Breakdown now a Bestseller: hear from the Author himself

Matt Ward

Breakdown now a Bestseller

By: Norman Bacal

Best selling author, strategic consultant, tax and entertainment expert, and former managing partner of Heenan Blaikie

An Exclusive LunchWith event with Norman Bacal was held on March 20, 2017 at Osgoode Hall Law School where he discussed his recently released a book “Breakdown” regarding the rise and fall of Heenan Blaikie.  The “LunchWith” series is an informal luncheon event organized bi-annually by the JD/MBA Student Association facilitating an intimate discussion among JD/MBA students and a leading professional about his/her career and experiences.

Life for an aspiring Canadian author can be tough.  The process and discipline of writing demands that you lock yourself up within your own head for months on end; that you endure lonely days and nights, devoting yourself to the task of telling a story. We all dream of producing a first book that will break out from the pack and succeed. And yet the deck is stacked against us. Like most other Canadian cultural industries, our  book stores are inundated with American titles and our publishing companies are underfunded. I read recently that unless you can demonstrate to a publisher the path to selling at least 10,000 copies of your book, there is little interest in taking you on.

As an untried author what do you think the odds are of convincing a publishing house to take you on…. unless you’re Wayne Gretzky or Don Cherry!

I was just another lawyer, determined to publish my story, a year ago. My proudest moment came when one of the major publishing houses sent me a rejection slip. There’s something romantic about being a rejected author. It means you’re an author. The letter reminded me that I was starting over from scratch, that all my time and experience as a lawyer was worth little currency in the world of books. I was a nobody. Unwanted and unproven. Unlikely to succeed.  But that’s how I began my law career 36 years earlier… as a nobody. It was time to bear down once more and rebuild from the ground up.

The odds of producing a bestselling book first time out, with a small independent publishing house and no marketing machine behind me, was longer than the odds of the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup at the beginning of this season ( though not very much longer.) As an aside, if you want to see the Leafs win the Cup with a washed up goalie, just read Robert Rotenberg’s great murder mystery, Old City Hall).

Undeterred, Barlow Books published my book,  Breakdown The Inside Story of the Rise and Fall of Heenan Blaikie, just five weeks ago and it has climbed to the Globe and Mail bestseller list for the past two weeks. How is that possible?

I suppose the book resonates in so many different ways. It’s a story for young and aspiring professionals to learn from: how to manage your careers; and the personal transformation you will need to undergo from unknown student to successful professional. The book is also the first of its kind to pull back the curtain on the world of law firms and watch how they operate, how they grow, the tensions that strain them. Finally, it is a story of leadership and courage, of taking on challenges and overcoming them. Who endures failure and then tries to write not only about what happened but, more important, what they felt and what they learned?

To the many of you who have read the book, thank you and I can only hope you have absorbed something from my experience that you can take with you along your own journeys. Feel free to add to the conversation below as to your own feelings.  To those of you who are considering whether it is worth the time or trouble, check out the reviews on Amazon to see what others are saying.

Breakdown, the book, is an unexpected Canadian success story.  One that arose out of one of the great failures in life that I endured.  One that I am very proud of.

The book is in many Indigo stores across Canada, and  signed copies are available at Ben McNally’s on Bay Street and Indigo Spirit at First Canadian Place.  Otherwise you can get it in hard copy or e-copy through Indigo or Amazon.