Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Inaugural Indie Author Fair - Chorleywood Lit Fest

By Gillian Hamer (Triskele Books)

The place to be between 2-5pm on Sunday 16th November was Chorleywood for Triskele Books' inaugural Indie Author Fair - or #IAF14 as it shall henceforth be known.

The idea. A pop-up bookshop for indie authors to show off their abundance of talent to the general public and allow a mix of writers and author services to meet up. 

The reality. Forty authors, spread across two halls; support from the Alliance of Independent Authors; sponsors that included Ingram Spark, Reedsy, Matador and the presence of Kobo's Diego Marano, there wasn't a spare inch of space in sight.

As well as opening up a pop-up bookshop for members of the public, contributors also managed to cram in author readings, children's story time, professional photo shoots, Huffington Post interviews, Ingram Spark video-blogs - not to mention afternoon tea and cake.

#IAF14 was a wonderful event. An eclectic mix of authors from across genres, getting together not only to socialise but to sell their wares.

The odd hiccup - microphone batteries, copious amounts of steps, water supply running dry mid tea-time - meant a steep learning curve. We can see room for improvement, but the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and everyone seemed thrilled with the concept and eager to take part again.

Triskele table at IAF

But don't take our word for it ... let's speak to some of the authors who took part in the event.

Lily Forbes at IAF
author of 'Growing up under The Mango Tree.'
We pulled up outside the impressive War Memorial Hall in Chorleywood for the 2014 Lit Fest. I located the well-worn steps on the right that I would soon be treading with my boxful of books. A visit to the heaving Red Lion Pub for a quick thirst quencher whiled away the twenty minutes of pent up excitement before I joined a gathering of a ‘family of independently published authors’. Every 61cm square table tantalisingly displayed an array of beautifully designed and intriguingly titled books. Each one of them could have been purchased for a bedside read or a Christmas present for a fellow book lover. Twelve readers chosen to represent a variety of Genres gave a indication of the calibre of the books on offer. The camaraderie throughout the afternoon from the stalwart organisers, the eager participants and the inquisitive crowd of buyers was palpable.

I loved the Indie Author Fair at Chorleywood and the opportunity it gave me to engage with readers and to read from my novel. There’s no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of book lovers are only interested in the end product and not in the publishing process. It’s not about who you’re published with or how big your back catalogue is, it’s purely about entertainment. As awareness of the professional independent sector increases, readers will find that it is as rich, diverse and entertaining as mainstream publishing – if not more so – because there are no boundaries, no self-interested parties taking control. Events like the Indie Author Fair will thrive because they put writers back at the heart of publishing and, ultimately, it is the relationship between the reader and the writer that really counts – everything else is peripheral.

Carol Cooper at IAF
author of One Night at the Jacaranda
The Indie Author Fair was a great experience for getting to know other authors. Perhaps less so as a platform for indie books, but only because a small basement room in Metroland might not be the optimal arena for showcasing our varied work. But from small acorns... So here's to the next opportunity, wherever it may be, and many thanks to the organisers.

My thoughts on the IAF are I didn’t sell many books but I gained a lot in other ways - talking to like minded writers, sharing doubts and problems, all helped me come away feeling revitalised. It helped me to clarify what I am really trying to do - ie write good books. So, yes, a worthwhile trip from Spain.

author of Ghost Town / member of Triskele Books / chief organiser of IAF14.
After six months' planning, the whole day seemed to go by in a blur. So much could have gone wrong, yet somehow the whole Heath Robinson contraption stayed on its wheels. We even survived the home-made PA system failing to work on first try. Everywhere around me, I felt so much energy and good will - the creativity and generosity of indie authors made manifest.


It was inspiring to be in the same hall as so much indie author talent, and I really enjoyed meeting some that I had previously met online but never in real life, as well as meeting old friends and making new ones. There was a lot of interest in ALLi, and with so many members present, the atmosphere was very conducive to joining our influential and ever-growing organisation. The event was also yet another example of the power of the authors' collective, showing incredible synergy among the members of the renowned Triskele group.
Debbie Young at IAF
One highlight for me personally was being asked to read a couple of my short stories aloud in the hall. It could have been daunting and difficult to be heard above the buzzing throng, but it turned out to be a really attentive audience, who went quiet and stood still for every author reading. It was a privilege to be a part of the readings programme, and my confidence has been boosted by the kind comments I received after my readings.
I was also really glad I said "yes" to all the other benefits offered - namely an interview with Ingram Spark, which will run on their blog after editing, and a professional photo shoot at a very reasonable price with a terrific photographer who had been brought in for the day. Like most people, I hate having my photos taken, but in a very short space of time she produced some shots I was really happy with, and all the pictures I saw of other authors that she'd photographed were super.
I hope this will be the first of an annual programme of events. I've been recommending attending to other author friends who weren't there, and to those who provide services to the indie author community too (ALLi partner members), so I think next time we're going to need a bigger venue!
Huge congratulations to the Triskele team for making it such a success.

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