Behind the Scenes: Tricks of the Trade

Each year, our Artistic Director Anne Green flies to Toronto for a week of whirlwind meetings with Canadian and Multi-national publishers, to gain some insight into the upcoming titles of the season. This year, I was lucky enough to accompany her, and get a glimpse into the joys of programming 60+ authors for an international writers festival.

The main premise of these meetings is to introduce us to each publisher’s list, so WordFest can have a better overview of what people are going to be reading that year. Title after title is described, some with more detail than others, all in hopes of the author receiving the magical golden ticket, or in other words, an invite to our Festival. As you can probably imagine, this is a dream come true for any book lover. It’s like being let in on a major secret- “(insert famous author name here) is coming out with a new book this Fall!” and you are one of the first to know. Sitting behind my laptop, furiously taking notes, I of course tried to contain my excitement upon hearing these juicy tidbits, forcing my face into a poker-like expression, probably convincing the various people around me that I was constipated, rather than unmoved by the extremely exciting news they were filling us in on. All of this info is of course, still confidential, but I can tell you that 2010 is going to be another great Festival, even though we are only able to include a small fraction of the hundreds of authors pitched to us this past week.

And what did I personally come out with? Fifty plus pages of notes, a cramp in my right hand from typing (yes, only my right hand, help me to figure that one out) and a new found respect for everyone that works in the publishing industry. Yes, independent book stores are constantly closing, yes, e-books are threatening age-old business models that we have all come to rely on, and yes, people are grumbling about a book’s price tag, even though it barely covers everyone’s margins. However, people are still sitting around and gabbing about books, and getting excited about new authors, and sharing their favourite titles with each other. The most important thing I came away with from these meetings is that book-lovers are still out there, and they are still producing books that you and I will love reading, this year, next year, and (I’m sure) for many years to come.

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