On Saturday, April 22, I had the privilege of attending the Manitoba Book Awards. A packed house dined and celebrated Manitoba authors and publishers. Thousands of kilometers from Canada’s publishing center, Toronto, this prairie province is home to some amazing talent. As a writer in this community, I’ve felt tremendous support and camaraderie. So when there’s an opportunity to celebrate my neighboring writers, I’m in.
Too often, we stick to the known—chain restaurants, mainstream albums, bestselling authors—but there’s an entire world of fabulous unknowns. Have you ever asked yourself, “What am I missing by playing it safe?” What if you gave that little restaurant down the street a try? What if you attended a local concert and bought some of their music? What if you bought a book from a local author?
But, how do you know if they’re any good? You take a risk!
But there are ways to manage that risk. Books that have made it onto lists, like the Manitoba Book Awards shortlist have been vetted by professionals in the publishing industry. Books that make these lists are quality books—well written, well edited, well designed. They may not be books found at the grocery store checkout, but they are probably higher quality.
Many readers assume that "New York Times Bestseller" equals best quality. This is not true. Bestsellers are the result of marketing prowess, not necessarily quality. I’m in no way saying these books aren’t quality, but I am saying that just because a book has not made that list, doesn’t mean it isn’t just as good, if not better than books that have.
Why not take a journey off the beaten path next time you purchase music or books or indulge in an evening out? You might be blown away by what you find on the path less traveled.
If you’re curious about what this Canadian prairie province has to offer, take a look at this list: Manitoba Book Awards Shortlist.
Melinda Marshall Friesen writes speculative fiction for teens and adults from her home on the Canadian prairies.