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Self Publishing in Canada – help is needed: Patricia Sands

Self-publishing in Canada ~ help is needed!

Writing this turned out to be a most interesting challenge.

When I began to research articles or websites or associations in Canada to offer support and/or information to indie authors, I hit the proverbial brick wall. It was quite a shock.

The wall continued to block my efforts to find statistics on sales, trends, and anything else that might be related to author-publishers in Canada. It’s almost as it does not exist in our vast country. Fortunately, I know that to be completely erroneous. But apparently there is a dearth of assistance for interested Canadian indie authors to find good information unless they go to Amazon or Kobo.

In spite of extensive efforts to search words in every possible combination, I came up empty. The only sites that appeared were vanity publishers, offering to“help you self-publish,”along with their price list. Also, selfpublishing.ca came up consistently, leading to one author who published a book on the subject that I could not find for sale anywhere but the website.

A major writers’ group in Canada recently changed their membership rules and now accept self-published authors. This national organization of professional writers of books was founded 40 years ago to work with governments, publishers, booksellers, and readers to improve the conditions of Canadian writers.

It was exciting to see they were recognizing the self-publishing dynamic. One would assume there would be good information on their website. Here’s what I discovered:


If you self-publish you add—to the difficult job of writing a book—all the additional work of a publisher. It is extremely difficult to get self-published books placed in bookstores, which makes it even more difficult to make money. There are a few success stories but the majority of self-published books may never see a bookstore. Self-publishing may be appropriate if you want to give copies of your book to your friends and family but if you want to make it a commercial success you have a lot of work ahead of you.”

Hello and welcome to 2015. May we introduce the subject of ebooks to you? Bookstores are not where most authors derive their living today. It is time to hear from the many indie authors in Canada who are making a decent income (and often more than most who are with traditional publishers) from selling ebooks as well as print copies.

However, checking with authors who attend many of the excellent writers’ conferences across the country, they confirmed that the focus is still very much on pitching with agents and publishers.

In an article in the Toronto Star in 2013 (the most recent I could find) praising self-publishing in Canada, negativity remained.

“Still, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the trend to self-publishing. Carolyn Wood, executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, doesn’t think traditional publishers see it as an opportunity, despite forays into the field by Simon & Schuster and Penguin. “Our members — most traditional independent publishers — object to self-publishers co-opting that term,” she says. “They need to call it author publishing. They are not independent publishers.””

My entire publishing experience has revolved around self-publishing, and I learn something every day. However, that comes from networking within online groups such as ALLi. Every essential topic is covered including the craft of writing, the most effective marketing and promotion opportunities, designers, editors, formatters, critique groups, tax info … all based on the experience of other members and experts called in to share their knowledge. All of this information needs a voice in Canada. How we go about achieving that is the challenge.


Enter this giveaway from Patricia:


This Post Has 23 Comments
  1. Sorry to have read this article. I wrote two $15 e-courses and a small ebook they are based on, to help others breaking into the self-publishing space. I share what I learned, and the tools I used, most of which are at my own affordability status of free! All I paid for were proofs and shipping for the books I’ve published as paperbacks.

    I am Canadian, in the province of BC. If you want direct links to my courses, let me know. I give away the ebook to anyone signing up for my monthly newsletter too.

    1. Hi Marilyn, I just saw your post now. It would be good to have your information to share with others. Would you share your links here? I’ll try to find you online. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. This Is such a timely article. I’m self-publishing my first novel this June and have found little to no helpful information on Canadian sites by unions or associations. Dont even ask about grants. I soon realized that Canada is systematically discriminating against the indie publisher. It didnt really surprise me. The whole basis on which they were structured is based on a relationship between them, the publisher and the literary agent. Unfortunately, they are behind the times in dragging their old viewpoint with them into this new sphere of self-publishing.

    I found digital book world and the sites of indie bloggers, and authors the most helpful to help set expectations and pull research for my new adult romance genre, but this is mostly anecdotal. I would love to connect with others in this area in Toronto, but its a challenge to find them.

    1. Rebel, this is one reason why the Alliance of Independent Authors was established. It’s a meeting place for self-published authors around the globe with all sorts of free support and information. Take a look. Also, noticing you are a Romance writer, have you thought about joining the Toronto Romance Writers Association? They are very active and an extremely welcoming group. Even though they appear to me to be focused on pitching and looking for trad contracts, there are also a number of successful self-published authors who belong. I’ll be back in Toronto in July and would be happy to connect with you then. You can email me at [email protected]

  3. I’ve been self-publishing in Canada for about five years, and I operate a website that helps others find information: http://dianetibert.com

    The site includes informative posts that discuss ISBN, CIS, getting your TIN, editing, creating a book cover and many other things.

    My hope is to help authors self-publish by themselves or to guide them in the process as clients, so they won’t be sucked in by ‘self-publishing companies’. I want them to retain all rights to their work.

    Traditional publishers in Canada are a little behind the times. I’ve read articles written by their authors who were ‘encouraged by the old-fashioned ways’ to shame self-publishing authors. I laugh at them. They are running from the truth, trying to stop progress. They have already failed.

  4. I recently moved back to Canada (BC) and was initially excited at the idea of being a Canadian indie author. But there seems to be even less support up here for us. Even the grants I could find were all geared towards authors with published works from a traditional publisher.

    1. Angela, we were surprised to discover so little accurate information seemingly available in Canada. The fact of the matter is that in reaching out to the global community of indie authors, you will be able to find answers to all of your questions.

  5. I have learned to ignore the Writers’ Union – what I do know is that the indie movement doesn’t need them and I do not know why any indie author would care to join. There is a whole other universe of indie authors, musicians, artists that exist outside the legacy world.

    1. So true. That’s why we hope ALLi will have more of a presence in every country. The indie world offers more information sharing and support than has ever existed in the legacy world.

    2. I agree with you, Edward. I was excited when the Writers’ Union announced they were opening their membership to Indie authors, but I just couldn’t plow through the reams and reams of hoops that I would have to leap through in order to be justified by them. (Seriously. Eg, “What is your marketing plan? Please include it as a pdf here.”) It was insulting and I have closed the door on them now.

  6. As a Canadian self-published author, my biggest issues remain with Amazon’s audio book platform, ACX. For over a year I’ve been ready to move forward with audio books, but ACX still hasn’t opened the doors to Canadians because of tax issues. Really, Amazon? Because Canadians can use KDP and Createspace by filing the appropriate forms (W8BEN). This, as well as the apparent lack of interest by Createspace to find a printer in Canada, continues to be my biggest beef with the American-Canadian Amazon divide.

    1. Victoria, apparently if you have a US bank account you can utilize ACX’s programs. I know a couple of Canadian authors have found a way. Email me and I’ll pass along their info if you like.

      1. This is true. All you need is a bank account in the U.S. You can get one through the Royal Bank, for example.

        I hear this from ACX directly at their workshop at RWA 2014 in San Antonio last summer.

  7. I set out to self-publish my first novel after getting my rights back from a small press. I despaired of sorting through all the info on-line to collect ACCURATE, up-to-date info I need as a Canadian “publisher” until I discovered M.A. Demers, a Canadian author in Vancouver who wrote a very comprehensive manual entitled The Global Indie Author. It’s an invaluable how-to and a reference.

    The best aspect is that all the info an indie author (not necessarily a Canadian author) is conveniently in one place, complete with lists of links. I recommend you buy the print version as the images are not legible on ereaders. Besides, it’s easier to flip through.

    1. Thanks for the book reference. It’s interesting it doesn’t come up easily in a google search but we will definitely look for it. We also recommend the Triskele Trail ~ A Pathway to Independent Publishing and Club Indie’s “The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing” ~ both excellent resources.

  8. Well said Eliza. I’m in BC and have had no problems self-publishing, and I do enjoy being paid in U.S. funds.
    Right now SIN is acceptable to receive 0% tax withholding. I have an ITIN which is also acceptable. And, in terms of Writers Union of Canada I still can’t figure out what the advantage would be of membership.
    Thanks for the kboards thread, didn’t know it was there.

  9. Publishing in Canada isn’t hard or mysterious. We use kdp.amazon.COM just like Americans. A few basic tips: send in a W8BEN to amazon with your SIN number to get US tax rate to 0%. Expect most of your sales from the US. Don’t order boxes of print books from Createspace, use a local printer that doesn’t have to ship over the border when you want print copies to hand sell. Check out this thread for more info: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,208761.0.html

    1. Thanks for the info, Eliza. The point of this was simply that it’s a shame the trad world in Canada hasn’t become more educated about the great success of indie publishing. We indies are doing very well within our amazing community ~ we just want to ensure that everyone who looks into self-publishing gets the right information from all sources. Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment. We did have some tech difficulties last evening!

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