Author of the Month Tellwell Books

Poo with a View – How an alpine outhouse experience became a top-selling book!

One of Tellwell’s best-selling books in 2020 by author Gavin Boutet

Be persistent. Be patient.

Gavin Boutet, author of Poo with a View

Gavin Boutet’s coffee table book, or perhaps more appropriately bathroom book, Poo with a View: High Alpine Shitters of the Canadian Rockies, showcases some of the most remarkable views in the Rocky Mountains….from outhouses. The unique concept was inspired by Gavin’s time working for the Alpine Club of Canada servicing these remote locations. He began photographing the, rather, unique and stunning places to go to the loo.

The quirky humor book has been featured on three national news outlets – the CBC, Global News and CTV news. The book has sold thousands of copies, and was Tellwell’s best-selling book in 2020! As our Tellwell April author of the month, we asked Gavin to share the secrets of his success and his all-time favourite poos with a view:)

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Collingwood, Ontario and moved to the Bow Valley in 1999 in pursuit of skiing champagne powder. I have been playing drums for over 30 years and have developed an addiction to fly fishing in the last five. 

What inspired you to write Poo with a View?

It was strictly a collection of photographs to start, but as the project took shape, I wrote a small amount for each “chapter” or location. It’s a simple toilet humour book, meant for the bathroom or coffee table, so there’s not a huge focus on the writing.

Tell us about the process and adventures in finding these outhouses. How did you find them? 

It was an opportunity working with the Alpine Club of Canada that led me to some of these locations. I was employed as a hut services worker when I came up with the concept. We were responsible for the helicopter long-lining work that went into servicing these remote locations, including flying out the full outhouse barrels, or “honey buckets” as we liked to call them.

Did you visit all of them or were some recommendations from friends? 

All of the photographs in the book are taken by me, so I have seen all (and used most too).

I had no idea that a funny little project like this book would actually make me money.

Gavin Boutet, author of Poo with a View

What are your top three poos with a view? 

  1. The highest permanent outhouse in Canada, Neil Colgan Hut. 2,955m elevation.
Neil Colgan Hut, border of Banff/Kootenay National Parks
“This is one of the last photos of the old can before it was torn down and rebuilt beside the hut in 2013. It was the highest permanent shitter in Canada and was drafty to say the least. Wandering off at night was not advised!” – “Poo with a View” by Gavin Boutet

2. The oddest and most remote, Great Cairn Hut. 1,890m

Great Cairn Hut, Northern Selkirk Mountains, British Columbia
“This is the lowest elevation water closet in the book and certainly the most interesting of shapes. This hut and odd-looking biffy are built from rocks that were stacked in this location by mountaineers as a route marker, or cairn, that guided climbers to the base of Mount Sir Sandford.” – “Poo with a View” by Gavin Boutet

3. Best views, Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col. ~2,750m

Bugaboo Snowpatch Col, Bugaboo Provincial Park
“Between these two towering peaks lies one of the most scenic and potentially least private crappers in the country. Hopefully, there’s no lineup so you can enjoy the incredible view of Snowpatch Spire (left) and Howser Spire (right).” – “Poo with a View” by Gavin Boutet

How were you able to narrow it down to the ones that made the book? Was it hard to pick them?

Yes, I wanted them to all meet certain criteria, but the biggest issue was producing quality images in a variety of weather conditions. The photographs and locations do a lot for the credibility of this project.

You’ve received lots of media attention, especially from big stations such as the CBC, Global News and CTV News. Congratulations – that’s huge! What’s your secret to getting noticed?

It all started with a post on social media that this project was brewing. I am fortunate to live in a smaller town (Canmore, AB) and have made many contacts in my time here. We have a local paper in the valley, and once they caught wind of this book idea, it wasn’t long before other media affiliates picked it up.

Gavin Boutet doing a TV interview for his book “Poo with a View.”

What advice do you have for authors pitching to media, whether it be their local press or larger outlets?

Be persistent. Be patient.

Tell us about the success you have been having with Poo with a View (and please don’t be shy). 

I have broken even from my investment (with Tellwell and softcover printing) within the first six months. I had no idea that a funny little project like this book would actually make me money. I only wanted to do this book because it was a personal mission of mine to finish it, and make it available to the masses at a reasonable price. Tellwell helped me achieve that.

Your book has sold over a thousand copies in the last quarter of 2020 with the majority selling on Amazon.ca. What was the biggest driver of those sales? 

The television news press and radio coverage throughout Canada really helped push sales through the Christmas gift-buying season. The timing of the book’s release in June was intended to allow enough time to build steam before the holiday season.

What are some the valuable book marketing insights and tips you learned while promoting your book?

It helps to have an original idea that appeals to a mass target audience. The cover image(s) and title should speak volumes to that demographic, and create intrigue without having to open the book itself.

We love the name of your book. Did it come easily? 

Yes, very easily, in fact, when I laid my eyes and cheeks on the first high alpine shitter the title was born.

This book is pretty unique. Are there any others like this?

Not that I am aware of at this time. There is a Poo With a View based out of the U.K which focuses on landscapes and poo, but I haven’t picked it up yet.

Pick up a copy of Gavin Boutet’s Poo with a View on Amazon, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble and the Book Depository.

Connect with Gavin Boutet on his website, Instagram & Facebook page.

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