To help indie authors who are planning to set up their own literary events in 2015, Catriona Troth, part of the Triskele collective, shares post-event feedback on the first Indie Author Fair which took place at the Chorleywood Lit Fest last autumn, and calls for YOUR opinions as to how such events might be improved.
Yes, the dust has barely settled and we’re already thinking about next year.
The feedback we received for the first ever Indie Author Fair has been overwhelmingly positive. Check out this report with pictures on the Triskele Books blog.
Everyone commented on the warm and buzzy atmosphere and the variety of activities going on: a pop-up bookshop, author readings, children’s storytime, afternoon teas, photography and interview sessions, and probably most enjoyable, meeting readers and other indie authors.
Not to say there weren’t a few problems. In our planning for IAF#15, we need to address these and think about what we want to get out of the new, improved Indie Author Fair. Which is where we’d like your thoughts, and we hope that by sharing this feedback we'll help indie authors run successful events, wherever they are in the world.
- Space – we knew even before the day began the venue was not ideal. Even with a few last minute drop-outs, we were packed about as tight as was physically possible. On the plus side, the room always seemed busy and full of energy – but display space was severely limited and at peak times it was difficult for people to stop and chat.
- Location – Being part of the Chorleywood Lit Fest meant shared publicity (though perhaps more could have been achieved). And visitors to the other Lit Fest Events could pop down and see us between talks. But we were tucked away behind the main venue and didn’t attract passing trade.
- Author Readings – authors loved having the chance to read from their books, and people loved to hear them. It gave the event ‘a literary feel’ (as Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy put it). Readers are more likely to buy your books if they catch a flavour by hearing a passage read aloud. And yet having those readings in the midst of the Fair meant everything stopped for the duration and put off potential browsers in the doorway. Would it be better to have the readings in a separate venue?
- Sales – for all the reasons given above, very few authors made any significant sales (or any sales at all). Bringing so many indie authors together in one place meant we garnered a lot of attention – culminating in an article in the Bookseller. But it also meant that authors were in competition with each other for sales. How can we address that?
Suggestions about a suitable location range from other, larger Lit Fests where we could have a more visible presence, to the middle of a shopping mall. Which approach we take depends a lot on what we believe the main purpose of the Fair to be.
Do we want to aim for a more commercial event with a focus on sales, or a literary showcase? Would it be better to attach ourselves to a major event to garner national attention or encourage a series of smaller local occasions, perhaps geared to location/genre?
We’d love to hear your views. And if you're planning to stage your own indie author event, wherever you are in the world, please feel free to ask questions via the comment box, and I'll be happy to answer them drawing on our experience in Chorleywood.
OVER TO YOU
ALLi will be running its own Indie Author Fair as part of Indie ReCon and London Book And Screen Week on 17th April in Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London's largest indie book store. If you're a member and you'd like to take part, send an email to [email protected].
Are you planning to hold an indie author event in your area in 2015? If so, connect with ALLi for input and ideas – and if you're not already a member of ALLI, now would be a great time to join!