Brian Brennan – 3 new reprints now available

Brian Brennan has been featured previously on Reading Recommendations five times, and is back now with information on how he’s managing to keep his traditionally published out-of-print books in print.

Don’t Let Your Books Go Out of Print!

By Brian Brennan

That’s the advice I would give to any author who receives a statement from their trade publisher listing their book’s status as “OP.”

I received three such statements from my publisher, Fifth House, in 2014:

One was for Alberta Originals: Stories of Albertans Who Made a Difference, a book of biographical profiles that had sold more than 5,000 copies after it was published in 2001.

The second was for Scoundrels and Scallywags: Characters From Alberta’s Past, which had become the most successful of all my books, with more than 10,000 copies sold after publication in 2002.

The third was for Boondoggles, Bonanzas and Other Alberta Stories, which sold a comparatively modest 3,000 copies after publication in 2003.

I didn’t like the idea of my titles going out of print. I was particularly saddened to see Scoundrels disappear from the catalogues because it had been my favourite. Villains always make for more interesting stories than those who walk the straight and narrow. I decided I would keep all my titles available by self-publishing them as ebooks.

Human Powered Design, an independent Canadian company that specializes in turning manuscripts and print-design files into ebooks, did the EPUB conversions for me. It then sent the titles to Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, Apple (iTunes) and OverDrive, the American company that distributes ebooks to libraries across North America. That put the books back into circulation, at least, but left me feeling it was not enough. As much as I enjoy reading books on my iPad – especially while away on vacation – I still like to hold a print book in my hands and savour the tactile enjoyment of leafing through the paper pages. I believe others feel the same way.

Enter CreateSpace the on-demand publishing company owned by Amazon. I sent CreateSpace the press-ready cover and interior PDFs I had asked Human Powered Design to generate for me after it did the EPUB conversions. And for no charge, CreateSpace uploaded the PDF files onto its platform, making them available as print-on-demand books that could be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, indiCo and other retailers.

So how does CreateSpace make money if it doesn’t charge anything upfront for publishing books on its platform? It waits until the paperbacks start selling and then collects a percentage. In most instances, this works out to about 60 per cent of list price for CreateSpace, which leaves 40 per cent for the author. This arrangement suits me just fine. Fifth House used to pay me a royalty of 10 per cent for my paperbacks.

The CreateSpace versions of my three books resemble the Fifth House versions because I have the PDFs of the original designs. Without these, I could still have republished the books because CreateSpace provides do-it-yourself authors with free tools, including a cover creator and interior reviewer. For a fee, I could also have availed of the professional services CreateSpace offers for designing book covers and interiors.

All three of my books focus on the colourful personalities and social history of Alberta. If you’d like to learn more about or purchase any of them, either as paperbacks or ebooks, here are the links:

Alberta Originals
Scoundrels and Scallywags
Boondoggles and Bonanzas

My thanks to Susan for allowing me to take up some of her valuable online space to post this.

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Myrna Kostash

Myrna Kostash

What is your latest release and what genre is it? The Seven Oaks Reader. Nonfiction.

Quick description: The Seven Oaks Reader, forworded by Heather Devine, offers a comprehensive retelling of one of Canada’s most controversial historical periods, the Fur Trade Wars, the Selkirk settlement and the explosive Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. As in the companion volume, The Frog Lake Reader, Kostash incorporates period accounts and journals, histories, memoirs, songs and fictional retellings, from a wide range of sources, to weave a compelling historical narrative.

Brief biography:
Life-long Edmontonian, Myrna Kostash is a fulltime writer, author of the classic All of Baba’s Children, and of the award-winning The Frog Lake Reader and Prodigal Daughter: A Journey to Byzantium. Her latest book is The Seven Oaks Reader (NeWest Press, 2016). Her essays, articles, and creative nonfiction have been widely anthologized. She is a recipient of the WGA’s Golden Pen Award and the Writers’ Trust Matt Cohen award for a Life of Writing. She is a volunteer barista at the Carrot Community Arts Café.

Links to buy Myrna’s book:
NeWest Press
Ebooks: Amazon Kindle ; Apple ; Kobo ; Nook
Distributor: LitDistCo
Overdrive for Libraries

Myrna’s promo links:
Website
Facebook

What are you working on now?
A playscript for the Edmonton Fringe

Myrna’s reading recommendation:
Betsy Warland’s latest book, Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas (Caitlin Press, Vancouver)

Maria N. Rachwal

Maria_0004 crop Maria N. Rachwal

What is your latest release and what genre is it? From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall: Ethel Stark and Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, published by Second Story Press. It belongs to the Non-Fiction genre.

Quick description: From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, documents the amazing true story of the first all-women’s orchestra in Canadian history. In the 1940s, it was unheard of for women to be members of a professional orchestra, let alone play “masculine” instruments like the bass or trombone. But Ethel Stark, a talented violinist, and Madge Bowen, a wealthy socialite, broke convention by pulling together a rag-tag group of women from all walks of life—housewives, secretaries, and grandmothers—to create The Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra (MWSO). For years they lugged their old instruments from their living rooms to store basements to hold rehearsals. Cynics sneered and family members frowned. Yet despite these formidable challenges, the MSWO became the first orchestra to represent Canada in New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 1947 to glowing reviews. One of its members also became the first Canadian black woman to play in a symphony in Carnegie Hall. While the MWSO has paved the way for contemporary female musicians, the stories of these women are largely missing from historical records. From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall illuminates these revolutionary stories, including the life of the incredible Ethel Stark, the co-founder and conductor of the MWSO. Their work opened doors of equal opportunity for marginalized groups and played an important role in breaking gender stereotypes in society at large.

From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall

Brief biography:
Maria Noriega Rachwal is a music teacher and musicologist living in Toronto, Ontario. She has given many lectures on women in music throughout the country and written articles on the subject for professional organizations. She is also an accomplished flute player who has performed with The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, and various chamber groups in Alberta. Her work on the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra was featured on the CBC Radio documentary, “It Wasn’t Teatime: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra.”

Links to buy Maria’s book:
Second Story Press
Amazon

Maria’s promo links:
Official webpage
Book Trailer
Facebook
Twitter

What are you working on now?
I am busy editing the memoirs of violinist and conductor, Ethel Stark.

Maria’s reading recommendation:
I recently enjoyed reading Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

David Poulsen Recommends Ted Barris

9781459732087
Fire Canoe: Prairie Steamboat Days Revisited
by Ted Barris

Genre: Canadian History

Barris chronicles the history of the vessels that traversed the waters of the western Canadian plains by bringing to life the voices of those on board and on shore whose lives revolved around those prairie steamboats.

ted_barrisWhy I recommend this book: Painstakingly researched and compellingly written by one of Canada’s most important historians.

David Poulsen’s review of Fire Canoe:
Fire Canoe: Prairie Steamboat Days
Review by David A. Poulsen

Fire Canoe—Another Barris Literary Treasure

Ted Barris’s recently released Fire Canoe (Dundurn, Toronto) confirms once again the writer’s position as one of Canada’s pre-eminent purveyors of our nation’s history. In the tradition of Pierre Burton (and others), Barris once again combines exhaustive research, compelling story-telling with his clear love of this country’s stories to create a thoroughly readable look at the largely forgotten story of the steamboats of the Canadian prairie waterways.

Fire Canoe—the name came from the First Nations people, some of whom were terrified at the noise and sight of the wondrous vessels while others were employed to pilot them through often tricky waters. The ships themselves were the very definition of multi-taskers and their stories leap off the pages of Barris’s book. The vessels played important roles in war (The Riel Rebellion), in transporting the goods needed for a growing west , in dredging for gold at river’s bottom and in providing fun, not only for those who toiled on the ships but those on shore as well. But perhaps, most of all, the steamboats were home to a cast of characters–rascals, builders, villains and heroes and Barris, as he does so well, has them leaping off the pages and into our hearts.

One of those characters, Jimmy Soles (his father had rafted his family over six hundred miles from Medicine Hat to Prince Albert) eventually became part of the crew of the Hudson Bay Company’s stern-wheeler, the Saskatchewan.
“We danced at every place we stopped downriver—The Pas, Cumberland, Chemahawin, Cedar Lake—if we were going to be there overnight, we had
a dance. . . . The Indians called them fiddle dances,” mused Soles, who called
at all the dances “especially if I knew I didn’t have to get up ’til about noon
the next day. . . . Oh those square-dances. . . . The first trip I made with the Saskatchewan, we had a dance at Cumberland and there was an Indian fellow
playin’ the fiddle. He had a fiddle alright, and a willow bent with horse hair on it.
And he only could play the one tune, ‘Little Brown Jug.’ We danced to that all night.”

Ted Barris has become one of the most important and gifted chroniclers of Canada’s often fascinating and sadly, just-as-often forgotten past. Barris is doing all he can to remedy that unfortunate reality, and Fire Canoe is another feather in his well-decorated cap.

Links to purchase Ted’s book:
Dundurn Press

DavidPoulsen Guest reviewer’s latest title or project: Serpents Rising, Dundurn, October, 2014

David A. Poulsen has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Feb. 2014 and Oct. 2014.