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Out from the Ashes

Updated: May 9, 2023

I believe Broken Keys Publishing found our footing during the Covid pandemic.

With publishing services scheduled to launch in March 2020, these plans were forced to be significantly scaled back in light of the initial lockdown and subsequent restrictions inflicted upon us in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although Broken Keys Publishing did continue forward with the release of its anthologies, spotlighting and celebrating Ottawa's great literary talents, marketing - and indeed selling them - would proved to be a challenge with no retail stores open to move our product through.

We remained relevant by releasing local voice talents narrating the short stories from our first anthology, Thin Places: The Ottawan Anthology (Ottawa Awards 2021 Book of the Year). (Including local celebrities like Dylan Black (Boom 99.7 FM), Codi Jeffreys (Lite 98.5 FM), Cee Lawrence (country singer-songwriter/musician), Jeff Larocque (CKCU-FM 93.1 FM), Pat Moore (CKCU-FM and singer-songwriter/musician), Kimberly Bowie (actor, model, voice actor), Paul Atkinson (music blogger), as well as non-Ottawa residents Samantha Underhill & Maximillian Alexander).

We opened an online store, with limited success. Shipping is always an issue and challenge, especially attempting to compete with the well-oiled machine that is Amazon. But we learned and adapted, embracing and incorporating this service, rather than combatting it. Making use of it as a tool and added service to our authors, poets, writers, and client base.

We took advantage of this prolonged literal and figurative lockdown, to take a step back, assess, re-assess, and study what worked, what didn't, and determine our collective path forward - as the print-publishing industry was already in a state of flux, the pandemic only accelerated this process.

The Penguin Random House - Simon & Schuster Antitrust Trial brought traditional big publishers into question along with their sales, and in reflection, the indie-authors and small presses sales.

The rise of the indie-author was upon us, as was the rise of the shadow-industry of predatory vanity presses and publishers; outlaws and bandits in the wastelands of a New Wild West.

Behind the scenes, we witnesses the advent, rise, and application of numerous technologies and changes that are, and will, irreparably change the industry - companies who resisted - 'raged against the dying of the light' - and ultimately died themselves. "If it's not broken, don't fix it," became their motto, "but don't improve on it either," became their subtitle. We learned to navigate these new technologies and services, adding them into our growing toolbox.

As we began being acknowledged and noticed - winning several publishing, book of the years, and printing awards - this rage became redirected against us...but still we persisted. Change is always a scary thing and most often resisted. With our 36+ years experience in the print and publishing industry, it was time to bring this to the front and begin much needed changes.

It would be 2 calendar years, nearly to the day, when we officially launched and released our first true published title: Samantha Underhill's Sadness of the Siren, and with Michael Adubato's Missing the Exit hot on its heels. And then Jana Begovic's Little Dragon and Poisonous Whispers - all 4 titles being released within March. It was a storm of activity!

But this storm would only repeat itself in the latter half of 2022. October-November would see another flurry of activity! Broken Keys Publishing's third anthology - Ghosts and Other Chthonic Macabres which would later go on the win the Ottawa Awards for 2023 Book of the Year - would be released in October alongside Anna Blauveldt's Kat and the Meanies, The Leavetaking and Pat Moore's Clean Water for Lukong. And with 3 children's books under our belt, and in the middle of negotiating with another 2 to 5 in the works, it was time to create and release a new imprint: Broken Keys Publishing - KIDS!

It was within this same window that we began working with another local author, not as her publisher, but as her printer (but we are currently working to sign her onto our label!) and thus Broken Keys Publishing & Press was born.

The pieces were all in place. 2023 began with the release of 5 new books. A new operating office and a new company vehicle.

Join us in the adventure.

The journey has just begun.

Are you ready?

Let's see what dreams we can make come true.


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