Margaret Hume, president of the Vancouver chapter of the CAA, introduced Patrick Taylor as this morning's keynote speaker. His accomplishments in Obstetrics and medical research are as noteworthy as his remarkable career as a short story writer and later novelist. As Margaret so well pointed out Patrick makes light of his achievements which include 170 scientific papers, 6 text books and 10 years as the Editor in Chief of the Canadian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
I was personally delighted to read his stories in Stitches the Journal of Medical Humor in which he was the book reviewer. His own books now include: Only Wounded: Ulster Stories; Pray for Us Sinners; The Apprenticeship of Doctor Laverty; Now and In the Hour of Our Death; An Irish Country Doctor and an Irish Country Village. An Irish Country Girl was just released this spring and he is presently working on An Irish Country Partnership due to be released next year.
"In the Beginning was the Word." He quoted in his most mellifluous Irish accent. "And we all here love words," he continued at his whimsical best. His topic that day regarded what traditional writers needed in an electronic world. He described how he himself had progressed from pen to word processor but said to much laughter, "I had a short time with voice recognition technology but with an accent like mine…."
Making fun of his own efforts in this realm and connecting to all the writers there, he shared on the downside of electronic age, "I've a habit of losing stories to cyber space. There's one still hovering over Regina Saskatchewan from when I pressed the wrong button on the computer." "Back up! Back up! Back up!" he drilled home the message to all writers using computers.
But he highlighted the speed and ease of editing sharing his recent experience of sending 20 chapters to his editor from Tenerife and getting them back a week later.
Getting down to the grit of marketing in the electronic age, he advised, "Don't ask so much about royalty but ask what your book's publicity budget will be." The problem with ease of publishing on the internet is that books can come out but if no one hears about them then it's little different than if they collected dust in the basement or attic.
He emphasized the importance of 'word of mouth…it's still the best tool for selling." With that he shared anecdotes from his personal book tours, satellite tours and even talked about Margaret Atwood's auto signer robotic arm.
As he progressed with his topic he entered more and more into the twists and turns of modern publishing warning of the pitfalls and sharing anecdotes about what to do and not to do with contracts. He warned writers to consider how e publishing was affecting the music industry and the increasing concerns of piracy.
The American Author's Association and Canadian Authors Association were directly involved in addressing all the new changes that were coming legally as a result of this new media.
While there seemed to be much to be concerned about he closed on a very positive note: "the youngsters are still reading."
The e world had too he said affected the ability of readers to interact with writers. "I don't twitter or tweat, " he said, "but I have a web site and I respond to my reader's emails."
It was a wonderful speech specific to the needs of the writer audience. But the standing ovation he received was as much for the man.