By Jessica Paiva and Nicole Campea
The Word On The Street is mounting its 24th annual festival on Sunday at Queen’s Park Circle from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The festival brings published authors and aspiring writers from around the world to exhibit and promote their debut works.
Linda Johannesson, author and Humber graduate in the three-year Business Administration program, is one of the many who will be involved.
She is traveling from Sydney, Australia to attend Word On The Street in Toronto for the second time as well as exhibiting her first novel eloves me, eloves me not, a contemporary romantic comedy about turning to technology to find love.
“I’m excited to be back in my hometown of Toronto to share my breakout novel, meet readers, autograph copies of the book and answer questions about writing, independent publishing, online dating and the writing process in general,” Johannesson told Humber News.
Johannesson will be available in booth #215.
Workshops hosted by Humber’s School for Writers alumnus, Kim Moritsugu and director Antanas Sileika are also being offered.
“Festivals like WOTS are unique opportunities that benefits all authors – those who are either new to the craft or seasoned professionals because of the variety of exhibitors, programs and sheer size – there appears to be something for everyone,” said Johannesson. “Specifically, for young authors who want to self-publish.”
She told Humber News that the festival provides a forum to connect with the literary community, and is a platform to share their work through exhibiting and a channel to share physical books.
“One of the biggest challenges that a self-published author has is the distribution of physical books through retail channels,” Johannesson added. “And WOTS gives them a chance to get their books into a huge open air ‘bookstore’, even if only for a day.”
The event gives festivalgoers a look into the Canadian literary scene by offering the Exhibitor Marketplace, Canada’s biggest outdoor bookstore.
Stephanie McLellan is one of the many authors at the TD Literature Tent stage and said that Word is a great place for aspiring authors to hang out.
“Word On The Street gives young writers an opportunity to connect with what is happening in Canadian publishing right now; the chance to meet and talk to Canadian authors, and familiarize yourself with who is publishing what and which house your work might be best suited for,” said McLellan.
Author Lisa De Nikolits will be participating in Word On The Street for the fourth time since 2010 and said the event is wonderful to showcase one’s work, meet other authors, connect with readers, and hopefully entice new readers to pick up a copy of your book.
Proud to be involved
“To this point, I have only been involved with WOTS through Inanna. I am very proud to be an Inanna author; they have published of all my novels: The Hungry Mirror, West of Wawa and A Glittering Chaos and we have another one scheduled for next Spring, titled The Witchdoctor’s Bones,” said De Nikolits. “Another thing I love about WOTS is that I get to spend some time with my publisher and fellow Inanna authors.”
De Nikolits will be present at the Inanna booth #145 between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the Crime Writers of Canada booth #162 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Since 1990, the festival has grown, not only in attendees, but also in the knowledge and experience available from new authors and writers each year.
“The young writers’ readings is the workshop that intrigued me most for WOTS,” said Fournier. “I’m a young writer myself so I thought it would be a good learning experience for me. Along with seeing some of the more professional writers in their tents and asking about how they got to where they are. For me it was going to be a great learning experience and a great way for promoting myself and my books.”
Humber News went to the hallways of Humber College to ask students if they’ll be attending Word On The Street this year.
Word On The Street Check-list
☐ Go to http://www.thewordonthestreet.ca/wots/toronto/authors/a to check out all the authors who will be exhibiting this festival.
☐ Found several authors you want to meet? Note the tent numbers where they can be found. Most authors are promoting themselves via Twitter and Facebook where you can find them this Sunday.
☐ Remember this event is outdoors so be sure to stay warm and bring an umbrella – Mother Nature can turn on us at any time.
☐ Queen’s Park Circle is a huge place, so finding specific tents could be a challenge. Download the festival map PDF, print it out and bring it with you Sunday to navigate through.
Tips and advice for aspiring writers from published authors:
Linda Johannesson, author of novel eloves me, eloves me not, gave these suggestions to Humber News:
- Be observant – every day we are presented with ideas, situations, conversations, people, scenarios, places that all represent raw ingredients in story telling. So, watch, listen and absorb as much of life’s diversity as you can.
- Write, write and then write some more. Write in different voices, for different channels, about different topics. If you write fiction, try a your hand at reporting or non-fiction. If your preferred genre is romance, try writing a science fiction short story. If you’re used to writing strong female extroverted characters, try writing from the point of view of a shy male introvert. Hone your writing skills by challenging yourself to write often and in different ways from a variety of viewpoints.
- Get feedback. Don’t be selfish with your writing. Share it with people to gain diversity of feedback. As for their ideas and suggestions and then (this is the most important part) listen to it! Use it (perhaps not all of it) to improve your ideas and your voice.
- Create a bookshelf (or three!) filled with all manner of novels that you wish you had written and study them – read them and reread them, underline sentences you love, highlight imagery you like, take note of sentence structure, grammar – all of it – i.e., perform autopsies on them so that you get to know them inside and out.
- Practice your craft daily with a goal of always improving. I don’t agree with Nike when they say ‘just do it’ – I believe you need to do it with focus and careful intent. I speak from experience: writing reams of rubbish will never get you to where you want to be (unless your goal is to write reams of rubbish!)
- Get feedback from one person you trust. I am not a fan of writers clubs with many writers offering myriad opinions – find that one person you trust and follow their advice, no matter how much it hurts when they tell you to change things.
- Use gimmicks to draw attention to your manuscript
- Send in your own illustrations (unless you are a skilled illustrator)
- Rewrite Harry Potter or Twilight
- Try to get in the back door
- Make a nuisance of yourself
- Tell them you’re the next J. K. Rowlings
- Talk down to your audience
- Create a well-written, original, stand out manuscript
- Know your market (read, read, read other current books in your genre)
- Know the publisher you are submitting to (visit their website, read their books, find out exactly what they want you to send and how)
- Write a compelling query letter
- Get an agent if you can (see guide books below)
- Join some writing organizations (see list below)
- Be persistent but be patient
More information available on her blog post: 5 Things That Won’t Help You Get Your Children’s Book Published