Saturday, January 21, 2012

Canada Calling: All Bets Are Off

Here’s the disclaimer. This weekend we’re not talking about every Canadian mystery writer. This is a summary from the 2011 Crime Writers of Canada Catalog. You may have a favorite Canadian writer whose name doesn’t show up here, and you’re darned certain that they published a book in 2011. Likely they did, but they chose not to submit it to the CWC catalog.

But what we do have here is a good representation of about 60 Canadian writers who each had one or more books come out last year. What the numbers show more than anything else is that all bets are off. A traditional Canadian publishing picture no longer exists. The change has already happened.

Saskatoon writer Gail Bowen comes out the winner in the numbers game. In 2011 every one of her twelve Joanne Kilbourn mysteries republished, several of them in multiple formats, plus she had a new Orca Rapid Reads, The Shadow Killer.

In case you’re not familiar with Rapid Reads, this line of books debuted about two years ago. Selling for $9.99 each, they hope to encourage reading among people learning English as a second language, learning how to read or improve their reading, students who aren’t sure about this whole reading thing, and people who want a quick, entertaining read. In addition to Bowen, four other authors in the catalog published in the Rapid Reads series.

The numbers runner up is the Nova Scotia writer, James T. Barrett. He who published all of his seven stand-alone thrillers in e-Book format in 2011 and has an eighth one due out this month.

Bronze medal for number of books published goes to Cheryl Kaye Tardif. She publishes under both her own name and as Cherish D’Angelo. Her total was 5 stand-alones plus a collection of short stories. Most of these came out from Imajin Books as either trade paperbacks, e-books, or combined releases.

Joan Hall Hovey had three stand alones, combinations of trade paperbacks and e-books releases. Vicki Delany had two books, from two different publishers, in multiple formats. Anne Emery published two books in her Father Brennan Burke series, both with the same publisher. A large U.S. publisher published two of Don Gutteridge historical mysteries, set in the 1830s in Upper Canada (think Toronto). Ian Hamilton, published the first and second books in his Ava Lee series with the same publisher, both in trade paperback format.

This means that eight writers accounted for thirty-seven books brought to the market (or back into the market) in a single year. This is a hint of what publishing will look like as more and more writers are able to bring their back lists on line, literally on line, and authors are able to publish a book as soon as it’s finished instead of waiting the traditional 18 months to 2 years for the book to be processed through traditional publishing.

What about the other 54 writers in the catalog, the ones who had one book published in 2011?

Only 11 authors published with large publishers (located in both the US and Canada); 33 published with small publishers (again spread out in both countries), and 6 either self-published or published strictly e-books. If the range of publishers makes you dizzy, wait until you see the price spreads.


Price range was $29.99 to $0.99, with the largest grouping being between $2.99 and $9.99 per book.


Had hardly any price range at all—$24.99 to $29.99—with no significant price point standing out. What you’re looking at here is traditional publishing at it’s most inflexible.


Ranged in price from $6.99 to $18.99, with the largest grouping being $8.50 to $9.99 price spread when the books were priced in U.S. dollars, and $13.50 to $18.95 for the Canadian prices.

Trade paperbacks

Remember that this is supposed to be the coming paper format, with the smaller mass market paperbacks dying out. The trade range was $13.99 to $26.99, with the largest grouping $22.95 to $24.95, or almost the same price as hardbacks. How long do you think paperbacks at this price will continue to appeal to buyers?

The bottom line is that Canadian mystery writers are going for any and all ways that they can get their books into readers’ hands quickly, regardless of format and regardless of the price range. It means that choices for readers are opening up. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these trends meant more cool Canadian crime stories in everyone’s hands?

Here’s the list of authors featured in the 2011 Cool Canadian Crime Catalogue. Visit the web site for descriptions, publishers, etc. for all of these authors. Then print the list off and take it with you to the bookstore and the library. Or do a little Internet shopping. Let these authors send a little Canadian coolness your way.

British Columbia

Amber Harvey

Chevy Stevens

David Russell

Debra Purdy Kong

Grant McKenzie

Kay Stewart

Phyllis Smallman

Roberta Rich

Robin Spano


Cherish D’Angelo

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Eileen Shuh

Garry Ryan

Gordon Cope

Susan Calder

Wayne Arthurson


Brenda Chapman

Gail Bowen


C.C. Benison


Adrian de Hoog

Alison Bruce

Barbara Fradkin

D. J. McIntosh

David A. Gibb

Don Gutteridge

Donna McDougall

Elizabeth J. Duncan

Eric Wright

Gloria Ferris

Ian Hamilton

J.I. Kendall

Janet Bolin

Jayne E. Self

Jill Downie

John Moss

Joy Fielding

Julie Madeleine

Kim Moritsugu

Mary Jane Maffini

Melodie Campbell

Michael Boughn

Michael J. McCann

R.J. Harlick

Rick Blechta

Rick Mofina

Sheila Dalton

Sherry Isaac

Stephen Douglass

Thomas Rendell Curran

Vicki Delany


Robert Landori

New Brunswick

Joan Hall Hovey

Nova Scotia

Alex MacLean

Ann Emery

James T. Barrett

Joe Beaton

Nadine LaPierre

Pamela Callow

Prince Edward Island

Hilary MacLeod


Alan Bradley

Gordon W. Dale

Richard A. Thompson

Sheila McGraw

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