Yep. In ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND! I'll blog about that amazingly scenic place later ... but today's blog is about the Canadian book publishing industry.
So at these meetings, I learned a lot of stuff (and shared some information from Saskatchewan) about what's happening - and not happening, unfortunately - in the Canadian publishing industry these days.
What's happening is a continued optimism from the women and men who put their heart, souls, funds and faith into publishing Canadian-made books on a day-to-day basis.
A public opinion poll shows that four out of five Canadians read regularly. They read based on the author, the title, and then whether the book has been recommended to them. (So THANK YOU to all our customers who follow our DriverWorks Ink authors and recommend our books to other readers!)
What's not happening is the bazillion dollars in income that we all hope and pray will some day be ours as book publishers - or at least enough income to continue to pay the bills as we strive to share the written work that is so important to us, our authors, and our country's culture. Bookstores are closing; the market is tighter than it's ever been; we worry about multinationals purchasing our one remaining national bookstore chain; e-books aren't the panacea that some thought they might be; publishers are aging; and we just can't seem to get schools and libraries to take notice of and purchase our Canadian-authored-and-published books!
Oh - and the public doesn't seem to be aware of Canadian books. Or Canadian publishers.
That made me sad.
Al and I spend a LOT of time on the road, visiting various communities across the Prairie provinces and talking about our DriverWorks Ink books, written by Prairie authors (including me). We can't count the number of times that people have come up to us at a trade show and stated:
- "I didn't know there were books published in Saskatchewan."
- "I've never met an author before." (They meant me or one of our other authors who sometimes attend trade shows or other events with us.)
- "I've never met a publisher before. How do you do that?" (They meant publish books, not sit at a trade show booth - although that can be exhausting work at times, too.)
The research shows that "publishers are not a strong part of the Canadian public consciousness," we were told at the ACP meeting. "Readers are more worried about authors being paid."
As an author who has been a 'not-quite-starving but often severely underpaid' freelance journalist for decades, I'm okay with the second part of that information. I'm glad that people who read in Canada are concerned that those who write the words should be paid a fair amount for their work. Canadian publishers are okay with that, too. We value our authors, and we pay them according to industry standards. In most cases, these writers are our friends. In many cases, these writers are us!
As an author AND a publisher, I'm disappointed that readers have not made the connection between those who write the work and the people who put that work into a publishable format for readers to enjoy. We work together with our authors to produce quality books. And I can promise you that in the next while, you're going to hear more from Canadian publishers about our important role in getting Canadian-authored and Canadian-published books into your hands, and some of the challenges we face in achieving that goal.
In Saskatchewan alone, we have more than 50 publishers who are members of the Saskatchewan Publishers Group, aka SaskBooks. DriverWorks Ink is one of those members. We at DriverWorks Ink sell our books on our own website (we have 16 titles at present and will be publishing more this fall), as well as through various physical stores, at trade shows, through the SaskBooks site and more. Search our books online by title or author and seven of our books will pop up with various e-book vendors as well!
Here's some great information about book publishers in Saskatchewan, including the fact that there are about 100 new books are produced each year in Saskatchewan alone by Saskatchewan publishers.
At the Association of Canadian Publishers meeting, we heard that there are more than 75,000 Canadian-authored books listed on 49th Shelf, which is a project of the ACP. Some of our DriverWorks Ink books are listed there, and we will be adding more of our titles to that site in the days ahead - so that more Canadian readers can find us. We recently listed our books on Amazon.ca - so there is another place you can find us!
Next time you pick up a book, I encourage you to look a little closer at it. Check the second page - the one with the copyright information on it - and see who wrote the book, who put it together, where it was printed, and all those other fun details that you may never have cared about before.
Most importantly, READ CANADIAN - as the wonderful little lapel pin below says.
And Hug A Canadian Publisher Today.
Lord knows we could use a hug!