When Words Collide wrap post

So . . . it’s been a few months since I attended When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta. It was an interesting event. Organizers billed it as a literary festival, but it grew out of a fan con. It was an interesting mix, one part writing conference, one part reader/fan convention.

It takes its organizational model from conventions, asking a nominal membership fee rather than a pricey conference fee. Most of the sessions were panels with a few workshops and guest of honour sessions worked into the schedule.

I enjoyed my first WWC and got a lot out of it, as you may have gathered if you’ve been following my WWC posts over the past months.

One thing I didn’t appreciate was the heavy scheduling. With the exception of the banquet, there were no set breaks for meals, and even during the banquet, which was an optional extra cost, there were concurrent sessions.

It made what was already a difficult decision between a plethora of sessions even more challenging. They should have handed out time turners at the door ;)

I met a lot of authors I had previously only known on the interwebz and I got to act all fangirlish around Brandon Sanderson. I also reconnected with a lot of authors I had previously met at other conferences and stayed an extra day so I could spend some time with an old university roommate hiking at Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon.

There was a book room, and of course, I bought a few books. Not as many as at past conferences, but I picked up enough to keep feeding my addiction and weighing down my bookshelves.

WWCBooks

One of the other bonuses was the writing contest, which I was happy to place second in with my paranormal short story, “On the Ferry.” I got to read an excerpt from my story, meet all the other top ten authors, and the judges of the contest, who also gave all of the top ten their comments.

I am currently revising that story for another market.

Overall, it was a rewarding time. I probably won’t be able to attend every year, however. Like the Surrey International Writers’ Conference I attended last year, the air fare and accommodation costs make WWC an occasional treat rather than a definite must.

And that, as they say, is a wrap.

Next week: I’ll be updating you on Nuala’s situation and the state of things in the yard and driveway.

Review of The Occasional Diamond Thief by Jane Ann McLachlan

What Amazon says:

On his deathbed, Kia’s father discloses a secret to her alone: a magnificent and unique diamond he has been hiding for years. Fearing he stole it, she too keeps it secret. She learns it comes from the distant colonized planet of Malem, where her father caught the illness that eventually killed him. Now she is even more convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond. When 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a translator, she is co-opted by a series of events into travelling as a translator to Malem. Using her skill in languages – and another skill she picked up after her father’s death, the skill of picking locks – she unravels the secret of the mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner. But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? And how can she bear to part with this last link to her father?
Kia is quirky, with an ironic sense of humour and a loner. Her sidekick, Agatha, is hopeless in languages and naive to the point of idiocy in Kia’s opinion, but possesses the wisdom and compassion Kia needs.

The Occasional Diamond Thief

My thoughts:

The Occasional Diamond Thief is a fabulous adventure, but it also offers thoughts and feels for readers of all ages.

In The Occasional Diamond Thief, McLachlan’s protagonist, Kia, learns the truth about herself by learning the truth about others.

Kia is the youngest of three children. Her father, a space ship’s captain and merchant, returns from a trip to another planet with the illness that eventually kills him. He is secretive and haunted, but Kia wants his love and approval.

She believes her facility with languages will accomplish this and so learns the difficult Malemese. Unfortunately, hearing the language worsens her father’s condition.

Kia is also at odds with her mother, who is strictly religious and seems to resent Kia’s connection to her husband through the language of Malem. In an attempt to protect both spouse and child, Kia’s mother forbids the speaking of Malemese in the house.

When her father dies, Kia is with him, and he commends to her an incredible diamond. Determined to solve the mystery of the gem, but escape her mother’s oppressive grief, Kia applies to become a translator. Independence is a challenge, and Kia must turn to thievery to support her life as a student.

She gets caught, and as a consequence is sent to Malem as a language teacher for the Select who assisted her in the theft. Once there, Kia must solve the mystery of the diamond, risking her life and that of the Select, uncovering a conspiracy that has its roots in the highest levels of Malemese society.

Kia believes her mother harsh, but learns that she was only trying to protect the ones she loved. Kia believes her father is a thief, but learns that it was his compassion that placed the diamond in his custody. Kia believes the Select and her order, the O.U.B. are attempting to manipulate her, but discovers that they are only trying to make it possible for Kia to right old wrongs. Kia believes the Malemese people to be cold and barbaric, but experiences their capacity to love first hand and fights to free them from a fearful legacy.

McLachlan has created a simple, but compelling universe that doesn’t strain credibility and serves as the perfect backdrop for Kia’s journey. She even weaves in a sweet love interest that proves to have his own secrets. Woven into the overall plot are mystery and thriller elements that will keep readers turning pages.

McLachlan’s novel is reminiscent of Madeline L’engle and Ursula K. LeGuin’s young adult fiction.

My highest recommendation.

My rating:

5 out of 5 stars.

Jane Ann McLachlanAbout the author:

Jane Ann McLachlan is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, published by Pandora Press, and two textbooks on Professional Ethics, published by Pearson-Prentice Hall. She has a Science Fiction novel, Walls of Wind, on Amazon under her pen name, J.A. McLachlan, and a second science fiction novel, The Occasional Diamond Thief, coming out on Dec. 2, 2014. She is a professor at Conestoga College in Kitchener, and lives with her husband and daughter in Waterloo, Ontario. Her goal is to write and publish the kind of stories you hate to finish reading.

http://www.janeannmclachlan.com/

WWC 2014, Days 2 and 3: All the Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson

Photo by Nazrilof

If you want to find out moar about Brandon Sanderson, please visit his eponymous web site.

I attended several of Brandon’s sessions at When Words Collide, but I didn’t take notes in any of them. I just soaked up the writerly goodness :)

On the Saturday, I attended “An hour with Brandon Sanderson,” in which Brandon shared his path to publication, as well as the highlights of his involvement in finishing Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. Much of the information is summarized in the About Brandon page of the above linked site.

I love finding out how authors started out, how they made it work, and how they manage to make a living writing, which is a rare privilege (IMHO).

On Sunday, I attended Brandon’s two hour “The Writing Process” session, followed by a panel discussion he sat on about “How to build a consistent and original magic system.”

Both were fabulous.

I’ve read many posts recently about attending author sessions at conferences and conventions. The warning is that some authors don’t know what their processes are, or if they do, they speak to how they write only, without giving context or alternatives. Some are speaking as a form of self-promotion, or to get you to buy and read their books and don’t necessarily offer anything of value in terms of what the individual writer can take away and apply to their own work and process.

There’s nothing wrong with promotion, but it’s best not to dress such sessions up as workshops.

I’m happy to say that Brandon was nothing like that. He achieved his Master’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and subsequently took over teaching their SF&F creative writing class, which used to be taught by David Farland (from whom Brandon himself learned in his undergraduate years).

You can find links to Brandon’s courses and videos on his web site (linked above), but you can also find them by Googling Write About Dragons. Here’s a link to his 2012 and 2013 lectures on their site, and another to their YouTube channel.

Another great way to get your hands on Brandon Sanderson’s writing advice is to listen to the Writing Excuses podcast, which he co-hosts with Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. I started listening in the spring.

Needless to say, Brandon did a mah-veh-lous job of his workshop. The two hours flew by. He’d either enter into a topic by describing his process and expand out to discuss alternative methods, or, he’d cast his net wide, and describe the various approaches to an aspect of the writing life, and then describe his personal preferences.

I appreciated this, because, ultimately, every writer develops her or his own process, and there is no one correct way to write a novel. It’s a message that can’t be sent often enough.

As the saying goes, anyone who tries to tell you differently is selling something.

Finally, in the magic system panel, I was just fascinated about how the authors approached their individual magic systems and how they all applied the rule that all magic comes with a cost. There was even some speculation about writing a magic system without a cost, but, it was argued, that would be science and technology.


 

Next weekend, I have a few posts that have to take precedence: my month end (and NaNo) update, a post about my intrinsic motivations for writing, and a Caturday quickie on a blog award I received this month.

So My When Words Collide Wrap Post won’t arrive until the second weekend of December. In the meantime, Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday posts will continue and, just to whet your appetite, I’ll have posts coming up about teaching team building, the Humber Writers workshop I attended, a pupdate on poor Nuala, and the state of the driveway and yard now the construction season has ceded to snow.

I’ll even have a couple of book reviews coming up for my friend Jane Ann McLachlan. So, yes, December’s going to be a busy month on the blog.

Fare thee well until Tipsday and my book review of Jane’s The (occasional) Diamond Thief.

WWC 2014, Day 3: Marketing your book with Jodi McIsaac

Jodi MacIsaacJodi McIsaac grew up in New Brunswick, Canada. After stints as a short-track speed skater, a speechwriter, and fundraising and marketing executive in the nonprofit sector, she started a boutique copywriting agency and began writing novels in the wee hours of the morning. She currently lives with her husband and two feisty daughters in Calgary, Alberta.


 

There’s a lot of competition out there, so you have to distinguish yourself.

In 2012:

  • 1.5 million print books were published
  • 347,000 traditional books deals were made
  • 391,000 ISBNs were assigned

There are currently 30 million books on the market. Only 500 of those will sell 100,000 or more copies.

There’s not much difference between the Big 5, small publishers, micro publishers, and self-publishers with respect to how much work the author will have to devote to marketing.

Ten authors per year might get marketing support.

Word of mouth is still the best way to sell anything.

  1. Write another book. Nothing sells backlist like a new book.
  2. Be professional. This is your livelihood. Treat it as such.
  3. Understand your audience. You’re a match-maker between your book and its readers.
  4. You need a web site. Also set up shop on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, Library Thing, etc.
  5. Mobilize your existing network. Never underestimate the value of family and friends.
  6. Build an email list. Mailchimp is great for this and easy to learn.
    6.5 (inserted for this presentation): Create a “street team” or “launch team.” These are people in your existing network who can be depended upon to help you make creative decisions like your title and cover and who will promote your book across their networks. As a perk, they get a copy of your advanced reader copy (ARC) so they can post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc.
    Obtain reviews outside your street team.
  7. Contact book bloggers. My personal opinion is that blog tours are a waste of time. You have to produce so much content, it’s rarely worth the effort. There’s no dependable way to measure the marketing value (i.e. how many sales resulted from the tour). If you feel you would like to do one, however, I won’t discourage you. You may get different results.
  8. Giveaways. Always budget for this, especially if you are self-publishing. You need to have enough copies set aside so you can give them away on Goodreads, or on Facebook using Rafflecopter, or during your in person events.
  9. Goodreads. Not only can you participate in giveaways, but you can also have book chats, groups, and other online events to support your launch.
  10. Paid advertising. This has not been proven to sell books. Usually not cost-effective. BookBub may be the exception.
  11. Social media. Focus on one and try not to get spammy. Asking your followers to buy your book continually can come off as desperate. You might actually lose followers this way.
  12. Traditional media and promotion. Have a press release and a media package ready to go. If you’re not sure what should be in your media package, Google it. There are a lot of great resources out there.

So when do you do all of this? You have to make the time. It’s not so much work/life balance as it is work/life blend. You have to find what works for you.

We then went through a brief example with the time we had remaining.


 

This is the last of the formal posts I will have on the When Words Collide sessions I attended. Do to my entry into the In Places Between contest, I attended the reading and judging sessions on Sunday morning and it limited the sessions I could get to.

Next week: I’ll post about Brandon Sanderson. I attended three of his sessions altogether and I didn’t take notes at one. I just soaked up the wisdom :D So this will be a kind of summary post with links to resources.

That will leave the wrap post for the first weekend in December.

See you again on Tipsday!

WWC 2014, Day 3: Querying your YA novel

Panellists: Jacqueline Guest, Danielle L. Jensen, Jessica Corra, Shawn L. Bird, Karen Bass

Jacqueline GuestDanielle L. JensenQ: Do you query a trilogy?

DJ: It depends on your genre. Some say your novel has to be a standalone, but I’ve been successful querying a trilogy.

JC: It’s okay to mention that your novel has series potential, but you can go too far with this. I was once queried with a nine book series. That was too much.

SB: It’s good to know the career potential of the author, though.

DJ: Focus on one book in your query.

JC: It’s a business letter.

KB: It’s your pitch. Three sentences. Short, punchy, and pithy.

JC: Think about the backbone of your book. That’s your through line.

JG: You’re not selling to a reader. You’re selling to an agent or publisher. Don’t tease.

SB: The basic structure of a query letter is three paragraphs: pitch, comps, and bio.

JC: You need to mention genre, word count, and title.

DJ: You Jessica Corracould write: I am seeking representation for TITLE, a GENRE novel, complete at LENGTH (in thousands of words, rounded to the nearest thousand). I actually got my agent through a logline contest for Ms. Snark.

JC: Sometimes you don’t need an agent, though.

KB: Small Canadian publishers, no. Big publishers or genres, yes. Anything in the States, yes.

DJ: I’d die without my agent. She takes care of things

like foreign riShawn L. Birdghts. It really depends on your skill set.

SB: Sometimes, it depends on the agent.

DJ: I’d recommend Query Tracker.

JC: Jim Butcher proposes this formula for youKaren Bassr log line: *WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL,* but will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?

JG: Spell check, for God’s sake. You have two sentences to hook an agent or editor.

DJ: Your first five to ten pages must be perfect.

JC: We know you’re human, though. We’ll overlook something small.

JG: There are lots of library books that will help you.

DJ: Online critique groups can help as well.

Q: How do I know the agent is reputable?

DJ: Writer Beware, Preditors & Editors, and Absolute Write are three sites where you can check out questionable agents, agencies, or scams. If you post on social media or forums, don’t bitch about being rejected.

Q: How many queries do you receive and how many of those do you read?

JC: We have readers, so I don’t see them all, but everyone I receive, I read.

Q: You’ve published several books. Do you still slave over your letters?

JG: Yes. Every time.

WWC 2014, Day 2: YA and the tough stuff

Panellists: Kimberly Gould, David Laderoute, Aviva Bel’Harold, Michell Plested

Kimberly GouldDavid LaderouteAviva Bel'Harold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michell PlestedQ: What language do you use?

DL: Keep your audience in mind.

MP: Look at Harry Potter. The Dursleys made him live under the stairs. That’s abuse, but it was painted realistically.

DL: Neil Gaiman thought of using homeless characters in Neverwhere, but reconsidered.

MP: Whatever you choose to portray, it can’t be gratuitous. The character and the character’s circumstances have to be essential to the story.

Q: Is there a difference between the Canadian and American YA market? I was at a Kelley Armstrong session and she said that the only thing you don’t include is boring.

AB: I don’t notice a difference myself.

DL: Some publishers may ask you to eliminate the profanity in either country. That’s okay, you’re saving words. I know kids swear, but we write dialogue that simulates reality. Real world dialogue would sound horrible.

Q: Don’t readers need to see themselves on the page, though?

MP: Yes, but a book that ends hopelessly is dissatisfying.

AB: Most teens want hope.

MP: No one wants to end up homeless, addicted, or any of the other hard things we write about. They want to know there’s a way out.

Q: Beyond a sense of belonging, do you offer solutions in your novels?

AB: Don’t set out to write a novel with a message. It can come off heavy-handed.

KG: Present options in your novel, not right and wrong.

DL: Solutions are facile. Even young readers see through that.

MP: If you offer a solution, it shouldn’t be easy. If your character is smart and capable, they’ll keep trying. The struggle is the thing.

Q: Horrible things are still happening in the world. Should we show people responding?

MP: The character may be too close to the situation to understand it, but the reader should be able to pick up on it (dramatic irony).

KG: Perspective or point of view (POV) is basic storytelling. Be honest to your story. Make it true.

DL: You can write about difficult situations. There are two books, It’s kind of a funny story by Ned Vizzini, and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher that treat teen suicide respectfully. What about the topics of child slavery, child soldiers, or gangs? These are issues that should be addressed.

MP: It’s not writing the story that’s difficult, but resolving myself to writing it. The Boy Scouts are a recruiting ground for child soldiers, but how do you write about that? It’s an inherently hopeless situation.

AB: Abuse victims have similar “unseen” problems. I couldn’t address them myself. I don’t have the experience or context to do it justice.

MP: It comes down to passion. If you’re passionate about something, then write it. Don’t write it because it’s a “cool” or “hot button” topic.

Q: There are books that address difficult issues out there. Deborah Ellis writes about the third world in her books and Sharon McKay tackles child soldiers.

AB: How do we bring these subjects to our readers with sensitivity?

MP: In one of my books, I address bullying. One of the characters is a foster child and the protagonist doesn’t understand. The story is about coming to that understanding and learning compassion.

AB: I think one of the problems is that we can write great books, but kids are reading less. We have to get them back and get them reading.

DL: Can we kill characters in YA?

AB: It’s life. We should not shy away from it.

KG: You have to be careful, though. Kill the right character for the right reason. Think of The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

AB: There could be a backlash. Consider Veronica Roth and the Divergent Series.

DL: Ultimately, it has to have meaning. It has to serve the story.


 

Next week: Querying your YA novel.

See you on Tipsday! Now, I’m off to NaNo-land :)

WWC 2014, day 2: Business planning for creative people with Sandra Fitzpatrick

Sandra Fitzpatrick

Write first. You don’t have a business without something to build it around.

The Business Plan

  • Executive summary
  • Industry and market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Marketing
  • Operation
  • Financial

Let’s look at each element in more detail.

Executive summary

This is written last but presented first. It contains the high points of all the other aspects. It’s as long as it needs to be.

Industry and market analysis

How will you make income? Are you aiming for self-publishing or a traditional deal? If traditional, are you aiming for the big 5, or a small press? What is your genre (prose, poetry, or drama)? What resources will you need (editors, cover artists, layout, etc.)? What is your social media plan and/or platform?

Competitive analysis

First, are you competing or collaborating? Know how to get your ISBNs in Canada and in the US. Also how will you get your ITIN for US sales? Where will you publish? What magazines, anthologies, and contests will you submit your work to? Are you querying agents or sending proposals to publishers? Do you know how the slushpile works? Understand copyright in your country of publication. Understand trademark and what it means to be in the public domain. How do you regain your rights? Understand basic contract law.

Marketing

How will you use social media to market? What festivals, conferences, and conventions will you attend? Will you facilitate workshops or critique groups? Will you give public readings? If so, how many and where? How much money will you invest in travel? Will you be setting up a podcast or YouTube channel? How much money will you invest in promotion?

Operation

Set your goals? How many words will you write per year? How many novels will that translate into? How will you track your productivity? How will you track your submissions? Make sure you back everything up.

Financial

If you do public readings, facilitate workshops, or sit on panels at conferences, investigate the options for charging for your time. Will you be able to make a living by royalties? Keep receipts and make invoices for everything. Filing is not a four-letter-word. Consider crowdsourcing through Kickstarter, Indie-go-go, or ongoing income via Patreon. Set aside 35% of any income you receive for taxes or investment.

Sandra then went through an example of a business plan to illustrate.


 

Next week: YA and the rough stuff. Chronologically, there was a Brandon Sanderson session in there, but I attended three of his sessions altogether and I’m just going to cover them all in one abbreviated post. I didn’t take notes. I just took it all in ;) So that one will be me fangirling just a bit and offering a few references.

After YA and the rough stuff, I have Querying your YA novel, and Marketing your book, then Brandon Sanderson, and finally, the wrap post. So we’re very near the end of the WWC 2014 reportage. If I can keep this up during NaNoWriMo, we should be finishing up with When Words Collide on the first weekend of December. Then I’ll fill you in on the Humber workshop I’m attending next week and whatever else comes my way in the meantime.

Next up: The Next Chapter: October 2014 update.

WWC 2014, Day 2: An hour with Jack Whyte

Jack WhyteJack is simply fabulous. You can read more about him on his web site, camulod.com/aboutjack.


 

When I wrote The Sky Stone, I was called by the Historical Society to speak to a bunch of academics. Do you know what I told them? “Do you think my head buttons up the back?”

Eventually, I was decided to go, and I ended up getting three standing ovations. One of the reasons why? Historians are bound by the historical record. Writers get to speculate. We get to write what the historians wish they could.

That’s the kind of research you have to do, though. You have to be able to speak to a room of historians as though they were your peers.

You can do it all on the internet, but don’t rely on Wikipedia. Because anyone can contribute, occasionally, they do. It’s a place to start, but then go to your public or university library.

Research can obsess you. Answer the questions you need to proceed with your novel but no more.

You have to be able to write with authority.

Look at the art of the time, the architecture, the fashion, the design. Get the whole picture first. Most of it won’t even make it into your novel, but when you get the details right, your fictional world will come alive for the reader.

Q: How did you start?

In college, I was dating a beautiful woman. I called her “the Polish princess.” We made a date to go for a walk together. I read Quo Vadis, while I waited. She was an hour late. It turns out her grandfather was the author. I thought, “Wouldn’t that be neat if this happened to me?”

Everything I write is written to be heard.

I was a great fan of Frank Yerby (Mel’s note: Yes, I totally get the irony of citing Wikipedia in this transcription, but as Jack said, it’s a starting place. You want to find out more, go research.). He wrote magnificent historical fiction.

Read your work aloud. I record it and listen to it while driving. Your errors will become apparent.

Q: What’s a typical writing day for Jack Whyte?

I write from 8 pm to 2 am. The next day, I print and edit the pervious day’s work.

Discipline is the key.

Q: Do you plot?

When I begin writing, I know the ending. Then I look for the start. But I just write. I don’t plot, per se.

I’ve written 9 novels in 37 years.

There’s a bit of snobbery in Canadian Literature. Look at Pierre Burton and Farley Mowat. Commercial success and genre fiction are dirty words.

Q: Have you ever had any legal issues?

Not really. We have a moral obligation not to defame anyone who doesn’t deserve it.

In the end, everything is fiction. Even an historical document, because it was written through the frame of the time its author lived in.


 

Next week: Business planning for creative people.

Tomorrow: Finally ready to write my Series discoveries post and I’ll have a brief update on the week.

WWC 2014, Day 2: Have pen, will travel, with Jacqueline Guest

You can find out more about Jacqueline at her web site.Jacqueline Guest


 

When I was young, two books saved my life: A Child’s Book of Bible Ethics, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Don’t give up. If you have the passion to write, revise, edit, and make your novels perfect, you will get published.

As a writer, I have adventures. I travel and meet a lot of interesting people. You have to be flexible to make this happen, though.

I went to Inuvik and when I arrived, this weird dude picks me up—on a snow machine. He’s a man of few words. He takes me back to his place for the night. His place is full of hunting gear. (Mel’s note: This story was much more detailed and entertaining in Jacqueline’s telling. I only recorded the highlights.)

I found out later that he was a fixture of the community. People started dropping by, the elders and other villagers, and everyone told him their stories. I learned so much and met most of the community that way.

One of my books, Wild Ride, was written about the spring bear hunt, or rather against it. The ability to raise awareness is the power of the pen.

Another of my books features the Rocky Mountain Rally. I research everything I write, and experience what I can first hand.

Experience equals content.

The Writers’ Union of Canada and other writers’ organizations keep lists of where presenters have been and where they’re wanted. Do your research and find out where you can go to gain your experience.

What is unique about your book? This is your selling point.

History can give you what you need, but you can’t change it.

There’s also a need for what are called “hi-lo” books. It stands for high interest, low vocabulary and is intended to attract reluctant readers or those with learning disabilities who find it difficult to read.

Books become our touchstones, our points of connection with one another.

What if we are all connected?

Put out positive energy. You reap what you sow.


 

Tomorrow: I’ll have a Sundog snippet for you including a couple of writerly events around town and a brief update on the construction.

WWC 2014, day 2: An hour with Mark Leslie

Mark is a writer, editor and bookseller who was born and grew up in the Greater Sudbury Region, spent many years in Ottawa and currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Find him online at markleslie.com.

mark-leslie


 

I ended up in publishing because I’ve always loved writing. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was a kid, I told stories with my Fischer Price people.

I got a job in a university books store and I noticed that the new edition of a textbook was being developed before the current one was even on the shelves. Students were getting outdated information. Sometimes the changes were subtle and I realized it was a big money grab. I decided to do something about this abuse of students.

I talked the bookstore into investing in an Espresso Book Machine and we entered into an agreement with McGraw-Hill Ryerson and Nelson publishers. A professor would choose the chapters he felt were pertinent to the class he was teaching and the publisher would provide a .pdf of the chapters. These were printed and sold in store.

The custom edition of the material would be 50-60% cheaper for students. The publisher made more. The store made more. Free digital copies were made available if sales of the print edition were reasonable and everyone still profited.

I tried it out for fiction. Amazon ships in 24 hours, but with the Espresso, I could print on site in 15 minutes.

I learned that if you put authors first, you can both make money.

A textbook that cost $86 could be printed for $25 on the Espresso and we could ship it wherever the client wanted. Later, we uploaded it to Kobo and the ebook is still selling everywhere for $10.

I became a consultant for On-Demand Books and then joined Kobo. When Kobo wanted to put out a writer-centric platform, I wanted a part of that action. Kobo Writing Life came into being. It was less money, but I was passionate about books and authors.

Kobo Writing Life was built for writers. We’re in the top five in every territory. We sell more units than Random House in Canada.

As the platform grew, I gained staff. My team nurtures authors.

Q: How does Kobo Writing Life make self-publishing easier?

Authors used to have to go through the same process as a publisher to get their books on Kobo. Now you can do it overnight.

This raises an important question: you can put your book up overnight, but should you? Many authors rush into self-publishing before they’re really ready. Make sure you’re putting your absolute best work out there.

Q: I was in Adrienne Kerr’s session and she mentioned Booknet. Can you speak to that?

The average author can’t access Booknet. Until we can more of the key players on board, it won’t happen.

Q: If I’m an indie publisher or author, why should I bother with Kobo?

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The more ways your readers can get hold of your books, the better. It’s not Kobo only, but Kobo and.


 

As ever, my notes cannot reflect the full experience. I can’t write that fast (!) And, Mark, if I’ve gotten anything wrong, please let me know and I’ll fix ‘er up post-hasty.

Up next: a Caturday quickie on the developments (construction and dog-wise) of the week.

Next weekend: Jacqueline Guest: Have Pen, Will Travel.

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers, and we’ll see you on Tipsday with the Writerly Goodness of the week.