TOC – Margaret Atwood Keynote

Margaret Atwood provided a keynote at TOC called, “The Publishing Pie: An Author’s View” Margaret admitted she is not a high tech person, but delivered her genuine, humorous keynote from the heart. She shared much of her experience with publishing, showing us rare pieces of her previous work, including her first book of poetry from 1946, Blue Bunny.  She was 6.  Her story of selling/signing one of her first books, The Edible Woman, was a treat.  She was set-up in the men’s department of a large department store, near the jockey shorts and socks.  Margaret said most of the men ran away, she sold only two copies.

Unfortunately, the live feed went out twice during the presentation (I was in the overflow room), so I missed much of “the publishing pie,” but I’ll be sure to watch it on the O’Reilly site.

Her final slide was signed….”Thank you for being here, Margaret Atwood.”


One of the audience members asked Margaret, What is the ideal relationship between an author and a publisher?  Her response, editors can offer encouragement.  They can offer guidance and catching the unintentional mistakes. Publicize the books, do the marketing, organize the promo tours.  But, what is likely to happen, she can’t make predictions, but everything is in motion including the ways authors are doing things.

How do you feel about self-publishing and the quality of literary output?  The quality of literary output has always been questionable, said Margaret.  Look at the history of writing and literature, early comic books, etc.  The bigger problem becomes how do you get the word out about your book and get people to read it?

At what point do author’s say, this is what I can do to help market the book?  Many author’s don’t feel comfortable doing more marketing, particularly the more public things like FB and Twitter.  The publisher should be doing the publicity, but many don’t have the resources or don’t know how to do this effectively.  (Feed went out again, didn’t catch the end of her response.)