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Monday, September 06, 2010

Vote For Angus McLintock

I've always found it fascinating when authors try to start campaigns asking people to all go buy a single title on a particular day on Amazon in an effort to push the sales of the title to the top of Amazon's list of bestselling titles.  It's an interesting and effective strategy.

But the thing that bothers me is the focus on a single retailer.

I prefer spreading the love around. I prefer celebrating choice.

That's why I'm suggesting that Canadian book lovers might consider doing a similar thing with a Canadian-authored/Canadian published title, but spreading the love around among Canadian bricks and mortar and online retailers alike. The request is more "open" in nature and encourages buying a title at whatever your favourite place to buy books happens to be, whether it's the local independent bookstore in your community, a nearby chain store or one of the two well known ".ca" retailers.

In Canada, we have a great resource in BookNet Canada that is here to support the overall Canadian book industry (publishers and booksellers alike).  BookNet Canada collects SalesData from over 1000 Canadian retail outlets - that data is used in part to generate the Globe and Mail Bestseller list.

And because BookNet Canada gathers sales data from so many different booksellers into a central system, there's no need to focus on buying the book all on the same day. Instead, BNC helps detect sales patterns and specific increases in a title's popularity across the board. Yes, sales within a specific period like a single week or a set of weeks does make a difference. But again, it's based on sales spread across a larger set of retailers.

I'd love to see booksellers and book lovers take a book and try to force it up the BNC sales charts.

And here's the perfect book to do it with:

The High Road by Terry Fallis

And here's why I'm picking on this particular book today:

Reason OneMcClelland and Stewart allowed Fallis to start giving this book away completely for free via a weekly podcast, which started 15 weeks ago (Chapter 15 was just released this past weekend).  M&S has a long history in Canada and yet still shows the courage of a new startup in their allowing an author to experiment with new media. I love seeing a traditional publisher be so open minded and would love to show my support of such activites from a publisher.

Reason Two:  Terry Fallis is a talented and undercelebrated author.  He is among a small group of progressive authors boldly using new media to bring literature into the hands of readers in new and exciting ways. And again, by giving it away for free, he's demonstrating his faith and belief in the power that piracy isn't publishing's greatest enemy, obscurity is. That alone is reason to celebrate and support this effort.

The Best Reason of all:  I loved The Best Laid Plans (the first novel by Fallis that he released via free podcast, then self published, before winning the Stephen Leacock Medal and securing an agent and publisher) even though, before beginning to read it, I had absolutely no interest in Canadian politics. TBLP was a refreshing and hilarious look at a reluctant no-hope candidate falling into the role of Member of Parliament and finding that his personal integrity actually made a positive difference.  The follow-up novel, The High Road, is a continuation of the story of Angus McLintock, the crusty old professor who refuses to play the political game and instead injects honesty and truth into his every decision, and Daniel Addison, his political aide, who, despite wanting to leave the political world, finds new hope in his candidate's refreshing approach.

Terry Fallis is a talented writer whose prose and style reminds me of both John Irving and Robertson Davies. The situations he creates are laugh-out-loud funny one moment and startlingly touching the next. The Best Laid Plans was one of the best books I read in 2008, and even though I'm only a little more than half-way through The High Road, I can easily see that it has already made my "best of 2010" list.

This is a book that I can confidently and easily recommend to book lovers.  And the best part of it is that I don't need to hard-sell it to anyone. I can tell them to check out the podcast and listen to the book for free, confident that once they start listening to it they'll be hooked and will want to listen to the whole thing, and if they're a hard copy book lover, they'll end up buying it, too.  The novels lend themselves wonderfully to the audio format, and Fallis is a strong narrator, but I've found reading the prose just as enjoyable. (In fact, now that I have my hands on a hard copy of The High Road, I'm torn between waiting to listen to Fallis reading it and just tearing through the book to find out what happens next.

But wouldn't it be really cool if book lovers and booksellers across Canada got behind The High Road and McClelland and Stewart and purchased enough copies from their favourite bricks and mortar or online bookseller to rock it to the national bestseller lists? Wouldn't it be great if M&S had to quickly go into a second printing because the demand was so phenomenally high for this book that they allowed the author to give away for free?

Wouldn't it be awesome if a grassroots campaign to show support of a Canadian authored book published in Canada by a Canadian publisher could grow legs simply because people decided to support it in this open mannered way (ie, by not focusing on a single retailer, but spreading the love and purchases across the whole industry)?

Here's a link to some upcoming appearances by Fallis in the next month or so, starting with the book launch in Toronto on Wed September 8th. Terry is as entertaining to see in person as his books are hilarious.  Seeing him in person is the perfect free entertainment that just might inspire you to check out his work, or to tell a friend -- or better yet, do both.

I mean, seeing the sales of The High Road skyrocket would be almost as satisfying as being able to vote for Angus McLintock.

1 comment:

Charles said...

I agree with you 100%. As a Canadian writer and publisher, I fell that more should be done to promote Canadian writers and Canadian books.
I am the editor of Chronicler Publishing whose mandate is to publish Canadian historical novels, preferably by Canadian writers. Our website is: www.chroniclerpublishing.com