Independent authors need to band together to present their work effectively to the public, according to author Catriona Troth, principal organiser of the inaugural Indie Author Fair.
The fair took place in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, this weekend (15th-16th November) as part of Chorleywood Literary Festival. It brought together 40 self-published authors to take part in readings and sell their books to visitors via a “pop-up” bookshop.
Sheryl Shurville, owner of Chorleywood Bookshop, which organises Chorleywood Literary Festival, said: “It’s lovely for all these authors to get together and be public-facing, and to have a chance to speak to the public. A lot of authors aren’t able to get published with mainstream publishers, so this is a great platform for them.”
Troth, who is a member of the writers’ collective Triskele Books, added: “Indie authors frequently come together at conferences and festivals to learn from one another and from the publishing industry. But when it comes to presenting their work to the reading public, they typically remain alone—very small fish in a very large publishing pond.
“By bringing 40 authors together in one place, I believe we have a unique opportunity to demonstrate the quality of work from indie authors.”
Independent authors working with an independent bookshop “ought to be a marriage made in literary heaven”, Troth said. “Surely two groups who both want to break out of a corporate mould are ideally suited to work together to create something fresh and exciting?
“We certainly gain from being part of a well-established literary event with a stellar reputation. And I hope that the publicity surrounding the Indie Author Fair also reflects back on [the festival] and helps to show how ground-breaking Chorleywood’s approach to indie authors is.”
Among the authors who attended was Lorna Fergusson, whose novel The Chase was originally published by Bloomsbury, but is now self-published and available as an e-book and a physical book. She said the event would help connect indie authors with potential readers.
“Many of us publish e-books, but it’s vital to remember that readers also love buying print copies and they enjoy the chance to meet and chat with writers,” she said.
Author Jane Davis, also at the fair, said: “The public’s perception of self-publishing is not keeping pace with industry developments—but it is not the fault of readers. When many bookshops and libraries refuse to stock indie titles, it is very difficult for readers to discover examples of quality self-published fiction. With this event, we are bringing it to them.”
Davis, whose first novel was published by Transworld’s Black Swan imprint, now uses Amazon’s self-publishing platform Createspace. She said the fair would help to dispel the myth that “self-publishing is the preserve of amateurs”.
Authors who have appeared at the Chorleywood Literary Festival, which has been hosting events throughout this week, include Jodi Picoult, Wendy Cope and Sheila Hancock.