A week in indie publishing: meetings, meetings, meetings

There’s a lot of mystery around what publishing is/how it works/what publishers do. This is the first post in what we hope will be a somewhat regular series of publishing diary entries by our intrepid publisher, Leigh Nash, in an effort to share what the making of books is really like…

Monday: Via train into Toronto for the Literary Press Group‘s AGM. As it is June 18, I am the only person at Union Station not dressed in Raptors gear or red, black, or white. Suitably shamed, I take the long route from my hotel to our meeting at the Arts and Letters Club to walk through the parade crowds, where I get stuck in a bottleneck and am almost late for lunch. I’m only able to catch a little of the LPG meeting, because I sit on the board of the Association of Canadian Publishers, and our pre-AGM board meeting is the same afternoon.

Tuesday: BookSummit, a day of continuing education for all kinds of publishing people – multinationals (like HarperCollins), indies (like Anansi), and publishing students (mostly from Humber, I think) – wherein I am moderating the closing panel on the future of publishing. The most salient point I offer as part of this panel is that book prices haven’t increased in over ten years. If we’re all underpaid, maybe we need to start figuring out how to increase the value of books, so people will pay more for them and we can figure out this ‘living wage’ thing…

Wednesday & Thursday: ACP committee meetings and AGM; this is where all the magic happens in independent Canadian publishing. Plus a beautiful dinner focused on honouring late Theytus Books founder and publisher Greg Younging, including a speech from Greg’s mother that left everyone weeping and, I think, galvanized to do better.

Friday: I’m also the chair (and now past chair) of eBOUND Canada, a not-for-profit ebook/audiobook distributor. This one is another all-day AGM and strategic planning session… and then I hop on the train and head up to Ottawa for…

Saturday: The Ottawa Small Press Fair. I’ve been coming to this one for 10 years, and have brought a number of different presses – The Emergency Response Unit, Mansfield Press, Coach House Books, and of course now Invisible – and this was one of the best I’ve been to yet. The room was packed and the day flew by, and while I’m grateful that I’m able to make books as my day job, I miss the labour-of-love handmade-ness of small-small press publishing.

I did zero work on the making of any books. I also did not do much emailing (sorry to all of you in my inbox), or planning, or bookkeeping, or reading (again, sorry to all of you in my inbox). I spent the week in conversation, in learning from a whole slew of big orgs (National Book Awards ED Lisa Lucas’s BookSummit keynote was tops) and tiny presses (House House Press) and that’s why publishing is the best.

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