Truro writer goes Indie

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Online book campaign costs thousands but can help change an industry

By Sarah Millman

Special to the Truro Daily News


TRURO - A local author is embarking on an $8,500 campaign to revolutionize the publishing world, and is hoping the community will support his initiative.

Truro's Leo McKay Jr., 48, who is an English teacher at Cobequid Educational Centre, has published three books. His first book was the Giller Prize short-listed Like This. It was followed by Twenty-six, which chronicalled the Westray Mine explosion, became a national bestseller. Both won the Dartmouth Book Award for fiction in 1996 and 2004, respectively.

McKay's most recent book, Roll Up the Rim, features a Tim Horton's employee who has developed an obsession with Roll Up the Rim.

"Roll Up the Rim may not be the great Canadian novel, but it is the great Canadian Tim Horton's novel," said McKay of the book that although is set in an unnamed town was inspired by Truro.

The story describes this character's relationships with many "comically messed-up" people and how those are shaped around his obsession. His most important relationship is with his 100-year-old great-aunt who, in his efforts to help her ultimately benefits him.

"It's a story about obsession, redemption, and divine intervention ... It's very much steeped in day-to-day smalltown Nova Scotia," said McKay.

"Tim Horton's is such a part of the culture in Eastern Canada it's hard to have a novel without it, so I thought why not give in to that aspect of eastern culture? The Tim Horton's Culture."

Now that the writing's done, the online work begins. McKay believes introducing online books to the literary industry will help books become more accessible and aid authors gain independence.

Utilizing, a website that offers exposure to major fundraising projects, McKay has created an independent publishing campaign reflecting Tim Horton's classics.

McKay is seeking community support through purchasing perks, anything from the $10 eBook aptly referred to as the Small Black Coffee, to being the full publisher of his novel for $8,500.

Fixed fundraisers on IndieGoGo have one string attached, however, which makes community support all the more important. If someone using the site doesn't raise the full amount by the end of the campaign, in 30 days, IndieGoGo doesn't get any money, and neither does the entrepreneur. If the full goal isn't reached in the month, the money from sponsors is returned and the project goes completely unfunded.

On the other hand, if the project is successful and meets the full $8,500 in the timeframe, that money goes towards hiring an editor, the printing (through Advocate Printing in Pictou), producing the eBooks, online sales and paying the collaborating artists.

"One of the many things I've had to do is really rely on other people's help and guidance and I've realized how many talented people are around," said McKay.

Working with McKay to produce the video for the campaign is Truro's Steven Barry, who works for CBC. Ben Brush, a local graphic design student, produced artwork for the campaign, and Chad Peck of Bass River, who runs Noyes Records, is advising McKay throughout the project.

For more on the project, and to support McKay's project, log onto


Organizations: Tim Horton's, Daily News, Cobequid Educational Centre Westray Mine CBC

Geographic location: Eastern Canada, Pictou, Bass River

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