Independent journalist Paula Todd knew it was a gamble when she published Finding Karla: How I tracked Down a Serial Child Killer and Discovered a Mother of Three as a $2.99, 46-page e-book, rather than in hard-cover print or as an article for one of Canada’s leading magazines.
But time was against her.
“Other reporters were on Homolka’s trail, too, and I had no idea how close they were,” Todd, a former Star reporter, says.
“I didn’t have the luxury of waiting a year for it to see print as a real book or two or three months for publication in a magazine. And I’d spent a lot of my own money tracking her down. I couldn’t make it back on the kind of money magazines pay.”
But till recently e-books were unproven in Canada as a viable publication option for breaking news, long-form reportage and non-fiction. Would readers buy a single news story on Kindle or Kobo or iBooks, or would Todd’s scoop, one of the year’s biggest, slip by unnoticed, her work uncompensated?
Less than two months after its publication, Todd has her answer. Finding Karla holds down the top position on Amazon Kindle’s non-fiction singles bestseller list and No. 5 on Kobo’s e-books list, says her Toronto agent/publisher, Derek Finkle.
And her royalties from this venture? Probably about $200,000 -- compared to the $15,000 she might have got for an exclusive magazine story.
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With thanks to Gerry Gray