Journalist Paula Todd took a huge chance 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 publishing it in a mainstream Canadian publication, or as a hardcover book.
This has never been done in Canada. Breaking news, long-form reportage, or non-fiction, always go directly to the newspaper. No one would think a single news story on Kindle or Kobo or iBooks would be the biggest payday of the year. Finding Karla commands the top position on Amazon Kindle’s non-fiction singles bestseller list and No. 5 on Kobo’s e-books list.
Finding Karla documents how Paula Todd, a former TVOntario/CTV host, tracked Karla Homolka, a convicted killer and former wife of multiple murderer Paul Bernardo to her home on Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean, where she interviewed her.
Finding Karla has a 14,000-word account and is rumored to have sold as many as 65,000 to 70,000 copies, generating as much as $200,000 in gross sales revenue. Oddly enough, if this story was submitted as a freelance magazine piece, she would have earned $15,000.
Imagine if this work had gone the traditional route, the work would be censored by the newspaper editors. If it had been released as a hard book format, Finding Karla would be watered down by the expected editors. In fact, the CBC has a library of book submissions but the bigger names get the exposure. There is no platform on Canadian TV that promotes authors. BookTV is gone and others like it too. Finally, the old school approach to publishing in Canada has been challenged. All journalists and writers now have a chance at getting their story heard.