Tag Archives: promotion
As some of you may know, I recently moved A LOT of my personal library from Calgary, where it had been stored for a number of years, to my trailer in Ontario. I’ve spent the past few weeks sorting through what arrived, have enjoyed reacquainting with lots of old friends, and tried to figure out how to sort and shelve all the books in this limited space that is my summer home. (That’s part of the fun of book ownership though … being a custodian to all these great books I’ve accumulated over the years – decades, actually – and revisiting with them, remembering why they are important to me and why I am still planning on keeping them.)
I really do have limited space! Even if I were to find another bookshelf it’s doubtful I’d be able to fit it in anywhere … unless I were to move out the pull-out couch in the sunroom. But then, where would overnight guests sleep? So I currently have stacks of books in various places, books that I couldn’t shelve or that are eventually going to be shipped to Bequia (which is another problem … How many more books can I possibly fit on the bookshelves there? None, would be Dennis’s reply).
So, the books I did manage to shelve on the two bookshelves I do have are the real keepers, and mainly signed copies written and published by authors (and publishers) who I know personally, have met, or promoted at some time in my career. The smaller shelving unit I’ve earmarked for Children’s books and Cookbooks on the top shelf, with the rest of the space being dedicated to authors who have not only signed books for me, but who I’ve met, been taught by, or become friends with over the years – and who I also felt to be influential throughout my career in books. These are my mentors and author-heroes. (Not all their books are here though, because there are many authors who have been equally influential but whose books have resided on Bequia for a couple of decades. More on that group of authors and the importance of their books later when I return there in October.) What I’ve done for this first blog post on dedicated reading – because that’s what I’m calling this exercise – is to pull one book written by each of the authors on these shelves, and I plan to these books (alphabetical, according to author’s name) over the next while. Here’s the first stack:
First on the pile and read already is Billy Collins‘s The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems. I met Collins when he was the Calgary Distinguished Writer at University of Calgary and I was on the selection committee. At that time, I bought this and five other books he’d published, and he signed them all. (There are many videos of Collins reading his own poetry posted to YouTube and, if you’ve never read his poetry or heard him read, you’re in for a treat!)
Second is a novel by Jack Hodgins, The Master of Happy Endings. When I was a new bookseller in the late 70s, Hodgins had just published his first books, Spit Delaney’s Island and The Invention of the World. I loved his writing from the very beginning! I met him in Edmonton at a conference (where I also met a couple of other writers listed below) and bought the book I plan to read next. He signed this copy, and I also have a signed copy of Distance, an earlier novel, although I’m not sure now whether I had it with me to be signed at the same time. Hodgins wrote an excellent book on the craft of writing, A Passion for Narrative that has become a standard text book in Canada, and he taught fiction writing at the University of Victoria. One of his students there was Ann Ireland (see below). I have other books by Hodgins in my Bequia library.
Coincidentally, next on the stack is a novel by Ann Ireland! I studied a number of writing courses through Ryerson University (online) with Ireland and she was an excellent teacher, always a great champion of me and my writing as well. We did meet in person a few times in Toronto, at her request, for coffee and to just talk writing and the book business. Unfortunately, Ann Ireland died in Sept. 2018. While I own copies of all her novels, the only one that may be a signed copy is down in Bequia. I’ll have to check that one for a signature. This time around, I’m reading Exile, which was published by Dundurn, a Toronto publisher I repped. I also featured Ann Ireland on my promotion blog, Reading Recommendations.
Next up is another emotional one for me … Robert Kroetsch. It wasn’t until I moved west in ’78 and began work as a bookseller that I learned about a number of very important Western Canadian authors (several of them on this list, in fact), but over the years I discovered what my Eastern Canadian University degree in literature hadn’t taught me – there’s a wealth of great writing that’s been published for decades coming out of the West! Thankfully, I also had the opportunity to meet many of these authors over the decades, and Robert Kroetsch is certainly one of the most memorable. (I first met Kroetsch at that same conference in Edmonton, mentioned above under Hodgins.) I’ve been tearing up in preparation for writing this short piece about the man, so I decided instead to just post what I wrote about him a number of years ago on this blog, when I’d heard he had died in a car crash.
Another of the famous Western Canadian Authors I only heard about after moving to Calgary was Grant MacEwan, and the book I have of his to read is a old tattered edition of Eye Opener Bob (a Calgary classic!), which I suspect may have come to me from the library of publisher, Dennis Johnson (but that’s another story). I do remember hosting MacEwan for signings when I worked at The Guild Gallery in Calgary, and he was extremely popular (especially with the eldery ladies …), having also been the Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta. Then later, when I worked at Sandpiper Books, his granddaughter came to work with us. While I sold many of MacEwan‘s books at those two bookstores and as sales rep for his publisher, I’m embarrassed to say that this will be the first of those books I’ve read. Looking forward to this slice of Calgary history! I also have a copy of Between the Red and the Rockies.
The next author on my list is still writing and publishing and still in contact with me through Facebook. Alice Major writes poetry, for the most part, and lives in Edmonton where she was the city’s first poet laureate and continues to support other writers and the poetry scene. I have four of Alice Major‘s books, all published by the University of Alberta Press, which I was repping and the reason I first met this author. (Again, I believe I met her first at that Edmonton conference!) Alice also participated in a literary salon I organized in Calgary that was generously sponsored by UAP. I will be reading her collection of poetry, Memory’s Daughter, this time around.
I was just a new bookseller in Calgary the year that Sid Marty published his first book, Men for the Mountains, which proved to be a bestseller in Canada. I know we would have hosted him at The Guild Gallery at the time of that publication, but it wasn’t until decades later, at the Fernie Writers’ Conference, that I got to know Sid Marty much better. He’s a musician – a singer/songwriter – a poet, and writer of some very fine non-fiction. I have a more recent collection of his poetry, The Rider With Good Hands, published by Calgary’s Frontenac House, to read.
To Be Continued … Dedicated Reading … My New TBR List: Part 2
IslandCatEditions is very pleased to announce the release of the 3rd edition of
Country Music Country by Bruce Hunter!
Bruce Hunter’s Country Music Country, “a masterpiece,” says The London Free Press, is back in a third edition in eBook and print with an introduction by literary historian, Shaun Hunter (no relation to the author).
These powerful linked stories that read like a novel begin in a prairie Eden amongst the last vestiges of wild grass, cottonwood, and an ancient buffalo jump, bounded by an oil refinery, explosives plant and rail yards. Hunter describes in vivid detail, and often with dark humour, the lives of his four characters. First as adolescents and then as adults, they work dirty jobs. Some move away to Southern Ontario and return home again in the moving title story.
Reading Bruce Hunter’s stories, we come to know this place, too. The way Ogden can shape the fibre of a person, and make him yearn to be someone else. The way it can push a person away and pull her home. The way its landscape is constantly changing, and somehow stays the same. The way Ogden can make a writer sing its sweetness and its shadows as if this place and these lives were country music.
… from the Introduction by Shaun Hunter
Deafened as an infant and born and raised in Calgary, Bruce Hunter worked as a labourer, equipment operator and landscaper before winning a scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts. He then attended York University and graduated with a BFA (Honours) in film and the humanities. After stints teaching at York, Humber College and Banff, he taught in the School of English and Liberal Arts at Seneca College in Toronto for 25 years. The author of six books, including the novel In the Bear’s House (Oolichan Books, 2009), winner of the Canadian Rockies Prize at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, Bruce currently lives in Toronto.
Where to purchase copies of Country Music Country:
Amazon Worldwide – Print and eBook
Chapters/Indigo – eBook
Apple iTunes – eBook
Booksellers and Librarians who would like print copies of the book to resell or for their collection, please email:
susanmtoy (at) gmail.com
WITHOUT spending any money!
I know, I know … finding the money to support authors by buying their books is not always easy. I have a hard time in that department myself.
However, there are many ways that Readers can help Authors of books they’ve already read and enjoyed. These ideas are every bit as valuable to Authors as actual sales can be – and they will cost you absolutely nothing to do. They just require an investment of your TIME, and your ENTHUSIASM to make things happen. Never underestimate what a READER of books can accomplish when they choose to champion a particular book or an Author.
So, here you go! 10 ways you can invest in Authors and Books without spending any money …
1. Borrow and read books from the library. Rate those books on the library’s system. Request that the library purchase other books by that same author. Encourage your friends to use the library. (And, don’t forget, most libraries are now online and offer eBooks for borrowing.)
NB Authors: Library patrons are the biggest group of buyers of books, so it’s definitely worth it to you to get your books into library systems …
2. Tell your friends whenever you discover a great book or a new Author. Post links to the Author’s website/Facebook page/Goodreads listing in your own social media. This does not need to be a full-blown review of the book, but just a shout-out to your friends that this was a great book. (If you’ve read a book that has really knocked off your reading socks, but you don’t want to write a full-blown review – and I can understand that many Readers don’t want to write reviews of what they read – then consider posting something brief to my new blog, What are you reading?.)
3. And speaking of that … Ask your friends the question, “What are you reading?” to start a conversation about books. Then you can easily slip in about what you’ve been reading. 🙂
4. When your favourite author announces the release of a new book or information about what they’ve been up to lately, do these simple things …
a) “Like” their blog post/status update/Tweet
b) Make a comment – something like: “Congratulations!” or “Can’t wait to read it!”
c) Reblog/share/retweet whatever the author has posted, with the added message to your followers that you are excited about this new book being released and that they may want to check it out, too.
d) Repeat however many number of times that the author posts updates.
(Most authors who use social media will be very aware of your engagement with what they post. You can’t imagine how much of a boost that will give them, knowing someone out there is eagerly awaiting their latest. And you can do all of this without ever seeming like a stalker … 😉 )
5. Become a champion of the author’s books. As I said above, recommend to your local library that they add the author’s books to their collection. You can also mention the author and their books to local bookstores, if the store is not already carrying copies. Don’t badger the store to stock the books, but do ask whether they would consider the possibility. And if there’s another local business that might carry a book because it has a local theme or the author is local then ask that store to consider the same. This idea works well for gift shops in tourist areas. (A friend recently arranged for my books to be sold in a Bequia hotel’s giftshop!)
6. Use Goodreads as a means of keeping track of what you read (and for rating those books), but also enter their giveaways. Then mention those giveaways to your friends by sharing the links on social media. (I have discovered many new-to-me books and authors by entering these Goodreads Giveaways – and I’ve created a number of my own giveaways for my books there, too. I’ve been fortunate in that, as a Reader, I’ve won a lot of books from the site. But I also keep track of titles for all contests entered on my “to-read” list and go through that from time-to-time to see what I may be able to borrow and read now.) Do not discount being a “stat” on Goodreads. I can’t be the only author who checks their stats on that site regularly; it definitely means a lot to me when I see an increase in the number of Readers who have added any of my three published books to their lists – yes, even when someone new simply adds one title to their “to-read” list. That’s yet another reader who has been attracted to what I have written, and that makes my heart sing every time!
7. Recommend to your book club that they consider reading and discussing your favourite Author’s book(s). Invite that author to speak to your club via Skype, if that’s a possibility.
8. Working with that Skype idea of the Author calling in to speak with a group, ask whether your local library or bookstore would be interested in setting up an event such as this. Let them deal directly with the Author on the logistics, but put a bug in their ears about the possibility for such an event. And then, if this idea actually does happen, help the venue to encourage interested Readers to attend!
9. If you write a blog, consider talking about the Author and their books there – even if the blog is not book-or-book-review-related. Interview the Author, or allow them to write a guest post. Your blog readers will thank you for your honesty in telling them about a new Author and a book you’ve enjoyed.
10. Contact the Author privately (usually their websites will offer a way of connecting) and tell them how much you enjoyed their writing and books. It’s one thing to receive a positive public comment from a Reader, but if you make the effort to tell that Author, one-on-one, what you really think about their writing and their books … Well!! I know I’m thrilled whenever anyone takes the time to compliment me! I usually ask that Reader if I may quote them, even anonymously if they so choose, because it’s wonderful to be able to share praise I receive with everyone else. Praise in a private email is so, so much better than in a public review! Because again – it’s honest and heartfelt!
So, all easy-peasy stuff to do that will be an “investment” into the Author and their writing, because it will all help that Author to grow their reader-base and, more importantly, to keep writing!
Just to prove that I practice what I preach here, and have done this for many, many, many years, in fact … Here are the links to the blogs I’ve set up:
reading recommendations reviewed
What are you reading?
Do it! Do it NOW! And you may begin by liking and sharing this blog post, telling other Readers how they may make a non-monetary investment in their own favourite Authors that will be much appreciated by both Readers and Authors alike!
SPREAD THE LOVE!!
(and on that note, here’s a little earworm for you …)
So reads the Chinese curse that seems to have been operative during this past year we’ve all just endured. Let’s hope that, rather than continuing to be “interesting”, 2018 is instead a year full of hope and health and joy for everyone around the world, and that the good feelings at midnight tonight last far longer than simply the first 24-hours of the new year ahead of us.
Personally, I wish to thank all readers of this blog, and everyone who has read and enjoyed my publications! No author can write without readers … so suffice it to say that – YOU READERS KEEP ME WRITING!!! Thank you for all your support!
From our verandah on Bequia, Dennis and I wish everyone all the best for 2018!
Now … LET’S DANCE!!!
Out of necessity, I had to cut down drastically on the number of blogs I subscribe to and read – the number of good blogs out there was becoming impossible to keep up with on a daily basis! So I’ve narrowed down my list here to the truly GREAT blogs I continue to follow and read (and comment on and share) on a regular basis. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you will notice many familiar names. Some bloggers publish posts more than once a day and others are sporadic. But I can guarantee you will always find something of interest to read on these bloggers’ sites. Do check out each and every one of them and see if you agree with me, and I also hope you find a few new favourites to follow and read. (Sorry to those I didn’t list. There was a point where I had to cut off this list!!)
* Denotes the blogger is also a published author and it would be well worth it to check out what they’ve published!
** Denotes the blogger has promoted me and my books on their blog at some time or another.
**Chris, The Story Reading Ape – *Christopher Graham
**Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life – *Sally Cronin
**WHAT THE HELL – *Kevin Brennan
**A Creative State of Mind – *Tricia Drammeh
**blindoggbooks – *Tim Baker
**Seumas Gallacher – *Seumas Gallacher
**South Branch Scribbler – *Allan Hudson
**Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge – Karen Parker
**theshammuramat – *Felicity Harley
beetleypete – Pete Johnson
Leaving Ourselves Behind – Ginny & Stephen
**Betty Jane Hegerat: Canadian author of literary fiction – *Betty Jane Hegerat
Camino De Tim – *Timothy L. Phillips
Books Unpacked – *Merilyn Simonds
Paul Butler Novelist – *Paul F. Butler
Seth’s Blog – *Seth Godin
My Peacock Books – Cat Peacock
Marathon Mouth – *Bill Corbett
**Owlish Books – Loes M.
I have already posted a list of some of the authors whose books I read this year and found to be outstanding. You will find that link here.
But I read so many books in 2017, and many were great reads indeed, so I’ve divided the list into two: that first list covered authors I have promoted on my blog,
Reading Recommendations; this second list is everything else.
Because I tend to be an eclectic reader, you will find on this list: old books and newly released books, fiction and non-fiction, children’s picture books, graphic novels, memoir – even a couple of political biographies, and many books about books and reading (because I’ve been researching a series on Reading for my blog). What I have not listed are the classics and cookbooks (yes, I even read cookbooks!) that I read this year. And I read all of these books in eBook and print format, sometimes bought, sometimes gifted copies, some even won through Goodreads Giveaways, or they were from my own personal library, and many more were borrowed from the public library.
All are considered to be 5-star ratings, as far as I’m concerned. The very, very best books of the lot though are marked, along with the author’s name, in bold.
(The links attached to these titles will take you to more information on that specific book. These books are listed in the order I read them. )
Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Slow Horses by Mick Herron
The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart
The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michi
Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon
Judith by Aritha van Herk
(Reread after almost 40 years since it was first released! From Wikipedia: Van Herk’s writing career began with the publication of her M.A. thesis in 1978. Judith, a novel that explores a feisty female protagonist’s experiences in both rural and urban Canadian spaces, was the first winner of the Seal First Novel Award (C$50,000) from McClelland and Stewart, which granted the book international distribution throughout North America and Europe. )
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Between Them by Richard Ford
Town is by the Sea by Joanne Scwartz
The Secret Place by Tana French
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson
The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi
This Fight is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren
Before, During, After by Richard Bausch
American War by Omar El Akkad
(If I were forced to make a selection of the very best book I read this year, this would be it!)
Darktown by Thomas Mullen
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
The End of Your Life Book Club, Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
(The End of Your Life Book Club is the best non-fiction I read, and it really changed the way I read books and think about my reading, and even about my life.)
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley & Kate Berube
The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Arrival: The Story of CanLit by Nick Mount
I have read many, many books this year! Some were written by authors I have promoted previously on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and these books I considered to be outstanding! And, in a few cases, I read more than one book by the same author. So, without further ado, here’s a list of those authors’ names and the titles of their books I read in 2017 …
(The links below will take you to that author’s original promotion on Reading Recommendations.)
Thanks to all Authors for continuing to write so well!
Gail Anderson-Dargatz – The Spawning Grounds
Tim Baker – 24 Minutes (to be published in 2018)
Gail Bowen – The Winner’s Circle
Kevin Brennan – In No Particular Order
Sharon Butala – Where I Live Now
Paul Butler – The Good Doctor, The Widow’s Fire
Sally Cronin – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story
Tricia Drammeh – The Fifth Circle, Firebound (Spellbringers Book #2)
Seumas Gallacher – A Few Poetry Stops in a Life’s Journey
Felicity Harley – The Burning Years
Betty Jane Hegerat – Running Toward Home
Allan Hudson – Shorts Vol. 1
J.F. Kaufmann – Ellida, Once Upon a Night (To be published in 2018)
Ken McGoogan – 50 Canadians Who Changed the World, Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage
J.P. McLean – The Betrayal
Antony Millen – The Chain
David A. Poulsen – Serpents Rising, Dead Air
Mike Robbins – Such Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies, Three Seasons
Merilyn Simonds – Gutenberg’s Fingerprint
Mary Smith – Donkey Boy and Other Stories
Check out Part 2 of this series here.
During the early 80s I worked in a bookstore in Calgary – a rather eclectic shop that sold no bestsellers or books for children, but instead did a booming business in world literature, poetry, philosophy, science, armchair travel, gender, vegetarian cookbooks, and LPs of New Age music … I remember one pre-Christmas season (oh, and the store also did not get into any kind of festive mode, either) when one of our regular customers, a middle-aged professor at the university, walked into the store, clapped his hands together, and said, “Right! I’ve finished shopping for all the presents for everyone else. Now it’s time to shop for ME!” And with that, he delved in among the shelves and came back to the front desk loaded down with some weighty (both physically and in content) tomes on whatever subject it was in which he specialized. I always think back to the glee in his eyes at the thought, no doubt, that he was going to be gifting himself exactly what he wanted for Christmas (or whichever present-giving-based holiday he and his family were celebrating).
As a reader who definitely knows what she enjoys reading, and who has had many years of experience in finding and discovering her own reading material, thank you very much!, I’m not big on taking direction from others when I choose what to read next. I enjoy the search almost as much as the actual reading, so to speak. In other words, I don’t like to receive books as gifts. Nor do I want to give books as gifts to other readers. I believe that they, like me, prefer to discover reading material themselves. (Besides, we don’t do the gift-giving thing in our house, not even for birthdays. Buying the land and building this house on Bequia was gift enough that Dennis and I gave to each other at the time to last a lifetime.)
So, instead of posting a list of suggestions of books for your gift-giving this year, I’m offering here a list of recommended reading FOR READERS out there! It’s actually just a link to my Reading Recommendations blog and all the wonderful authors I have promoted there over the years, but still worthwhile checking out for the day you too can say,
“There! I’m finished with everyone else … Now I can treat myself with some excellent books to read!”
And here are more recommendations from my What are you reading? blog.
Sorry I can’t help you with finding quiet time to read those books – you’ll need to carve that out for yourself!
Oh, and I want World Peace, too, while we’re at it!
Both my Bequia Perspectives Novels are now available
worldwide from Amazon in print editions!
All links to purchase both titles in print or in eBook formats
(or to borrow from libraries) can be found here:
Bequia Perspectives Novels
Here’s the background as to how all this came about …
In Feb. 2012 I published the first eBook edition of Island in the Clouds. It had been my idea at the time that we should ePublish first, work out any bugs in the files, create a market for the writing and for a print edition, and then go to print once a demand was established. So I didn’t print Island in the Clouds until June 2012, and at that time I went with a traditional publishing company to do so. This cost me a considerable amount of money up front, leaving me in proud possession of 800 copies of the book – which I then had to store, distribute, and sell myself. Five-and-a-half-years later, I still have about 200 copies left in various locations. I have not been paid at all by several places that took copies on consignment to sell for me, and I have no reliable means of selling those remaining copies. Fortunately, I sold enough of the original 800 to cover my expenses of having the books printed, but I’m nowhere near having made enough money from this enterprise to pay myself back for everything I put into writing, promoting and selling the book by myself.
But then we do it for the love of it, right? This was never intended to be a money-making enterprise. But it was also never intended to be a money-LOSING enterprise …
When it came time to think about printing One Woman’s Island, I had to consider long and hard whether I wanted to travel down that same road. First of all, I did not have the several thousand dollars I knew a traditional printing was going to cost. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to store copies anywhere, or find a new distributor for this new book.
Fortunately for me, I received a blog post from Calgary author, Brian Brennan (who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations), in which he explained how he went about reprinting books of his that had been declared out of print by the original publisher. He worked with our mutual eBook formatter, Human Powered Design (Gina McCreary), to create the print files, and then went to a self-publishing service to have copies printed POD (print-on-demand). I reblogged Brian’s explanation of all this here: Brian Brennan – 3 reprints now available
So, I decided to look into this myself for my own print books. In the meantime, Gina had heard of a new service being offered by Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing Paperback Beta Program – that we could sign into through our existing eBook accounts (which Gina has always maintained for me) and it seemed as though it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t need to pay anything upfront to Amazon, Gina was able to create the necessary print files and cover designs from my original eBook files and look after the listings for me, and I will receive payment from Human Powered Design for sales made, along with any sales of eBooks, every month, as I have done all along since first listing my eBooks in Feb. 2012.
Plus … I now have the benefit of WORLDWIDE distribution of my print books!! That, to me, is the biggest benefit of printing books in this way.
Here’s another article I discovered about this new service that ran on The Digital Reader site.
These are the two ads Wilfred created and Nicola will be running for me in their weekly flyer.
And here’s the link to the magazine flip version of
Bequia This Week
Everything you need to know that’s going on in and around the island of Bequia!
New editions available every Friday.