Yesterday I attended Robyn Read’s Publishing in Canada day-long workshop. She is the acquiring editor for Freehand Books in Calgary, a boutique press that has published the likes of Marina Endicott and Kristen den Hartog.


It was a wonderful day filled with humanity and humour, buckets of useful information and great food. Robyn is charming, gracious and incredibly generous. I came away feeling for once not totally overwhelmed by the cool face of publishing today. It was so reassuring to get a peek behind the scenes of a small publishing house and find there were people working there for whom good  fresh writing is the priority. We hear so much about how even well-published authors are on their own to promote and publicize their books, fund their own launches, etc., so it was so great to hear that this house takes care of its authors in a personal way.

Because I know I’m not writing sensational or thrilling, (except to me, of course) it’s unlikely that you’ll see my book on the revolving stand at the airport any day soon. Maybe there is a place for my Canadian story about a man with an internal struggle as profound as his external one, with no particularly quirky or weird hooks…

Tomorrow I attend Robyn’s second query letter and first page intensive. She did cover this aspect in Saturday’s workshop, which made me rush home and overhaul the one I sent to her in advance. Unfortunately, it was too late to submit that one, but at least I won’t be gobsmacked tomorrow by how lacking my initial offering was. I already know!

If writing the book takes three years and finding an agent or a publisher takes a year and the editing and publishing takes a year, I better get writing even faster if I’m to have more than two books out before I die!

One thing Robyn said in particular made me think I might have hope in hell of getting my book published – that a writer should have two bios – a short and a long one. The long one should include every teacher, every course, every job, every place that you’ve lived, every hobby you enjoy… you get the idea. That perked me up, because I can write that… but it will take awhile, because even if I haven’t produced a lot in my life, I’ve lived a lot, in many places… And that, as they say, is another story. Or a whole bunch of them.