Sask. publishing industry struggling, but finding ways to innovate

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The day her first book came out was the best day of D.M. Ditson’s life, and it was a Saskatchewan publishing house that gave that to her.

After working for three years to write a book detailing her own experiences with sexual abuse and her healing journey, Ditson spent a year searching for a publisher. Then in 2017 her manuscript won the John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award, presented by the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild.

Shortly after that, Coteau Books approached her and said they were interested in publishing her work.

“It was the most discombobulated that I’ve ever felt,” Ditson said, recalling the day she received the news.

“I just started turning in circles, and then I fell down on the floor and I just didn’t know what to feel. It was just like an overwhelmed joy disorientation.”

On May 1, 2019 Coteau Books officially released Wide Open, Ditson’s first book.

In February — only nine months later — the long-time Saskatchewan publisher shut its doors as it entered into bankruptcy protection. Ditson was heartbroken.

“It was devastating. I’ve actually cried a few times because of the news,” she said in a recent interview.

“I’m just thinking now about all of the other first-time authors who won’t get to have books (published) or who won’t get to have this kind of opportunity.”

Now Ditson said she is searching for a new publisher for Wide Open so her story doesn’t die out. She is also starting work on a second book — a project she said Coteau had already expressed interest in — and is unsure where to turn to have that published once it is finished.

Though it’s not just Coteau Books feeling the pressure in Saskatchewan’s publishing industry.