Emerging Leaders in Publishing Salon 2021 — "Change"

February 09, 2021

TUESDAY-FRIDAY, February 9-12, 2021

PUB 900



The year 2020 will long be remembered for the global Covid 19 pandemic. Lockdowns impacted work spaces as people scrambled to reorganize their work and home lives. The book publishing industry abruptly changed many of its traditional ways of acquiring, marketing, distributing, and selling. Retail outlets were forced to close their storefronts and innovate to meet their readers' needs. New titles scheduled to launch in 2020 were cancelled as publicists and marketers strategized the new ways to create needed buzz.

The whole world suddenly seemed to be online and publishers and retailers had to quickly up their game in the virtual space. Ironically, demand for books skyrocketed. Everyone was stuck at home and desperate for ways to pass the time.  

At the same time, political unrest in the US, massive protests against police brutality amplified the many structural and systemic inequities in the world at large. Publishing companies began promising to "do better", to hire more broadly, to create ladders to senior positions, to acquire more titles from marginalized groups and communities.

The 2021 Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit reflects this changed world by going virtual and through discussing the many ways book publishing led innovation and embraced entrepreneurship, as well as the many challenges still left to meet.

This year the summit is more of a salon and will run on three mornings: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday - Feb 10-12. 

Change is the theme. Wednesday we will talk about Covid-driven changes. Thursday we will talk about changes in distribution and sales. And Friday we will talk about longer-lasting changes in publishing post covid. Also on Friday, we will have a focused look at needed changes in the structure of publishing in Canada during a panel on BIPOC and inclusive publishing.

From 8:30 to 12:30 pm (1:30 pm on Thursday), Master of Publishing students, industry faculty, and other guests will engage in keynotes, panels, and conversations. 

Three general public events are also part of this year's Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit.

On tuesday, February 9,  join us for 'The Gift of Never Landing': A Conversation with Poet Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek at 9:00 am pdt. You can register here.

In the afternoon at 2:00 pm pdt, we present 'How to Make a Thriller' featuring Simon&Schuster Canada thriller authors Sam Bailey, Catherine McKenzie and Amy Stuart in conversation with S&S Canada Editor Director, Nita Pronovost. You can register here.

On Thursday, Feb 11 at 12:30 pm pdt, keynote speaker Jane Friedman, co-founder of The Hot Sheet, presents Publishing in a Pandemic: A Glimpse of Future Opportunities & Challenges. Register here.

The Emerging Leaders in Publishing Summit is a collaboration between industry and academic instructors, both credit  and non-credit students, and industry participants.


Samantha M. Bailey is the USA TODAY and #1 national bestselling author of Woman on the Edge, which has sold in eleven countries. She is also a journalist and freelance editor; her work has appeared in NOW MagazineThe Village Post, and Oxford University Press, among other publications. She lives in Toronto. Connect with her at and on Twitter at @SBaileyBooks 

Cevin Bryerman is the publisher and executive vice-president of Publishers Weekly. He has been in the publishing business for more than 30 years, working at the helm of both trade and consumer magazines in strategic planning, business development and strategic partnerships. Bryerman grew up in Long Island and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and finance at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Prior to his tenure at Publishers Weekly, Bryerman led Broadcasting and Cable, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Variety, Modern Bride and American Baby.

Rob Firing has been working as a promoter and publicist for more than 20 years, 15 of those at HarperCollins as their Senior Director of Publicity, Communications and Speakers’ Bureau. Rob has worked closely with everyone from JK Rowling to Tom Wolfe, from Margaret Trudeau to Margaret Drabble — literally hundreds of writers across many genres. He has won awards for his work from the Canadian Marketing Association and other marketing and PR organizations. He is also the co-author of The Everyday Squash Cook (HarperCollins, 2014), and the author of STEAK REVOLUTION (HarperCollins, 2018), which was a Gourmand World Cookbook Award finalist. 

Noah Genner is CEO & President at BookNet Canada. Noah 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 and book retail sectors.

Katie Hearn is the Editorial Director at Annick Press, a Canadian-owned and operated award-winning children’s book publisher based out of Toronto, Ontario. She oversees the acquisition and development of Annick’s publishing programme, which is made up of books for young readers of all ages. Prior to her time at Annick, Katie spent five years working in various editorial roles in adult trade and educational publishing.

Rania Husseini is Senior Vice President of Print at Indigo Books & Music. Rania creates and implements the vision, strategy and direction for the overall Print business within Indigo stores and online.  She is responsible for finding creative and innovative ways to grow and support overall brand objectives for the Print business and acts as an advocate for the customer by placing them at the forefront of all assortment and curation decisions. Rania has an extensive background in bookselling and most recently was the Vice President of Retail Customer Experience and Operations at Indigo Books & Music.

Adria Iwasutiak has been in book publishing since 2003, starting as an intern at McClelland & Stewart, eventually becoming a Publicity & Marketing Manager at Penguin Random House Canada. She has been with Simon & Schuster Canada since 2015, where she is currently the Director of Publicity & Canadian Sales. Follow her on Twitter: @iwashatruck

Ruth Linka has worked in publishing for 25+ years. She’s worked all over Western Canada for different types of companies and is happy to have landed at Orca Book Publishers in Victoria where she is Associate Publisher and part-owner.

Catherine McKenzie is a graduate of McGill in History (Hons.) and law, and practiced law in Montreal for twenty years before retiring to write full time. She is the Globe & Mail and Toronto Star bestselling author of eleven novels. Her novel I’ll Never Tell was shortlisted for the Hugh McLennan Prize for Fiction and has been optioned for a television series by Paramount TV. Her next novel, SIX WEEKS TO LIVE, will be published by Simon & Schuster Canada on April 20, 2021.

Emily Dundas Oke is the Media Manager at Massy Books, the Curator at Massy Arts Society, and the Arts Editor at The Capilano Review.  As a Nehiyaw, Métis, Scottish, and English interdisciplinary artist and curator, she has exhibited nationally and internationally. She organizes alongside the Indigenous Brilliance Collective, which is a partnership between Massy Books and Room Magazine. 

Felicia Quon is Vice President Marketing & Publicity, Simon & Schuster Canada. She provides strategic leadership and vision in the development & execution of multi-tiered marketing campaigns for adult & children’s fiction and non-fiction titles for multiple channels. Her expertise is in building creative big picture projects with innovative digital marketing and social media components.

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 specialized builder of customized websites for book publishers. His current portfolio emphasizes the development of new web platforms, publishing technology, and audience development. He leads the project for the ACP, and is actively engaged in commissioned research on book marketing, book discovery, and consumer behaviour

Amy Stuart is the #1 bestselling author of three novels, Still Mine, Still Water, and Still Here. Shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel Award and winner of the 2011 Writers’ Union of Canada Short Fiction Competition, Amy is the founder of Writerscape, an online community for hopeful and emerging writers. Amy lives in Toronto with her husband and their three sons. Connect with her at and on Twitter @AmyFStuart.

Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek is a poet. Her 100 Days (University of Alberta 2016) was nominated for several writing prizes including the 2017 BC Book Prize, the Pat Lowther Award, the 2017 Alberta Book Awards and the 2017 Canadian Authors Award for Poetry. It won the 2017 IndieFab Book of the Year Award for poetry and the 2017 Glenna Lushei Prize for African Poetry. Otoniya is also the author of Sublime: Lost Words (The Elephants 2018) and Gauntlet (Nomados 2019). She is the 2020 Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence at Simon Fraser University and a 2021 Jack and Doris Shadbolt Fellow, also at Simon Fraser University. Otoniya lives with gratitude on the unceded, ancestral and traditional lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people in what we currently call Vancouver.

Matthew DiMera is an award-winning editor and journalist currently living in Toronto, and is the founder of The Resolve, a new digital publication centring Black, Indigenous and racialized people in Canada. 

Most recently he was the acting editor-in-chief at where he was leading strategy for an editorial refocusing and relaunch, and the managing editor at Xtra where he drove new and innovative digital-only editorial and engagement strategies.

He is a long-time advocate for the importance and power of social justice and community reporting.

Jane Friedman is a full-time entrepreneur (since 2014) and has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. She is the co-founder of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, which was named 2020 Media Outlet of the Year by Digital Book World.

Kevin Hanson is President and Publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada. He is responsible for all of the sales, marketing, financial, and operations activities of Simon & Schuster Canada, the exclusive distributor in Canada of the book and audio products of both Simon & Schuster and Simon & Schuster U.K., as well as for Simon & Schuster’s roster of U.S. distribution clients. Kevin came to Simon & Schuster from HarperCollins Publishers of Canada, where he had held the position of Vice President, Sales and Marketing since 2002.  Prior to that, he had been Chief Operating Officer of Madison Press Books. Kevin has also served in executive sales and marketing positions at Penguin Books Canada Limited, Quantum Book Group, Macmillan Canada, and Key Porter Books. He is a 1985 graduate of the University of Alberta and he holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Toronto.  He is the current Chair of the Cultural Human Resources Council and was past Chair of the Canadian Publishers Council. Kevin is an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University.

Liz Hilborn is the Director of Content Sales at Rakuten Kobo. Together with her incredible team, Liz creates and implements the overall content sales and merchandising strategy for global eBooks, as well as audiobooks and Kobo Plus in key markets. She is also responsible for leading Rakuten Kobo’s award-winning Corporate Orders program, which she helped develop and launch last year as a response to COVID-related needs. Liz has an extensive background in bookselling and has merchandised Kobo bookstores all over the world. She specializes in process development and refinement, new product launches, and fostering a healthy work/life balance for her team.

Brian Lam, a graduate of the University of Victoria’s creative writing program, has been with Arsenal since 1984, becoming co-owner of the company in 1992. He is a former president of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia, and a former board member of the Association for the Export of Canadian Books (now Livres Canada Books). He currently serves on the board of the Association of Canadian Publishers. In 2014 he won the Community Builder Award from the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop, and in 2018 received the Ivy Award from the Toronto International Festival of Authors.

Sophie McCall is a Professor in the English department at Simon Fraser University. Her main areas of research and teaching are Indigenous literary studies in Canada from the 20th and 21st centuries. She has published widely on topics such as textualizing oral history, the struggle for Indigenous rights, decolonization, resurgence, and reconciliation.

Ryan McMahon is an Anishinaabe creative who jokes, talks, yells and writes for a living. McMahon is originally from Couchiching First Nation in Treaty 3 Territory and was born and raised in Fort Frances, ON. Over the course of his career, McMahon has established himself as a sharp and prolific comedic voice, a trusted Indigenous journalist and media maker, and a vital and critical cultural thought leader in North America. Ryan’s body of work is irreverent, boundary-pushing, and forward-looking as it investigates the good, the bad and the ugly between the collision of Indian Country and the mainstream. He splits his time between Toronto and Winnipeg.

Nita Pronovost joined Simon & Schuster Canada as Editorial Director in February 2015. Before that, she worked for six years as a senior editor at Penguin Random House Canada. Under the Doubleday Canada imprint, she acquired and edited a wide variety of fiction, nonfiction, and celebrity-driven titles, including eight #1 national bestsellers in three years. She was nominated for Canadian Booksellers’ Association’s Editor of the Year Award in 2013. Nita actively acquires women’s upmarket commercial novels, suspense/psychological thrillers, literary-commercial crossover, historical fiction, memoirs, and notable debuts. She is the author of the upcoming novel The Maid.

Jael Richardson is the author of The Stone Thrower,a book columnist on CBC’s q and the founder and Executive Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity(FOLD) in Brampton, Ontario. Her debut novel, Gutter Child is a dystopian tale of courage and resilience and arrived January 2021 with HarperCollins Canada. Pronouncer: Jay-ell

Andrew Wooldridge is co-owner and publisher at Orca Book Publishers. Starting in the warehouse almost 30 years ago, Andrew has worked in all aspects of the business. Orca is a children’s publisher and provides distribution services to a dozen Canadian publishers in the North American market.