Reopening and vaccinated at last. It is time to get the world-engaging side of my productivity-engine chugging again. So I’ve been cleaning out the boiler, checking gaskets, reviewing supplies of coal and water on hand and scouting new tracks, routes and customers.
Just before Catherine’s health crisis, which was immediately followed by our shared Covid pause, I finally got my first proof copies of my book “The Kind of Friend You Need” from the printer. This is volume one of a two part collection of stories about heart-saving friendships and the funny character of Toronto, way back in the crazy eighties.
I planned to follow it soon after with volume two “At a Crazy Time Like This” and soon after that, my first release for young adults (and young-hearted adults) a charming tale called “Stymie and Toffel” about a couple of kids living in post-collapse Toronto. We keep telling kids that huge changes are an inevitable part of their future, but no one ever seems to say that no matter what our circumstances, friendship, loyalty, good humour, love and trying will still count for everything – just as they do now. Not as heavy handed as it might sound though – not a message piece at all, really, rather a small scale kid centred adventure, in a setting at once familiar and bizarre.
That project got a huge boost from the brilliant Andrew (Rewfoe) Foerster, who created superb covers and interior illustrations for the book, and not only captured but enhanced my original vision considerably. There will not only be books, but also (super cool) T-shirts available, very soon!
Of course we’ve all had a big reset, and my first priority remains caregiver – but this doesn’t mean I can’t get Large Ess Small Press up to full speed once again, with a brand new parallel track for better reach and distribution.
I did a deep dive into the state of the market, including the A-beast that swallowed the book trade, but while I still intend to tilt in that direction eventually, it remains premature. To get the enormous advantage of free shipping for members, you have to push stock at multiple distribution sites and then pay for storage on an ongoing basis. You even have to pay extra if your stock moves slowly, or else pay them again to throw it away!
I don’t mean to sound like a rank amateur, even as a small scale entrepreneur I understand the reasons for each of those parameters and requirements, and further appreciate that access to such a huge market is a major lever, not available to previous generations – but the muscle you need to make use of that lever is ready capital for inventories and even more importantly, for timely marketing. Shelf-speed is everything.
On the other end of the market, I have long resisted a newer approach which has finally overwhelmed me with good reasons. Ebooks! I resisted them for years, because I truly adore books as physical objects, and I work hard to make mine pleasing in terms of graphics and design, as well as for the memorable scenes and ideas contained within.
But Ebooks allow me to reach out directly and across the world with equal (that is, zero) encumbrance or impediment. I don’t have to worry about shipping charges or wait times (took more than two months to get books to England – twice!), and I can get word of mouth building E-organically.
The upshot? – I am in the process of reworking all of my books – my poetry collection “Night Song for Cigar-Box Banjo“, my book about learning, creativity and gratitude, “Structural Happiness“, my two volume collection of stories about Toronto and Friendship “The Kind of Friend You Need” and “At a Crazy Time Like This” and of course the much anticipated “Stymie and Toffel” so I will be able to offer the entire catalog to everyone in both trade format physical, and similarly lovely and enjoyable Electronic versions.
This year I will not only be ready for Christmas season early, I’ll be able to deliver a last-minute E-present on time, right up until Christmas eve!
This is going to be serious fun (and work). Full speed ahead!