Publisher Profiles: Literary Press
by Collette Parks
Saskatchewan was home to an explosion of literary activity in the 1970s; it was a bit of a revolution. Why send manuscripts out to Vancouver or Toronto when they can be published right here at home? For over 40 years, Thistledown Press and Coteau Books have been publishing high-quality literary fiction, poetry, short story collections, and young adult novels.
“There is a uniqueness to the prairie. The landscape and history play a role here,” says John Agnew, Coteau Books’ Managing Editor. “We strive to publish the best in prairie writing, and there is lots of it. We see hundreds of manuscripts each year.”
Jackie Forrie, Publishing and Producing Manager at Thistledown Press, says “We look for good writing that touches people, and we especially like to feature new voices. We feature writers from across Canada, but we very much enjoy bringing books written by prairie authors to a national market.”
Talk to anyone in the Saskatchewan book industry, and you’ll hear their enthusiasm for all the excellent books produced in the province. Marketing books has changed, and with the loss of many independent booksellers, publishers rely on the remaining indie stores like McNally Robinson or Chapters/Indigo chain outlets. SaskBooks helps connect local books to local readers whose bookstores have disappeared.
There is no shortage of wonderful writing and prairie stories worth reading, like Terry Jordan’s Been in the Storm So Long from Coteau Books, or A Map in My Blood by Carla Braidek, published by Thistledown Press – both nominated for Saskatchewan Book Awards.
These days, it’s considerably easier to prepare a finished manuscript. Writers andeditors have support from associations like the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and the Editors’ Association of Canada. Gone are the days of typing every new draft without mistakes on a typewriter, replaced by more affordable computers with spell check and automatic formatting. Things have changed a lot since the 1970s. Viva la revolution!