Private messages from readers who loved This Has Nothing To Do With You keep coming to me through text and email and private message, and it’s really a thrill.
I’m very thankful, but along with expressing my gratitude I usually respond by asking if they could please go public with this praise, in order to help me sell some books and keep this whole writer-thing sustainable.
The need for this help was especially underscored by a press release that came out this week from The Writers’ Union of Canada, which points to a “broken marketplace for Canadian books.”
According to their research, reports “indicate a 50% drop in sales for Canadian-authored books, a 20% drop in the borrowing of Canadian books from libraries, and a 78% income decline for Canadian authors over the last two decades.”
There are reasons for this, including the fact that we simply aren’t reading Canadian authors as much as we should.
Why? Well, reports point to a few things, including: “a lack of supports for domestic libraries and bookstores bringing Canada’s books to Canada’s readers” and “poor discoverability infrastructure for identifying Canadian work.”
There are so many Canadian writers, and so many great books being published by Canadian presses, but stroll by any book display at a Canadian airport and what will you see? The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and a small handful of other Canadian books within the 50 or so on display.
While book stores and libraries and publishers and the Writers’ Union start working together to figure out how to help raise awareness of Canadian writers and put the infrastructure in place to further support these authors (authors like me!), there is something simple that you can do.
Read more Canadian books.
If you have a book club, here’s a challenge: why not try choosing only Canadian titles for a year?
And rather than sticking with the big lists like the Giller and the GG and Canada Reads, try exploring lesser known writers (again: like me!) publishing with this nation’s many exceptional independent publishers. You can find these books easily through 49th Shelf or All Lit Up (the Literary Press Group’s online bookshop). Recently, I suggested a few on a gift guide.
Lucky for me, the same day that the TWUC report came out, my new novel was selected for some love at the United Library Services. Chosen as a Nadia’s Pick, THNTDWY was described as a: “Compassionate, truthful one of a kind novel that makes you think deeply. Another definite bookclub pick, this one brimming with optimism.”
If your book club opts to read it, I will be happy to connect over Skype or Zoom (or in person, if geography allows) in order to talk about the novel, answer any questions you might have, and delve into process and story-making and whatever else you want to talk about.
In addition, if you take on this challenge, drop me a line about other authors you’re reading and I will try to connect you with them for a potential Skype date, if you need the help. Because, as I said last week, I love creating community – especially around local books and local stories, which we all need to do more to support.