For May’s Mental Health Awareness month, we are acknowledging some of our Tellwell authors whose books include themes of anxiety, depression, insecurities, and emotional expression. These books aim to give the reader a better understanding around mental health and how to recognize and communicate various feelings.
I Don’t Want to Go To School is a book that is intended to help children and families deal with separation anxiety, especially when it’s their first time at school. For some children, every day is like the first day because they are afraid their families will not return to pick them up. I wrote this book to reassure children who are still working on a secure attachment, that school is fun and families always come back because they are loved. Most books that address these issues use animal characters, but I chose real-life illustrations that the children can relate to. Lastly, this book will help teachers present classroom transitions to little children more effectively.
A story about a young girl who has a worry bully that keeps visiting and making her tummy and her head hurt. Whether it’s when she’s trying to join a game with friends, speak in front of her class or go for a check-up, he keeps showing up. He seems to be EVERYWHERE! But with help from some people who care and a big dose of bravery, she begins to learn just how to send her worry bully away.
We aim to take the piece of art they have shed blood and tears for and polish it into its most beautiful form, and we do this by being the author’s greatest champion.
Simon Ogden, Tellwell Publishing’s lead editor
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a recent Toronto transplant after a two-year residence on Prince Edward Island (Canada’s cuddliest province), but I was born and cultivated throughout British Columbia, mostly Vancouver and Victoria, the latter being where I joined forces with Tellwell in 2017. In Vancouver, I spent many years wearing the various hats one does in pursuit of a theatre career, mostly as a playwright and director, and I ran various hospitality establishments, from ridiculous night clubs to nerdy classicist-cocktail lounges, finally accepting my birthright and inevitable career as a book editor (I’m the youngest son of a pedantic linguist, who passed on to me his deep love of the English language and its best literature).
You’ve been an editor with Tellwell for several years now. Tell us about your role.
I began with Tellwell as a contract editor and soon assumed the post of head editor, or assistant to our beloved managing editor, Alison Strumberger. I have recently moved into the position of in-house editor, which delightfully allows me to interact more with my colleagues populating the other departments in our little publishing mothership, and it lets me keep a more structured schedule than is typical for freelance editing, which I refer to amongst the team as “the craft that never sleeps.”
The bulk of my duties still entail working with our authors to strengthen their manuscripts before we put them to print, but I’m also a handy resource for the rest of the team to make sure processes are on track, and the often esoteric world of the editing department is approachable and clear when needed.
What approach do you take when editing a manuscript?
Working with an editor is a very trusting and intimate relationship, so my first and abiding goal is to get in sync with the author’s style, intent, and rhythm. One of the glorious aspects of the job of the professional editor is the opportunity to work with many unique and personal voices, and it’s our main job to support them. All authors need support in unique ways, so we begin by identifying each manuscript’s overarching strengths and weaknesses, and then decide where best to apply our resources.
For example, a manuscript may present a truly original and fascinating approach to its plot, but its sentence-level syntax isn’t making the plotting as clear as it could be—that becomes the area we would prioritize toward bringing all the elements into alignment. Or the author’s sentence styling might be nuanced and gorgeous but various plot points are in conflict—we would then be looking to smooth them out a bit while maintaining the sentences’ natural euphony … each book has its own needs, and a great editor has to be able to tweak all the dials as necessary.
What is the end goal when you are editing a manuscript?
It’s always the same: to help the author produce absolutely the best final version of their book, one that they can for the rest of their lives be proud to offer to the world in exchange for the cover price. We aim to take the piece of art they have shed blood and tears for and polish it into its most beautiful form, and we do this by being the author’s greatest champion.
Some authors worry an editor may change their words too much, and the book may no longer feel like it’s theirs. What would you say to those authors?
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.
At the end of the day, book marketing is really all about connecting with people and enjoying the process.
Colleen Hay, Tellwell Book Marketing Consultant
What does a typical week look like for you as a marketing consultant?
A typical work week as a book marketing consultant is never very typical! What I love most about the role is how varied it is day-to-day. Some days, I’m busy consulting with authors on various marketing activities they can do to help promote their books, and other days I’m designing websites, promotional materials, and social media campaigns to help get them started on their marketing journey.
What do you enjoy most about working with authors?
I am inspired daily by each author I work with. I’m amazed by their bravery in making that first move to get their words and thoughts down on paper. It’s such a pleasure to be able to meet authors of all ages, every walk of life, and from so many different countries! I love to hear why they wrote their book and to watch their level of enthusiasm surge once they’ve received some guidance on when and where to start marketing their book.
What do you tell authors who aren’t interested in marketing their book?
It’s Black History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions that Black people have made to history, society, and culture. We’ve had the privilege of working with so many talented Black authors on their self-publishing journey, and we want to share a few of their unique stories with you!
From National Hero and first Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds, to eight-year-old author Adetola Babatunde who wrote her first children’s book to combat Covid boredom, to motivational speaker, coach and consultant Anthony Sanni, we hope you check out the stories from some of Tellwell’s Black creators.
Kyra’s BIG Appetite is a humorous story written in a playful rhyme scheme. Kyra is a rambunctious child with a sweet tooth she can’t seem to control. She has an unhealthy diet consisting mostly of cookies, ice cream, and cake. Although Kyra’s mother warns her that unhealthy eating will catch up to her, she does not listen. Kyra now faces the responsibility of making a decision about her eating habits. What will she decide?
Tequis McGann, a GTA native currently residing in Toronto, Ontario, graduated from McMaster University in 2015 with an Honours Bachelor’s degree in English. In 2018, Tequis returned to school to pursue an interest in learning American Sign Language, and in 2019 she graduated from George Brown College with an ASL and Deaf Studies certificate. A passionate writer and poet, Tequis tells stories inspired by real experiences and people. Through her extensive career in the social service industry focusing on mental health, seniors, at-risk youth, and children, Tequis has a plethora of experience working with ethnic and culturally diverse people. Her love and fascination for the difference that people bring to their communities, motivate her to detail these idiosyncratic encounters through storytelling.
We’re passionate about books so it’s no surprise that some of us at Tellwell not only love helping authors through their publishing journey but are going through our own! Project manager Joy is currently writing her novel. Learn more about Joy, her role as a Tellwell project manager, and what her book is about!
What puts a smile on your face every day?
Learning something new, helping others in small ways, and showing appreciation. When I push my limits and accomplish things that I once thought were very difficult, that puts a wide smile on my face.
What do you enjoy most about working with authors?
“Meeting” a lot of interesting people, knowing their stories and how they came up with their books is delightful. My absolute favourite feeling is when my authors tell me I’ve helped them fulfill their dreams.
What advice do you have for authors going through the publishing process?
My advice is to ask a lot of questions, especially for first-time authors. Having patience throughout the process is really important too. I understand the excitement in wanting to be published quickly, but I advise authors to not rush through approving drafts— take the time to carefully review them:)
What advice do you have for authors who are considering publishing their manuscript?
I’m trying to write a book myself as well so I would say, don’t hesitate and take a leap of faith because it will be your legacy.
Home workouts, new reading lists, and words of inspiration are among the Tellwell team’s New Year’s resolutions. Take a look!
JH, Subject Matter Expert/Publishing Consultant
New Year’s Resolution is to burn those quarantine gains and get back in shape!
Charlyne, Project Manager
My new year’s resolution is to be committed to my personal growth; physically, mentally & spiritually. This year, I want to focus on quitting toxic habits that are not good for my body. I’ll start to be more active and live a healthier lifestyle. I also aim to be more kind to me and allow myself to be vulnerable enough to accept my flaws. And, keep in mind that not everything is in my control and that it’s okay to screw up sometimes because that’s what makes us human. Lastly, I want to always look at the bright side of things, be more grateful and celebrate life everyday.
Our January author of the month, Kathleen Boucher, is an award winning author, certified lifestyle coach, a certified neurocoach, a certified stress and wellness consultant, and a registered nurse! Kathleen’s book 9 Ways to Empower Tweens #Lifeskills is a self help book for tweens, teens and adults alike! The book focuses on practical life skills. These life skills include how to have more confidence when presenting in class, the importance of work ethic, a simple writing technique to help deal with anger, and more. There are exercises at the end of each chapter that tweens can use to integrate what they’ve learned. Kathleen has been featured in many articles and blogs, on top of receiving high praise from industry professionals like IndieReader!
In 2014, I wondered if there was something else I could do to help people. I prayed for guidance. Two weeks later, I remember sitting bolt upright at 0300 am in the morning. The voice inside my head indicated that I should write children’s books. So I did.
2. What inspired you to write your book?
I want to help parents and teachers with techniques that helped me raise my children. I am told that adults find these strategies useful as well. Bonus!
3. How have your personal experiences influenced your book?
My son was very active and had a hard time focusing on homework when he was in elementary school. I did some research that showed that with intense focus, one could bend time and get more done. For example, have you ever crammed for an exam and have gotten a lot of studying done?
Before we started his homework I made sure my son was rested. The idea was for him to do his least favorite subject first, and get it out of the way. I put a timer at the end of the table and made it fun by seeing how much he could get done in five minutes. Once he finished what he disliked doing, the rest of the homework flowed because he was focusing on subjects he loved.
4. What were some of the more significant lessons you learned writing and publishing a book?
Write what inspires you.
The first draft is only the beginning. Don’t be afraid of rewrites. In fact, expect to do more than one rewrite.
Writing an outline really helped organize my thoughts. Figure out what works for you.
Take the time to create a rapport with an illustrator so that he or she understands your vision. Then allow them the creative freedom to be fabulous.
Accept constructive criticism with grace. Step back and look at your work from a different perspective. The new angle may make your work better.
Categories and keywords are the words and phrases used by online retailers such as Amazon or Indigo to help categorize your book among similar titles, similar to how a bookstore shelves books with others of the same genre. This is the metadata linked to your online book listing.
Choosing relevant keywords and categories will help readers interested in the subject matter to find your book among similar titles when searching online retailers, which can help you sell more books.
Selecting your categories can be as simple as scrolling through the available categories (or BISAC codes) and picking the ones that most closely fit your book’s content.
Pick categories that actually match your book’s content.