Writing For The Market
If you live on the Sunshine Coast like I do, you know Terry Barker. If you haven't run into him at the weekly Farmers' Market in Sechelt or the Sunshine Coast Writers' Festival selling his books, you'll have seen his column in the local paper where he writes about the buildings he sketches. During the 2010 Writers' Festival Terry told me his self-publishing story, a story that takes the market into consideration, but that also goes beyond.
Success Before Self-Publishing
When Terry Barker was a pre-teen, he wanted to publish, and he wanted to live like Ernest Hemingway. At ten he saw publishing success when his poems were printed in magazines. As an adult, he was also published in magazines like Reader's Digest
. Clearly he had writing talent.
An Early Self-Publisher
In 1983 Terry was one of the first out of the gate in desktop self-publishing with Boss Talk
, first produced on a dot matrix printer and which has sold over 30,000 copies world-wide. Always aware of the bottom line, Terry created Boss Talk
from handouts he created for workshops he gave in communications. He had a built-in market. He saw an opportunity to make additional money from his speaking, and he took it.
Six years later, for the RCMP, he created 5-Minute Police Officer
. It is used to train police officers in how to handle the crucial first five minutes of a confrontation. Again, he had a built-in market. In this case, the book has been translated into other languages, moving beyond the original market he envisioned.
Terry had also always drawn and sketched. He began running out of wall space for his drawings, so he took his drawings to the Farmers' Market in Sechelt. The local newspaper editor of the time asked if Terry would allow them to go into the paper. Terry said yes if he could write a column to go along with the artwork. That was thirteen years ago. He has now gathered these sketches and columns into his popular Sunshine Sketches series.
Grey hair does mean Terry has let technology pass him by. Respecting the market, he has made his books available both in hard copy and as ebooks.
Writing Beyond The Market
Not all of Terry Barker's publishing was done primarily for cash. Like many other self-publishers, he has indulged himself. Two Old Broads And Other Poems
was written because he "just wanted to" write poems.
Terry believes he produced his most important book in 2008. Like Two Old Broads And Other Poems
, it was not written to meet market demand. In this case, he opened his broken heart to the world and wrote Last Chance This Life: A Hundred Letters
that deals with his reaction to his son's addictions and destructive lifestyle in Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.
Terry Barker has had a long run writing and self-publishing. He says, "Writing is the joy of my life. I had no alternative than to do what I have done."
Terry Barker's Web site is http://www.lastchancethislife.com
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