MY FIRST INDIE AUTHOR FAIR

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Last Sunday I was lucky enough to take part in the first Indie Author Fair, part of the Chorleywood Literary Festival.  It was a small event held in Chorleywood Memorial Hall, right next to the beautiful Chorleywood Golf Course; there were forty independent authors present, displaying their books and giving selected readings.

I hadn’t taken part in an Authors’ Fair before so had high expectations of selling some of my books – as did many of the other authors, judging by the number of copies on display.  This didn’t happen; but it still proved to be a most worthwhile experience, allowing me to meet (face to face, not on the internet!) other likeminded writers.  It was interesting to see how people had approached the task of self-publishing in different ways.  Some, such as myself, had gone down a completely solo road, some had been lucky enough to start their career by being traditionally published and then chosen to self-publish while others had banded together and formed a small collective of authors.  Triskele Books is one such collective; five writers have formed a self-help group who edit, proofread, give each other feedback and finally publish and market their books under the name of Triskele Books.  It seems an excellent idea and the standard of their work is extremely high.  Whether they plan to stay small and selective or expand in the future one can only speculate.

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One thing that everyone had in common was the desire to show the world that being self-published did not mean that your writing was inferior.  It was obvious from the readings that the authors gave that the standard at the Fair was good.  But how do you get people to read your book in the first place?  Most people had made sure that not only the quality of the written word was high but the visual aspect of the book was of the highest standard – many of the covers were eye-catching and professional, as were the supporting marketing materials on display.  (I have now decided to revisit all my own book covers with a view to making them look more professional.)  

The organisers had suggested that the participating authors might like to enliven their displays with some item that related to their book, an idea that quite a few took on board.  And none was more successful than Geoff Gudgion’s Saxon helmet, which he used to promote his contemporary thriller, ‘Saxon Bane’.  More than one passer-by was tempted to try it on.


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One enterprising young man, Mark Farrell was there promoting his web page Ascribe Novel Solutions.  An independent author himself, he soon realised that independent authors had to have some way of proving their worth; in other words a type of accreditation was needed.  To be listed on his website each author must have some professional in the book world who can vouch for them and their writing; this can be an editor, a professional writer of repute, a traditionally published writer or a professional reviewer.  Kind words from your mother will not suffice.

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Another organisation that has been set up to help independent authors is the Alliance of Independent Authors.  This professional association for independent authors and publishers provides a wide range of services and contacts and offers the self-published writer a creditable platform for their work.  The founder Orna Ross was at the Indie Author Fair promoting not only her own novels and poetry but also the association’s guide ‘Opening Up to Indie Authors’.

Writing is a lonely business and when you look at your sales and see poor returns it is easy to get depressed and think of giving it all up.  Taking part in an event such as the Indie Author Fair can be reinvigorating and is a good way to revitalise your work.  The old saying is true; ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and one great thing about Indie authors is that they are a very helpful bunch, willing to share ideas and offer suggestions to fellow writers.


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Author

Joan Fallon is a writer and novelist living in Spain.

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