99% of authors. But you already knew that, right?

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