Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Three Free Ideas

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If there is one thing yesterday’s interview with Spencer Gordon taught us it’s that new thinking has the potential to be reinvigorating at both the individual and community level. I have some thoughts on how to make the book world a better, more efficient, and more enjoyable place to be. But implementing these projects will take elbow grease that I am simply unable to spare, so I offer you these three ideas for free.

Friends, these are a gold mine—so do not forget me when you collect your Orders of Canada, your Nobel Prizes, and your oversized cheques from various granting bodies after bringing one of these ideas to fruition.

Book Award Fantasy League
It is that time of year when I begin saying the words “I hate fantasy baseball” on a weekly basis. But by December, I will be reliably turning my thoughts towards the coming season, weighing the merits of third-tier catchers and fretting whether the tenth round is too early (or too late?!) to begin drafting relievers.

I understand that the less sports-inclined among you may have never experienced the ecstatic highs and depressive lows of fantasy sports. For a long while I have wanted to start a fantasy book awards league to correct this terrible hole in your bookish lives (and, dare I say, fill a chasm-like gap in the market). You too could wave a metaphorical foam finger in celebration when you e.g. draft a book like Matthew Tierney’s Probably Inevitable (which I just so happened to basically do a few days ago) and he then wins the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. I am terribly sad to admit that I’ll likely never get my book award fantasy league off the ground— but you should. Just be sure to invite me as I’ve already started filling out my draft board.

Author Cards
Here’s the elevator pitch for my second idea: sports player trading cards—but for authors!

Producing the cards wouldn’t be too difficult. The hard part is determining what goes on the back of the card. Maybe you don’t know this but we are living in the Wild West when it comes to book stats. The Industry currently tracks sales figures and award nominations, but after that? Nothing. Which means the backs of the cards would be a wasteland of useless verbiage. But what book-related stats should be put there? Words per page? Total number of proper nouns? The ratio of adjectives to intransitive nouns?

I am convinced (and I say this only half-jokingly) that developing such stats would do more to further criticism than energetically exhorting one another to write more reviews. And think of the fun you’d have collecting a complete set of 2013 rookie cards! Or every Anansi card from the 2000s! But which counting stats and ratios to include on the cards? And how to gather and then crunch the necessary data? Clearly, you can see why I have thus far been unable to carry out this excellent concept. But don’t let my failure to execute this idea hold you back.

Blurb Registry and/or Generator
Trying to get a blurb for a first or second book can seem a little like visiting a dentist whose only tool is a hacksaw. And I am sure that being asked for a blurb feels similarly charming. If you’ll allow me to carry on with this extended metaphor, I have an idea that will at the very least apply some topical anesthesia to the whole blurbing experience.

I propose a registry that matches those who are willing to blurb and those who are looking for an established author’s name to slap on the back of their book. Think of it as a dating site for blurbers/blurbees. Emerging writers no longer need to craft endless introductory messages or sift through the Internet looking for email address! Successful authors no longer need to waste time clicking the delete button!

Want to take it a step further? Build a blurb generator! You can follow in the footsteps of the Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator or various business mission statement generators. I for one can think of no better and more painless way to tell people they need to read your book than to develop some insta-copy that effusively says something. You want to make some money? Here’s how:

  1. Build blurb generator and/or registry.
  2. Sell subscriptions to frequent book blurbers or charge per use.
  3. Transfer funds from your PayPal account (don’t forget all the zeros). Live the dream.

I am sorry for all the exclamation marks, but clearly I am excited about these ideas, and would hate to see them go unfulfilled. Please adopt one today!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Andrew Faulkner

Andrew Faulkner co-curates The Emergency Response Unit, a chapbook press. His first book, Need Machine, was published by Coach House Books in April 2013. He lives in Toronto.

Go to Andrew Faulkner’s Author Page