The AQ/QA: Louise Fraser

AQ-Q+ALouise Fraser published her first children’s book, Pong the not-BIG Pig , Jan. 25 on iTunes. Fraser is a children’s literature professor at St. Thomas University. The AQ’s Meghan O’Neil talks with Fraser about the process of e-publishing.

What inspired you to write Pong the not-BIG Pig

I rather like pigs. Anthropomorphic characters are always popular in children’s stories. I like the idea of someone who was an underdog, or an underpig, and who overcomes being ostracized for it and proves himself to be the decent good big pig he is.

I like to illustrate and I like to write. My background is English and so it really combined both my interests. I’ve been doing this half my life frankly.

Can you explain the process of e-publishing?

There is a mutual tax treaty between Canada and the US. That means we, as Canadians, doing business on a US site, would not pay tax in the States, but rather in Canada. However, you first have to have the number in order to claim the exemption from the IRS.

Before you can receive an ITIN [Individual Tax Identification Number], you first need a letter of intent to publish on an American site. Before you can publish, you first need an ITIN. It’s a catch 22 situation. Happily, Amazon provides such a letter and you can fill in your own details and give this to the U.S. tax people. I used this, even though I intended first to publish with iBooks. It was the piece of paper that the IRS needed.

Why did you decide to go with e-publishing?

For the self-publisher, e-publishing levels the playing-field and allows small-time players to compete with the big boys. While very few authors can expect to get rich, there is a satisfaction in knowing that one’s work is out there.

For my own part, my illustrated children’s books have languished on my shelves unpublished for many years – occasionally being dusted off and sent out to publishers only to be sent back six months later. It’s a protracted and dismal process. By e-publishing, I hoped that people could enjoy them in my lifetime.

Also, because it’s doable. I can get it done. The market will determine whether the people like it or not. E-publishing is becoming more and more popular. Barnes & Noble is closing down some of their stores and they’re going to eBooks, looking towards more e-publishing.

Borders, another bookstore, went out of business last year. They weren’t far enough ahead on the eBook site. But I don’t think it’s ever going to replace books. People still like books. They like the feel of them, they like the smell of them, they like to know how far they are through them. But I’m a child of my generation. I grew up with books. But it’d be interesting to see what this current generation feels.

You’ve published hard copy academic books and have gone through the process of publishing an eBook. How do you speak to the different processes?

I like [physical books] but I can see both sides of the coin. Because I can get an entire library on my little Kindle or my iPad and I can take it with me and its portable. I can look up things easily even with reference journals and so forth. It’s easier to look it up electronically.

The thing I like more is the thing I like least. I like the autonomy but then that puts everything in your lap. When someone else publishes it, you don’t have to worry about proof reading or that sort of thing and actually getting it out there… distributing. But of course online… distribution is much easier. And a lot of real publishing companies, the hard cover publishing companies, are moving towards e-publishing.

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