I apologize for my absence from this blog due to preparation for writers conference, Branch and National AGMs as well as marketing two novels and beginning the outline for a third. Now that I’m back, I want to tell you about what a wonderful opportunity the Canadian Writers Summit in Toronto in June this year was for all local writers from many genres. It was jointly hosted by a cohort of Canadian writers organizations including my own Canadian Authors Association.

The first day was dedicated to a Canadian Book Summit and included exciting panels of agents, editors and publishers and presentations from authors and key note speakers. There was a good discussion from experts about the pros and cons of e-book subscriptions as an addition or an alternative to hard copy books. Representatives were from HarperCollins US, Scribners, and Coach House Books. The general observation was that the long term success of e-books is still undetermined and that hard copy books still dominate the market.

The next panel showcased a group of professional editors from McClelland & Stewart, The New Quarterly, HarperCollins Canada and House of Anansi Press. They discussed the importance of the relationship between the editor and the writer and stressed the fact that editing although invisible is still enormously influential in the success of the book. New eyes can help shape the winning product.

The next panel with Penguin Random House Canada and House of Anansi Press focused on marketing and encouraged partnering with a con-competitive, like-minded business or organization to stretch your marketing budget and expand your audience. One of the examples used was to negotiate a Wine and Books series with your local library to showcase writers. Besides, the wine and networking can give the writer a social life.

A panel of writing experts including an award winning author, and representatives from HarperCollins US, Penguin Books Canada, Zola Books and House of Anansi Press discussed a range of issues currently concerning to members of the book industry. They generated a list of emerging trends and predictions for 2017 and beyond including the need to include more diversity in writers, the balancing of e-books against continued publishing of hard copy books and the ongoing interest in memoirs or narrative non-fiction books.

The session which affected me the most was called First Page Challenge and required writers to submit from their work to a Expert Panel in advance, the first page of their novel or memoir for critique. The panel of agents and editors provided critiques verbally for a full audience of writers. Even though I was well aware of the importance of a first page and chapter, listening to the critique of experts showed me the impact it can have when a writer is hoping to attract an agent or editor. I will use the skills I picket up here when I start writing my new novel this fall.

The greatest pleasure from the conference was spending four days with a great group of talented and committed writers. We can learn much from each other and the enthusiasm of each writer for her own creation is contagious making me want to read them all.