Archives for category: Industry



After almost two years of planning, the inaugural Canadian Writers’ Summit finally had its debut at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, June 15 to 19. A collaboration between 14 national writing organizations, the super-conference represented many firsts: the pooling of resources to gain efficiencies and maximize ideas and the super-sized gathering of Canadian writers among them.

CWS_The organizers banners at CWS_c Katrina Afonso

Banners of the member organizations that put the conference together. Photographer Katrina Afonso.

In total, around 800 writers and publishing and literary arts professionals attended the conference, which included keynote addresses by Lawrence Hill, Nalo Hopkinson and Heather O’Neill, panels about the business of writing, craft of writing, government funding models, equity and diversity in the literary industry, and the annual one-day Book Summit publishing conference.

Now Trending panel at Book Summit at CWS 2016. Photographer Brian Medina.

I managed the communications on behalf of the conference, which included stops at The Candy Palmater Show and The National, and in the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, as well as for the publishing trade press in Canada and the US.

CWS_Crowd at the Dayne Ogilvie Prize_c Katrina Afonso

Crowd at the presentation of the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers, part of CWS 2016. Photographer Katrina Afonso.

CWS is set to take place every second year, with the next event scheduled for June 2018, also at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre.

In 2017, the organizing groups will host their own conferences and AGMs.


I’m hiring! Or, more specifically, I’m hiring a new intern to work with me 2.5 days a week through the fall. For the right person, this is a great opportunity (I’m biased, I know, but I’m not lying), BUT it’s an internship, meaning remuneration is in the form of an honorarium (plus attractive-to-employers skills; loads of contacts; a fun and fabulous time, etc.) and you ought to be a student to apply to qualify for exemption under ESA regulations.

If this is you (or if you know someone who fits this bill), read on:

Communications/Publishing Intern, Toronto


Becky Toyne |
Publicist, The Writers’ Trust of Canada | Books columnist, CBC Radio One | Contributing Editor, Open Book: Toronto | Event host & interviewer | Editorial Consultant

I am an independent books columnist, editor and publicist looking for an aspiring communications or publishing professional to work with me through the busy fall publishing season.


You will assist with the national publicity campaigns for: the Writers’ Trust Awards, including the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction; and the Writers’ Trust Gala, an annual black-tie fundraiser in support of Canadian writers and writing.

Additional responsibilities will include providing some research and admin support for my work as a print and broadcast books columnist and literary event host, and for the day-to-day running of my independent business.

This is a part-time position. Previous interns have used this as an opportunity to work a part-time job, or to work two concurrent part-time internships in the publishing industry. You would benefit from one-on-one mentoring while working on the national publicity campaigns for some of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards. My former interns all had a great time, learned a lot, and went on to get good permanent jobs in the book biz.

Responsibilities include:

  • Research mailing lists and media contacts
  • Compile and update media reports
  • Assist in preparation, coordination and execution of press conferences
  • Assist in preparation of press kits
  • Assist with researching and writing press materials, as necessary (including media releases and advisories, photo captions etc.)
  • Media outreach and follow-up, as necessary (with guidance)
  • Media advisory mailings
  • Assist with social media efforts
  • Other duties as assigned


  • Passion for books, reading, and to begin a career in arts communications or publishing
  • Confident communicator with an eye for detail
  • Excellent written communication skills
  • Energetic self-starter able to work under own initiative
  • Social media, HTML and WordPress savvy

Period of internship: 12 weeks. September 8 to November 26, 2015.

Hours: 2.5 days per week. This could be 5 half days every week, or 2 full days and 1 half day, or 2 days one week and 3 the next, etc. Schedule to be mutually agreed. Please note that in addition to the 2.5 days there would be some evening events (award ceremonies etc.).

Remuneration: $750

Tools of the trade: Bring your own laptop, please.

Send cover letter and resumé to Becky Toyne at by August 4, 2015.

Please write “Fall Intern” in the subject line.

Only those selected for interview will be contacted.




Alessandra Naccarato, winner of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Photo credit Katrina Afonso.


On a hot and humid May evening in Toronto, the Writers’ Trust of Canada handed out its “thing in the spring,” the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. The winner was  Alessandra Naccarato for her poetry collection “Re-Origin of Species.”

The Bronwen Wallace Award recognizes emerging writers under 35 who have yet to publish in book form. Past winners include many then-unknown but now-familiar names, such as Michael Crummey, Alissa York, Alison Pick and Jeramy Dodds.

Host Tanis Rideout (another past winner) set the perfect tone: fun, celebratory, reverential. The crowd schmoozed to classical renditions of Top 40 songs (we were in the Royal Conservatory of Music, after all) in a stunning all-glass room with views of Philosopher’s Walk and the Royal Ontario Museum. The atmosphere was fun, lively, and distinctly emerge-from-hibernationy. This was, said Tanis “our thing in the spring.”

Alessandra Naccarato won $5,000. Her fellow nominees each won $1,000. They were: Irfan Ali for “Who I Think About When I Think About You,” and Chuqiao Yang for “Roads Home.”

Find out more about the prize and this year’s nominees here.

Read stories from CBC Books, the Toronto Star and Quill and Quire here, here and here.

And check out a Facebook photo gallery from the event courtesy of the Writers’ Trust here.

Here are the three nominees chatting with me and (via the magic of Periscope) the world on the pre-ceremony “red-carpet.”

Chatting to award finalists Irfan Ali, Alessandro Naccarato and Chuqiao Yang before the ceremony. Photo credit Katrina Afonso.




From left: Tony Clement, Megan Leslie, Stephen Maher, Tom Power, Richard Madan and Lisa Raitt perform Sweet Caroline at the Politics & the Pen gala


On Wednesday night, at the Politics and the Pen Gala in Ottawa, Joseph Heath was named the winner of the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his book Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, Our Economy, and Our Lives.

The event, which is a fundraiser for the Writers’ Trust of Canada, was held at Ottawa’s Fairmont Chateau Laurier and attended by 500 guests from Canada’s political, literary and arts communities.

Highlights included a “Battle of the Bands,” which was kicked off by co-hosts Hon. Tony Clement and Tom Power and joined by MPs Lisa Raitt and Megan Leslie, journalist Stephen Maher, and broadcaster Richard Madan (pictured).

The event raised more than than $330,000 for the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

The five Shaughnessy Cohen Prize nominees were:

  • Joseph Heath for Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, our Economy, and Our Lives (winner)
  • Chantal Hébert with Jean Lapierre for The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was
  • Naomi Klein for This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate
  • John Ralston Saul for The Comeback: How Aboriginals Are Reclaiming Power and Influence
  • Graham Steele for What I Learned About Politics: Inside the Rise – and Collapse – of Nova Scotia’s NDP Government

View photos from the event and read party recaps at Globe & MailHELLO!, Hill TimesMaclean’s, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Magazine.

Listen to Joseph Heath talk to CBC As it Happens about his book and winning the prize here and read his interview with the Globe & Mail here.


Announced this morning on behalf of  the National Reading Campaign, the results of a report into the personal, cultural and societal benefits of reading for pleasure.

Avid readers make more empathetic, more civic-minded, better educated citizens. Pleasure in reading begins with community and choice.

Here’s the release.

And a link to download the report in full.

The Book and Periodical Council and Raconteurs Present: Censored – Bruce Walsh from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.

On Feb. 28 a massive crowd gathered at The Garrison in Toronto for The Book and Periodical Council and Raconteurs Present: CENSORED, an evening of storytelling and performance around issues of censorship and free expression, part of Freedom to Read Week. Six storytellers shared their very different personal experiences. There were many laughs, but all underscoring a very serious message.

Above, Bruce Walsh tells “How I Got Here,” an adapted version of his TED Talk, “How the Holocaust Saved My Life.”

Below, Ken Setterington torpedoes any notion you might have of stuffy librarians with his story, “Yes, I Am a Librarian.”

Thanks to NOW Tube for posting all six stories in their entirety, here.

The Book and Periodical Council and Raconteurs Present: Censored – Ken Setterington from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) talked to the Book and Periodical Council, Toronto Public Library,  and me, about Freedom to Read Week 2013, and a Type Books window display that has been generating a lot of chatter.

VIDEO: Freedom to Read Week 2013

The 29th annual Freedom to Read Week kicks off February 24 and runs to March 2 with events across the country to celebrate our freedom to read and highlight censorship issues in Canada.


Four Toronto highlights:

  • Feb 25, 2pm, Toronto Reference Library: Forbidden Reading. Documentary screening and director Q&A. FREE
  • Feb 28, 7pm, The Garrison. CENSORED. Presented by the Book & Periodical Council and the Raconteurs. Six storytellers share personal tales of censorship. $10 at the door.
  • March 1, 5:30pm, Hart House Library. Celebrate Our Freedom to Read. With novelist Katherine Govier, University of Toronto Writer-in-Residence Joy Kogawa, Toronto’s Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke and writer and broadcaster Marian Botsford Fraser. FREE
  • March 1, 7pm. Toronto Reference Library. Beyond Book Burning: Disappearing Books in the Digital Age. Presented by PEN Canada. FREE
More info about all the above is available at


As we prepare to ring in 2013, here, in no particular order, is my top 5 for 2012.


Londoners by Craig Taylor
These oral testimonials create a living, breathing portrait of a city. I was happy to see the book turn up on two out of three National Post critics’ lists on the last Saturday of the year, proving my love for it isn’t too too swayed by my personal love of London.

You Aren’t What You Eat by Steven Poole
This smart and hilarious rant about foodie culture caught my eye in an advance edition  in the UK this past spring. I read most of it in a gastropub  and giggled away over my pint and wild boar sausages. Available only as an eBook in Canada, it’s a steal at $1.99.

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon
Listen to Andrew Solomon talk about his book in this episode of CBC’s The Sunday Edition and see if you can resist picking it up. Solmon’s book about children, parenting and identity is both sad and hopeful, and holds relevance for us all.


The Faster I Walk the Smaller I Am by Kjersti A. Skomsvold
This short novel about an old woman approaching death has echoes of Will Self and Alan Bennett. A terrific debut from a young Norwegian author that I was delighted to discover at this year’s International Festival of Authors in Toronto.

Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy
Dobozy emerged as the literary darling of awards season, with a Writers’ Trust win and a GG nomination topping off a collection of absolute rave reviews. Linked short stories  about the lasting effects of Siege of Budapest, this collection stood out by a mile and deserved every word of praise.

Honourable Mentions

Straphanger by Taras Grescoe — an important and eminently readable book about urban transit. Watch out for the paperback in the spring.
The Measure of a Man by JJ Lee — a 2012 paperback (I came to it late). I was reading passages to people out loud I enjoyed it so much.
In One Person by John Irving — his best novel since A Widow for One Year. Too bad about the horrendous cover.


’tis the year of discord among prize juries, we are told.

With the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, Scotiabank Giller Prize and Governor General’s Literary Award for English-language Fiction lists all out, the verdict came in: an almost unprecedented level of dissenting opinion between the three juries threw Canada’s literary awards season into disarray. Or possibly into ambivalence, if one can be “thrown” into ambivalence (today’s “Guessing the Giller” article in the Globe & Mail might as well have been titled “Meh”).

“The Year of Discord Among the Literary Experts,” said  the Globe & Mail on Oct. 2, noting that, “the divergence of opinion among literary experts contrasts with the solidarity that occurred last year.”

An “almost unprecedented number of 12 different books have been selected by various juries and committees,” said the Toronto Star on Oct. 26.

Really? Or is it just that last year’s lists were so dominated by two names in particular that it gave the illusion of the awards being a race between only those two books?

As the publicist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize it was my great pleasure to work with Patrick deWitt and Esi Edugyan (the two shortlist-dominating authors in question) in 2011. What was frustrating about last year though was that the noise surrounding those two names was such that the other nominees (there were nine of them, by the way) found themselves a little drowned out. By contrast, the 2012 shortlists with their lesser (but, see below, not by as much as you’d think) accord provide, instead of one big story, many smaller ones. And isn’t that what literary awards are here to do? To re-open the window of publicity for those authors short- and long-listed for them?

The configuration this year is different, but the stats not so much.

The Breakdown (Canadian shortlists only – I’m not including the Booker):

  • In 2011, 11 out of a possible 16 books were shortlisted.
  • In 2012, 12 out of a possible 15 books were shortlisted.
  • In 2011, 3 books were nominated for multiple awards.
  • In 2012, 3 books were nominated for multiple awards.

One notable difference: in 2011, two books were nominated for all three awards (and hence became major noise-makers), whereas in 2012 none were.

Because the Giller had a six-book shortlist in 2011 it messes with the numbers a little, but let’s assume that a five-book shortlist in 2011 would have omitted Better Living Through Plastic Explosives (by all accounts the outsider), which didn’t appear on any other lists. That would still leave us with 11 books out of a possible 15 in 2011, versus 12 books out of a possible 15 in 2012.


  • The same number of books appeared on multiple lists in 2012 as in 2011
  • The total number of books shortlisted across the combined lists in 2012 is only one higher in the year of disagreement than it was in the year of accord.
  • The same number of books (3) appeared on multiple lists in 2011 as in 2012.
  • Book people are bad at math. But I think we already knew that.

As Mark Twain said, “There are three sorts of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” 2012 may be the year of discord among the literary judges or it may be the year that award recognition managed to sprinkle some fairy dust on a greater number of books than in 2011.

Good luck tonight (Giller nominees), on Nov. 7 (Writers’ Trust nominees), and Nov. 13 (GG nominees) to each and every one of this year’s literary dozen.


(with thanks to @ebcameron for swiftly pulling together these stats)