They certainly got the name right. I attended all three days of Toronto’s brand new International Book Fair. Upstairs at the convention centre I was surrounded by book people and (is there a better word?) inspired by icons like Chris Hadfield, Dav Pilkey, and Margaret Atwood. I unexpectedly cried when I saw Chris Hadfield, perhaps because he represented the overarching message of the fair in his humble way: find a way to express what you really care even if you’re a Space Oddity. When you do it in a unique way, someone else will connect with you, maybe a surprising 24,000,000.
Downstairs I attended workshops I’d recommend to both new and established writers. Sam Hiyate and Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory were not only fabulously informative about agents but generous to every single writer who lined up for over an hour more after their full to capacity session was over. Kim Moritsugu‘s session on the dreaded How To Pitch was gob-smacking. She explained how, then forced us (with chocolate) to write a 200 word pitch of our novels in an hour. I’ve tried many times to write the damn pitch and failed. Not only did I write it, I had to pitch it (not the chocolate) – in person – to editors Jack David at ECW and Shannon Whibbs at Dundurn Press and agent Monica Pacheco from Anne McDermid who then critiqued the first two pages (previously submitted). One smart writer had flown from Winnipeg for the fair and said, “That session alone made the cost of getting to Toronto worth it.”