Somebody has to tell Terry Fallis how publishing works.
When he couldn’t find a publisher for his debut novel – the story of a reluctant campaign manager managing an even more reluctant candidate for the Parliament of Canada — Fallis released his story a chapter at a time as a podcast series and let people download it . . . for free.
Encouraged by the response from listeners around the world, Fallis printed a handful of copies and sent a batch to the nominating committee for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour — as if one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards was going to nominate a self-published book. The odds were . . . irrelevant.
Fallis was nominated. Then the Leacock committee did the unthinkable and gave their legendary prize to the self-published The Best Laid Plans.
McClelland and Stewart picked up the book and the sequel, The High Road. Even with a major publisher, Fallis insisted on releasing the second book as a podcast too, available to anyone, everywhere on iTunes and via his website.
Again, Fallis shared his story a chapter at a time, recorded it himself, and posted it so anyone could hear his work . . . for free. And the same people who listened to the book not only went out and bought it, but when they got the chance they voted for Fallis to win CBC’s Can-Lit sweepstakes, “Canada Reads,” in 2011.
The High Road is now being developed by CBC TV as a mini-series and if you haven’t heard it, or read the adventures of candidate Angus McLintock and his beleaguered handler, Daniel Addison, it’s the perfect summer confection.
For his third novel, Up and Down, Terry Fallis abandons Canada’s favourite reluctant MP and creates a new hero for the 21st century, David Stewart, a former civil servant who joins a PR firm — which is what Fallis does in his spare time when he’s not staking out turf as Canada’s Christopher Buckley. Stewart convinces NASA that the best way to revive public interest in the space program is to hold a draw to find two citizen astronauts, a Canadian and an American. The vibe is similar to his first two books . . . a sweet, soft spoken narrator/protagonist who lives behind the spotlight as he helps turn other people into heroes. How Canadian is that??
Up and Down, the book, won’t be released until September 12th. But the podcast debuted last month and I just downloaded chapter five of Fallis’ next Leacock contender. And somebody besides me must be listening. On June 11th, Chapter four ranked fourth on the iTunes Canada list of top literary audio podcasts. It’s also up on his website.
And I’m betting it’ll be on the bestseller’s list the week of September 12th.
Hmmm . . . Maybe somebody needs to tell publishers how Terry Fallis works . . .
– Mark Leiren-Young blogs and does all sorts of other stuff at leiren-young.com