Tag Archives: Canadian Publishers

Gardening Words – A Literary Spring Cleaning

“North wind yanks her long skirt./A hand-knit scarf covers/her tulip-shaped face.”  -Debbie Okun Hill*

Call it a brain freeze or an ice-cream headache: that sensation of eating or drinking an ice cold substance during a hot summer’s day! (Insert laughter here!) Last week, the temperatures soared above 30 degrees Celsius: much too hot for planting seeds!

Lost in Reality TV Snow - Okun Hill - January 9, 2018

This week, the wind off the lake numbs my fingers. Words pile up like snow, like unread books on a shelf, like autumn leaves clogging the eaves trough, like spring cleaning that never gets completed!

Quick, grab me a broom and a rake to smooth out this unruly tangle of rejection slips and word roots gnarled and snarled on my desk and in my yard.

I’m waiting for my garden-gloved fingers to unthaw.

In the meantime, browse through the good news gathered in my in-basket:

CHECK IT OUT!

Am I dreaming? Is that really an ash sapling (one of several) growing in my back yard? Shhhh,  please don’t tell the emerald ash borer!!! Yes I’m still looking for a publisher for my ash tree themed manuscript!

Ash perhaps - May 22, 2018 FB size

Thank you Andrews Gripp of Harmonia Press in London, Ontario for posting three of my poems “Tasseography”, “Rehabilitation” and “Bottled Water” in the third issue of his on-line zine Synaeresis.

Synaeresis Issue Three

Published on-line June 1, 2018 by Harmonia Press

Here’s the line-up of featured poets. More information about Harmonia Press here.

SAMSUNG

Also thank you to the Lake Winnipeg Writers’ Group for including my poems “No Sign of Spring”, “Nocturnal Creatures” and “Turning a Corner” in their latest anthology Voices, Volume 18, Number 1 launched earlier this spring at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The book arrived a few days ago and I can’t wait to read it. They are organizing a contest for fiction and poetry with an extended June 14 deadline. More information can be found here.

Voices 18-1 LWWG anthology published by BK Publishing - launched May 6, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba Low Res Cover

Published by BK Publishing – launched May 6, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Coming soon, a sample of my previously published poems translated into Greek! How cool is that? More details to come!

MARK YOU CALENDARS!

I love watching regional authors bloom.

The Search for Self - by Jindo Shokai

TONIGHT (June 7) at 7 p.m. at the Book Keeper in Sarnia, Ontario, Jindo Shokai (also known at Richard Maxwell) will be launching his debut book, a memoir called The Search for Self: Confessions of a Dying Man (Three Monks Division of L & R Productions, 2018). Local writers will remember Richard from the Spoken Word events held at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts. Expect an inspiring presentation as Shokai shares his spiritual journey towards Zen Buddhism. Follow this blog for a book review and photos from tonight’s launch.

On June 21, London’s Poet Laureate Tom Cull will lead a workshop on ekphrastic poetry (writing poems inspired by art), 6 to 8:30 p.m. TAP Centre for Creativity, 203 Dundas Street. There is a charge for this event. Advanced registration required. Scroll down to see more info about Cull’s debut book.

On June 22 at 11 a.m. at Maawn Doosh Gumig Community and Youth Centre, 1972 Virgil Avenue, Sarnia, Ontario, indigenous writer David D Plain will launch his latest historical non-fiction book A Brief History of the Saugeen Peninsula.  The event is hosted by Aamjiwnaang Heritage & Culture E Maawizidijig. A previous blog post about Plain appears here.

Aboriginal Day Events June 22, 2017

Micro-press Big Pond Rumours under the ownership of Sharon Berg and based in Sarnia continues to offer publishing opportunities for writers. See the poster below as well as the press’s updated website for current and future activities. Two new prize-winning chapbooks were launched earlier this spring and several readings are being planned for the summer.

Big Pond Rumours Upcoming Projects

And three cheers to local indie bookseller The Book Keeper who continues to invite special guest readers to Sarnia. On June 19, staff have organized an Intimate Evening with Karen Connelly, author of The Change Room. This ticketed event includes a copy of the book, dinner, a glass of wine, and a fantastic night.  Space is limited. More information is available from The Book Keeper.

NEW TO MY BOOKSHELF:

Bad Animals by Tom Cull

Bad Animals (Insomniac Press, 2018) by creative writing instructor and London, Ontario’s current poet laureate Tom Cull. According to the book’s back cover, “Cull’s debut collection is equal parts zoo, funhouse, and curio cabinet.”  The book was officially launched in London, last Friday (June 1), but another reading with Laurie D Graham is planned for June 11, 2018 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Open Sesame, 220 King Street West in Kitchener. He will also be reading with Jeffery Donaldson on June 20 at 7 p.m. at Epic Books, 226 Locke Street South in Hamilton. See this blog’s event section for more details.

Thin Moon Psalm (Brick Books, 2007) by Sheri Benning and Lost Gospels (Brick Books, 2010) by Lorri Neilsen Glenn. Thank you to Poetry London for gifting me these two books as partial payment for a recent regional reading I did in London.  I’ve added the books to my summer reading list.

BOOKS ON ORDER:

Our Plan to Save The WorldOur Plan to Save the World , an anthology of short stories by Nancy Kay Clark, Lambton County writer Phyllis Humby, Michael Joll, Steve Nelson, and Frank T. Sikora. Phyllis will be sharing work from this book at a Big Pond Rumours event scheduled for late summer in Sarnia. Follow this blog for more details as well as a review.

The Spoken World: Poems (Hagios Press, 2011 – now available through Radiant Press) by Harold Rhenisch. I’ve been admiring the work of this prolific Canadian poet, short story writer, novelist, blogger, translator, and editor, from a distance. Here’s a link to his author’s website and a link to his many blogs.

The Spoken World by Harold Rhenisch

At the moment, I feel ill-equipped to engage in a meaningful conversation with this talented individual (who recently helped me with some of my work) but my goal is to post a future interview with him. (Wish me luck.) I am particularly interested in this book as it explores Rhenisch’s “relationship with his long time mentor and friend Robin Skelton”. I want to read it first.

People Places Passages: An Anthology of Canadian Writing (Longbridge Books, 2018) edited by Giulia De Gasperi, Delia De Santis and Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni. Bright’s Grove editors Delia De Santis (and the late Venera Fazio) are renowned for their work in promoting Italian-Canadian writers.

People Places PassagesAccording to the publisher’s blurb: “The volume is the most comprehensive collection yet of Italian-Canadian writing, and a milestone in the history of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW), whose thirtieth anniversary coincides with the publication of this volume.” An interview with De Santis re: her involvement in the project will be posted later this summer.

So much to ponder! Can you feel the June sun nudging the ‘word’ buds to grow?

“Time slips forward….You turn around, refreshed/pink colour returns to your cheeks”**

*From the poem “No Sign of Spring” from the anthology Voices: Volume 18, Number 1 (BK Publishing, 2018) Page 78 Used with permission from the author © Debbie Okun Hill 2018 
**From the poem “Rehabilitation” from the zine Synaeresis III (Harmonia Press, 2018) Page 58-59 Used with permission from the author © Debbie Okun Hill 2018

FOLLOW THIS BLOG FOR FUTURE CANADIAN LITERARY REVIEWS, EVENTS, AND AUTHOR/POET PROFILES.

 

 

 

 

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Three Ontario Publishers Offer Advice Spiked with Harsh Reality

“Publishers want champions…books that they love.” –Dan Wells, Biblioasis

Forget the magic wand and lucky charms! There’s no secret shortcut for a wannabe author or poet seeking a book deal from a traditional publisher. If you want your manuscript published in Canada, you’ll need to work hard and have patience, lots of patience. That’s the consensus from three Ontario publishers during a “Getting Published in Canada” panel discussion held last week (July 20, 2017) at Biblioasis, an award-winning independent publishing house and bookstore in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Summer Reading Bookshelf July 28, 2017

We all have our favourite books! Check your home library to see who had published the earlier work of your favourite writers. If you write in a similar style, that independent publisher is worth investigating.

Panel members Dan Wells (Biblioasis publisher), Aimee Dunn (publisher, Windsor’s Palimpsest Press), and Paul Vermeersch of Buckrider Books (an imprint of Hamilton publisher Wolsak and Wynn) held the ‘standing room only’ crowd captive. Each shared his or her view about the publishing industry and answered questions from individuals in the audience.

Moderator Jael Richardson, a published author and the Artistic Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), ensured the evening moved along at a steady pace.

For those who missed this hour and a half ‘free to the public’ presentation, below are some of the highlights:

CONCENTRATE ON CREATING A STRONG MANUSCRIPT

“Don’t think about publishing until the writing is ready,” emphasized Vermeersch. “Be a writer first. Picture yourself with all your love & passion for words plus focus on what you feel is important…never submit a book that is still rough around the edges.”

Biblioasis - Patricia Young - July 28, 2017

Award-winning poet Patricia Young had fiction and poetry published by Biblioasis.

One of the ways to polish a book and to ensure the manuscript is ready for submission is to find people who will give honest feedback that is both useful and constructive. A writer can also take classes, join a writing circle or find a mentor. This should be done before the work is submitted.

RESEARCH ALL THE PUBLISHERS

Dunn stated that once the writing is complete, the real work begins. For example, before submitting any work, writers should do their homework. Research is important. “Check the websites of the publishers to determine what they publish, what their submission guidelines are, and when their deadlines are.”

For example, Palimpsest Press and Wolsak and Wynn only accept queries between January 1 and March 31. Dunn is surprised by how many authors ignore that rule. It’s an automatic rejection.

“Know who you are submitting to,” added Wells. “All the presses are different…so get to know the press.” Even editors amongst the same press have different opinions and interests.

“Read some of the publisher’s books,” said Dunn. If you feel your book is the right fit, then prepare your submission. For Palimpsest Press, she said it’s important to query first. “If we don’t like your work, we will e-mail right away, sometimes within a day or two. If we ask to see a manuscript, our response could take months.”

Palimpsest Press July 28 2017

According to its website, Palimpsest Press “publishes poetry, fiction, and select nonfiction titles that deal with poetics, the writing life, aesthetics, cultural criticism, and literary biography”.

Most presses will respond in six months (sometimes longer) but it’s best to check the publisher’s guidelines. If you don’t hear from the press in a reasonable amount of time, check to make sure the query or manuscript was received.

“Sometimes submissions get lost,” said a member from the audience. “It happened to me and shortly after the manuscript was found, I received an acceptance.”

As for multiple-submissions, Vermeersch said “most publishers don’t mind…but make sure you withdraw your manuscript if it is accepted by someone else.”

BE PATIENT AND LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH REJECTION

“If you get a rejection don’t take it personal,” advised Dunn. “It may be the wrong press or the wrong editor.”

According to Wells, Biblioasis wants books that they love. They often receive 400, 500, 600 submissions a year. However, the editors at Biblioasis also read literary magazines and keep their eyes on the literary scene to solicit work not only from established authors but those who are deemed up-and-comers. The majority of their 25 to 35 titles per year total are selected this way. Your chance for acceptance by a trade publisher improves if you have a strong publishing record with numerous credits in prestigious journals. Winning a major literary award is an added bonus.

The harsh reality is that the number of manuscripts accepted is a small fraction of all the submissions received.

Vermeersch revealed that Wolsak and Wynn may receive 300 to 400 submissions a year. “I can only accept a few.” He usually selects 8 books (2 poetry manuscripts and 2 fiction manuscripts per season) for his imprint and another 8 to 10 books are selected by the main press for an annual total of approximately 18 books.

Wolsak and Wynn July 28, 2017

At one time Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd. was based in Don Mills, Ontario. Today its website states “they are a quirky literary press based in the heart of Hamilton, Ontario”.

Dunn has been the publisher of Palimpstet Press for only three years. Each year, the press has worked hard to increase the number of works published. In 2017, they will publish 7 books and in 2018, 8 books have been scheduled for release.

“If your manuscript is rejected,” said Vermeersch, “put it in a drawer and start something else or send the work elsewhere.”

Successful writers keep moving one step at a time.

BE AWARE OF SCAMS AND VANITY PRESSES

Some authors are impatient and opt to self-publish or work with a vanity press. Caution is advised.

“Many vanity presses charge for printing and marketing,” said Vermeersch. “Traditional publishers don’t…..why pay for someone to publish your manuscript when a traditional publisher will actually pay you an advance with the possibility of additional royalties?”

Dunn said there is one small exception. “The only time a traditional publisher asks for money is when the author wants to buy extra books to sell.”

THE WAIT FOR A TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER IS WORTH IT

Many authors aren’t aware of the benefits of working with a traditional publisher.

Wells explained that “our investment in a book is $20,000 to $30,000 per title.”

“If you want an advance and a professional experience (for free),” said Vermeersch, “then the traditional publisher is the way to go.”

The cons of self-publishing are numerous.

According to Dunn, unless you pay for it, you won’t have a collective who can market and put the book into international, national and big-chain bookstores and libraries. Also, self-published books cannot qualify for awards, the author cannot apply for writing, travel and reading grants, and in many cases it becomes difficult to obtain professional status as a writer.

Moderator Richardson added that “literary festivals won’t allow self-published authors to read because the quality of self-published books is inconsistent and there are already enough traditionally published authors who are willing to share their work.”

READ AND UNDERSTAND THE CONTRACT

Once your work is finally accepted for publication, “make sure you read the contract,” said Vermeersch. “There should be no surprises….Working with a press is both a business and a creative relationship.”

Understand what an advance is. These payments are given to an author in anticipation of projected sales. The author gets to keep the payments but won’t receive any more royalties until he/she works through his/her advance. According to Vermeersch, poets will usually receive a $500 advance while a novelist will receive about $2,000. This can vary with the number of copies printed or the reputation of the author.

Dunn said “the normal print run for a literary trade publication is 500 copies.”

Biblioasis Books July 28, 2017

Biblioasis publishes “short fiction, novels, poetry, literary criticism, memoir, belle lettres, local and regional history, and general non-fiction.”

Wells added that Biblioasis “contracts are pretty fair or more fair than the Writers’ Union of Canada…Everything can be negotiated.” For those who want help, he suggests contacting the Writers’ Union.  As for agents, he said “in the 14 years that we’ve published books, we’ve only published one book with an agent…I wouldn’t worry about an agent in Canada.”

BE PREPARED FOR MORE WORK & ADDITIONAL PERIODS OF WAITING

It usually takes approximately two years from the time the contract is signed to the time the book is released.

“It’s at least a two-year process,” said Dunn. “The (release) deadline is often tentative and sometimes an author can get bumped.”

According to Vermeersch, the author is usually given one year to fix general edits, then another six months to work on more specific line edits. The last six months focuses on copy editing, design, and marketing.

“While the editor is working,” said Dunn, “the publisher is working on marketing. Lots of authors don’t realize that when your book is released, the publisher is already working on books that will be launched two years down the road.”

Wells explained it takes nine months to promote a book properly in other countries like the United States. It’s important to get advance copies and the word out early, long before the book is released. “In Canada, the buzz in conversation needs to happen at least six months before the book is launched.” Once released, the shelf life of a new book is also about six months. After that, the next season of books will be released. Therefore, those first few months of sales are important.

A FEW COMMENTS ON DIVERSITY

More Canadian publishers are seeking ways to diversify their title offerings. All three publishers stressed their need for more submissions.

“My male slush pile is high,” said Vermeersch. “We all want to tell all kinds of stories but we don’t always get the diverse submissions.”

“We get lots of female and white submissions,” said Dunn. “So we have to ask for more diversity. Geographically, we are good.”

ONE FINAL NOTE ABOUT MARKETING

“If you are not a salesperson,” said Dunn, “then you need to learn to take chances.”

As Vermeersch stated earlier, “Working with a press is both a business and a creative relationship”.

Publishers and writers must help each other. Gone are the days when publishers handle all the promotion on their own.

Paul Vermeersch books July 28, 2017

Paul Vermeersch is multi-talented. In addition to his editing work at Wolsak and Wynn, he is an established poet with work published by McLelland & Stewart.

“The Getting Published In Canada” event in Windsor was presented by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization and the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). It was generously sponsored by the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

A similar event was held in Sudbury in June with Heather Campbell of Sudbury publisher Latitude 46; Christie Harkin of Clockwise Press; and Jennifer Knoch of ECW Press.

The next panel discussion will be held on Thursday, August 24, 2017 with publishers Renee K. Abram of Kegedonce Press; Naseem Hrab of Kids Can Press; and Hazel Millar of BookThug at the Six Nations Public Library, 1679 Chiefswood Road, Ohsweken, Ontario. Admission is free. Refreshments provided.

A partial listing of future Ontario literary events appears here.

Follow this blog for future posts about literary happenings and author profiles. Coming soon, a Q & A with Sarnia musician/songwriter Gregger Botting and his debut CD release as well as a look at a new collection of short stories by Sarnia writer Diana Koch.