Canadian Authors Association – CanWrite 2021 – Day 1





Canadian Authors Association – CanWrite 2021 – Day 1

This 2-day virtual conference in September 2021 benefited from the quality technical support provided by Catherine Saykaly-Stevens with support from Chris Gorman, Toronto Branch. Funding for this tech support provided by the Canadian Authors-B C Branch.

The opening presenter, Sheung-King Aaron Tang, gave a great futuristic literacy talk to stimulate our brain processes for what was to come. He bases his science Fiction novels less about the technology and more about the human behaviour and interactions. As he stated, It should be plausible, and preferable scenarios. His recently published book titled, “You are eating an orange; you are naked.”

Next a workshop on Outlining Your Novel presented by Terry Fallis, a well-known fiction writer and Stephen Leacock prize winner. Once you as a writer know what your theme is you will need to decide where on a continuum of outline possibilities you fall. One type of writer wants to know the road to follow for their novel (pansers) while others want basic notes on the storyline plus character sketches (gardener). Use whichever method works best for you.

We moved next into an Agent/Publisher Panel discussion with Moderator, Scott Overton and panelists Amanda Betts, Sam Hiyate, Stephanie Winters.

Advice from Amanda Betts, Knopf Publishing.

-she represents Canadian memoirs, speculative fiction, and literary fiction

-past two years have been turbulent due to pandemic

-use of publicity can increase your online buying of books

-research what readers are seeking today and focus on your lead character


Advice from Sam Hiyate, The Right Factory.

-he looks for compelling voices in all styles

-understand how agents work

-increasing influence of TICTOC for all types of books

-don’t author books focused on the pandemic, you can mention it only

-popular fiction includes LGBTQ and coming of age

-check out podcasts for what’s popular

-increasing interest in black writers in the U.S.

-small presses are important


Advice from Stephanie Winters, P.S. Literary.

-she prefers adult fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels

-the pandemic has brought a slow-down by publishers

-when drafting a query letter, give a strong log line early on then take us through your story

-don’t follow the trends

-nudging agents is okay only on Twitter


Hybrid Publishers – example Friesen Press

-hybrid publishing is good if you have a platform and know your audience

-you will need to have 5000 followers to qualify in some situations

-what are you seeking, and do you need the support from an agent?

-you will be questioned on what your market vision is and should check Indigo or Kobo for what’s selling and where your book fits

-hybrid novels will be vetted first before they agree to collaborate with you


General Comments:

-editors may like your novel, but he must pitch it to their managing committee who will want to assess if they can sell the book

-a new market is audio book publishers with multiple imprints cropping up

-collections of short stories are a hard sell but more popular if some of them have been published separately

-write multiple plots on the same theme and collect them into a book

-for self-marketing use website Lit Lovers or book clubs


Charmaine Hammond gave a great marketing workshop, see website

-you need a different strategy for selling each book and may use different publishers to target

-when you quit marketing your book, sells stop as well

-other strategies include going to signings with other authors, craft fairs, YouTube videos, give workshops or attend book clubs

-post your book on Lit Lovers

-get your book on Goodreads and post an entertaining video

-write a full marketing plan and do some virtual tours

-use a spreadsheet to track your book sales on Amazon, Kobo and hands on sales and include giveaways

-Give virtual book tours by picking a location and reaching out to bloggers, Facebook users, etc.

-pay for advertising on Facebook for your book tour

-check Iguana Books for more advice on how to sell


Karen thanked the presenters and the CanWrite 2021 Planning Task Force Members:

Bob Mackay, Jean Kay, Brian Douglas, Christopher Canniff, Chris Gorman, Richard Lowery, Ann Shortell, Margaret Hume and Anita Purcell






Canadian Authors Association – CanWrite 2021 – Day 2

Canadian Authors Association – CanWrite 2021 – Day 2

This 2-day virtual conference in September 2021 benefited from the quality technical support provided by Cathine Saykaly-Stevens with support from Chris Gorman, Toronto Branch. Funding for this tech support provided by the Canadian Authors – B C Branch.

Second Day presenters moderated by Brandi Tanner, Toronto Branch


On the second day, the opening presenter was award winning Poet, Catherine Graham with a workshop entitled Portals, Links and Energy. Her theory is that you see things differently based on life experiences.


-she felt that seeing a therapist for grief counselling after her parents died helped her to focus on where she wanted to go next

-living in other countries (i.e. she moved to Ireland after university) or travelling in other countries helped her to see things differently

-poetry depends on listening to your inner messages


Links and Energy:

-you need to plan for how much the page can hold

-you can use colour as the connecting link between lines of poetry

-use of artists paintings for the book covers grabs attention (you must get permission)

-many poetry books link to the ones which come next

-start writing and then give your work time to sit before you finalize it

-listen to yourself as the author – what matters to you?

Mentors included Dorothy Molloy, Jenny Chan and Lynn Leavens


An inspiring non-fiction research workshop was given by Ken McGoogan.

-right now, only 13% of published books in Canada are written by Canadian Authors

-use Booknet Canada to track your sales

-small houses and small presses are your best target (such as Harper Collins and Simon & Shuster

-you need to sell 5000 copies before the big presses will recognize you

-wait time when your book is accepted is 18 months to published

-time to sell your manuscript is 9 to 12 months

-develop a marketing workplan including why you are writing this tory now and why you are the best person to tell it

-be prepared to live with your manuscript for 2 to 3 years

-for non-fiction you will need to complete interviews and a voice recorder is best

-develop a list of relevant questions before you contact the interviewee

– when you finish your outline, the next step is to list the research you will need to complete

-you may need to travel as well as use journals, newspapers, websites

-basically, two types of books, first vertical books wherein chapters tell the tale and you follow the character or second Horizontal books – research 5 to 7 pages on each of your characters and then write and edit


How to organize a Book Proposal

-set personal time blocks each day to complete the research (many books on how to research)

-develop on computer a research file and a discard file

-for each section outline 15 pages and identify your source material

-keep track of word count as you write


Second Day Panel – Beyond Print with moderator and presenter Scott Overton Audio books), Francis Peck (editor), Jean Leggett (Games), Daniel Scott Tysdal (filmmaker), S J Sindu (graphic novels)

Daniel Scott Tysdal, poet, short story writer, studied at Ryerson

-now writes short film scripts (5 pages to 30 pages)

-sometimes publishes these with short stories

-he uses short screen plays as roadmaps or outlines for stories

-need to have a clear visual sense, plot and character development skills

Focus on relationships between characters

S J Sinder, U of T Scarborough

-published 2 literary novels

-develop characters who are alive and visual

-currently writing graphic novels and comics

-appeals to all age groups and pays well

-some memoirs also use graphics

Jean Leggett – co-founder of narrative games (adding storytelling to games)

-main focus is mystery and romance

-important to work out people, location and timelines

-know your audience – what will they want – games under 2 hours

-currently drafting interactive books for games for target group age 36 to 42

Scott Overton – Audio books and former radio broadcaster

-contracts as freelance narrator for audio books

-audio books selling well right now

-as an author, you can convert your novel to an audio book

-you can do it yourself or hire a narrator

-some companies like Audibles owned by Amazon will do it for you at a cost of $200.00/hour

-there are two private companies and

-do your research well before you commit


Marketing and publicity workshop for Fiction by Farzana Doctor

-author must be a social media manager, graphic designer, finance and contract reviewer and a marketing specialist

-most small publishers don’t do much marketing for you (i.e. Dundurn Press)

-her most recently published book is “Seven” published in Sept 2020 in the middle of the pandemic with most publisher’s staff on leave

-the author must take control of the sales team and decide what she wants and doesn’t want

-she recommends a pre-launch giveaway (cost is $200.00)

-use flash days or special days which relate to your book on Kobo or Amazon

-develop a media list to pitch your book, use or hire a freelance publicist ($1000 per week)

-go to to hire people

-use social media extensively (Facebook, /twitter, Instagram)

-develop interactive videos

-locate some influencers

-Use Hootsuite or Mailchimp

-write articles on your book for local audiences

-add subscribe links to your website

-organize online events and use multiple reminders to build an audience

-attend book launches and book clubs

-her publisher is


Contact information for Catherine Saykaly Stevens is: