Tag: Whitby

Book That Day! May 4th for BookMarkIt!

Maybe you’ve heard of our book fair by now.

It’s called BookMarkIt!, complete with capital letters in strange places and exclamation marks that Elmore Leonard would almost certainly frown on.

BookMarkIt! happens May 4th—Star Wars Day—at the Whitby Curling Club 815 Brock Street North in Whitby, 10am until 5pm, rain or shine.

Special Guest Robert J. Sawyer

Many authors from all over Ontario will be present. Award winning science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer is our Special Guest. Well known producer, author and interviewer Mark Askwith of Prisoners of Gravity fame will also be on hand to interview some of our amazing authors. Which authors? So many to choose from! We are pleased to have Dale Sproule, Sarah Tolmie, Douglas Smith, Bernadette Dyer, A.A. Jankiewicz, Maaja Wentz, Lesley Donaldson, Yahaya Baruwa, and many more. We are also honoured to have publishers Bundoran Press, Brain Lag, and ChiZine Publications taking part. ChiZine authors David Demchuk, Stephen Michell, Michael Rowe and Brent Hayward will also be dropping by.

BookMarkIt! is designed to introduce books to to readers and readers to books.  Our mission is to promote the work of Canadian, Small Press, Independent, and genre authors. All of our resources and efforts are focused on these tasks.

David Demchuk,
Author of The Bone Mother

We are proud to be sponsored by the following terrific and generous organizations: SF Canada, Amazing Stories Magazine, On Spec Magazine, Constellate Publishing, Groupa Concrete, and Bookshelf (Writer’s Community of York Region).   

Our industrious team is active on Twitter (@it_bookmark), Facebook (@whitbybookmarkit), Instagram (whitbybookmarkit) and more. Check us out at www.bookmarkit.ca.

If you’re an author or deal in book related products, it’s not too late to join us. Tables are $75 apiece. You can sign up at www.bookmarkit.ca

If you’re a reader, reach out to us on one of our social media feeds. And by all means drop by the Whitby Curling Club May 4th to meet your favourite—or new favourite—author in person!

BookMarkIt! About a Book Fair

On Saturday May 4th, 2019, we’re holding a book fair in Whitby, Ontario called BookMarkIt!

What’s a book fair? It’s where authors come to sell their books. It’s where people come to sell products related to books. It’s where yet others come to peruse these wares, meet a favourite author or two, and discover new favourite authors.

Why hold a book fair?

In my case, it’s because I published a book recently. And since becoming an author I’ve discovered something:

Books are hard to sell.

This made me want to do something to make it a bit easier. Not just for myself, but for other writers too. 

You might be thinking, how are books hard to sell? Can’t I just walk into a bookstore and buy them? What about online? Can’t I just buy them there?

Sure, you can do both those things.

But you’re not necessarily going to find the best books by doing that. Just because a book is online doesn’t mean it’s going to be visible there. Take for example fellow BookMarkIt! organizer and author Pat Flewwelling’s first Helix book, Blight of Exiles. Despite thirteen excellent reviews on Amazon.com and a 4.7 Star rating, it’s still sitting at #10,911,700.    

(I recommend you all go purchase Helix: Blight of Exiles right now to correct that problem.)

And you might be surprised to learn that a lot of good books aren’t even in bookstores. Most major book retailers don’t carry books by independent and self-published authors. There are a lot of reasons for this, starting with lots of high octane competition and limited shelf space. 

As you can imagine, this is a bit of a challenge for those who don’t get shelf space.

Independent publishers are committed to publishing voices you’re not going to find elsewhere. Here in Canada, that often means Canadian voices. These are publishers willing to take chances, not wholly driven by the bottom line. They are like craft brewers, except instead of producing beer, they produce quality books, every bit as unique, distinctive and flavourful as the suds produced by your favourite craft brewer.   

Hmm… Beer… (Image courtesy of Little Beasts Brewing of Oshawa, ON, which you should also check out)

Also, in the last decade or so there’s been an explosion of self-publishing. Costs have gone down and quality has gone up. Unfortunately, like the books of many independent publishers, these books don’t usually make their way into bookstores.

Shelf space in bookstores isn’t the only challenge for authors and publishers. It costs money to sell books. I mean beyond the cost of making the books in the first place. There’s the cost of marketing and advertising those books, which is frequently a challenge for small publishers and independent authors. Not to mention that everybody involved in the production and selling of a book has to get their cut. Here’s an example of how it can work:

One day I took my book to a bricks and mortar Indigo bookstore to sell it. Before I could do this I had to purchase several copies of my book from my publisher to have copies to sell. This was a fair investment to begin with. Indigo kindly gave me a table and a chair and a prominent spot on their floor. I met a lot of nice people and sold nine books that day.

Unfortunately, Chapter’s non-negotiable policy is to take 45% of the sale price of each book sold. This forced me to charge a rather high price for each copy of my book to break even. At the end of the day, after Chapters took their share, I made a little under two dollars profit for that day’s work (never mind all the work that went into creating the book in the first place). I don’t see the point of ever trying to sell my book at Chapters again.

Fortunately there are other avenues to sell books. Farmer’s Markets and Dealer’s Rooms at conventions, for example. Still, although these places don’t typically take a share of your profits, you are required to rent a table. The cost of renting a table varies, anywhere from $10 a table (at a Farmer’s Market in Summerside, P.E.I.) to over $150 a table (at a science fiction convention in Toronto). Sometimes you can share a table with another writer, which helps a lot. But if you’re shelling out for a table, you need to sell a certain number of copies of your book in order to break even.

Whether a convention, a Farmer’s Market, or another type of event at which you rent a table to sell your books, you don’t always break even. Why not? Sometimes the sad truth is that no one wants your particular book. Maybe it just isn’t the right crowd. For example, sometimes these events are populated predominantly by writers as opposed to readers. So you wind up trying to sell your books to other writers who are also trying to sell you their books. This is not entirely an obstacle as writers are a uniquely supportive lot who frequently buy one another’s books. I have a lot of friends’ books on my shelves.      

Of course, these examples are not the only means by which writers can sell their books. Many writers do book tours and interviews. Others successfully do outreach to libraries and schools which raises their profiles while giving back to their communities. 

But the more opportunities writers have to sell their books, and the more opportunities readers have to find those writers, the better it is for everyone. Which is why my friends and I decided to create BookMarkIt!

Our goal is to create an attractive environment to expose as many writers and readers to one another as possible. And we want to do so at as little cost to writers and readers as possible. This is why admission to BookMarkIt! is free. BookMarkIt! itself is a non-profit organization. And writers can rent tables as inexpensively as we can manage, and share those tables if they choose.   

Whitby Curling Club
Whitby Curling Club, which, on May 4th, 2019, we’ll be renaming the Whitby BookMarkIt!

We’ve decided to hold BookMarkIt! at the Whitby Curling Club, located on Brock Street, the main street in Whitby, just north of Whitby’s downtown. There is a lot of traffic on this road, and the Club has a huge sign outside to draw people in. We’re placing Food Trucks in the parking lot to attract further traffic and create a bit of a stir. It will be a family friendly event. The Whitby Curling Club itself is an attractive venue, well laid out inside with plenty of room for vendors and visitors and another whole room we’ll be using for interviews and readings, which we’ll post on social media later to help writers sell their work after the event.

It’s called BookMarkIt!

And we hope to see you there.

The Writing Process Blog Hop with Author Susan Rodgers

I’ve been tagged by Author Susan Rodgers to participate in a Blog Hop. This is nothing like a Sock Hop, which I once participated in back in nineteen seventy-six. This Hop involves writing, not dancing, which is good, because I’m much better at writing than dancing.

Susan Rodgers, as well as being a talented writer, is my sister. She’s one year, one month and three days younger than me, but a whole lot smarter and better looking. She’s a film maker with several films to her credit, some of which have been broadcast on the CBC and Bravo, and the author of the Drifters series of books, available online and in fine bookstores in Prince Edward Island. I am honoured to participate in a Blog Hop with her.

Susan Rodgers, Author, Film maker

Susan Rodgers, Author, Film maker

The way it works is she asks me a bunch of questions, which I answer here in my blog, and then I somehow convince two other bloggers to do the same for me.

Here are Susan’s questions and my attempts to answer them:

1. You grew up in Prince Edward Island, Canada, but you’ve lived your adult life in Toronto and Whitby, Ontario. You work in Toronto, one of the busiest cities in Canada. It’s a far cry from the serenity and natural beauty of PEI. How do you feel these two worlds affect your writing? Do they merge in any way?

I moved to Toronto when I was nineteen and lived there for eleven years, then moved to Whitby to raise a family, although I kept working in Toronto, where I still work. Somewhere in there I also spent the better part of a year in France, which you may have heard of. Believe it or not, there is serenity and beauty to be found in Toronto and Whitby. I love Toronto, and have loved it from the moment I set foot in it. When I lived in France, I missed Toronto terribly. My friend Lisa Trimble sent me a copy of the Toronto Star after I’d been in France a while, and I devoured every single word in it, including the Classifieds, because I missed Toronto so much.

My wife Lynda and I actually moved to Whitby because downtown Whitby reminded us of downtown Summerside PEI. So we obviously miss PEI too. Though now that I live in Whitby, I miss France terribly. I miss wherever I’m not.

Downtown Whitby

Downtown Whitby


Prince Edward Island has had a tremendous impact on my writing, though. My damned-near-complete novel (2500 words left to revise out of 115,000) is set on an island which is a fictionalized version of Prince Edward Island. I’ve retained some place names (like Evangeline) and changed other locales completely (Charlottetown became Farfuston, with a completely different down town core). I did this because I couldn’t remember Prince Edward Island accurately enough, forcing me to make stuff up. I do most of my writing on the Go Train travelling back and forth to work where there’s no internet connection, so I can’t research anything. Also, I like making stuff up, so it doesn’t really bother me. Curiously, people who’ve read portions of the novel think it’s a real place in Great Britain. But they’re wrong. It’s Prince Edward Island in disguise.

I don’t think Toronto has affected my writing at all, so far. Or Whitby. They’re just where I do my writing.

2. It seems you write mostly in the fantasy and science fiction genres. Did you consciously choose these genres or do you feel it came to you somehow? Do you think you will always write in these genres or might you branch out some day?

It’s true that all of my short fiction and my damned-near-complete novel are either fantasy or SF. I have also written and co-authored several plays, none of which is SF. (They’re murder mysteries.) I read many genres, including non-fiction, and enjoy them all, but for now I’m happy writing SF and Fantasy. I have several novels in mind that I’d like to write, all of which are SF. I do have a hankering to pen two memoirs. One would be about my career at the CBC, and the other would be about my time in the magical land of France. Or I may fictionalize those experiences with a dash of SF. We’ll see.

3. Tell us about your process. I’d be interested to know where you do most of your writing as well as what comforts you like to have around you. I, for one, must have my large iced mocha to ‘jumpstart’ my brain. Do you have any such habits or creature comforts when writing? Does it help you to sink into that fantasy world more fully?

As I mentioned earlier (what, were you not paying attention?) I do most of my writing on the GO Train. The GO Train carries me back and forth from Whitby to Toronto, and each ride is between half an hour to forty-five minutes long, depending on whether it’s the Express. The longer the better for me. I like nothing better than for the GO Train to break down. Then, while all about me are losing their heads, I get more writing done. It’s a sad time for me when the train pulls up to the station, and I must put away my headphones and close my laptop. Especially when I accidentally close my laptop on the top of a USB key, which I did once, which broke the screen. But I digress.

I have no rituals on the train other than to start writing as soon as possible and not do anything else, like read, or talk to people. I’m rather rude on the train, or at least I feel like I’m being rude. Sometimes people will try to talk to me. If it’s someone I just met, I will talk to them the first time I ride with them. During that ride, I will tell them that normally I write on the train, and that if I ever run into them again on the train, I hope they will forgive me, but I would prefer to write instead of talk. I explain that it’s pretty much the only time I have to write, and writing is extremely important to me. I have never met anyone who doesn’t understand. Most people who take the train regularly wind up doing their own thing on the train anyway. My friends know better than to try to talk to me on the train. It took me years to build up the courage to tell people that. But now that I have, I get a lot more writing done.

Joe's Writing Garrett on Wheels

Joe’s Writing Garrett on Wheels


Long ago, I read that Madeleine L’Engle, the author of A Wrinkle in Time, trained herself to be able to write while raising kids. Sometimes she would only get a few seconds in. Time for a single sentence, or to correct a single word, before having to change a diaper or manage some minor crisis. But that was enough. It was progress. I’ve trained myself to do the same. I can write anywhere. I’ve written in Doctor’s offices, by swimming pools, at my kid’s art lessons, piano lessons, on the train, on the plane, buses, outside, inside. I don’t have any rituals other than ignoring everything around me and starting to write.

4. What are you working on now and what are your hopes and dreams for future writing projects?

As I mentioned before (you really aren’t paying attention, are you?) I’m finishing up my damned-near-complete novel, with the working title of A Time and a Place. This is a one hundred and fifteen thousand word novel about a man by the name of Barnabus J Wildebear whose fifteen-year old nephew has been conscripted into an alien army. Wildebear, the boy’s only living relative, sets out to protect him, but to do so, Wildebear must pass through an alien portal that transports him not only to other worlds and times, but into the very minds of alien beings.

My next novel, which I plan to start the day after I finish this one, will be set in the same universe. It’s working title is Captain’s Away!, and it’s based on a radio play I wrote which was broadcast on CBC Radio back in 2003. It’s about a woman who is mistaken for the captain of an interstellar space ship and is forced to play the part as the ship heads for war.

Then, if I’m still capable of writing (when I finish that one at the age of one hundred and fifty-seven), I may attempt one of those memoirs I mentioned earlier. Or I may just take a well-deserved retirement, perhaps in France, which is almost as beautiful in parts as your beloved l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard.

***

Here are the bloggers I’ve tagged:

Robert Runté:

Editor and Writer Robert Runté

Editor and Writer Robert Runté


Robert Runté is Senior Editor at Five Rivers Publishing, a freelance editor at SFeditor.ca, and an Associate Professor at the University of Lethbridge. He is best known as a critic, reviewer, and editor of Canadian speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy), for which he has won two Aurora Awards. His first short story was published in the first issue of On Spec magazine in 1989; his most recent story, “Split Decision”, appeared in the Tesseracts 15 anthology and was reprinted in Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. He in the process of revising his own first novel, and will be the first to concede that editing a novel is a lot easier than writing one. (See the Writer, the Editor, and Human Nature to read about Robert’s experience being on the author-end of the editing process.)

Angela Misri:

Author Angela Misri Signing her new book Jewel of the Thames

Author Angela Misri Signing her new book Jewel of the Thames

Angela Misri is an award-winning journalist, writer and mom based out of Toronto, Canada. Her first book Jewel of the Thames was published in March 2014 by Fierce Ink Press. This is the first book in the detective series called ‘A Portia Adams Adventure‘ and Angela is hard at work editing books two and three right now! She has spent most of her career at the CBC making radio content extraterrestrial through websites, live streams and podcasts. These days Angela also freelances locally and nationally for magazines and newspapers and teaches at Ryerson University.

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