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SPRING 2016 $4.95


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Publication of The Federation of British Columbia Writers 2014 Bowen Rd, Nanaimo, BC, V9S 1H4




Shaleeta Harper Letter from the Editor


© The Federation of British Columbia


Ann Graham Walker The President’s Pen




Shaleeta Harper Members Corner



Jennifer Manuel Planning a Blue Pencil Cafe


Shaleeta Harper

Editorial Board

Writers 2016 All Rights Reserved

Content of WordWorks Magazine is, with very occasional exceptions, provided by members of the Federation of BC writers. If you would like to submit something, or if you have a story idea you would like to see included in WordWorks, please visit


WordWorks is pleased to advertise services and products that are of genuine interest to writers. Space may also be provided to honour sponsors, whose generous contributions make it possible for the Federation of BC Writers to provide services to writers in BC. For information about advertising policies and rates, see WordWorks/advertisers


Editorial decisions are guided by the mandate of WordWorks as "BC’s Magazine for Writers", and its role as the official publication of the Federation of BC Writers. WordWorks will showcase the writing and poetry of FBCW members'; provide news and feature coverage of writing and writers in BC with an emphasis on writing techniques and the business of writing; carry news about the Federation of BC Writers, and its work supporting and advocating for writers.


Craig Spence A Case for Paying... Jonathon Bigelow & Emily Orr

The Creativity Commons at...

Antony Stevens Do I need an Agent? Caitlin Hicks My 3 Seconds of Glory...

philip gordon Dear [Author Name]


Andrea McKenzie Raine The New World of...


Lucia Terra Email Netiquette


Julie Raddysh Publishing and the Environment


Chelsea Comeau Interview with Alan Hill


Suzanne Anderson It Takes a Team to...


Alan Hill Selected Poems


Shaleeta Harper How to Find Reviewers


Craig Shemilt 12 Ways Authors Sabotage their Success


Letters to the Federation


Don Genova Fair Pay for Writers


Member Classifieds


Page 1 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016


Lucía Terra is a bilingual writer and editor based in Vancouver. She writes non-fiction articles on cultural, environmental and social issues and is currently working on a memoir as part of the SFU Writers’ Studio.

Don Genova

Don Genova is the president of the Canadian Media Guild Freelance Branch and welcomes new members. Don is also an award-winning freelance food journalist based in Victoria, BC. His first book, a BC best seller, Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, is published by TouchWood Editions.

philip gordon

philip gordon is a creative writing student from Vancouver Island. He can be stalked at Twitter. com/greymusic_

Andrea McKenzie Raine

Andrea McKenzie Raine resides in Victoria, with her husband and two sons. She earned a B.A. in English Literature at the University of Victoria, and is the author of a poetry book titled A Mother’s String and two novels titled Turnstiles, and A Crowded Heart.

Jonathon Bigelow

Jonathon Bigelow is a librarian for the Vancouver Island Regional Library. He is also a freelance translator of Japanese and an aspiring editor.

Chelsea Comeau

Chelsea Comeau is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Claremont Review, Quills, and CV2. In 2015 she was the Canadian winner of the Leaf Press Overleaf chapbook competition. She is currently the poetry editor of WordWorks magazine.

Spring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 2

Antony Stevens

Antony Stevens is studying Creative Writing and Journalism at Vancouver Island University, and is editor for the Navigator Newspaper, text literary magazine, and online games press Clip Through. Antony is a proponent of performance poetry, and he holds his breath when he writes.

Craig Shemilt

Craig Shemilt has been a partner at Island Blue and Printorium Bookworks for 39 years. He worked in the printing and art store for 10 years, spent 19 years managing wholesale picture framing division, and now is managing the Printorium Bookworks, and has been for the past 10 years. Has an extensive background in Retail Sales, Wholesale, Purchasing and Marketing. He is dedicated to making sure his clients are looked after.

Caitlin Hicks

Caitlin Hicks is an author, international playwright, and acclaimed performer in British Columbia. Her debut novel A Theory Of Expanded Love (2015) was an iBooks Best New Fiction pick on a list with Judy Blume, Toni Morrison, Sara Blume, and was featured on two Best of 2015 Must-Read lists, with many 4 & 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Craig Spence

Craig Spence is a past president and former executive director of the Federation of BC Writers. A journalist, communications manager and published author, he has made his living by writing for more than 35 years. He believes strongly that writers are being short-changed by today’s copyright and royalty structures. CraigSpenceWriter. ca /

Jennifer Manuel

Jennifer Manuel's novel, The Heaviness of Things That Float (Douglas & McIntyre) is out this April. She is a TA for the online course, The Story Intensive, and she mentors writers from around the world. She lives in Duncan.

Alan Hill

Alan Hill has been published in North America in CV2, Canadian Literature, Vancouver Review, Event (upcoming) Antigonish Review, Sub-Terrain, Poetry is Dead, Quills, Impressment Gang, Cascadia Review, Reunion- The Dallas Review and in a number of other volumes and anthologies. His second full collection, The Broken Word (Silver-Bow Press), was published in 2013.

Julie Raddysh

Julie Raddysh, Director of Operations at New Society Publishers a company who is committed to building an ecologically sustainable and just society, not just through education, but through action. To learn more about New Society Publishers and their commitment to the world’s remaining ancient forests please visit their website at

Suzanne Anderson

Suzanne Anderson is an author, book coach and publishing consultant. She wrote Self Publishing in Canada: A complete guide to designing, printing and selling your book. She has presented self-publishing and creative writing workshops at Vancouver Island University and Simon Fraser University. She has been a guest speaker at Word On The Street (Vancouver) and the Independent Publisher's Association of Canada in Calgary, among others.

Emily Orr

Emily Orr is the eLibrarian for Vancouver Island Regional Library. Her work supports online resources and digital initiatives for library members around the island.

Shaleeta Harper

Shaleeta Harper is a graduate from Vancouver Island University, and currently works as Executive Director for the FBCW. She writes poery, fiction, and editorials. She also is the editor of text magazine and WordWorks magazine. She owns a home in Nanaimo with her fiance Ryan, and they live there with her dog, cat, and roommates.




he Federation of BC Writers is growing. I mean that literally—we have more members than we’ve had in years— and metaphorically. Our board of directors is more focussed than ever, committed to finding new projects, new methods to improve our old projects, and having more frequent meetings. Coming on board as your Executive Director now is a priviledge, and a wonderful challenge. This is a year where we’ve been keeping our new years resolutions—we’ll have an updated vision statement and a new faster website, complete with forums, long before the end

of this summer, as these projects are already well underway. We’re applying to more grants, so we can fund more of our writer’s projects, and we’re open to ideas from the entire writing community. If you want to contribute, there has never been a better time for it. This issue is on the popular topic of publishing—both traditionally, and on your own. We have tips and stories from Editors, Agents, Publishers, and experienced authors in these pages, and we’re confident you’ll find something of value. Despite all of this forward thinking,

sometimes you need to look backwards to really appreciate how far you’ve come. Our Summer issue of WordWorks is going to be focussed on history, and history writing of all kinds. If you have something to say, or you know a topic that may be of interest to our community, please send queries and/or articles to communications@ We also ask that if you were involved in the Federation in years past, and want to tell us about your experiences and memories, you send us an email letting us know.

Page 3 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016




s I write this, I'm thinking of the cashier in Parksville who just told me tomorrow will bring a new monsoon. As you read this, a month from now, the daffodils will be up, perhaps a little wet but mostly just bright, bright yellow. Spring is change, and there have been changes in your federation too. Coco Aders-Weremczuk resigned her presidency to look after her elderly mother and, as vice-president, I agreed to step in. I would like to thank the Federation of BC Writers (FBCW) Board of Directors for the faith they have placed in me, and I’d also like to thank them for their hard work—planning events, running our writing contests, maintaining financial ledgers, organizing member meet and greets, answering your questions. Good things happen because of our passionate and talented volunteers. So, hello! It is truly an honour and a huge pleasure to be part of an organization that serves British Columbia writers, a rich and dynamic community that is like those magnificent red cedars and Douglas Firs out there: Tall, strong—a gift to us. I know some of you well, having been the FBCW Islands region representative for three years. I also volunteered to update the member list last summer, so some of you received renewal reminder notes from me. (Rachel McMillan now volunteers as your superbly organized and caring membership director). I live in Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island—a beautiful place to quietly craft words as a poet and freelance journalist, to hike up to “The Lookoff ” and encounter horned owls in between story deadlines. This won’t be a long introductory letter, and that may be the best form of introduction. There’s so much great stuff for you to read in this issue. I work on the editorial team that puts WordWorks together, and am so proud of the beautiful job Shaleeta Harper has done, creating the elegant and smart magazine that you are holding and reading. I am also delighted that Shaleeta recently became our new executive director. A poet, editor, businesswoman, and new graduate from Vancouver Island University, she is a lot younger than most of us. We want to change that and make the FBCW home to many more young writers. How should we go about that? How should Spring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 4

we go about growing our association and making it more and more valuable and responsive to the needs of all members, every age group? I’d really like to hear from you. I’d like to hear what you like, what you don’t like about the FBCW, what you wish we did a little better, and—most important—what you’d dearly love to see us do this year, or maybe next. We are thinking about our road map right now, as we begin preparing for the next grant cycle (the FBCW is very grateful to the British Columbia Arts Council for partially funding our programs). Your input is more important than you may realize. And anytime you have questions or concerns, I am here. Because this is your federation, writers. Best wishes, Ann Ann Graham Walker


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very member of the FBCW is entitled to one profile at This profile can contain a bio, photo, publishing credits, contact information, and nearly anything else you'd like to share. All profiles are listed in our "Members Index" in order of last name, and are visible to the public. If you'd like a profile, visit http:// or send an email to



eist is a Canadian cultural magazine, based in Vancouver BC. As of March 2016 The FBCW and Geist arranged a partnership, whereby all members of the FBCW are sent a complimentary copy of Geist magazine each quarter We are not sharing our email addresses, and the addresses are only used for this purpose. However, if you'd rather not be sent a copy of Geist, you are welcome to opt-out of future issues by sending an email to Shaleeta Harper (Executive Director) at



ou are already aware that every member receives a print copy of WordWorks every season, but did you know it was available online? The online issue is available in full color at As a member, you're also eligible to post an advertisement in our members classifieds section for just 35.00 each month. (dimensions are 3.5"x2") If you'd like to read the copies exclusively online, or post a classified ad, send an email to Shaleeta Harper at Page 5 â—† WordWorks â—† Spring 2016

The Road Will Take You Anywhere National Poetry Month

It’s time to celebrate the roads we travel, the roads we wish to travel, the roads we’ve found and made and cherished.

Nanaimo North Branch of the VIRL Location: 6250 Hammond Bay Road April 16th 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Four Poets Celebrate National Poetry Month with the Canadian League of Poets Open Mic Bring your poems about the road and share your work.

Ann Graham Walker

Jazz Smekal

David Fraser

Ursula Vaira

Perhaps, this morning, you walked to work. Maybe you drove. Maybe you took a bus; maybe you stayed home, on the road to recovery. You travelled today, certainly, from point A to point B through a map of your choosing—to the office, over a mountain, on a detour or a rest stop. Maybe your map shows the roads of your adventures (real, imagined), maybe the branches of your family (given, chosen), maybe the chaos of a road not yet determined. But you found a road, or you made one, and you made another journey today; and you’ll make another journey tomorrow.

Spring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 6




othing improves a writer’s craft more effectively than incisive feedback from an experienced writer or editor, especially if this feedback is delivered in the positive spirit of mentorship. Many writers do not have this opportunity. Blue Pencil Cafes, where writers receive one-on-one feedback, are sometimes offered at writing conferences or special events hosted by editing organizations. Here in the Cowichan Valley, three of us writers wondered: How might a small, local Blue Pencil Cafe serve the writing community? How do we host such an event? To begin the process, we sent out emails asking for advice from organizations and conferences across the country. Primarily we wanted to know: How have you organized

your blue pencil cafes? Was there anything that worked particularly well? Was there anything we should avoid? With this information in hand, we then met to plan the format of our Blue Pencil Cafe. Since we wanted this free event to function as a Federation of BC Writers (FBCW) event while also opening it up to non-members in the area, this meant that FBCW members would get priority on the twenty spaces available. Fortunately, our local library offers free space to non-profit groups. The meeting room would serve as a central gathering area, with writer-mentor partners then relocating to areas of library where quiet collaboration is allowed. How long would each session between

writer and mentor be? How many pages would be critiqued? According to the information we received, cafes range from ten to thirty minutes. Since we planned to offer only twenty spaces, we decided on thirty minutes for each writer to submit three pages, or 750 words for feedback. What type of feedback? A substantive critique gives the writer feedback on the mechanics of the story or poem (e.g., pacing, voice, point of view, character, plot, etc.), while a copy edit gives feedback on the mechanics of style (e.g., grammar, punctuation, consistency of facts, etc.). We felt that substantive critiques would prove more valuable to local writers. Given the thoughtful reflection demanded by substantive critiquing, Page 7 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016

we opted for written pieces to be submitted prior to the cafe as part of a preregistration process. This differs from some other cafes where mentors see the writing for the first time when the session starts. We then sent a brief proposal to our local and regional FBCW representatives asking for feedback on the event idea. We received helpful, prompt responses. But how could we know this was what writers wanted? To find out, we sent an online survey to local FBCW members. We used Survey Monkey, which is free if you have less than 100 respondents. We asked four simple, short questions: • Would you attend a free Blue Pencil Cafe in Duncan? • Would you prefer to receive a substantive critique or a copy edit? (We provided the aforementioned definition.) • Which one genre would you prefer to submit: poetry, adult fiction, children’s fiction, non-fiction?

Spring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 8

• Would you be interested in staying after the Blue Pencil Cafe to attend a Q&A panel with mentors on publishing, getting an agent, and other related industry topics? This last question was more than a value-added idea. Predicting that some writers might want to use part of their critiquing session to ask the mentor about the publishing process, we planned a panel for this purpose. The survey results have revealed that, yes, many writers in our area want to attend a cafe to receive substantive feedback. Now that we know which genres people wanted feedback on, we could find mentors who were not only established writers or editors, but who, ideally, also had some experience mentoring. If you don’t have a strong network to draw from, ask your FBCW regional representative for suggestions. To ensure that writers do not have a discouraging experience, we created critiquing

guidelines based on my work as a TA for Sarah Selecky’s course, The Story Intensive. A simple approach, the critique is divided into three categories, tweaked slightly for different genres: What this story is about; What is working; and What needs work. After the mentor describes what she thinks the story/ poem is trying to do, which is the foundation of any good critique, three specific things that are working well are then balanced with three things that need strengthening. Participating mentors must therefore be open to using this critique. However, the categories are general enough to give mentors the freedom to focus on any element of craft. The Federation of BC Writers has been an incredible resource during our process. Contact your regional rep and find out how the Federation can support your idea. Feel free to contact me if you’d like more information on conducting a survey, critiquing guidelines, or our research findings. (





Thank you for submitting your work to Literary Magazine #286a. We regret to inform you that we were not able to find a home for your piece at this time. To be completely frank, one of the editors has a bias against Sylvia Plath, and when you used the word "Oresteia" he assumed it was an allusion and pretty much set in his head that your poem was garbage. It isn’t really though, but the other two editors didn’t feel strong enough to stick up for it against two minutes of Ted Hughes sympathizing. Anyway, please don’t be too let down; your poem will surely be picked up by another editorial team without such a stern and invisible bias. Regards, Literary Magazine #286a Dear [AUTHOR NAME], Thank you for submitting your work to Literary Magazine #286a. We regret to inform you that we were not able to find a home for your piece at this time. For some reason Poetry magazine retweeted our call for submissions and pretty much the whole issues is now taken up by John Ashbery. We wanted to publish your poem, and a bunch of others, but… wow. Have you read any of John’s work, I mean? He’s just the best. Really, the best, I mean. Please think of us in the future when looking to publish your work, and don’t forget to check out our spring issue, featuring nude photos of former New York state poet laureate John Ashbery—the side he’s been too scared to show the public; until NOW! Regards, Literary Magazine #286a Dear [AUTHOR NAME], Thank you for submitting your work to Literary Magazine #286a. We regret to inform you that we were not able to find a home for your piece at this time. To be completely honest, none of us got it. We

don’t know that we didn’t get it—I’m writing this from a parallel dimension where one of us (me) did get it, and holy heck is this an amazing poem. But unfortunately, in the dimension you’re in, everyone on the editorial staff completely missed the point. It wasn’t a too-hard to get point either—we were just having a bad day. I think the coffee machine was out. Or none of us are particularly good with rhyme. Was yours the rhyming dimension again? Anyway, we do sincerely apologize, and hope that you’ll think of us in the future when submitting poems—hopefully we’ll find it in the right limb of causality this time. Regards, Literary Magazine #286a Dear [AUTHOR NAME], Thank you for submitting your work to Literary Magazine #286a. We regret to inform you that we were not able to find a home for your piece at this time. While we appreciated the, uh, attention to, er, words, and things… okay, stop, let’s just be honest. It just wasn’t quite there yet. You know that feeling when you’ve just finished a stanza and a metaphor is burning bright on the page like the crown jewel of everything you’ve ever written? And then you look at it a month later and realize you wrote a love poem about rose-thorns? This wasn’t quite that bad—and yes, we all have our off days. I was rhyming "blue" and "true" until my second year of high school. The point is that after a few more edits, this one will be in good enough shape to send to us again. Far better that we send it back for some time in the workshop than to publish it and relegate ourselves to the "magazines that published me before I really found my voice and was able to say exactly what I wanted to say". The small box in the back of your closet, I mean. Do think of us in the future when submitting your work, and in perpetuity, since the voice of a writer is an ever-evolving assemblage of spirit and harmonics, weaving out the mouth like northern lights streaming from the stars. Regards, Literary Magazine #286a

Page 9 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016

Dear [AUTHOR NAME], Thank you for submitting your work to Literary Magazine #286a. We regret to inform you that we were not able to find a home for your piece at this time. While we will not accuse you of having submitted to our magazine without having familiarized yourself with our content, it has been our mandate since issue one to only publish poems about trees, bull-kelp, and dead grandparents. Your poem about metaphysics and your journey in the snow, while emotionally compelling and impressive in its display of perfect molostic hendecameter, included none of these three subjects. Our editorial direction from inception has been a focus on location—the west coast cannot have an identity without these three things in some measure. For that reason, we must reject your piece, but hope that you will think of us in the future should you find a way to include these themes in your editing or subsequent work. Regards, Literary Magazine #286a

Dear [AUTHOR NAME], Thank you for submitting your work to Literary Magazine #286a. We regret to inform you that we were not able to find a home for your piece at this time. We’ll be upfront: the competition was too stiff this month. Your poem was good—every poem has something going for it, if it’s written from a place of truth—but that was the same for everyone else that submitted, and the process of elimination has to yield some hurt feelings. We know you won’t take it personal—you’re going to submit that same poem to other magazines, where you’ll be the biggest fish with the shiniest fins ready to eat those other submissions and claim your spot at the top. Or you’ll send it back to us in the future, when it has a little extra polish and we’ve been waiting to find a place for a voice like yours, now without the crowding of louder ones that might get in the way. It occurs to me that no matter what, I’ve always been able to write another poem. So I guess the good news is that even if you get this same email a hundred times, you can write a poem about how you feel for time one-hundred-one. Regards, Literary Magazine #286a

Spring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 10




hen we communicate online through written text, we lack all the visual and verbal cues of face-to-face or voice-tovoice communication. To avoid a faux-pas and to compensate for these constraints, we need to follow specific guidelines. This is where netiquette, short for network etiquette, comes in. Like any other human interaction, when we interact online, there are simple rules of courtesy and good manners that we should follow. Unlike other human interactions, we don’t grow up with our parents telling us how to behave in cyberspace, we have to take time to learn those guidelines. That is the case even for digital natives because their parents weren’t digital natives and certainly didn’t teach them netiquette. The type of cyber faux-pas we commit does tend to vary according to the generation we belong to. I do receive A LOT OF SHOUTING EMAILS from my elderly relatives, who are not that well acquainted with the caps lock possibilities. And I get too many emails starting right from the get go with “I want” from the youngest crowd, who are more likely to shoot a brief text message to their friends on the phone than to send requests for professional services that they might require. But regardless of the age group, we are all likely to be guilty of some of the faux-pas we will discuss below—I know I am. While there are many different online spaces where we can commit cyber faux-pas, like chats or comment sections (if you have been to either of them, you know there’s definitely a need for some urgent netiquette lessons there), here, we’ll be looking only at some of the do’s and don’ts of email communication. So, here we go.

Writing the message: What is the message about? In the sub-

ject line, always identify adequately the exact content of your message. It makes it much easier to find the message later on and avoids your message being missed in a pile of emails with the same subject line. Keep it short. Again, out of respect of others’ time, keep communication brief and to the point. Don’t SHOUT! Messages in capital letters are considered to be shouting. Just plain rude. Avoid. Use clear and neutral language. Without the interpretive inflections of tone of voice, facial expressions and body language, it’s too easy to misinterpret a message. Cultural, linguistic and other differences might compound the problem. While emoticons might help, stay away from them in more formal or professional interactions. Reread. Before sending the email, try to read it. And if possible, read it again. Not only to catch that embarrassing word that ended up in your message after the autocorrect function decided to change what you wrote, or to fix spelling or grammar mistakes you might have overlooked, but also to make sure you said what you intended to say. If the email is in any way important, give it to someone else to revise. And then, read it yet again. As we all know, we apparently become the best editors after we have hit “send.”

Before sending the message: Keep it private. This seems to be one of the most common faux-pas. The sender intended the email to you. Don’t in-

clude messages or email addresses you have received to a new email without the permission of the original sender. CC or not to CC? That’s the question. Before hitting “reply to all,” check if you need to reply to all, to only a few of the people in the list, or only to the person sending the email. Out of respect of others’ time and to avoid those dreadful cascades of responses, be certain that the inclusion of cc’s is warranted.

Keep the communication flowing: Act fast. Emails are not letters and people who use them expect a rapid response. If you receive an email request for a response that you are not able to provide immediately, for example, because you don’t have time or the information needed at the moment, notify the sender that you have received their request and when they can expect your full reply. Avoid disappearing acts. If you won’t be available for a few days or more, set an automated reply message informing people of the dates you will be absent. If possible, include the email of another contact person available during that time. Also, notify your contacts if you change your email address. Finally, while email is a great tool, there are times when email communication is just not enough. If after a few rounds of back and forth with someone, issues have not been resolved, it might be time to pick the phone (or Skype, FaceTime, etc.) and sort it out the “old fashioned” way.

Page 11 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016


INTERVIEW WITH ALAN HILL CHELSEA COMEAU What is your creative process when writing poetry? Do you partake in any specific rituals when you sit down to write? I prefer to write in mornings or evenings, when the layer of the day, the thick carpet of the daily experience, is still thin and I can poke holes and get to the unconscious spring burbling below. Having two small children, I tend to prepare in advance, keep a pen and paper ready at all times so I can scribble ideas as they come and have them handy when I actually have a spare moment to write. I have a favourite pen, too. Being the inheritor of utterly appalling handwriting, I can only write with an old fashioned fountain pen. I have had the same pen for fifteen years and by some miracle it has never been lost or broken. I have a small hideaway spot in the cellar of our home, a couch and a collection of contemporary poetry to keep me company. I usually get about 20 minutes before my kids discover me. Consequently, initial drafts of poems need to come quick.

Are there particular themes you like to visit in your poetry? I have come to like to mix the personal with the political and historical, but in a non-dogmatic, non-ideological way. Poetry doesn’t do too well with dogmatism. Even if I am exploring a historical theme, I try to leave room for the mysSpring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 12

tery and deep mine of pleasurable ambiguity that poetry can bring. I don’t look for easy answers in my work, and don’t expect them. Many of my more recent poems touch on colonialism and post-colonial experiences. I touch on those themes through exploring my own personal and family history and the history of New Westminster, my adopted home I have come to love. I try to make my poetry an expression of what it means to be part of a group or community. Poetry for me is about connection and the communal experiences we share.

Do you have any previous publications? If so, who published you? I have been published in approximately forty print and online publications and have two collections of poetry that were published by a small press in New Westminster (Silverbow). I have been published by some of the major Canadian poetry publications, including Cascadia Review, Event (upcoming) CV2, Sub-terrain, Antigonish Review, and a number of others in Canada, the USA and the UK.

What can you tell us about your experiences with the publishing process? The market for poetry is very limit-

ed. I would advise my fellow writers to both embrace the possibility of rejection and also not to take it too personally. There are thousands of people writing poetry and not so many opportunities for publication. Publication can sometimes be about who you know, or having a poem that fits with the pre-proscribed format/needs of a particular publication at that time. However, sometimes rejection can be because your work is simply not quite good enough. I try and learn from rejection slips and use them as an excuse for a reanalysis of the work or a good old fashioned rewrite. I would however urge editors to try and be kind with their rejections and personalize them, if time and resources allow.

What are your publication goals moving forward? I would say a main goal moving forward is to find a publisher for my finally finished, third manuscript. I am looking for a publisher who I can work in partnership with to promote my work to a wider audience. An even more important aim is to keep writing, keep reading the work of other poets and to keep learning and developing my craft and my general understanding of what it means to be alive and human. Ultimately, writing poetry and being a poet, is an increasingly obscure vocation. However I would agree with others who have said that poetry, due to the fact it is impossible to do it for the money or fame, is one of the few true art forms left.



Nowhere is home, the children next door not yours the church locked, bark of fox, the midnight DNA the open book of iron, wood, not you Serbo-Croat, Croato-Serb the Siamese twins that hacked themselves apart, to be free to leave you homeless, Canadian, yourself. Somewhere, in another place, not here drunken uncles roll over yesterday’s floorboards sing farm songs, the bastard offspring of hymns wail the death cry of the two headed eagle

to reel you back, apple, pear, plum for you kind one the geese to be fed, cow to be milked the half real home, painted against mountains night frost, colossal moon, distilled with blood bowel, brain and guts in the air held in your hands offered to the sky, to a little girl waiting to leave.

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TO MY CHILDREN ALAN HILL I was half eaten when you met me. What I wasif you really want to knowyou will have to piece together play detective to find look under carpets, in old boxes sift through newspapers and mold forgotten pots at the back of fridges to pinch at my frozen fingers squeeze them back to life. It is easier for me. I see myself as I was, in your quickness body tone the tuning fork hum of being young.

To you I will always be old somewhat unknowable suspiciously historic like the Titanic or Betamax something odorous that you must move away from to become your own scent, yourselves. I am that old house that is passed everyday that once demolished, nobody will remember. That is just ok, the way it must be. Have your time, make room, leave only crumbs.

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1. WAITING TOO LONG TO MARKET THEIR BOOK A good marketing campaign consists not only of a focused marketing plan, but one that starts early enough to spark interest. Any book published or self-published today needs a minimum of six months ramp up. You should get ready for your launch by having a website designed, starting a newsletter, building your mailing list and media list, and planning your events.

2. INSUFFICIENT MARKETING BUDGET It’s a bad idea to spend all your money on your production, and leave nothing for marketing. Be clear on your goals and mar-

ket, then sit down with someone who can help you determine and create a budget.

3. THINKING BOOKSTORES DON’T MATTER While it’s true a great deal of book shopping happens online now, local bookstores are important marketing allies—they now do support self-publishing authors. Having a community presence is important if you are doing local events and want to attract local media. If you are a new author and a bookstore won’t carry your book, then make sure they know where to order it, if someone enquires.

4. NOT GETTING TO KNOW SIMILAR WRITERS Who else is writing about your topic? Getting to know fellow-genre authors can help you market your book because most readers don’t just buy one book in their area of interest, they buy in multiples.

5. NOT HIRING AN EDITOR Do you want your book to be the best it can be, with no embarrassing errors? If you don’t have enough money to hire a professional editor, perhaps you should delay publishing your book until you have the funds.

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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS 6. IGNORING SOCIAL MEDIA Exposure through media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can make or break the success of your book. If you are not tech-savvy, hire someone to help you.

7. NOT HIRING A COVER DESIGNER This another corner you should never cut. Your cover is the first impression your audience has of your book. Readers do judge a book by its cover.

10. EXPECTING IMMEDIATE SALES The sales process can be lengthy. Places like Amazon, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram don’t all pay on the same timeframe. Some pay 90 days after the sale, some lag five months behind. Don’t be disappointed if your royalty statements aren’t reflecting the promotion you have done. It could be that the agencies haven’t caught up with your sales.

11. NOT HAVING A WEBSITE Every author should have a website. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s a 24/7 sales tool that builds your credibility online (and a great way for customers just about anywhere to order your book!).

8. NOT ENOUGH MARKET RESEARCH Market research may seem tedious, but fine-tuning your promotional strategy can save you hundreds of dollars.

9. PRINTING TOO MANY COPIES In order to get discounts, authors often print huge numbers of books. I recommend a run of no more than 200. You can always print more (perhaps adding cover testimonials and reviews). Why spend valuable dollars on storage space?

12. GIVING UP ON THEIR BOOK TOO SOON Don’t get impatient. If you’ve been marketing your book a while and nothing much is happening, spend an hour with a professional who can tell you if you’re on the right track. Making headway in marketing is as much about good decisions as it is about avoiding the bad. Good luck on your publishing journey!

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f there was a memo sent out I missed it. It probably read something like this: “Because we place no value on your ability to put a string of words together with intelligence, class, and flair, we won’t pay you a fair wage as a writer. Pretty much anyone can do this kind of work and we know hundreds of writers who would be thrilled just to get some exposure and see their name in print. We’re going to pay you next to nothing, never give you a raise, and always push you for more work.” – Signed, Many Publishers of the Written Word. Not all publishers have that kind of

should translate into better pay. Last year I was approached to do some writing in the form of lists by a big company, Yellow Pages. They were offering a very small fee and "exposure" on their new digital apps. In return for sharing my knowledge about Victoria-based restaurants they were paying between 6 and 9 cents a word. Attempts to negotiate a better rate from the editor were met with a, “thanks but no thanks, and have a nice weekend.” I discovered some of my food journalist colleagues received the same sort of deal in their own cities. They, like me, turned down the work

I ONCE ASKED THE EDITOR OF A MAJOR MONTHLY MAGAZINE IN VANCOUVER HOW THEY GOT AWAY WITH PAYING THE FREELANCE WRITERS SO POORLY. HIS SIMPLE REPLY? “BECAUSE WE CAN.” attitude, but it’s safe to say that writing for magazines and newspapers and websites is not known as a way to make a decent living. I once asked the editor of a major monthly magazine in Vancouver how they got away with paying the freelance writers so poorly. His simple reply? “Because we can.” So many people were willing to do the work he needed for a poor rate, he never had to up the ante. We writers are definitely our own worst enemies sometimes. We take our writing skills for granted. We sell ourselves short without bothering to negotiate better pay. Sure, there is a learning curve where you may be willing to take a low fee just so you can get your foot in the door or learn how to improve your writing with the help of a skilled editor. But like most other professions, greater experience and expertise

as an insult to our professionalism and our experience. Through our social media networks and those of The Story Board, the blog run by the Canadian Media Guild Freelance Branch, we tried to convince other writers to do the same. Knowing some of the writers who turned down the work I wouldn’t put much stock in the Yellow Pages advice, especially after I was told by Yellow Pages that writers wouldn’t actually have to visit all the restaurants they were writing about! We all need to act to ensure our skills are recognized. We’re reporters, observers, commentators, communicators. We’re great at taking a large amount of information and making it understandable, informative, and entertaining for our readers. Just ask someone who has never written an article to do what you do…not so easy. Writing is an art,

it’s a craft, and it is valuable. Don’t take it for granted, and don’t let anyone else take it for granted. The important thing for freelance writers to realize is that we are not on our own. Many of us belong to professional associations; some of us belong to freelancer unions. We should ensure that those trying to take advantage of our skills don’t further erode the value of our work. I’m not saying it’s an easy task. For every writer out there who wants to work for higher fees there may be someone out there who will work for less or even free. Don’t let them do it. For every publisher out there who is willing to pay a good rate there may be ten who want to drive the price down. Don’t let them do it. Together, we’re better. If enough of us say "No to Low," there should be no place to go but up. Don Genova has been a freelance journalist for nearly 30 years, and is also the president of the Freelance Branch of the Canadian Media Guild. The Branch welcomes new members while providing professional development and advocacy for better rates and rights for all freelancers at

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t’s time for writers, and anyone who cares about writing in Canada, to go on the offensive. A little background, compliments of The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC), which recently published a survey on writers incomes, might get your dander up: "There is no question the economic reality for Canadian authors has deteriorated in the years corresponding with massive changes in the publishing industry. TWUC’s 2015 income survey report shows that author incomes have declined 27% since 1998, and that, distressingly, annual writing income is below the poverty line for 80% of Canada’s writers. These findings are mirrored by similar studies in both the US and UK.” Hello, Ottawa! The reasons for that inexorable decline should be the focus of a national study. How can a country let its creative literary energy be sapped this way? But in the absence of any corroborating information, I think it safe to say that a major

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contributing factor to writers’ declining incomes is the increasing speed with which "used" books are resold through online agencies like If you want to know why I’m suggesting this, go online and Google the title of your last book, or anyone else’s. When I first did this I was amazed to discover copies of my Young Adult novel Josh & The Magic Vial were available all over the world. I was even more surprised at how many of the copies up for sale were second and third-hand. When I last looked was offering six new copies through book stores, starting at $13.10; nine used copies were available for resale starting at $2.98. Which button would you click? In the UK, Amazon had nine new and 12 used copies available for "dispatch" from points in Canada, the US and the UK. Other online venues selling copies of Josh: Abe Books, eBay,, The Book Depository… and so on.

It’s nice to know new and used copies my book were available to readers all over the world, thanks to online sellers, but I felt more than a little used myself when I tallied the number of second and third-hand copies that were being turned around and sold online – and which had started appearing on web sites almost the moment my books were in the stores. It didn’t take long for me to figure that new sales of Josh & the Magic Vial had been undercut very early in the cycle by used sales, even before the bloom came off the release. That’s great for the consumer, and good for the environment; it’s a situation that isn’t going to change. Nor should it. But the quickening turnaround of used book sales needs to be reflected in a royalty structure that supports writers. It could be a major factor in the decline of writer’s incomes. Before the advent of online selling many of us would add books to our shelves after we’d finished reading them. Maybe

EDITORIALS & OPINIONS once every few years or so we’d cull a bunch into a cardboard box and cart them off to the local second hand book store. Now used books are posted on Amazon et al before an author has had enough time to realize the royalties from new book sales, and booksellers themselves are eager to get recently released "used" books online as soon as they can. It could get worse. There are ongoing reports in the media about allowing purchasers to resell ebooks, too. If you have been looking to ebooks as the golden goose for proactive, innovative writers to actually make some money, sheltered from resale undercutting, this news will turn your smile upside down. The goose could be killed before it is properly out of the egg. As it stands, digital books cannot be resold, they are the most environmental way to publish, they offer writers the best royalties, they can be delivered anywhere in the world from anywhere instantly, and they can be sold at a fraction of the price of a print edition… They could also be

turned around even quicker than printed books for resale if that option opens up, an eventuality that would instantly undercut revenue for new book sellers and royalties to authors. The only solution I can see for this royalty bleed is to place a royalty on the sale of second hand books sold online or through bookstores. A royalty on the resale of books makes perfect sense. But you can bet there would be fierce opposition. Too hard to monitor; too costly to administer; an infringement on consumer rights; a transgression of the current principle of "exhaustion", which says an author’s right to royalties ends as soon as a book is sold once—it’s easy to predict the kind of pushback that will be offered by lobbyists of one sort or another. Really, though, the technical obstacles to a resale royalty shouldn’t be insurmountable. Every published book is assigned an ISBN; barcodes can easily be generated and databases set up to receive sales information; the processes required to record and

VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS Stories & Poems about Life in BC’s Interior A high-quality anthology of short fiction, memoirs, and poetry, depicting various experiences in BC’s Interior. 51 contributors; includes drawings and colour photos. * All net proceeds go to Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders Canada (MSF). * Available through Cobalt, Amazon, and bookstores. Wholesale: Red Tuque Books. ISBN: 978-0993700439

assign royalties for resold books are surely manageable. Nor would a resale royalty drastically affect the vendor’s bottom line —certainly not as much as the resale itself is affecting writers. It would be a small amount tacked on to what book buyers pay, which would help sustain the very people who create the books readers enjoy. So why not collect royalties upon the resale of books? Why not separate ownership of the physical object (be it a paper or electronic edition) from the content it carries and say to consumers and vendors: You own the books you buy and sell, and have every right to resell them; but you do not have a right to resell their contents without paying a royalty to the author? Shouldn’t we be looking at a resale royalty for writers to be collected by online and second hand book outlets and submitted to an agency like Access Copyright for distribution to authors? Properly implemented and administered, that might even bring writers’ incomes back to the bare-bones levels they were at in 1998.


Captivate Your Readers ISBN: 978-0993700415 225 pages, trade paperback: $14.95 Concrete advice for engaging readers through techniques such as deep point of view, showing instead of telling, avoiding author intrusions, and creating authentic dialogue.

Fire up Your Fiction ISBN: 978-0993700408 191 pages, trade Paperback: $14.95 Tips with examples to help you hone your style, bring your scenes to life, tighten your writing, pick up the pace, and develop a more authentic voice.

Also by Jodie Renner: Writing a Killer Thriller and Quick Clicks reference guides. Editor of Voices from the Valleys anthology. All available in bookstores & through Amazon.

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he Vancouver Island Regional Library has introduced a book printing and binding service as part of the Creativity Commons at the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library, to help local authors and editors publish their works, and help them connect with other writers and fans. At the “Second Storey Press,” you can print your novel, personal memoir, family history, cookbook, or a personalized copy of a book in public domain. The Espresso Book Machine, which is the focal piece of our press, is a fully automated machine that can print and bind a soft cover book in minutes. There are no minimum print runs, and once your book has been uploaded to our database, you can easily request more copies when needed. If you do not live in Nanaimo, we can have your books shipped to any of our 39 library branches from Sidney to Haida Gwaii. To add your book to our Espresso Book Machine catalogue for printing, all one needs is to have a PDF book file of your ready to print book and a PDF cover file. We at the creativity commons are happy to help if you have any questions about page sizes, margins or cover creation. In October of 2015, the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library completed its renovations with the creation of the Creativity Commons, a dedicated space for people to come together to create and learn something new. The Creativity Commons has Raspberry Pis, mini barebones computers onto which one can learn programming, create routers, servers, and other DIY projects. There is also a dual-monitored iMac

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computer to convert your book into an eBook, design your book cover, or edit a zine. If releasing your book in multiple formats is your thing, the Creativity Commons also has recording equipment suitable for recording an audiobook version or a promotional video for a book. To help people begin or take their family genealogy history to the next level, the Harbourfront Library also has a Family History Lab with access to and microfilm of Nanaimo and Victoria papers going back to the 19th century. After you compile your memoir, we can help you get it ready to print on our book machine or make it an editable document so that it can be shared with family members who can then add more. In time, we hope that people will use the Second Storey Press as a resource for community-created content, sharing of culture and stories. Writing groups can encourage participation in cultural events such NaNoWriMo with access to the book printer. Or through projects like new immigrants coming together to share their life stories, the changes they have gone through from leaving their home, and how they continually work to learn a new culture and language. The Second Storey Press is also here for teachers who wish to inspire their students by creating a collaborative work and, in publishing the work in a book, fostering and encouraging the next generation of local authors and poets. Access to this technology in an urban centre helps to reduce the digital divide by providing access to the hardware and software necessary for

participation in the modern creative economy. It will give anyone, regardless of their current situation, the tools necessary to create, learn and share their voice through the creation of local zines, novellas or podcasts. The Second Storey Press allows people to become creative with books in public domain. Current Canadian copyright law for printed books is 50 years after death. Once the book is out of copyright, one can reprint a personalized copy, or edit the story to create something new and unique. Having the ability to publish old books that might not be accessible from your big block book stores empowers readers and gives them control over their reading choices. This will help keep culture alive; as Ray Bradbury said: “The problem in our country isn’t with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” Through reprinting books and sharing them we hope it will inspire future readers, while giving them the tools to create their own. The sharing of knowledge and works of art is particularly important to us and we want you to succeed in publishing your work. Whether it is one copy, a dozen for Christmas presents, or hundreds for your upcoming book launch, we are here to help you realize your dream. If you have any question or are excited to know more about our Second Storey Press, please contact us by email at or call us directly at 250.753.1154 x238. Visit for more information.




t is always a gamble,” says Trena White, 10-plus-year publishing veteran, associate agent with Toronto-based Transatlantic Agency, and co-founder of Vancouver-based literary agency Page Two. “Everything’s a gamble in publishing.” Just last year, White’s first client with Transatlantic was the epitome of that gamble; “no memoirs please,” her bio reads in Writer’s Digest, yet Red Star Tattoo is exactly that. “I really debated if I should take her [author Sonja Larsen] on, because I know how hard memoirs are to sell, but my excitement for her writing and her story compelled me.” The gamble paid off, and the reception so far has been remarkable. Released at the end of January, Red Star Tattoo earned a glowing review in the Globe and Mail, and a featured spot in CBC’s 2016 spring books preview. “A wonderful partnership of firsts @ TrenaWhite,” tweets Larsen. Red Star Tattoo is Larsen’s first published book after more than 20 years of professional writing. “The best agents are more than just deal-

when a traditional publisher doesn’t want to touch it because they don’t think it will make them money. The real question is no longer whether you need an agent or not, but what you want to do with your book.

I want to go with a BC publisher, or another small publishing house If you want to make a deal with a BC publisher or another small publishing house, White says that you don’t really need an agent. Small and niche houses are generally easier to find, contact, and work with, so there’s not much an agent could bring to the table that you couldn’t already do yourself. As well, small houses are unlikely to pay large advances, and to split that small advance with an agent... “It probably does feel like you’re sharing a little piece of a small pie,” White says. On the other hand, agents are much more important when dealing with The Big Five publishers—Penguin Random, HarperCollins, et al—because it’s the experience and contacts in the agent’s tool-belt that makes all the difference. “Agents can open doors that writers cannot normally open themselves.” Here in BC, those doors can mostly be opened by yourself. Aside from Page Two, The Association of Canadian Publishers lists only three agencies in BC—the second most in Canada next to Ontario, which has a staggering 15. Having worked in publishing all across Canada, including Douglas & McIntyre, and McClelland & Stewart before its merger, White calls the BC publishing scene a simultaneously “very small pool” and a “vibrant community.” Going the no-agent route obviously leaves more hustling for you as a writer to get your manuscript known, but getting involved

“AGENTS ARE LOOKING FOR GREAT WRITING,” WHITE SAYS makers,” White says, an ethos held in mind when she co-founded Page Two with her longtime publishing partner Jesse Finkelstein. The goal was to create an innovative agency that took all of the things they had learned and loved about traditional publishing across their years working as editors and publishers, and applied them to the modern publishing landscape. White says that traditional agencies tend to focus on one thing: selling manuscripts to publishers. It’s been that way for a long time, but in the growing world of self-publishing, a new market of “agent-assisted self-publishing” has developed. There is a new breed of agent who will help you publish and sell your book

in the publishing community—especially one as close-knit as in BC—opens a world of opportunity. Events like Word Vancouver, formerly known as Word on the Street, and other writerly workshops and conferences, aren’t just for showcasing and celebration. “When editors and publishers and agents attend events, one of the main reasons is because they are scouting,” White says. “They are hoping to meet talented writers. You can meet someone who would otherwise be difficult to access. Maybe you’ll meet someone and tell them a bit about your manuscript and they’ll say, ‘Yeah, send me that.’” “The key is to do it the right way. You don’t want to ambush somebody and thrust your manuscript in their hand. It’s worth making a polite introduction and telling them a little bit about your book.”

I want to self-publish If you’re trying to self-publish, whether you need an agent or not comes down to how much work you want to put in, and how much you feel capable of doing by yourself. By definition, you don’t need an agent to self-publish, but you do need a lot more knowledge than could be offered by a single article. If you’ve already done the song and dance and had a book published by a publisher, you can take that experience and apply it to self-publishing your next book. Michael Bungay Stanier published Do More Great Work in 2010 with a major publisher, and followed the release with The Coaching Habit, which he self-published and released this February. Hugh Howey made a similar move to self-publishing with the latter entries to his best-selling series Silo. “It looks and reads like a book from a major publisher,” White says of The Coaching Habit. She says there have been authors who have self-published and then received book deals afterwards, and that self-help and motiPage 21 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016

vational titles tend to be among the better-received. If this is your first rodeo, it would probably be worthwhile to find yourself an agent to assist you in self-publishing. Page Two is one agency in BC that does this kind of consulting; they assign a project manager to help you shape your book from a conceptual stage, take it through a rigorous editing process, help you design the book for print or digital publication, and then assist in marketing and distribution. April Eberhardt is a US-based “literary change agent” who offers a similarly radical hybrid of tailor-made services.

I want to publish with a major house This is the scenario where you’ll almost exclusively want an agent; it’s the experience and contacts in the agent’s tool-belt that makes

all the difference. “We know all these people, and we know exactly who to send [your manuscript] to.” White says. While The Transatlantic Agency has hundreds of clients across only 13 listed agents, White says that there’s no personal angle lost when dealing with so many authors. “Each agent has their own roster of clients their dealing with. All those authors and project are at different stages. One may be working on the manuscript, the proposal, editing—[there’s a] different amount of attention at different stages of the process.” The North American industry standard is that agents receive around 15% commission on domestic sales, but White says the number is more than just a finder’s fee. “[15% is] not an extraordinary cut for what an agent does. Agents put in many, many, many hours—and sometimes it doesn’t amount to anything. The best agents are more

than just dealmakers.” Regardless of what you want to do with your book, there’s no hard-and-fast answer to whether or not you need an agent—especially as the notion of what an agent is transforms away from tradition. What matters most is your book, and a good agent (and a good publisher) knows that. “Agents are looking for great writing,” White says, “and they are looking for talent. I know sometimes the industry can seem very impenetrable, but everyone is excited about skilful writers. “There are books on really unlikely subjects. H is for Hawk is a book by a woman who is basically obsessed with hawks. Her passion is so evident, and writing so beautiful, that it worked. “Passion comes through in the page.”

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little more than three months after my debut novel was published (to sales, excellent reviews and reader delight), there was a moment of silence from my US publisher. In the stillness, I understood I was yesterday’s news. My small family publisher in North Carolina doesn’t really care that I make my home in Canada and want to be part of the cultural discussion here. Not their fault; they are lovely people; they know their limits and, going in, they communicated them to me. I chose them anyway—my novel takes place in Pasadena, California in 1963—it’s a US story—and I needed a US publisher with a track record. Some of their books have won prizes and each of their authors gave them an unqualified recommendation. What choosing that small US publisher meant was that my book would be professionally edited, designed, published. I’d be a "featured author" in all their social media platforms. My novel would be sent to major industry reviewers, entered into contests they thought I had a chance at winning. I wouldn’t be lost in some huge corporation. I’d develop a relationship with my editor. Some initial media outreach would be conducted on my behalf. But once the schedule moved to the next novel, I would be on my own to take it into the world. Sure, no problem, I thought. In my 3 seconds of glory, I received three excellent industry reviews (Kirkus, Foreward Reviews & Publishers Weekly), a slew of 5 star reviews on and Goodreads, sales of over 1,000 books in the first month, and Best New Fiction pick on iBooks. (Huge!) Readers asked for next novel; they couldn’t wait for the film. Local

libraries ordered "book club sets", and all those copies were checked out. I sold a case of books myself; the local bookstore, more than 65 copies. Then one day I found myself in the rabbit hole of social media, posting and linking and tweeting, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. When a contact told me to stop "spamming" her on Twitter, I stopped in my tracks. Why was I feeling so desperate? I’d worked so hard for this one thing. And yet. I realized that although my novel was available wherever books are sold, it had to be ordered, it was not physically on anybody’s shelves. Practically speaking, it was invisible. Underlying it all I knew I wasn’t going to get much money for all this effort, because my contract gave the bulk of proceeds over to my publisher. What was the point of it all? In my other life as a playwright and performer, I’d toured internationally to standing ovations. I was reviewed by major papers and my work was produced on local and national radio. Yet outside mainstream theatres, I wasn’t really part of the larger theatrical discussion. With a novel, my work can go out of the room where it is being performed; I don’t have to be there in person to make it come to life. Then, suddenly, all the optimism of publishing slumped when I realized eight months had passed since the ARC stage when I’d sent out press packages to Canada’s Literary literati, and I hadn’t heard a peep from them in return. Around the same time, I learned that indie bookstores don’t take chances on debut authors – they mostly promote known writers. Finally I had a breakthrough: when my publisher admitted they hadn’t made any

real progress towards having my book physically distributed across Canada, I phoned the West Coast buyer for Chapters/Indigo myself and we finally worked out the kink. (A technological glitch on the distributor’s website). With that remedied, he agreed to put copies of my novel into all the Indigo Chapters stores in the Lower Mainland. When he told me that Heather of "Heather’s Picks" listens to her in-store staff for their "staff favorites", my mission changed: help Indigo/Chapters sell my book. Get to know the staff at those stores. Encourage them to read my book. October’s Meet & Greet/Book Club/ Bookstore tour felt like a new beginning. As in: start small. Small audiences. Oneto-one conversations with book buyers and staff. But by the end of the month, all my striving and disappointment morphed into one thing: the work itself was being seen, one person at a time. And it was resonating. 98% of my readers just loved my book, sometimes devouring it in a day. (or so they say!) At the book clubs, we had fantastic discussion. Readers tried to figure out the question that drove me to write the novel. In doing so, they worked through some issues of their own, and shared their personal experiences. For me, experiencing another’s "aha" through my work brings meaning to my Writing Life. It’s an ongoing process, and we’ve only just begun. Caitlin Hicks’ debut novel A Theory Of Expanded Love (Light Messages Publishing) is available on Kobo, Kindle, Amazon, Indigo/Chapters, Black Bond Books (Vancouver), Talewind Books (Sechelt) and wherever books are sold.

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t is the dream of most writers to secure a literary agent, and sign with a large traditional publishing house that will launch their books on a national or global scale. However, the world of publishing is changing with the growing emergence of ebooks, and through this medium independent (indie) authors are reaching an audience under their own steam. I have embarked on a self-publishing journey by paying for the privilege of having my books professionally edited and printed, on an on-demand basis, for my debut and prequel novels. My books are available in print and ebook format through Kindle, Nook and epub. Like many things in life, you need experience to get experience; or you need to spend money to make money—as the saying goes. In the same vein, the cost of self-publishing services available through small on-demand presses can be steep. For indie authors who cannot afford to pay for quality self-publishing and editing services, and haven’t landed a literary agent or found a home for their work through a traditional publishing house, there is a self-publishing option available through Amazon called Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon has recognized the population of indie authors and, accordingly, created an opportunity for authors to upload their work at no charge, create a book cover in ebook format and choose a retail price through the website https://authorcentral. Once a book is uploaded, authors can also offer their work for free or at a reduced Spring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 24

price for readers for a limited time (five days). Authors can also create an Amazon author page and add photos, book synopsies, reviews, events, a blog, and social media links (i.e. Twitter and Facebook). I have tried the Kindle Direct Publishing route as an experiment with two poetry chapbooks, a full-length book of poetry, and a short story. I can say that I’ve had a few bites through this means of publishing my books, and relative success with my debut and prequel novels that were published through an on-demand book publishing company called Inkwater Press. I do not regret my decision to bring my books into the world through either of these avenues. The hope of any author is that their work will be read and enjoyed, and purchased. Then there is the hope that their work will be praised and shared. Choosing to introduce new books through Kindle Direct Publishing is a great way for authors to at least get their work published and circulated to readers on Amazon, to share in other online book sites such as Goodreads, and advertise through book promotion sites. However, the flipside (there is always a flipside) of self-publishing is that since anyone and their dog can publish their books for no charge on the Internet, an author’s work is virtually (no pun intended) added to the increasing slush pile of books; therefore, sometimes great new works of literature that are published without representation from renowned traditional publishing house may become invisible, and thrown in with works that may not be of a high cali-

ber, or are poorly edited. There is also the promotional legwork to consider. I admit, I have found the greatest audience for my books in trusted, wellread friends and family, and a few online author and bookworm friends I’ve met along the way in this self-publishing journey. I’ve also been fortunate to place my books on a consignment basis in local bookstores, and have done a few readings and book club appearances. Readers are not always easy to find. If your book doesn’t have an Oprah Book Club sticker or an award on the cover, it may be easily overlooked because, frankly, nobody knows who you are. Would you invite a stranger into your house? Not likely; but you probably would if your best friend brought that new person over for a visit. Although authors who have found publishing success through literary representation are also expected to assist in "tooting their own horn" and spreading the word about their books, indie authors need to peddle their books a little bit harder and further to make an impact and, let’s face it, a profit. Therefore, indie authors are tasked with a large volume of self-promotion and need to include their Kindle books in high traffic online book sites, as well as be savvy in social media, and maintain their presence as a serious author. Usually, friends and family understand each time they see your book pop up in their Facebook feed; they're the people who are rooting you on and they're invaluable in a writer's life Of course, the dream remains of having a literary agent and, subsequently, a

publisher gush over your work, promote your books, and offer a book contract and funding that will allow you the luxury of living your dream of writing all day, every day. Imagine being able to stumble out of bed, make a cup of tea or coffee, and then head to work—which is your desk situated in the next room—while still wearing your pajamas? Well…okay. That is enough daydreaming (for now). Not many authors are able to publish their first or second book through

a traditional route, and often literary agents and publishers won’t consider taking on a new author as a client unless there is evidence that their books will sell. In the meantime, it is important to be comforted by the fact that gone is the day when self-publishing was considered "vanity publishing". Ugh. The realm of publishing has vastly changed with the accessibility of the Internet and ebooks. There are also self-publishing and ebook forums offered at writing conferences to meet the needs

of authors who are interested in joining a growing community of indie authors who are reaching a loyal audience of readers. So, in the end, whether or not an author’s end goal is to land an agent and book deal, self-publishing and Kindle books are valid and respected way to test the waters by getting their work into the book world, gain reviews, and generate a growing readership—and then, perhaps, pursue traditional publishing and one day go to work wearing pajamas.




ost of us today make conscious choices to reduce our impact on the planet, from recycling to shopping locally, and when it comes to publishing there should be no exception. Publishing can have a horrific environmental cost associated with it, from the pulp and paper plant to the ink on the production line to the container ship making its way across the oceans, all so you can curl up with a good read. For many authors this proves to be a serious conundrum, and it doesn’t stop there. For any socially and/or environmentally aware author these issues are not satisfied by leaving it in another’s hands, simply pressing the “publish” button at Amazon or selecting a traditional publisher. Sure, your work may get published, but at what expense? There are solutions to the environmental concerns around publishing a printed

book. One obvious solution is to only publish digitally. Ebooks are popular and can be downloaded and read on devices at any time. And although their cost is generally lower than a trade paperback, for many readers this format is not a substitute for the printed book. Ebooks also come with their own batch of environmental issues so be sure to check with your publisher to ensure they support responsible ebook reading. Publishers, like many other businesses, can take steps to ensure they are more environmentally aware. And as an author considering a publisher and/or a printer there are a few important questions you can ask to ensure your book comes off press with the least amount of impact on the planet. Will my book be published on recycled paper? It may seem like an obvious question but unless you specifically request

this option you may not be getting it. It is extremely rare for a publisher to insist on publishing only on 100% post-consumer recycled paper but there are some that do. Some may opt for a partially recycled option and others will go for the most economical virgin paper every time. Always ask and insist on the highest level of post-consumer paper to reduce the environmental footprint of your book. The quality of this paper has improved over the years, and it is a viable choice for all publishers. What kind of ink will my book be printed with? There are options with inks as well as paper. Using a vegetable based ink will certainly reduce your environmental impact over traditional ink options. Always ask, as the quality of printing is top notch with vegetable based inks and the environmental impact is greatly reduced. Page 25 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016

Specify low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) vegetable based inks. Is my publisher carbon neutral? To help reduce your environmental concerns ask potential publishers if they are carbon neutral. This is a big indicator that they take reducing their environmental footprint seriously. Lots of businesses are going the extra mile by insisting on balancing their carbon footprint. Publishing should not be different. Ask your publisher what the ecoaudit (environmental benefits statement) is for your book and suggest they list this in the book to demonstrate to the reader the choices that have been made for least amount of impact on the environment. Does the printer take measures to reduce the environmental impact of printing, or are they carbon neutral? By asking the above questions regarding paper and ink you have covered a couple of the big contributors to the environmental footprint associated with that publishing a book. Do your due diligence on the printer as well to decide if they address your social and environmental concerns. Select or suggest a printer who emit no VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), prints with vegetable based inks, access clean energy as well as contribute in positive ways to their local community. They are out there. Where will my book be printed? For years now shopping local has been encouraged to help grow the local economy as well as reduce the carbon footprint of the product. Printing is no exception. Know where your book is going to be printed so that you have an idea of the amount of fossil fuels that will be expended in the shipping. Supporting local industry is always a positive thing. Does my publisher and/or printer consider the triple bottom line? Everyone wants their book to sell and hit the top 10 charts but at what expense? Select a publisher that considers the triple bottom line, planet, people and profit rather than simply profit. Being environmentally aware and taking action to reduce a company’s environmental footprint is fantastic but if you could also select your publisher for their social merit, that’s even better. Many companies are moving towards co-op’s, or employee owned structures so that workers are fully involved in the company’s successes. Select a business that proves to be a healthy work environment for its employees’ and values their efforts as well as gives back to the local community. Publishing is a deadline driven, late night and weekend working profession. Make sure that the folks that are working on your book are valued by the company they work for, because they are working hard. Whether self-publishing, going completely digSpring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 26

ital, or selecting a traditional publisher, the author is in a position to make significant choices that impact the environment when publishing their book. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding how to release your work, from negotiating a contract with a publisher or taking the leap into self-publishing, the process can be overwhelming. But taking the time to address environmental issues means that when your book rolls off press and you get those first copies in the mail you can be as proud of your work as you are of the environmental & social commitment gone into creating it. Contributed by Julie Raddysh Director of Operations at New Society Publishers – a publisher that meets all the requirements mentioned above. www.




elf-publishing is not a solo task. You need a team of skilled people to help you make your book into a saleable product that will attract readers. If you have never published before, you will have little experience with editors, typographers, cover designers and printers. What should you know before assembling your team? Let's take a look.

Editor Too many authors who want to self-publish believe they cannot afford an editor. My personal belief is that no author can afford not to hire an editor. Producing a professional looking book is critical to self-publishing. A poorly edited book—or one that has not been edited at all—is not worth spending a dime on. Plan editing into your budget and you will not regret it. There are basically two kinds of editing—substantive editing and copy-editing. Substantive editing is the process of finding ways to make what you have written even better. It looks at the manuscript as a whole. Copy-editing is the line-by-line and wordby-word search for errors in the text. There is nothing more disheartening than receiving "fan" mail that only points out grammar and spelling mistakes. When you look for an editor, make sure they have worked on books before. Ask for references and contact them. The Editors Association of Canada has a directory on their website ( and they

have developed a certification program for Canadian editors. The Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island (PEAVI) also has a directory on their website (www.

Typographer The inside of a book has to be formatted and you may not realize that there is an industry standard. Often indie publishers do not take this seriously enough. If you do not know how to typeset a book, then you need to take it to a professional. As with others you will do business with, make sure the firm has experience with books, and look at samples of their work. Some firms may have done several books, but not very well. They may have a sort of “template” they use and that is what you get. Ask for two or three proofs and do not accept anything less than a professional job. Take a book, either from the library or one you have purchased, and show the firm exactly what you want. There is no copyright on interior book design so you can copy something you like. It will cost you to have a professional format your book but, like editing, this is some of the best money you will spend on making your book ready for the reading public. If you plan to do the typesetting yourself, you need to be aware of a few industry standards. Look at how publishing companies have dealt with the front matter, the

copyright page, running heads, and where the page numbers are placed. If you do not understand these terms, you need to hire a professional. Margins are something most self-publishers do not pay attention to, whether they hire someone or do it themselves. The white space is as important as the text. This is what is “pleasing to the eye” so to speak. If there is too little white space, it can actually cause anxiety to the reader. This is part of the psychology of reading. I will not go into detail on that here. Just suffice it to say that in the industry whitespace should account for close to 50% of the book. Art books and highly designed books may have as much as 75% white space. You can save money by having smaller margins, but you may lose money in the long run when your book with the crowded text does not sell. Remember, all your money is made from the finished product.

Cover Designer Yes, you can tell a book by its cover. Potential readers will look at the cover and either select your book or put it back on the shelf. An attractive cover will not guarantee sales, but it will help tremendously. Studies have shown that you have eleven seconds to catch the attention of a prospective book purchaser. The cover is also critical in catching the attention of book reviewers. For cover design you really should hire

Page 27 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016

a professional. Not only will your cover look better, but a designer will know how to format the file for the printer. There are industry technical specifications. Ask if the designer has experience designing book covers, then make an appointment to view their previous work. If you do not like what you see, go elsewhere. You simply cannot accept inferior packaging for your book. You will benefit from taking the time to find a graphic artist who can produce a cover that will stand up to the competition on a bookstore shelf. It pays to spend money on professional cover design.


Printing is the most expensive part of producing a book and you need to ensure the you make good decisions about your printing. A bad decision can cost you thousands of dollars, and can leave you with a book that is not easily marketed. Before you are ready to approach a printer, your book has to be edited, have the interior designed, and have a cover. Printers cannot give you an estimate if they do not know exactly how many pages your book will be, and what kind of cover it will have. They also need to know if there will be illustrations or any colour on the inside. That is a lot of things for you to have sorted out before you even approach a printer. At the same time, you cannot finish filling out some of the legal forms because you need to know how much your book is going to cost. The total amount is necessary to determine how much you will charge for it. As you can see, several things are tied to each other. Take the time you need to make sure you have covered all the necessary steps to be ready for the printer. If you make a mistake before printing, you can fix it. If you discover a mistake after the books are printed, you are stuck with them. Before you have your book printed, you will need to get printers’ price quotes from at least three different printers. If you live in a small community, get quotes from nearby communities. If it becomes necessary to have your book printed out of town and shipped, do not hesitate to do so. You want to have your books printed Spring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 28

by a book printer. A printing firm whose is not laminated and you will lose a market business is mostly made up of producing for book sales. business cards and letterhead will not normally have either the knowledge nor the Your Team equipment to handle book print runs. Furthermore, if your first print run sells well, As you can see, it takes a team of you need to be working with a printer who skilled people to produce a book. Publishnot only understands, but can handle, geting companies either have them on staff or ting another one done in a timely fashion. contract out. If you do not have these skills If you decide to print your book, it yourself, you will probably have to search must be bound. Books can be bound in for these resources within your communipaper, cloth, or leather. Paper is the most ty or online. Always ask to see other samcommonly used medium today because ples of their work, get references and check cloth and leather are fairly expensive. Do them out. If you are happy, you can now not mistake a softcover book for a mass have your book published and focus on published paperback. They use different marketing it. quality paper. A common question many first time self-publishers have is whether to have their Suzanne Anderson is the author of Self soft covers laminated. The answer is an unPublishing in Canada and other books. She equivocal yes. Some digital printers will is a publishing consultant and book coach. recommend against it since they claim huShe blogs at midity can make the covers curl. This tells you they are not using a very good quality laminating material. Sometimes the oil in the digitally printed cover, especially a dark colour, will not adhere to Words matter. the laminating. Again, this is not good quality laminating material. Professional binders use a laminating material that does not curl. What laminating does is protect the cover of your book. You canPacific Wordcrafters works with a wide not sell books that have acquired scuff range of clients to produce clear, clean, marks from ruband carefully crafted writing projects. bing against other books in the box. Lynn Easton • Janet Love Morrison Laminated covers Andrea Lister • Lesley Cameron will protect against scuffing. Often braries and sellers will not even look at a book that

Pacific Wordcrafters



his is a question that’s asked of me nearly weekly—“How do I find reviewers?” “Do you know anyone who will review my book?” And it’s understandable. With this not-so-new advent of self-publishing, authors don’t rely on publishers and marketing professionals like they used to for the small, important tasks like these. Even if you do go with a traditional publisher, you may not get your book reviewed; not all publishers have the finances to invest in your marketing campaign. Do you even need to get those reviews right away? No, but when you don’t get them, you lose out on the opportunity positive reviews can give you when you begin to sell. The affirmation that someone else enjoyed the book a person is considering to buy can make that "maybe" a "yes." Now if you’ve decided you want to get reviews, remember that all positive reviews have merit. You don’t need to have Stephen King or Margaret Atwood give your novel two thumbs up to impress people (although that would probably impress people pretty quickly). While recognizable people can be beneficial, those aren’t the kind of reviews I’m addressing here. Some of the most influential reviews are genuine positive responses from readers, and that’s what we’re going after in this article. Ideally you’ll get as many reviews as possible posted across Amazon, GoodReads, on prominent book blogs and social media, across online bookstores—all allowing you to both reach many people, and pick the very best ones to go on your back cover or website. There are several different routes to get your book reviewed, and most of them cost at least a free copy of your book, physical or digital. You can even be offering advance reader copies (ARC’s), so the reviews can potentially make it onto the book itself.

People doing you the favour of reviewing your book won’t want to have to go out and purchase it themselves, so this is the least you can do to thank them. You will probably get reviews from people who just went out and bought the book, but that comes later, and usually slowly. For the purposes of this article, these are the reviews you get before you sell your first hundred books.

Freelance Book Bloggers There are many people who have blogs dedicated to reviewing books, and these are the people you want to talk to. The most popular of them are absolutely inundated with requests from writers who want reviews done, so ask early. How early? Some reviewers I researched were booked solid until next Fall, and that’s only the books that they had agreed to review. Others were smaller blogs, promising a turnaround of just a couple weeks. If you decide to go the “book blogger” route, you need to do your research. Most book blogs have a list of accepted genres, as well as directions for how to request a review—not all reviewers have the same guidelines, so read carefully. It is best to not only ask early, but also develop a relationship with the bloggers. If you’re still in the writing stages of your book, excellent. Look at book blogs now, and comment on a few posts. If you engage the reviewers early on, they’re more likely to choose your book to review. Finally: when asking, always personalize your emails to them. Use their name, and maybe talk about a review they wrote that you enjoyed. You will be emailing a lot of people, but nobody likes receiving a form letter, and you’re more likely to get a “yes” if you're polite and personal.

If they do agree, find out where the review will be posted. Will it just be on their blog, or also on Goodreads and Amazon? Are you allowed to post it elsewhere? Some bloggers also offer contests through their blog, so consider hosting a couple. Sometimes you can even set up a “book blog tour”, a digital tour that spans dozens of book blogs around the same timeframe, usually with giveaways at every stop. There are several directories set up to find book bloggers, listed at the bottom of this article. Most organize blogs by genre. Book bloggers are at the top of my list for any organized author who is willing to get out in front of the marketing campaign— they’re written by honest trusted reviewers, and are read by many dedicated readers.

Asking People You Know If you’ve been writing a while, I imagine that you’ve met a few people along the way who are interested in books. They could be just fellow readers, old professors, members of your writing group who you respect, or just distant friends. These people are valuable to you. Ensure you don’t make someone feel forced into it, and don’t ask people so close to you that they could be accused of bias, or so close that they would feel uncomfortable being honest with you. If you have a strong marketing campaign or a good presence on social media, you can even look there for potential reviewers, posting on Twitter or Facebook that you’re looking for qualified reviewers to receive an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is an excellent tactic to gather more reviews, and the simplest one to manage.

Page 29 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016

Amazon Top Reviewers This section is only helpful to those that will have their book available on Amazon, and is very similar in principle to Book Blogs. Amazon top reviewers are those people that have given such consistently helpful and well-written reviews as to be recognized by Amazon itself for it. (See for the top ten thousand reviewers). The tactic here is to look into people and their interests before asking them to review your book, and ensure that they (a) review books at all, (b) review the genre of book you're looking to get reviewed, and (c) accept solicitations for reviews. You should expect about 1/5 people you contact to agree to review your book, so don’t be discouraged by a few no’s. Everyone gets them.

completely forthright with their genuine opinions, sending you the review (positive or negative) to be approved for publication or for them to bury, your choice. Some people feel strongly that this is an effective method, while others are firmly against it. Regardless, the purchased reviews tend to be expensive, especially when going through an experienced company. At upwards of $400.00 per short review, it’s difficult to afford a variety. If you need a high profile review for your empty back cover by next week, it may be worth looking into. All in all, remember that reviews come in many different forms. Getting your book

into the hands of as many people as possible is one key aspect of marketing your book, and many of these methods do that. Do you have any other methods to get book reviews? Maybe something you’d like to say about the marketing process? Please send us your thoughts! We’re writers helping writers, so we’d love to share your ideas with other FBCW members. award blogs_2015.en.html

Book for Review Sites There are a bunch of these out there, and they have pros and cons. While it’s an easy way to get many reviews, you don’t always get to choose who reviews your book. The system that sites like work with is that people request a copy of your book in exchange for writing a review. It’s simple, and seems to be gaining popularity. It can be done quite quickly, and with little effort from the author. If you’re looking for as many reviews as possible, it’s a serious option to consider. You can take your book down at any time, if you decide you’ve received enough reviews.

Buying Reviews This one is sometimes considered an ethical dilemma, as some people feel they have no way of knowing how honest those purchased reviews are. However, most companies promise to be Spring 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 30

Image by Folkert Gorter


LETTERS TO THE FBCW WORDWORKS WOULD LIKE TO OFFER AN OPEN COLUMN TO ALL OF ITS READERS! Send us a question to about anything somewhat writing related. If applicable, someone from the Federation will try to answer any questions.

Hello I am looking for an editor to review my picture book with poetry. I live on Vancouver Island, B.C. Many thanks. Hi I would recommend you contact the Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island—PEAVI— They have excellent editors on the island. Please let me know if you have further questions. Best, Shaleeta Harper Executive Director; FBCW

Hi, I have a worshop coming up pretty soon, and I'd like to share it on the Federation of BC Writers Twitter and Facebook , as well as the WriteOn. How do I submit it, and how far in advance do I need to send it to you? Hello, You have two options when submitting an event. You can submit it online to our writers calendar, ( bc-writers-calendar/) or you can email it to; either way I will post it in all applicable places. It can take up to a week to post on the literary calendar and on social media, and up to three to post on WriteOn, so send the information as soon as you can.

Hello, Shaleeta, My sister saw my copy of WordWorks on the coffee table when she was cat sitting for me the other day. She loved Moira Gardener's article on children's writing—my sister is writing a children's book—and she wanted to know how to get a subscription to WordWorks. Where can she subscribe? I don't see information about subscribing anywhere in your magazine.

Hello there, The only way to get a physical subscription to WordWorks at this point is to become a member. If your sister is a writer, it might be worth suggesting to her. We offer many benefits to our members, which you can find on our website. If she's not interested in becoming a member at this time, the publication is posted on our website shortly after the print issue is published, ( and she is welcome to read it there. It will also be available in all BC Libraries very shortly, so she can look into borrowing a copy there. Please let me know if I can answer any other questions. All the best, Shaleeta Harper Executive Director, FBCW

Hello, I've been a member of the Federation of BC Writers for a handful of years now, but haven't spent a lot of time interacting with fellow writers, which is something I'd like to do. I have a couple questions for you: 1- If I start a writing group, could you share it on WriteOn, and get the word out to other members? 2- Is there anything else that the Federation of BC Writers has available to have members communicate? Hello, Glad to meet you. I'd be happy to mention your new writing group in the newsletter—additionally, you can email your area rep (see for a listing of reps) at any time to send a message to your specific area in BC. Sometimes this is even more effective than publicizing in the main newsletter. For your second question—yes. Your area rep will arrange a meet & greet with members near you at least once per year, so watch the newsletter for a mention of that. Additionally, we're working on getting forums added to our website, so members can talk to each other digitally. We hope to have them up by early April, so keep an eye out for a media release around then. If you have any ideas to suggest, or any further questions, please send me an email. ( Best, Shaleeta Harper Executive Director; FBCW

All the best, Shaleeta Harper

Page 31 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Spring 2016

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