BookCampTO Is Upon Us

If you’re in Toronto this Saturday, you won’t want to miss BookCamp, the annual publishing “unconference” brought to us by the party people—er, I mean consummate publishing professionals—at CanBPA. BookNet is a proud sponsor of BookCampTO, so I hope to see you there!

There are over fifteen sessions to choose from this year, and I know I for one always have a hard time choosing which sessions to attend (though luckily, the unconference setup allows for some session-hopping!). Just in case you’re in the same boat, I asked some of this year’s presenters to dish the dirt on what they’ll be discussing in their coveted speaking slots. Happy BookCamping!

Digital Publishing: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Despite all the upheaval of recent years, one truth remains: most publishing side-projects are labours of love. But what if the normal pressures associated with them (print costs, distribution, marketing) are removed and are actually served by the shiny tools of the digital age? Is digital publishing actually easier than print publishing? Can anyone do it? Would anyone do it? Are the rewards as tangible? And who is making the rules for digital publishing these days?

In no particular order, Troy Palmer (Little Fiction), Bryan Ibeas (Found Press), and Aoife Walsh (The South Circular) will tackle these questions and preconceptions. They’ll wonder out loud about whether digital has created a ‘new publishing ethos,’ and they’ll describe the advantages of being a lean start-up and the challenges of sustainability in a seemingly fickle digital world.

I, Algorithm

Wherein Janet Murie (library sales rep) and Sharon Bailey (librarian) opine about the online readers’ advisory experience, the criminally—criminally!—undervalued role of the librarian when it comes to suggesting books for readers, and why, no matter how hard they try, algorithms will always be the Tin Men of the hand-sell. How can publishers, booksellers, and librarians work together to bridge the digital divide and get the right book in the right hands? Hell if we know but let’s all talk, anyhow.

Genre Doesn’t Suck (Even If You Think It Does)

My name is Dana, and I’m a romance editor. That sentence has probably provoked one of two responses in you: “OMG, that is so cool, I want that job!” or “Ah. Romance. That’s… nice…” Genre fiction has ardent supporters, but in larger circles it’s often dismissed, and often by people who have never actually read any examples of what they’re dismissing. This is something I have often discussed with Claire Caldwell, my colleague at Harlequin. We got to talking with ChiZine founders Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory and discovered a lot of similarities in experience.

So we want to have a wider chat with readers and writers and publishers, because love ‘em or hate ‘em, you probably have some strong opinions about genre books. When it comes to sci-fi, fantasy, horror, romance, and mystery, we’ve heard it all—from wisecracks about Fabio and condescending comments about how easy it must be to write “fluff” to deep discussions about world-building and character creation. In the BookCamp genre session, we want to hear from people about why they read what they read, the challenges of writing, acquiring, and publishing genre, and more. Let’s talk about the stigmas and stereotypes, as well as the joys of reading and discovering books in this polarizing area of fiction.

Self Pub

Greg Ioannou (Colborne Communications/ Iguana Books / Tryst Books), Mark Lefebvre (Kobo Writing Life), and Michelle MacAleese (editor & publishing consultant)

Alas, the session has nothing to do with pubs or beer. An increasing proportion of books are being self-published, usually badly. Actually, “self”-publishing is a bit of a misnomer—increasingly, the successful authors we’ve seen are hiring editors, designers, marketing experts, and even administrative assistants. Helping people self-publish can be rewarding and even lucrative. But it can also be frustrating and disappointing for the authors and for the publishing professionals trying to help them.

We’ll talk about project planning and funding, editing, design, formatting, sales, print and ebook distribution, marketing, and dealing with authors’ fears, frustrations, and often-unrealistic hopes and expectations.

Bringing It All Together/ Blowing It All Up

Nathan Maharaj (Kobo)

Bring your overflowing brain (and heart!) to this last session of the day where we’ll look back over the day’s sessions and try to see around the next corner of this industry. Through all the upheaval of the last 5 years, what’s held constant? What do we take for granted today that was inconceivable 5 years ago? And when all the dust settles (will it ever settle?) who’s doing what jobs? What are the new career paths for people who love reading or writing? And where’d the old ones go? Note: no guarantee that we’ll answer even one of these questions.


Did I mention, Book Camp is a free event? It’s true! There are still a few tickets left, so head on over to the BookCamp site to get yours.