Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Cover Stories & Cash Registers...

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So, last week I got my first full cover story for Hip Hop World in Share newspaper, Canada's largest ethnic newspaper. I'd gotten a few great cover blurbs accompanied by my headshot appearing on the cover of periodicals ranging from the Toronto Star to York University's Excalibur, but this one had my sole big phat mug all over it. What does this mean? In a world that's slightly less digital, I should be able to parlay this major interest into cash register till clicks. And then zoom to the top of bestseller lists, right? Maybe. Well, not so fast. It really all depends on a number of variable. Research shows that almost 3/4's of newsstand purchasers buy magazines because of an article highlighted on the cover. But for free news weeklies like Share, I have no idea what this all means. For me personally, I can comfortably tell you that this cover story means that my very Caribbean relatives now think I'm doing something interesting with my life (despite this being my third book!). The reality is this. Scoring a great profile or review in an old school non-diverse Canadian "industry" magazine for example, might not amount to much for large chunks of my target audiences (i.e. readers of colour, youth, music afficianados, immigrants intensely interested in globalization, etc.,.). And as book review sections disappear like TTC ethics, and with a very real waning interest in daily newspaper reading amongst my generation, whether getting a good review in esteemed time honoured trade periodicals in Canada will make tomes like mine do back flips off of bookstore shelves is open to debate.

In the 90's there was a time when this correlation between good reviews in industry mags and product sales was a wee bit more clear (in my Hip Hop World anyways). For example, I used to review records for The Source Magazine's Record Report section in New York, the “bible” of hip hop culture, and if I gave a disc a bad review, it would pretty much sink the album. The magazine was respected that much. And the blogospshere played no role in determining a musicians fate. The media landscape was far more staid, and way less democratized. Far less diversity of opinion.

Anyways, I can't write too much now...gotta run and scan my cover story to send to my new bookish friends in the blogosphere!

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.

Dalton Higgins

Dalton Higgins is a music programmer, pop culture critic, author, broadcaster and journalist. He is also Canada’s foremost expert on hip hop culture. His latest book is Hip Hop World (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi).

Go to Dalton Higgins’s Author Page