APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award 2021 shortlist celebrates exceptional work between publishers and authors
The Forager’s Dinner: Finding, harvesting, and preparing Newfoundland and Labrador’s edible plants by Shawn Dawson, Dirty Birds by Morgan Murray, and Black Matters by Afua Cooper with photographs by Wilfried Raussert have been shortlisted for the 2021 Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Best Atlantic-Published Book Award.
The Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Best-Published Book Award celebrates excellence and achievement during the publishing process that helps a book come to life. The jury made note of two other intriguing submissions, A Like Vision by the McMichael Canadian Art Collective (Goose Lane Editions) for its recognition of The Group of Seven and intricate design, and Un monstre dans ma cuisine by author Marie-France Comeau and illustrator Isabelle Léger (Bouton d’or Acadie) for it’s timely, lively illustration of bread-making, popularized during the pandemic.
“The jury for the 2021 APMA Award wanted to highlight how each of the publishers who submitted to this year’s award did a great job getting the word out about despite everything, pivoting and adapting to new ways of reaching readers.”
Local cuisine in a new light: foraging and recipes
Boulder Books helped bring local forager Shawn Dawson’s vision to life and share the beauty of Newfoundland’s wild edible cuisine.
“Foraging here has been definitely a longstanding practice; I think Shawn has definitely influenced the community in the sense of bringing it to a modern place, and bringing it back around,” Blayre Way, marketing manager of Boulder Books says.
Shawn Dawson is a professional forager and runs Barking Kettle in Torbay, Newfoundland, where he sells foraged and preserved food to restaurants. He collaborated with local chefs to include recipes in the book, and photographer Richie Perez for some of the photographs.
For example, dandelions are edible, Way says, but no one will know how to prepare them without more resources, “So I think that the recipes are a very valuable part of the book.”
The book is easy to use, full of vibrant photographs, and highlights local foraging and recipes. Foraging contributes to food sustainability by sourcing food closer to home and relying less on packaging. Shawn Dawson is well-connected in the local community and attends farmers’ markets regularly, and participated in selling his book there.
“He just loves being out around in the community,” Way says, “He’s so passionate about foraging, and wants it to be so widely known and accessible to everyone.”
Bringing fiction to life; debut novel echoes millennial’s journey
Breakwater Books worked with Morgan Murray to bring his debut novel, Dirty Birds, to life. Dirty Birds follows protagonist Milton Ontario’s humorous millennial journey in multiple cities.
Morgan Murray worked closely with Breakwater Books on the design of the book, requesting a pulp-style format. Kate Beaton, his partner, did the art for the book cover.
“I think it’s really fun, I love the design,” Rebecca Rose, president of Breakwater Books says, “I think it’s a perfect reflection of the content and the messaging that Morgan has in the text.”
Breakwater Books typically markets books within Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada and nationally, however, Rose says with Dirty Birds they had a new opportunity to focus on regions Saskatchewan, Quebec and Newfoundland.
Before publication, Rose says they sent out early copies for review to book sellers, reviewers and librarians, and they sought out related advertising venues and literary publications for this type of book.
Murray was great to work with, Rose says, and very present with responding to media queries as well as digitally active on social media. He brought his own creativity to digital marketing by making a book trailer.
There are line illustrations in the book as well as French and English words, so the design and editing process was very thorough, Rose says, but they were able to keep the size reasonable and the book affordable.
“It’s just great to see a book, especially a debut book, a debut author do so well and achieve that kind of recognition,” Rose says, “We couldn’t be happier for him.”
Poetry, photography and design come together in Black Matters
Black Matters by poet Afua Cooper and photographer Wilfried Raussert explores Black experiences and visibility across different cities. Roseway Publishing (Fernwood Publishing) worked collaboratively to publish the book.
Fernwood Publishing does a lot of critical books for academics, Anumeha Gokhale, marketing, sales and distribution manager for Fernwood Publishing says, but also selective poetry.
“It’s important that we’re telling Black stories, and Black Canadian history because, you know, Black Canadian stories is often not told,” Oyinda Alaka, publicist teams promotion manager for Fernwood Publishing says. “In Afua’s book she talks about Black joy, not just resiliency or racism, which is one of the dominant stories you hear from the Black community, but she talks about Black joy and happiness, and living life as a Black person, and to us, it was important that we’re telling stories from that point of view too.”
Gokhale says Afua Cooper’s poetry book “would do well anywhere, because she has the talent,” but they wanted to do the book right, and worked with a lot of collaboration between authors and everyone else on the team.
For the design, Fernwood Publishing worked with Loki, a progressive BIPOC production house. The colours of the book are contributing to the story, instead of distracting, Alaka says.
Even though the book has high-production value, they were able to keep the price near baseline ($20) with the help of grants, Gokhale says. “This is a book by BIPOC, and this is a book that should be read by BIPOC, and price is always a big deterrent for people, especially BIPOC, when accessing books.”
The book is sold nationally and internationally, in Germany, where Wilfried Raussert teaches, and is also available in digital format.