Making the BC Bestseller list — guest blog by Rick James

Ever since the re­lease of my book, Raincoast Chronicles 21: West Coast Wrecks & Other Maritime Tales, in October, I’ve been very eager to pick up a copy of the Vancouver Sun every Saturday morn­ing.  Why? This is when the B.C. Bestseller list, com­piled by the Association of Book Publishers of B.C., is fea­tured in the paper’s Weekend Review.

I must say, it’s been heady times see­ing the out­come of my ef­forts up there on that list for over four months now; es­pe­cially after pound­ing away at the key­board in the base­ment in isol­a­tion for so many years.  Still, my mak­ing the ‘list” didn’t hap­pen all on its own.

Rick at the Royston hulk breakwater

I can’t say enough about Harbour Publishing who have done an ab­so­lutely fab­ulous job of pro­mot­ing the book. Howard White’s staff went the ex­tra mile en­sur­ing that book re­view ed­it­ors in all the big pa­pers on the coast, as well as vari­ous ra­dio show hosts all had their re­view cop­ies and in­vit­a­tions to in­ter­view me.

But I also went the ex­tra mile on my own since since I wasn’t con­tent to just sit back and leave it en­tirely in Harbour’s hands. And I real­ized that they, like all pub­lish­ers, only have so much money avail­able to send an au­thor gal­li­vant­ing around the land­scape to book store read­ings or PowerPoint presentations.

So I vo­lun­teered to head over to Tofino and up to the North Island, where I was con­vinced there was an ex­cel­lent mar­ket, on my own dime. I was right, and much to Harbour’s cred­it, they con­trib­uted to ex­penses after all.

And what about so­cial me­dia you ask? That must have been a ma­jor factor in the book’s suc­cess. Right? Well, as much as some friends and col­leagues are totally con­vinced this is the way to go, I avoided it.  No blogs, Facebook, or even a webpage!  While it might seem I’m a total throw­back to a dif­fer­ent day and age, I have nev­er been fully con­vinced that this route was ever worth pur­su­ing.  (God for­bid, I waste enough time try­ing to keep with emails!)

I must ad­mit though, I did rely on some so­cial in­ter­ac­tion. But it was the old school kind. Since I was up and down Vancouver Island a lot this winter, I made it a point to stop at each and every book­store I was go­ing by. Whether it was Chapters in Nanaimo or Ivy’s, the small in­de­pend­ent on Oak Bay Avenue in Victoria, I  walked in, in­tro­duced my­self and vo­lun­teered to auto­graph any cop­ies of my book they had on hand.

I did this, not once but twice and even three or four times over the past four months.  And has it paid off? You bet! Here it is mid-January and I’m still sit­ting at #6 on the BC Bestseller list!


What’s your writing goal for 2012?

Where do you want to go and when do you want to get there?

Most people ask them­selves those ques­tions be­fore head­ing out on a trip. I also ask them when I’m writ­ing a book.

Completing a book re­quires a huge com­mit­ment of time and en­ergy. If I don’t have a map of where I’m go­ing and when I want to ar­rive, the pro­ject can stretch on into in­fin­ity. That’s scary.

So I set goals.

It took me a while to fig­ure out what a goal is. I want to write a book and have it pub­lished is not a goal, that’s a dream.

A real goal goes some­thing like this: I want to com­plete a 60,000 word ma­nu­script by August 31, edit and re­vise it by December 31 and send it to a publisher/​agent by January 1. In or­der to ac­com­plish this I will work on my book for two hours every Saturday and Sunday.

Now that’s scary too. But it also gives you a clear idea of what you need to do.

However, sit­ting down at the com­puter know­ing you in­tend to write 60,000 words is enough to give any­one writer’s block. So what I do is break the pro­ject down into smal­ler in­cre­ments, say so many words or chapters each month.

I try to be reas­on­able about what I can ac­com­plish, yet push my­self a bit too. Every month or so, I re­view what I’ve done. To be per­fectly hon­est, I nev­er meet my self-im­posed dead­lines. But they keep me on track and mo­tiv­ate me to try harder.

Most folks lead busy lives and fre­quently have to give some­thing up in or­der to cre­ate writ­ing time and achieve their goals. That might in­volve set­ting the alarm an hour earli­er each morn­ing, hav­ing a writ­ing lunch break or draft­ing your ma­nu­script in the laun­dro­mat while wait­ing for your clothes to spin dry.  Many writers – in­clud­ing me – don’t watch tele­vi­sion and lim­it their email and so­cial me­dia time.

But simply hav­ing a goal isn’t al­ways enough. To be really ef­fect­ive ex­perts say you should write your goal down, make a com­mit­ment by telling it to someone and to also be ac­count­able to someone.

It’s early January, the time of year when many people make res­ol­u­tions and set goals. Have you giv­en any thought to where you want to be in your writ­ing jour­ney by the end of the year?