After the success of last week’s inaugural “I Read Canadian” day, an event coordinated by Eric Walters, CBC News spoke with both Eric and Susan Swan to discuss the state of Canadian publishing and the fate of Canadian authors:

A children’s and young adult writer himself, Walters’s solution was to start “I Read Canadian,” an annual event dedicated to getting kids to spend at least 15 minutes reading a book by a Canadian author. The inaugural day, on Feb. 19, saw participation from children in schools and libraries in every province and territory.

It’s the first step in combating what Walters sees as the root cause of the problem: multinational companies with better resources outcompeting smaller Canadian publishers.

“Because of their ability to produce books cheaper and to flood into the market, they are flooding the market,” Walters said. “We are losing touch with our own culture.”

…”I Read Canadian” Day is expected to return in 2021. Booknet Canada, which has some say in subjects included in BISAC, plans on pushing for more code changes to better reflect Canadian interests. And More Canada’s report recommends more funding be given to independent bookstores for promotion of Canadian authors.

Whatever the reason, Swan believes the problem is urgent. If it continues, it will be impossible for younger writers to make their way into the field, she says. Because while the industry is “on a sort of craze to promote emerging writers,” these authors don’t have a realistic market where they can launch.

She explained that although more books and authors have been published in recent years — a sentiment echoed by VanSickle — attracting an audience as a Canadian writer feels more difficult now than ever.

“It feels shameful,” Swan said. “In a self-respecting country, we need to read our own authors.”

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Susan Swan’s critically acclaimed fiction has been published in fifteen countries and translated into eight languages. Rights for a television series based on Swan’s first novel The Biggest Modern Woman of the World have recently been sold to Temple Productions, whose projects include the TV series Orphan Black. Nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award and Books in Canada’s first novel award, The Biggest Modern Woman of the World tells the life story of a giantess who exhibited with P.T. Barnum. Swan’s last novel, The Western Light published in 2012 is a prequel to The Wives of Bath, her bestselling gothic novel about a murder in a girls’ school. A finalist for the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Trillium Book Award, The Wives of Bath was made into the feature film Lost and Delirious, shown in 32 countries. A previous novel What Casanova Told Me was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; it was named a top book of the year by The Globe and Mail and published by Knopf, Canada, Bloomsbury US and in Spain, Russia, Poland, Serbia and Portugal. Swan’s other novels include The Last of the Golden Girls, published in Canada and the US, and Stupid Boys are Good to Relax With. Swan lives in Toronto. She was awarded York University’s Robarts Chair in Canadian Studies in 2000.

Susan is represented by Samantha Haywood.

Eric Walters is the award-winning author of more than 100 novels and picture books. He is a tireless presenter, speaking to over 100,000 students per year in schools across the country. A Member of the Order of Canada, Eric lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Eric is represented by Amy Tompkins.