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Tech Forum 2020 speakers: From Kickstarter to new ways of looking at content

Filed under: Tech Forum

Tech Forum 2020 is just over a month away and tickets are selling fast. Tickets for Intensives on March 23 and Workshops on March 24 are completely sold out and tickets for the Main Day on March 25 are going fast, so if you’re intending to come, you should register soon!

See all the details about the conference here: the location, all the news, FAQs, and more.

Day one: March 23

Photo of Sarah Runcie.

Update from Down Under on inclusive publishing

Sarah Runcie is the Manager, Strategy and Policy, at the Australian Publishers Association.







Day two: March 24

Photo of Kevin Bonnici

Getting started with audio: Audio engineering for publishing professionals

Kevin Bonnici is the owner of Drift Under Balance, which offers specialized production services including recording, audio post-production, casting, voice direction, and executive services, and Anonymous Audio Studios, which provides clients with production facilities in several studios across the GTA and beyond. With over two decades of experience in audio production and a focus on recording dialogue and narration, Kevin has contributed to more than 1,000 half-hour broadcast series episodes and has produced more than 200 audiobooks in recent years.





Photo of Kris Coppieters

Better problem solving through scripting: How to think through your #eprdctn roadblocks and script your way to efficiency

Kris Coppieters is an accomplished software-engineer and coach. He designs and develops innovative software solutions. His forte: simple, stable, maintainable, flexible solutions for complex problems.

A pragmatic approach allows him to achieve realistic, results-focused outcomes. This includes helping companies kick-start their automation projects and software-developer team-building. Kris’s teaching skills enable him to explain complex matters in plain language.

Home field advantage: Using your website to connect directly with readers

Photos of Leigh Nash, Craig Riggs, Blake Sproule, and Murray Tong

Leigh Nash is the publisher of Invisible Publishing, a small, scrappy, and seriously good independent Canadian publishing house. Her past experience includes jill-of-all-trades-ing it at Coach House Books, Thomson Reuters, and Mansfield Press, running a dogsled festival, and building Re:word Communications, an editorial firm, from the ground up — and she’s worked on and/or built websites for all of the above. She currently serves as secretary for the Association of Canadian Publishers and as past chair for eBOUND Canada. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph, and is the author of the poetry collection Goodbye, Ukulele.

Craig Riggs has worked in and around publishing for 20 years. He is a principal in the industry consultancy Turner-Riggs and a co-founder of ReaderBound, a software service provider that produces customized websites for book publishers. His current portfolio emphasizes the development of new web platforms, publishing technology, and audience development. He leads the 49thShelf.com project for the ACP, and is actively engaged in commissioned research on book marketing, book discovery, and consumer behaviour. He holds a Masters in Publishing and is an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University.

Blake Sproule is the managing editor at Playwrights Canada Press, where he has been for over 10 years.

Murray Tong works on all things ebook, metadata, website, and institutional repository at WLU Press and the Laurier Library. He’s part of a team that has been developing an open peer review model for scholarly podcasting. Despite having a desk piled high with books and working mere steps from the library stacks, outside the office Murray enjoys reading children’s books and poetry to his two young children.

Day three: March 25

Expanding the literary world with Kickstarter Publishing

Photos of Margot Atwell and S. Bear Bergman

Margot Atwell is the Head of Publishing at Kickstarter, where she helps authors and publishers build community and find support for their creative projects. Previously, Margot was Publisher at Beaufort Books, an independent publisher of fiction and non-fiction books. Her first book, The Insider’s Guide to Book Publishing Success, was published in February 2013. In 2014, she raised almost $10,000 on Kickstarter to launch Gutpunch Press and fund her second book, Derby Life: Stories, Advice & Wisdom from the Roller Derby World (2015). She writes the On the Books Substack newsletter about money and publishing.

S. Bear Bergman is a writer, storyteller, educator, organizer, and the founder and publisher of children’s book publisher Flamingo Rampant, which makes feminist, culturally-diverse children’s picture books about LGBT2Q+ kids and families. He writes creative non-fiction for grownups, fiction for children, resolutely factual features for various publications, the advice column Asking Bear, and so many to-do lists.

Are we there yet? Selling digital content in 2020

Photos of Karen Brochu, David Caron, Noah Genner, Deandra Lalonde, and Jordyn Martinez

Karen Brochu is the VP of Sales and Marketing at House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books where she oversees (you guessed it!) the sales, marketing, and publicity departments. She is a reading omnivore that enjoys everything from literary fiction to sci-fi, graphic novels to history, and everything in between!

David Caron is the co-publisher and president of ECW Press, a Toronto-based book, ebook, and audiobook publisher with a mix of award-winning literary works and niche non-fiction, marketed around the world. He has a zeal for community building, both in books and beyond. Before books, he worked in the worlds of theatre and photography.

Noah Genner has an extensive background in independent bookselling, software, and business development. As the leader of BookNet Canada he orchestrates a skilled team of technical, policy-oriented, and client-focused staff to provide new data management services and supply-chain initiatives to the Canadian publishing, library, and book retail sectors.

Before working at BookNet Canada, Noah ran his own technology and software development consulting business, servicing a wide range of clients including book publishers and printers. Prior to that, Noah was Director of Software Development for consumer market research leader Compusense where he oversaw the development of a variety of software services used by numerous Fortune 500 companies worldwide.

Noah serves on the Board of Directors of the Book Industry Study Group, eBOUND Canada, Livres Canada Books, and EDItEUR.

Deandra Lalonde is an experienced bookseller and marketer, currently working as the Marketing Specialist for Canada at Rakuten Kobo, where she previously looked after the Australia and New Zealand market. While you’re most likely to find her nose in a book, she also enjoys watching endless hours of reality TV and snuggling with her dog.

Jordyn Martinez is a National Accounts Manager for Digital and Online at Simon & Schuster Canada. She focuses on print sales across all genres and formats, and manages the ebook and eaudio sales program. Prior to working at S&S Canada, she interned at both BookNet Canada and eBOUND Canada. She is a grad of Western University and Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing Program. Jordyn is a lover of big data, spreadsheets, and Star Wars.

Photo of Cynthia Pong

Be seen, be heard: A workshop to help you reclaim power in your career

Cynthia Pong is a former lawyer whose passion is helping women of colour realize their ambitious career goals. She especially loves strategizing with mid-career women of colour professionals pursuing unconventional paths. Her coaching focuses on empowering clients, sharpening their negotiation skills, and building their business acumen.

Her clients are breaking down barriers in a variety of fields and industries, including: law, medicine, business, international relations, public health, media, the arts, social justice, social work, sustainability, and the trades.

Cynthia’s work is rooted in an acute awareness of the marginalization of women of colour — and the resultant disparities in pay, power, and respect — in the professional world. Her social justice background deeply influences her coaching. Being a public defender taught her how to ask the right questions to get to the bottom of something and reinforced her zeal for supporting people through times of great difficulty. Her experience with restorative justice showed her the value of deep listening with the goal of truly understanding another person.

Prior to founding her company, Embrace Change, Cynthia worked as a public defender in the Bronx, New York, for six years. Prior to that, she clerked for Justice James E. Graves on the Mississippi Supreme Court. She earned her law degree from NYU School of Law (graduating cum laude) and her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in Ethnic Studies (graduating magna cum laude).

Moving from diversity to inclusion in the Canadian publishing workforce

Photos of Aeman Ansari, Max Arambulo, Anita Chong, Jazz Cook, Hana El Niwairi, Jael Richardson, Bianca Spence

Aeman Ansari is a BIPOC of Publishing in Canada co-founder and a Toronto-based literary assistant. At CookeMcDermid, she reviews manuscripts, is a one-woman marketing department, and provides administrative support to all of the agents. She is also a freelance writer with a focus on identity and culture with work published in many North American publications, including Hazlitt, Huffington Post Canada, Popula, THIS Magazine and the Torontoist. When she’s not learning how to read in Urdu, re-watching Hitchcock movies, or writing her next personal essay, she enjoys reading narrative-driven memoirs, poetry, and literary fiction by women of colour.

Max Arambulo worked in book publishing as a publicist for 10 years, during which he collaborated with authors such as David Chariandy, Sally Rooney, and Marilynne Robinson. In 2019, he left the industry to make a career change. Currently, he works as a bookseller at TYPE Books, organizes and runs classes for the Flying Books School of Reading and Writing, studies cartooning and writing with Lynda Barry, volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters, teaches and practices Wing Chun Kung Fu, and is a full-time student at the University of Toronto, where he is working towards a Master of Pastoral Studies.

Anita Chong is a Senior Editor at McClelland & Stewart, where she acquires and edits literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, and memoir. Recent publications include Michael Christie’s Greenwood, Sharon Bala’s The Boat People, Richard Wagamese’s Starlight, and the graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Forthcoming titles include Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife and Saleema Nawaz’s Songs for the End of the World, as well as new books by Brian Francis, Jen Sookfong Lee, Shashi Bhat, and Tanis Rideout. She also manages the Journey Prize for emerging Canadian writers.

Jazz Cook is a member of the Mohawk Nation of Ahkwesáhsne, and the Administrative Assistant at the Association of Canadian Publishers, the national voice of Canada’s independent English-language book publishers. They are also a member of the newly organized Indigenous Editors Association, which seeks to support Indigenous writers, editors, and publishers, and ensure the respectful representation of Indigenous people in the Canadian publishing industry.  

Hana El Niwairi (she/her) is Subsidiary Rights Associate at Cooke International. Hana’s background prior to joining Cooke International in 2017 is rooted in arts administration, where she worked with organizations such as the Book and Periodical Council, Culture Days, Paprika Festival, the Media Arts Network of Ontario, and more. Hana is one of the co-founders of BIPOC of Publishing, a platform for BIPOC of Canadian publishing to come together and share experience to work towards a more inclusive industry.

Jael Richardson is the author of The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lesson, a Father’s Life, a memoir based on her relationship with her father, CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey. The Stone Thrower was adapted into a children’s book in 2016 and was shortlisted for a Canadian picture book award. Richardson is a book columnist and guest host on CBC’s q. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph and lives in Brampton, Ontario where she founded and serves as the Artistic Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). Her debut novel, Gutter Child, is coming Fall 2020 with HarperCollins Canada.

As Program Consultant for Book Publishing at Ontario Creates, Bianca Spence administers the Trillium Book Awards and other programs that support the economic development of Ontario’s publishing industry. She has previously worked at the Canada Council for the Arts, Livres Canada Books, Cormorant Books, the Literary Press Group, and McClelland & Stewart. For the past three years, Bianca served as Co-Chair of the Women’s March in Toronto, and she sits on the Board of Directors for Project Bookmark Canada. When not at work, you can find Bianca championing a number of important artistic endeavours from literature to dance.

Photo of Michelle Kaatz

A new way of looking at content: Kobo Originals

Michelle Kaatz is the Director of Original Content at Rakuten Kobo (a global eBook and audiobook retailer) and an audiobook industry consultant. She was previously the Director of Acquisitions & Productions at Novel Audio, and was part of the founding team of Author’s Republic, an indie audiobook distribution service. She got started in the industry at Audiobooks.com in 2013.