Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Events for Writers

Back on January 8th, I told you you should get yourself out to more public events. Here is a nice list from Fernanda Viveiros, Executive Director of the BC Federation of Writers

Fed Workshop

February 24, 1 to 5 pm.
Coffee Table Books from Concept to Publication
Instructor: Anthony Dalton
Coffee table books are published in a variety of sizes and a multiplicity of subjects. For an author
with some artistic ability writing and illustrating coffee table books is an excellent way of breaking
into book publication. This workshop will take participants through all stages of production: from
concept to publication, including discussions on: subject ideas, chapter lengths, word counts,
illustrations and where to find them, copyright, hints on query letters, book proposal layouts, and
a couple of creative writing exercises. Instructor Anthony Dalton is the author of four books,
including three nonfiction coffee table books and the recently released Baychimo: Arctic Ghost
(Heritage House). Email the Fed office at for registration form.


Writing Groups

Fed member looking for a (Vancouver area) writing partner, who is committed to her writing, or
trying to be, has writing/publishing experience; to meet regularly for support, writing exercises, etc.
Me: 50-year-old left-leaning East End type. We don't need to be twins separated at birth but we
should have a few shared interests, and common writing goals. Interested/info? Contact Andrea

Malaspina Writers' Association
The MWA, based in Powell River, meets the first Thursday of the month at members' homes. All
genres, all levels. Provides critique, readings, workshops. Current size is 12 members, and new
members are welcome. Contact Allan Brown at 604-485-5240.

GRIND WRITERS' GROUP: (at the Grind Cofee Cafe, 4124 Main Street @ King Edward/25th Ave).
All ages, stages, and genres welcome. Come prepared to write and (if you want to) to read. We
alternate meeting on Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM-noon. Some people stay later to work
on their projects.
Meeting dates: SUN Jan 28th; S AT Feb 10th, and SUN Feb 25th, 2007.
Friendly, welcoming group. More info: ("Occasionally they do move the venue,
so if you're new it's a good idea to email Margo before attending for the first time")

The first Lingo @ Spartacus Books reading of 2007 will be the last Friday of the month as usual: January
26th, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. Spartacus Books is upstairs at 319 W. Hastings. All TWS and Booming Ground
participants and alums are especially encouraged to read. For anyone who hasn't attended yet, the bookstore
is a great place to read and listen. It's comfortable and quiet, and we're in the company of a lot of printed
words and a supportive audience. Bring your own words--new work, older work you haven't tried out in a
reading. Let ElJean Dodge Wilson and James Leslie know by replying to , and keep your
reading to 10 minutes or so to give several people a chance to read. If there's time, there'll be an open mic,
so bring something along even if you haven't signed up to read.

Special Event
The VIWF Presents Vancouver Writes
February 23, 7 pm.
Performance Works, Granville Island

Get ready for an engaging, interactive evening of wordplay that will bring
together aspiring and established writers to produce instant literature. Join
host Billeh Nickerson, Caroline Adderson, Steven Galloway, Billie Livingston,
Miranda Pearson, Timothy Taylor and many more of Vancouver's finest for the
first edition of Vancouver Writes. Teams of eight with one well known Vancouver writer as coach and editor will collaborate to come up with a piece
of prizewinning fiction or poetry. Live music, drinks, and a chance for the contestants and published writers to mingle and talk. Tickets: $20/18 students
& seniors. Check out the website for details
Vancouver Readings

Thursday, January 25, 7:30 pm.

RAW Exchange Reading Series
Where: VPL Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street, Peter Kaye Room. Maxine Gadd (Backup to
), Jenn Farrell (Sugar Bush) and Sharon English (Zero Gravity ) will read from their latest
books. Panel discussion on the "Art of Personal Narrative" moderated by Richard Hopkins, Professor
Emeritus at the School of Library, Archival & Information Studies at UBC and Program Director for
The Alcuin Society. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Friday, January 26, 7:30 pm.
Featuring Russell Thornton & Neil Aitken
Surround yourself with words. Open mic with featured readers. Great coffee available next door and
a fabulous collection of used books for sale in store. Location:
Upstart Crow Books, 238 Lonsdale
Avenue, North Vancouver (Just up the hill from the Sea-bus station and Lonsdale Quay). Contact:
Bonnie and Sita (, or Upstart Crow Books owner John Fisher
On-going (sign up for invites).

Wednesday, January 31, 7:30 pm.
Presentation on Made to Break by Giles Slade
Alma Van Dusen Room, VPL, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia
New Fed member Giles Slade tackles the "e-waste" problem from its inception to the modern day
in Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America, illustrating how deliberate product
obsolescence is a uniquely
American invention. Not only did America invent disposable products,
but also the concept of disposability itself. As manufacturers learned how to exploit obsolescence,
consumers increasingly accepted it in every aspect of their lives. Free admission, everyone

Thursday, February 1, 5:30 to 9 pm.
Book Launch for Red Light Neon
Join Subway Books for the launch of Daniel Francis's new book, Red Light Neon: A History of
Vancouver's Sex Trade
. Location: Art of Loving, 1819 West 5th, Vancouver.

Thursday, February 8, 7 pm.
On Edge Series presents Betsy Warland.
Emily Carr Institute, Room SB 405, Granville Island. Free admission.
Betsy Warland's most recent book, Only This Blue: A Long Poem with an Essay (The Mercury Press,
2005), traces moments of awe and dread on her journey through a life-threatening experience.
Warland has published ten books of poetry and prose and has also written numerous critical essays
on visual art for catalogues and journals.

*More event listings can be found on the Fed website here:
If you would like to include your reading or book launch on our website, please send info to the Fed
office BUT please follow the format as seen above: date & time, heading, address, brief info.
Thank you,


Fernanda Viveiros
Executive Director
The Federation of British Columbia Writers

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bart Baxter Contest for Poetry in Performance

The Washington Poets Association
is pleased to announce the opening of
submissions for the 10th Annual
Bart Baxter Contest for Poetry in Performance

Entrants are asked submit two poems for consideration by a panel of judges and eight finalists will compete in a series of one-on-one Poetry Bouts on Tuesday April 10th, 2007 at the Richard Hugo House (a 2006 event co-sponsor). Finalists will be determined based on how their poetry works on the page and on April 10th three different judges will determine the best poem in each one-on-one bout, leading to a single Champion.

Last year¹s champion was Lyn Lifshin. The fast-paced elimination rounds means the two finalists will read a total of 3 original poems each. The top three finalists will earn a total of $500 in cash prizes: 1st place - $300, 2nd - $125 and 3rd - $75.

There is no entry fee, but poets must be current members of the WPA. Annual membership is $15.

Deadline for entries is March 1, 2007. Finalists will be notified by March 15th.

The Washington Poets Association and Bart Baxter created the contest a decade ago to recognize and reward performance poets regardless of whether or not they had been published in print.

Bart Baxter, a longtime supporter of the Washington Poets Association, placed first in the 1994 MTV Poetry Grand Slam and the 1998 Seattle Grand Slam. In 2001, he was Seattle¹s first Poet Populist. His books of poetry include A Man, Ostensibly (Egress Studio Press, 2004), The Man with St. Vitus' Dance (Floating Bridge Press, 2000), Sonnets from the Mare Imbrium (Floating Bridge Press, 1999), and others.

Washington Poets Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the creation and appreciation of poetry. Besides the annual poetry contests, the group puts on Burning Word, (April 28, 2007) an annual poetry festival that highlights Washington poets, and publishes a judged journal of member poetry yearly.

Membership and contest entry information can be found at <>.

Contact: Paul Nelson--Contest Chair
Washington Poets Association
253.735.6328 or

The World Poetry Cafe Radio Show Proudly Presents S.R. Duncan: How to make a creative blog at 9 Pm on February 6th!

SR Duncan, poet, teacher, mentor and facilitator says:

One of the simplest ways to stay in touch with your fans is to have your own blog.

Whether you use it as an online journal or a marketing tool to sell your work or services, it is easy to create and maintain and doesn’t require you to know any special coding, like a website does.

A blog allows you to express yourself and to share ideas with potentially thousands of people.

I’ll show you how to have a blog up and running in just ten minutes and share some secrets to help drive traffic to it.

Tune into 102.7 FM on Tuesday night for this informative interview! Internet: and follow the links!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Record Level of Individual Donations to Cultural Organizations in 2004

Over the last few years, many cultural organizations have been raising funds to build new spaces, renew older buildings, develop endowment funds or cover operating expenses. A number of these projects have achieved a fairly high public profile.

A new report from Hill Strategies Research provides a picture of arts and culture fundraising in 2004. The report shows that 732,000 Canadians 15 years of age or older made financial donations worth a total of $188 million to arts and culture organizations in 2004. This represents a record level of donations by individuals to arts and culture organizations – much higher than amounts captured in surveys conducted in 2000 and 1997.

The $188 million donated to arts and culture organizations represents, on average, a donation of $257 per arts and culture donor.

There is certainly strong competition for donors from other non-profit sectors. With $188 million in donations – 2.1% of total donations to all types of non-profit organizations – the arts and culture rank eighth out of 11 types of non-profit organizations.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Have No ID? Won’t Travel!

The effects of 9/11 are still being felt - and close to home at that. The news this week reported 4 hour line-ups at the local passport offices as a January 23rd moratorium on air travel to the US without proper ID draws near.

Already stories are coming out of artists being turned away at the border and event organizers are having to seriously look at formal ways of dealing with the issue – like providing letters of introduction and contacting Customs officials beforehand.

Many artists, especially performers, rely on the US and it’s substantial population for a regular source of revenue.

While travellers are presently still allowed to drive across the border, that too will change before summer so artists would be well-advised to start the application process now if they don’t want to be trapped “in country”. The Passport Canada website predicts a 3 to 4 week wait for delivery, but considering what the papers are saying, expect even longer waits.

Here’s the Passport Canada website: You can register online. A passport will run you from $87-$92 if you are an adult.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Of Interest to Musicians

The folks at Music BC have sent me this info in their newsletter. This is a cool organization which is really dedicated to helping the indy music scene in Vancouver flourish. Membership is cheap and worth every penny!

Music BC Will be hosting a Networking Party for the BC Music Community on Thursday Feb 8th from 6-8PM at The Media Club! Come rub elbows with fellow members and industry players. Great connections are made at the Schmusic Party! FREE Cover! FREE drinks sponsored by Sleeman! Awesome Prizes Sponsored by AMP Merchandising, Long & McQuade, Digital Sound Magic, Spectrum Events, and Blacktop Geurillas/Universal!

The next deadline for the Music Industry Travel Assistance Program (MITAP) is set for Monday, January 15th, 2007 for both Tour/Showcase and Business Travel. For more information click Here or contact the office at 604.873.1914. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of British Columbia through the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and the Arts.

Music BC is proud to announce the upcoming 2007 Career Development Series! This year will feature 4 Key Speaker Series at Tom Lee Music Hall (929 Granville St). Music BC will be bringing in Key Industry reps from around the world to share thier extensive knowledge and experience with Music BC Members.

Saturday, Feb 17th 1-3 PM "State of the Industry" with Bob Lefsetz
Saturday March 24th 1-4PM "Music Across Borders" - International Delegate Panel
Saturday May 19th 1-4PM "Your Music in Film & TV - Part 2" with Music Supervisors
Saturday June 2nd 1-4PM "Music & The Internet" with Gray Gannaway of CD Baby

Mark your calendar now! More information will be coming soon. All workshops are FREE for Paid Members, $15 for Basic Members and $25 for Non-Members. Please contact for more information or to pre-register!

COPE 378 is seeking a song that expresses through music, what water and power mean to British Columbia. A song that is powerful, well crafted - a song that strikes a chord, a theme song for "Take Back The Power". The Power of Song competition is open to British Columbia singer/songwriters who care about public power and water. To Enter Simply Go To

The winner will receive travel, accommodation and tickets for 2 to My Generation pre-festival reception February 16, 2007 and the concert at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, February 17, 2007. The winning song will be used by COPE 378 as the theme for future My Generation events.

Hosted by Linda McKillip - Jan. 28th, 2- 4:30 PM, Douglas Community Center, 20550 Douglas Crescent, Langley BC. Linda will be critiquing songs and also playing the group some of the demos she receives from top Nashville publishers. Come and find out "how good does my demo have to be?" Admission $10, no pre-registration required.

Music BC is offering some great deals on advertising in the upcoming Music BC Directory. Check out the Rate Card and see for yourself! Contact to reserve your ad by Jan 31st.

Intro to Myspace
Jan 24th, 6-8PM, Music BC Office - #501-23 West Pender St, Vancouver
Email for info

Song Swap Sundays
Jan 28th, 2-4:30PM, Douglas Crescent Community Center, Langley. 20550 Douglas Crescent
Admission $10 - no pre registration required

Date With A Demo Songwriters' Workshop
Have your demo critiqued by pro songwriters like Shari Ulrich, John Mann and Roy Forbes
Feb 11th, 10AM, Kay Meek Studio - 1700 Mathers Ave, West Vancouver
Click Here for info

The State of the Industry w/ Bob Lefsetz
Feb 17th, 1PM, Tom Lee Music Hall - 3rd Floor, 929 Granville St, Vancouver
Email for info

Songwriting Circle
Feb 21st, 6-8PM, Music BC Office - #501-23 West Pender St, Vancouver
Email for info

Music Across Borders
March 24th, 1-4PM , Tom Lee Music Hall - 3rd Floor, 929 Granville St, Vancouver
Email for info

Music & The Law
March 21st, 6-8PM, Music BC Office - #501-23 West Pender St, Vancouver
Email for info

Publishing 101
April 25th, 6-8PM, Music BC Office - #501-23 West Pender St, Vancouver
Email for info

Touring The U.S.
May 16th, 6-8PM, Music BC Office - #501-23 West Pender St, Vancouver
Email for info

Your Music in Film & TV - Part 2
May 19th, 1-4PM , Tom Lee Music Hall - 3rd Floor, 929 Granville St, Vancouver
Email for info

Canadian Music Week
March 7-10, 2007 Toronto, ON

New Music West
May 2-7, 2007 Vancouver, BC

Music & The Internet
June 2nd, 1-4PM , Tom Lee Music Hall - 3rd Floor, 929 Granville St, Vancouver
Email for info

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Shoestring Marketing and Publicity Workshops

Thursdays, January 25 – February 15 7-9 pm

They’re Back!!... And registration is limited!

Whether you want to promote your burgeoning non-profit, sell more of your art or take your rock band to the top, the key to success in any small enterprise is shrewd Marketing and Publicity!

If you ever wanted to put on a show, but didn’t have the faintest idea how, or want to raise your profile in the public eye, here’s your chance to learn how to creatively stretch your meager advertising budget and hit your target audience all at the same time!

We’ll look at all aspects of promotion including:

  • Name and logo branding
  • Press releases
  • Poster and handbill design,
  • Internet tools and resources
  • Guerilla Marketing
  • Niche marketing

We'll also cover event planning, looking at real life events from the point of view of both consumer and promoter. Then we'll brainstorm as a group to build our own arsenal of advertising secret weapons.

Classes include course-specific material and are backed by my renowned reputation for friendly customer satisfaction long after the class is over!


Thursdays, Jan. 25 to Feb. 15, 2007

Course # JO 9195

Artist's Resolutions

I recently came across this great blog run by Alyson B. Stanfield, the Art Biz Blog which has some great tips including a list of artists resolutions. I've included some of them here:


RESOLVE to update my mailing list on a regular basis.
RESOLVE to use my mailing list on a regular basis.
RESOLVE to organize my mailing list on a computer database.

RESOLVE to try a different color.
RESOLVE to experiment with a new media.
RESOLVE to expand my knowledge of art.

RESOLVE to meet more people.
RESOLVE to practice a ten-second commercial about myself so that I know what to say when meeting new people.
RESOLVE to send personal notes to the new people I meet and to those who have been good to me in the past.

RESOLVE to join and become involved in an artist organization.

More at:

Art Attack: The State of the Arts officially inescapable

In late November, Coach House published The State of the Arts: Living With Culture in Toronto, a book that asks, 'What would make Toronto a better place for the arts?' Following a successful launch at the Gladstone Hotel, with some dazzling musical performances and intriguing panel discussions, The State of the Arts began appearing in news items, store windows and wish lists across the GTA.

Following a phenomenal review of the book in The Quill & Quire, The State of the Arts appeared in the Toronto Star's annual gift guide: 'Those cool people who hang out at the Drake and the Gladstone, but only on weekday nights when the suburban club kids aren't around, mount a collective vision of what it will take to ensure a thriving arts scene in the second book in Coach House's uTOpia series.' Additionally, NOW just excerpted 'Project Laneway' from the acclaimed anthology.

Keep your eyes peeled for more State of the Arts in the new year. And if you missed the panels at the Toronto launch, you can download mp3s of the two discussions from the Coach House site.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Performance - Bringing Your Story to Life

When I first started going to poetry open mics in the 90’s, Vancouver didn’t have much to offer in the way of venues for spoken word. Readings like La Quena’s Howling Full Moon Poetry nights and Tongue of the Slip at the Glass Slipper, were monthly and other readings were sporadic special events usually garnering no significant media attention.

It was a big deal to get on the reading line-up and an even bigger deal if you were actually asked to be a feature! These days, finding a poetry reading is like finding a bottle of Coke - they are everywhere!

Writing the book is only half the battle. Ask any self-publisher who has just come back from the printers with their box of freshly printed books and pondered what’s next.

One shouldn’t forget that the purpose of committing your work to print is to put it in the hands of the reader. In order for that to happen, the reader needs to know it exists. Even authors published by established presses have to make public appearances to sell books. Most publishers put it in their authors’ contracts and many want evidence that you’ve presented your work publicly and that you are willing to do so. Some publishers will help you set up a publicity tour, but unless it is a larger press with deep pockets, much of the publicity (not to mention travel and accommodation costs, etc.) will be left up to you. Sadly, authors rarely reach “bestseller” on merit of their work alone. It’s more likely that their publisher has a promotional budget which includes paid advertising and in print and broadcast media. This undeniably helps to push book sales.

Consider organizing your own launch at a local bookstore, art gallery or restaurant. It is a great way to introduce you and your work to the public. It is also important to realize that traditionally, the launch is where you will likely sell the most copies at any one time.

Although putting together and publicizing an event is a alot of work (literary event publicity given very low priority by most newspapers and broadcast media outlets) you will get an immediate sense of what’s involved in running a reading and it will help you to become more professional when dealing with other hosts and organizers.

Tip: At your launch, have everyone sign a guest book or maybe hold a business card draw. Whenever someone approaches you with positive feedback, get their email address and phone no. Create a database (Microsoft Outlook or Excel are good basic programs for doing this). This is your “fan” base. Use it to generate “word-of-mouth” promotion -which will be your most effective and inexpensive marketing weapon.

Historically, launches don’t make much money. You will sell some books, but probably not enough to cover the various expenses you will incur. The dividends, however, can’t be looked at strictly financially. Instead, think of this as merely a first step in a larger overall marketing plan for your work and your career as a writer.

People like to meet the author and have their book signed. Readings and open mics also attract other writers, performers and event organizers, and help build your creative network.

You might be surprised to discover that performing can actually be a feasible way for a writer to supplement his income and many storytellers hit the stage before committing their work to the published page. It’s also an excellent way to get connected to your community and may even provide you with the opportunity to travel if you want to.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Self-Publishers: Spend Time on Design and the Look of Your Book

How many times have you heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”?

Although it is solid, sage advice in most of life’s dealings, the distressing fact self-publishers don’t seem to realize is that most book buyers do exactly that! Unless they are looking for a specific name or title, people will likely base their buying decisions on tactile and visual aesthetics.

As a boy growing up, I loved comics, but on my very limited allowance, I had to be discriminating on what I bought. One thing almost always determined what I bought: the cover.

The comics industry has long used what is called a “shock” or “scare” cover (usually depicting some cliff-hanging scene with the hero in mortal jeopardy and having nothing to do with the story inside). Although I remember always being mildly disappointed when I discovered the truth, by that time it was too late. Besides, a good looking cover made the book a keeper, regardless of what was in it.

Thinking back, I was relying on two things to help me decide: name recognition and/or some type of intriguing hook, be it a tagline or graphic image. Chances are you don’t have a reputation. That takes time to build. Designing something visually interesting, on the other hand, or at the very least writing a compelling back cover blurb, is completely within your power.

When the average reader steps into a bookstore he is faced with a million choices, so you, as publisher, must do your best to make him pick your book over all the others.

Take off your writer’s hat and put on a shopper’s hat instead. Think about your own book buying experience. Go to bookstores and look at the selection available in your genre. Answer these questions: Which book stands out from the crowd and what gets lost? What appeals to you personally? Think of ways you could recreate a certain look with your skill and budget.

Avoid a plain cover with the title and your name in some generic font like Arial or Times New Roman. A published book should not look like a manuscript or a work-in-progress, nor is your book the literary version of the Beatles’ “White Album”, so take pride in your hard work by showcasing it in an attractive way. The home computer offers a huge palette of colour and an exhaustive range of fonts. Add to that an amazing array of papers, cover stock and printing processes and techniques, and the only limit is your imagination. So why limit your imagination? Inside your book, be kind to your reader and make the layout clean and easy to read.

If you are going the simple centre-stapled chapbook route, be aware that many bookstores won’t carry books without a spine, because shelf space is limited and chapbooks need to be laid flat on the shelf if they are to have any impact.

The reviews and synopsis on the back of a book can also be important selling tools as well.

Finally, make sure you put contact information where people can find it. Stay in touch with your fans!

Happy, Healthy & Wealthy New Year!

Hi everyone!

Welcome to my very first blog!
Along with my commitment to hit the gym again, I've decided that my New Year's resolution for 2007 is to discover and use as many internet marketing tools as I can and then pass on the ones that work to you, my clients and to all the wonderful creative people who take my Shoestring Marketing and Publicity classes.
Bear with me as I muddle through this learning curve myself.
Once I get this blog thing down, watch for a local arts news and events blog, focusing on things happening around Vancouver.
I'm also hoping to delve into podcasting this year and should have audio cast up soon. I'll be interviewing top arts professionals and sharing the secrets of their success. I still have a few techology hurdles to leap, but nothing insurmountable.

Most of the articles posted will have originally appeared in the Vancouver Storytellers Society newsletter, and some will be exclusive to this site.
Drop me a line and tell me what you think!

Happy Hangover!

Steven R. Duncan
Marketing Consultant/Producer/Poet