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This section is primarily for small or self-publishers looking for information on the business of publishing. If you have made your way to this site, you are probably already aware of the complexity of our business.
Many writers choose to self-publish for a variety of reasons, among them control over the book, time-sensitivity of the subject matter, frustration with a traditional publisher’s schedule or inability to find a publisher. Self-publishing is a perfectly legitimate route that can be enormously rewarding but it needs to be approached with a full understanding of the benefits and the challenges.
Self-publishers basically take on the role of the publisher determining print runs, working with designers, producing the title to be sent to the printer, marketing the book, and, of course, paying for all these services. Often self-publishers over print, so make sure you have a good sense of potential sales of your title. Also, think about how you will distribute the copies of your book; book distributors for small or self-publishers are not easy to find. Also, make sure to build into the retail price of your book the cost of distribution but be careful not to price your book so high no one will buy it or distribute it. Self-publishers should be aware that traditional media generally will not review self-published books and many retail outlets will not open accounts for one-book publishers.
Despite these considerations, if you have energy and passion, and a good business sense, self publishing your book can be done very effectively. There are numerous books on the subject to help the self-publisher make informed decisions each step of the way.
Below are the answers, in alphabetical order, to the most frequently asked questions we receive at the ABPBC:
In order to get a barcode, the publisher must have an ISBN (see below). Check with your printer or yellow pages to find a provider.
To find out more about copyright, what it is, what it covers, automatic copyright, duration, etc. visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office Guide to Copyright page.
Book design, interior and exterior, is crucial to the success of a book. It should reflect the content of the title and make the reading experience a joy. A well-designed book is an important marketing investment. Find a list of designers who come recommended by some of our members here.
Small press distribution is a challenge. ABPBC member, Sandhill Book Marketing, supplies independently published Canadian books to retail accounts across Canada. Check the website for more information on genres carried by Sandhill and submission guidelines.
Small, self or on-demand published authors will all need the assistance of a qualified book editor. See the Editors’ Association of Canada for information on the business of hiring an editor and an online directory of editors.
Governments at both the federal and provincial level understand the value of Canadian culture and have committed to supporting it in a variety of ways. Eligible publishers must have a developed list of titles, an editorial board, a method of distribution, effective promotion and marketing strategies, and sound business practices in order to qualify for government funding for the publishing of books. For further eligibility criteria see government websites.
At the federal level, the Canada Council for the Arts offers the Emerging Publisher Grant (minimum of 4 and a maximum of 15 eligible titles in print), Block Grants for established publishers (16 eligible titles in print), Art Book support programs, and translation grants. Publishers must be Canadian-owned companies. Book publishers receiving Canada Council support are also eligible to apply for Translation Grants, Author Promotion Tour assistance, grants for the publication of art books, and for Flying Squad (consultancy) grants.
Canadian Heritage offers the Canada Book Fund whose objective is to “ensure access to a diverse range of Canadian-authored books in Canada and abroad”. The program has two components: Support for Publishers and Support for Organizations and Associations. Eligible book publishers must have completed 36 months of operation, be Canadian-owned and –controlled and meet financial viability criteria. In addition, the publisher must have an active, ongoing publishing program with a minimum of 15 new, Canadian trade books or 10 education or scholarly books in print and meet a minimum sales threshold.
Livres Canada Books formerly the Association for the Export of Canadian Books administers the Foreign Rights Marketing Assistance Program (FRMAP) component of the Canada Book Fund. The objective of Livres Canada Books is to “develop and sustain Canadian publishers’ export sales”. LCB also administers a mentoring program.
At the provincial level, the BC Arts Council offers the Title Assistance for Book Publishers (4 eligible titles in print) and the Block Funding for Publishers (8 eligible titles in print) programs.
BC publishers who are eligible for Canada Book Fund support and who file income tax will also be eligible for the BC Book Publishers Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit for BC book publishing corporations.
On-demand publishers are not publishers. They are a business offering writers a publishing service for which the client pays. They may assist with all aspects of the publishing process or they may only offer design and production. The client usually needs to take on their own promotion, marketing and distribution of their books.
This is not a comprehensive listing of printers in Canada or abroad but represents printers who have worked with ABPBC members:
A. J. Graphics
Hignell Book Printing
Island Blue Print Co. Ltd.
Kings Time Industries (print broker for Asia)
PrismTech Graphics Ltd.
Rhino Print Solutions
Sing Cheong Printing
TPH (The Printing House Ltd)
Ultra X Press Printing
Library and Archives Canada Services: Cataloguing in Publication, ISBN, Legal Deposit & New Books Service
Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) enables the cataloguing of books before they are published. The information appears on the copyright page of the book. For more information on what CIP is, how to apply and timelines, go to the LAC website.
ISBN is the 13-digit identifier unique to a particular title. All books should have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). It identifies the European article number (EAN), country of origin, publisher prefix, and title identifier. It is used by everyone in the supply chain to order books. ISBNs are available from LAC.
Legal Deposit is the means by which a comprehensive national collection is gathered together as a record of the nation’s published heritage and development. Copies of all books published in Canada must, by law, be deposited with LAC. For more details visit the LAC website.
The New Books Service (NBS) provides the latest information on current and forthcoming Canadian books. The NBS database is derived from information received directly from publishers through the Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) program. This prompt distribution of cataloguing information makes publishers books better known to Canadian libraries.