Tonight's monthly meeting featured Rebecca Wigod, Book Review Editor for the Vancouver Sun. This prematurely grey haired beauty wearing red blouse and slim black skirt was as refined and articulate as one could hope. She delicately explained how decisions about which books would be reviewed to a roomful of authors who could have turned hostile on a dime were it not for her sage diplomacy.
"Budgetary restraints" she told us, "required use of wire service reviews." Beleaguered newspapers already subscribed to these. Commissioned reviews were then coupled with these to fit the limited space in the already established format. Where once the paper was assembled locally, and there was potential for flexibility, now for the sake of cost saving, it was assembled offsite. They 'cut from the bottom up" she said. Several unpublished authors still wide eyed with enthusiasm paled at the thought of such barbarism.
Using Jane Hall's book Red Wall she told how current events involving the RCMP could make a book timely. "We're a newspaper and we like to write what is news." Sometimes receiving galleys could mean that a review could be planned to coincide with publication dates. Commissioned reviews could be six months in preparation. Alternatively she described reading a book and reviewing it over the weekend because it was so highly current.
"I like bookseller recommendations because sellers know what readers are reading." Asked about submitting other book reviews with the book, she said she appreciated this because it helped her to guage the level of attention a book was receiving.
A Canadian Bestseller was normally one which had already sold 5000 books.
Perry Wilson, from ebook publisher, Paperbox Books Publishing, asked if newspapers were ready to review ebooks. Certainly a novel idea, Rebecca was genuinely intrigued. Sylvia Taylor from BC Federation of Writers asked Rebecca's thoughts on the organizations that promote and support authors. Rebecca replied that she'd previously listed the many readings that were occurring around town when she had more space but now had to content herself with highlighting only the most notable, "like Dr. Kalla" she said.
In bringing the meeting to a close, Bob Mackay announced that it was apropos that Rebecca had mentioned Dr. Kalla as he was a member of CAA and the the guest speaker at the next CAA meeting May 11. Jean Kay received a round of applause for her continued great work organizing the Victoria, BC June 24 writers convention high lighting technology and writing, CAN WRITE 2010.