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Self-publish and be part of a growing trend

Three writers talk about going it alone



They say everyone has a book in them but most people never test that theory.

These days it is simpler than ever for a writer to publish with self-publishing and online publishing creating opportunities and access that never before existed.

After a period when he was "in a dark place:" working too hard, snowboarding too little and noticing that much of the joy of his life was missing, Michael Poirier ended up living at Anderson Lake, north of Pemberton, and thinking about life.

He reached an epiphany: "Love is the meaning of life," and since then he has tried to let this aphorism lead him. It was also something he wanted to share with others.

The result is Poirier's book The Revolution, which was self-published 18 months ago after taking two years to write. Poirier, who has lived in Whistler since 2000, decided to put his ideas about bringing gratitude into one's life and changing mindsets in the book.

"I just wrote a whole philosophy out about organizing your mind through love. I was disconnected from everything I love, which is why life didn't have meaning," says Poirier, who has English and teaching degrees.

The route to self-publishing has meant that he has taken on the responsibility of placing the book himself and touring to support it. He's been across Canada and to 30 U.S. states.

He would take copies of The Revolution to random businesses ("49 out of 50 loved it") and has given copies to libraries, including Whistler's public library. In all, Poirier says he sold several thousand copies.

"For the experience of doing my own book I have learned that people can achieve anything, vision or goal they set their mind to," Poirier says.

Would he recommend the experience?

"Absolutely," Poirier says.

Another author, Michael Lawrence Bates, self-published his first book A Part of the Picture Vol. 1 as a way to explore his own studies in philosophy in poetry, information and parables.

"The aim of writing it was basically self-expression. I read a lot of philosophy and I wanted to reinterpret what I had learned," Bates says. "I wanted to play around with words as part of it."

It took five years to complete the book, which was published in March 2013.

"I've gotten good feedback from friends and acquaintances, but negative feedback from bookstores because they often don't like self-published people. It's more paperwork for them, I believe," Bates says.

The problem, they tell him, is the lack of a distributor. Other self-published authors are on consignment at bookstores and this can mean a long waitlist for the chance to get on shelves. Getting media to cover a self-published book is also a challenge.

"The positives about self-publishing is that I have sole control of it, which I like," he says.

A tour is planned to support A Part of the Picture Vol. 1 and Pemberton Public Library has a copy available to loan.

Author Janet Love Morrison, who has both self-published and worked with traditional publishers, says self-publishing is a difficult route to take.

Love Morrison's children's book Radar the Rescue Dog came out in 2013 and has now sold over 500 copies. She self-published it because she knew there would be a ready audience for the mountain safety story and that it would allow proceeds of the sale to go to the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association.

"It's the wild, wild west out there. There's so many cons out there with people making money out of self-publishing services without maintaining integrity. Often once they sell the services they drop the author," she says.

Because of her publishing experiences she now frequently talks about the differences between the two business models.

"A lot of writers, myself included when I started, don't understand how the self-publishing model works. It's so much more than just getting the book done. A lot of first-time authors get absolutely lost. It's really important to do your homework," she says.