Saskatchewan Book Award shortlist announcements

Caleigh Minshall

And we have some exciting news! David Carpenter’s Welcome to Canada has been short listed for three different categories: Saskatoon Book Award, Fiction Award, and Book of the Year Award. Exciting stuff and we’re very happy for him. More information will go up as I receive it on our Facebook fan page.

This also means that I have a new task on my plate for the week: coordinating a new sales campaign using the shortlist announcement as ‘bait’ for the book buyers! This campaign is time-sensitive since eventually we’ll find out about who actually wins these awards – after which point the shortlist isn’t so important, obviously.

I plan on contacting independent bookstores in Saskatchewan and North American libraries that already own one of Carpenter’s many earlier books. I can find the libraries very easily via worldcat, but the independent bookstores are another matter altogether. I think I should be able to find most of them, though, by searching ‘Saskatchewan bookstores’ and ‘Saskatchewan books’ on Google.

Even with libraries, though, I find it’s often tricky to scope out the personal email address of someone likely to be interested in the book I’m trying to sell. Instead of searching through the pages on the library site yourself, it’s often more helpful to just search the library’s name plus ‘staff directory’ on Google – that usually brings the staff directory right up for you, without having to scan through the maze of the library website itself.

Depending on the library there may be dozens (and dozens) of staff members, and I need to ensure that the one I contact is an English or Canadian literature specialist and also that they are part of the acquisitions team. Sometimes I’ll contact more than one librarian at a particular library; for example, when I was promoting George Walker’s Book of Hours, I’d contact the literature specialist as well as the arts specialist, because Book of Hours is a wordless novel.

I try to keep the emails short and sweet. Librarians, like everyone else, are busy people and I’m sure most of them don’t want to spend all of their time reading emails from interns about books that they may want to buy. I try to include an impressive review quotation where possible, and a short, flashy description of the book, but other than that I direct the email recipient to our website for more information. I also always invite the librarian to unsubscribe from similar emails in the future – the last thing I want to do is create a negative spammer reputation for the Quill!

I also find that clarifying that I’m the intern helps sweeten the mood, too. ‘Intern’ automatically suggests inexperience and youth, and I’ve found that people just love to help when they know that you’re new! (I learned the same thing when I worked at Zellers – customers were generally a lot nicer when your name tag still read ‘in training’!)

My list for future sales campaigns just keeps growing. There are way more books than there are hours in a day, and I still have several other projects on the go, as well. Luckily, finding and contacting librarians is not particularly difficult work, so it’s easy to do even when it’s late at night or when I’m tired. I think of it as my break from the trickier stuff, like dealing with all of those ONIX problems* (missing apostrophes, incorrectly listed paperbacks, horrifically rendered covers, etc., etc.)

*A little off-topic, but there is an excellent blog by Tom Richardson at BookNet Canada about ONIX, posted just a few days ago. The comments section is also a lot of fun (and informative) to read.

About Caleigh

Intern at the Porcupine's Quill.
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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.