Category Archives: Publisher’s Desk

Happily Swimming in a Sea of Expertise

Though there are a lot of terrific things about my job, one of my intense pleasures is working directly with our authors. Though much of the day-to-day editing is in the hands of a couple of the best substantive editors in the business, in my dual role of Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, I have the privilege of dipping in at various points of the editorial process, throwing in my two cents whenever that seems like a useful thing.

What all of that really means is I have the best job in the world. I get to spend time chatting with (and sometimes hanging with) some of the most brilliant and energetic minds on the planet because our authors? They are heavy hitters, often the top in their fields or in some way so notable in their areas of expertise, we reached out to them to write a book that we can then share with you.

One of our most recent titles is the perfect example of this. Your Right to Privacy was published last month. It was written by a brace of award-winning journalists. Jim Bronskill and David McKie are exactly the kind of guys you want talking to you about issues of privacy and — as was the case with their last book, Your Right to Know — how to get government secrets.

Another recent Self-Counsel title, Greening Your Pet Care, is by talented veteran dog blogger and TV journalist, Darcy Matheson. Darcy’s knowledgeable and in-depth approach to her topic has been bringing kudos from all directions. Matheson is sharp and straight-forward and knows her stuff cold.

We recently produced a new edition of one of Self-Counsel’s very top sellers of all time, The Border Guide. This new edition is still “The Ultimate Guide to Living, Working, and Investing Across the Border.” For Americans thinking about moving to Canada and Canadians thinking of pulling up stakes and moving south, The Border Guide is essential reading. Author Robert Keats has been the force behind all 11 editions. If anyone knows more about this topic than he does, I have yet to meet them.

Along those same lines, but completely different is another recent publication, Taxation of Americans in Canada by Dale Walters who is currently putting the finishing touches on a title we will be publishing this coming fall, Buying Real Estate in the U.S., which will be published in early September 2016.

These authors and the many others I get to work with that make my job especially rewarding. Any time that life gives one the opportunity to spend time with extraordinary individuals, it should be noted with gratitude. They have so much to share with their readers. And it is my job to help ease the sharing. I am lucky, indeed.

Message from the Publisher

There is an ebullient air here at the Self-Counsel Press offices right now. Something good and fine.

We are moving into our 45th year of publishing books that help people in many aspects of their lives, personal and professional. That’s something to be proud of.

In those four-plus decades we have, of course, changed a lot of the way we do things. E-books happened, for instance. Digital typography. And the fax? It came and went. But at the core – as with all things that really matter – nothing at all has changed. We continue to work hard to identify and then publish terrific books in the areas of our mandate, working with authors that we’re proud to have as part of our family and that add to the conversation of enrichment we’re so proud to have around here on a daily basis.

Thank you for being part of that conversation. We look forward to continue to serve you and have interesting conversations into 2016 and beyond.


Crafting the Non-Fiction Book Proposal

Want to write for Self-Counsel? We love hearing your great ideas. While passion and enthusiasm will carry you a long way, before we contract you to do a book for us, there are certain things we want to see.

Your goal should be to let us know you have the vision and the tools to carry your idea to fruition. Also, no matter who the players are, in the 21st century, creating a book is a partnership. Make sure you let us know you’re someone who will be a good partner.

Next, show us what you’ve got: write! A good non-fiction book proposal should include the following things:

Give the child a name

The title on your proposal won’t necessarily follow your work into book form, but it’s a great starting point. Try to choose a title that describes the book as much as possible.

An elevator pitch

Tell us what your book is about in a single sentence. This is always difficult! But not only will it help us understand what your book is about, you’ll find that the process helps you define your book’s purpose and market very tightly as you begin work on your project.

A mission statement

This might be what you’d expect to see on the back of this book if you were buying it. Or it might be longer: perhaps an introductory chapter. Tell us as succinctly and eloquently as possible exactly what your book is about and why the reader needs it. This is your chance to strut your stuff, too. If you want us to get a sense of the way you write, this is the place for it.

Your TOC

Draft a table of contents for your book. Don’t worry: we won’t hold you to it verbatim. What we’re looking for at this stage is your clear understanding of your topic and expertise to cover it in an engaging, lucid and thorough way.

A sample chapter

This is your very best tool for showing us you can write clearly, organize your thoughts cohesively and that you have a very good handle on your material.

The market

Do your homework. Who is going to buy this book? Why do they need it? What other books in this category are out there? In what way is yours different or better? Why is this book needed? (And if it isn’t needed, why do we want to publish it?) The more specific you can be the better.

Something about you

Let us know your background and what about it equips you to write this particular book. At this point, also let us know if you have a special platform that will support sales of the book: are you a blogger? Do you lecture or teach on the topic? Just anything that demonstrates how suitable you are to both write and then help us market this book.

Pack it up and send it

Once you’ve got all the pieces down, put them together and send them to us. Send us your submission electronically to or via snail to:

Self-Counsel Press

Att: Acquisitions Editor

1481 Charlotte Road,

North Vancouver, BC V7J 1H1

A few words from the new Publisher

Self-Counsel Press announces new publisher, Linda L. Richards

Self-Counsel Press announces new publisher, Linda L. Richards

I’m delighted to join Self-Counsel in the capacity of Publisher. My relationship with the company is an old one: Self-Counsel published my very first work of book-length non-fiction, The Canadian Business Guide to Using the Internet, back in 1995. Since then I’ve written many books, both fiction and non. My 14th will be published in April 2016. So I certainly have a better than usual understanding of the author’s side of the desk. I think that will stand me in good stead at Self-Counsel in helping to create a complete picture of not only the industry but the people who comprise it.

On the non-authorial side, I have done freelance publishing-related business with several companies over the years. Also, I have been publisher and editor of the book-related January Magazine since 1997. And I’ve taught and lectured on various aspects of writing and publishing with Simon Fraser University, the Publishing Success Network and writers festivals across the country. In one way or another, books, authors and publishing have dominated my adulthood. It is my intention and my pride to bring my passion, energy and acumen to this very stellar company.


Upheavals in ebook retail

The past week has been an interesting one, with Apple losing a court battle in America over ebook price fixing, Barnes & Noble letting go its chief executive, and Barnes & Noble announcing (negative) changes to its ereader lineup. My take on all this follows.

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Mapping ebook sales

Our marketing whiz, Tyler, developed this map to show the countries in which ebooks published by Self-Counsel Press have sold (this map is updated as we reach more countries):

View Global eBook Sales in a larger map

Notes: You can click and drag the map to see more countries. You can also click on a blue pin to see the country name.


Ebook Formats

One of the more interesting challenges in producing ebooks is the file format question. On the surface, it looks pretty simple: two formats, EPUB and Amazon’s Mobi dominate. Both (loosely speaking) use HTML tags and CSS stylesheets to determine how text and graphics are displayed. So an ebook is a collection of webpage-like pages in a container. Or is it?

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Reading Devices Changing

As 2012 draws to a close, a trend we are watching is the changing universe of devices used to read ebooks. A year ago, monochrome “e-ink” reading devices (such as the original Kindle) dominated the market. That dominance has eroded through 2012, and by the time Christmas sales are tallied I expect we will see a new leader.

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Selling to the World

Back in August I said how pleased I was to report that we were starting to see sales of ebooks in countries outside Norrth America. The cost of shipping printed books has always been a major obstacle to sales outside North America, but ebooks change that.

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