Literary festivals – what’s in it for indies?

20 May

With indie entrepreneur, Joanna Penn

As a self-published author, you might wonder what you’d get out of attending a literary festival that primarily celebrates published authors and their books. I’ve just returned from Crimefest, an annual event in Bristol, England, and I would definitely go again. 

In recognition of independently published authors, Crime Writing Day began with a talk from self-publishing guru, Joanna Penn. Joanna emphasized the need to make self-published books as good as traditionally published ones, by using professional editors and cover designers. She also pointed out the fact that each book is not just one product, but many because it can be an eBook, a print book and also an audio book. It can also be sold in many countries, both in English, and in other languages if you get it translated. This is a good reason not to sign all your rights away to a publisher, but does not stop you from accepting, say a print deal whilst keeping your eBook rights. Joanna added that it was the business side of things that had made her self-publish. Once she had worked through the process of publishing her first book, she found that it was not that hard and she did not need a publisher to do it for her. 


Some of the other writers I met at Crimefest had been holding out for traditional publishing deals but I think the Emerging Indie Voices panel was an eye-opener for many. This panel featured successful indie authors, Tim Cooke, Eva Hudson, Mel Sherratt and Carol Westron, who each spoke about their decision to self-publish. Mel Sherratt said she was grateful to Amazon for giving her the opportunity to publish her own books, after many years of seeking a traditional deal. She has since signed with a publisher for at least one of her books, but it was self-publishing that gave her the opportunity to do so. 

As a reader, as well as a writer, I can’t deny that I found It exciting to mingle with successful authors, many of whom had plenty of advice.There was also the opportunity to meet literary agents and editors, as well as readers and bloggers. But I think the thing I liked most about Crimefest was the shared love of books. It made me want to write more than ever. 

Have you attended any literary festivals as a self-published author? How did you get on?


3 Responses to “Literary festivals – what’s in it for indies?”

  1. Lorna's Voice May 24, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    I’ve never been to a literary conference or festival. I guess I don’t feel as if I’m in that league yet (or ever). I know how professional conferences can, however, invigorate and inspire you. When I was teaching sociology and went to their professional conferences, I came back with all kinds of teaching ideas. I loved to mingle with my colleagues from “higher places!” And sometimes I got to offer them a tip or two.

    Maybe I’ll get there someday with writing, but my memoir didn’t do very well and my novel needs a major rewrite, so it won’t be coming out any time soon. If only I was wealthy and could afford to travel to these events… 😉

  2. switch11 May 28, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    Hi Lorna

    We were launching a new promotion site for free books based on our blogs and email newsletter. I was wondering if you could please help me with

    1) figuring out what a reasonable rate to charge is.

    2) how to reach indie authors and let them know our service exists.

    Could you please email me at or contact me at my blog – Thanks!


  3. big sarg June 21, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    I am a writer, your blog is very imformative on how to go about to self publish a book. Thanks for sharing.

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