Good Reads/Book Reviews

Championing Hidden Talent at UK Indie Lit Fest 2018

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It’s been over a year since I was invited to become a feature writer for Fresh Lifestyle by Kimberly Perry and I’ve loved every minute of it. Amongst my features on the people and places of Victorian London—both then and now—I’ve interviewed some highly talented authors (John Bainbridge , Edward Turbeville, and Jen Selinsky to name a few). John and Edward are—like me—independently published authors. In other words, we’re unrepresented by an agent and/or unattached to one of the “big five” publishing houses. For me, being an independent author means being a marketer, accountant, health & safety executive, and social media guru in addition to putting pen to paper. The entire experience can therefore be lonely but rewarding.

This year, I’m privileged to be one of nearly 40 independent authors who have been carefully selected to promote their work at the UK Indie Lit Fest 2018 at the Kala Sangam Art Centre (housed in St. Peter’s House in Forster Square) in Bradford on Saturday 28th July (book your free ticket(s) here). The brain child of Dawn Singh, the Director & founder of the UK Indie Lit Fest and consulting partner with Follow This publishing, the fest made its debut on the 23rd July 2016. Its purpose is to promote indie authors and smaller publishing houses and allow writers to reach new readers. As a result, the fest is non-profit and free for both authors and readers to visit (this includes any talks, workshops, and Q&A sessions held at the event). 

Dawn Singh has now kindly taken time from her (increasingly) busy schedule to chat with me. We discuss how international indie authors may get involved in this year’s Fest, the issues facing the indie writing community as a whole, and the inspiration behind the event.

Q: How was the UK Indie Lit Fest conceived, and what are its aims?

The Lit Fest was an idea I had in 2015. I had been looking at festivals and was disappointed at the ‘boys club’ mentality between those dominated by the big publishing houses and the new indie festivals charging authors between £70-£100 to appear. I knew I wanted to create something which supported authors in the writing community without them having to be a best-seller or being out of pocket.

Q: What are the criteria writers must meet to be approved as an attending author at the fest? 

Authors who apply for the festival must have at least one book which has been published. When we look at authors applications, we look for variety. We try our hardest to cover as many genres as possible. We also look for authors who are happy to get involved with workshops or readings. 

Above: UK Indie Lit Fest 2017

Q: How can international authors/readers get involved?

International authors are included in two ways. The first way is to apply to have their books available for display and available to order. The second way is to take part in the international hub. Each author is given a slot of 30 mins where fans and would-be writers can grill them about their books, favourite characters or when their next book will be hitting the shelves.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing independent authors and publishing houses in 2018, in your opinion?

As I have mentioned before, the big publishing houses have a lot of clout in the book world. Their books and authors have resources which push their authors into the public eye, which helps them sell more books and creates best-sellers. The smaller publishing houses or independently published authors could have a superior book or better story but lack the resources to promote it and themselves, which means less sales and less chance of a best-seller. 

Q: At times, there seems to be a stigma attached to the role of “independent author.” Do you agree this is the case? Why?

I completely agree, before I started Follow This Publishing I was a complete book snob I’ll admit it. I had a book on TBR pile for years that I just never bought because it was self-published. One day I decided to just try it and it blew me away. It was one of the most beautifully written stories I had ever read. That shifted my perception. I realised that there are amazing stories out there that are hidden treasures. Indie writers are a new breed really and I think people are a bit unsure of where we fit in. For years we have had traditional publishing and ‘vanity publishing’ and I think sometimes Indie can be mistaken for so-called vanity publishing and that can bring a stigma.

Now I see myself as a treasure hunter of sorts. I find those nuggets for myself but with the UK Indie Lit Fest I can shine a light on these gems and fantastically talented authors that can sometimes be overlooked, not because of lack of talent but purely because they are independent.

Q: In an increasingly saturated marketplace, what—in your opinion—is the most effective method independent authors may use to get their writing noticed?

I think the most important thing to remember as an author is to be true to yourself. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true. Don’t try and write what you think people will buy or adjust your ending because you think readers might not like it. Writers are artists, creating worlds from the images and words swirling in their heads. I would say don’t douse your fire to corner a niche market or create a 100 book series just to draw your story out and make money. I would say write for the love of it, for the love of the story and THAT will shine through and THAT will make the readers fall in love with your work. 

Q: What are the future plans for the UK Indie Lit Fest? (E.g. Will it be expanded across a weekend, across the UK etc.?)

The plan is to expand the festival. We are hoping to have 3 or 4 festivals up and down the UK in the coming years. We also have some bigger plans to expand the festival in some more exciting ways but those plans are currently being discussed as a board and therefore hush-hush at the moment but we are excited about them and will be releasing the details as soon as we can.

Above: UK Indie Lit Fest 2018’s venue, St. Peter’s House in Bradford.

Q: Aside from attending the event, how can readers connect with the UK Indie Lit Fest? 

Readers may visit the UK Indie Lit Fest on Facebook and Twitter. We also have an Eventbrite page where free tickets to the event may be booked. More information can also be found on our website

I’ll (T.G. Campbell) be at the UK Indie Lit Fest on Saturday 28th July 2018 with a stall promoting the Bow Street Society. I’ll be selling signed paperback copies of the first two Bow Street Society mysteries (winner of Fresh Lifestyle’s book award, The Case of The Curious Client and The Case of The Lonesome Lushington) and the first volume of the Bow Street Society Casebook short stories, The Case of The Shrinking Shopkeeper & Other Stories. Readers will be able to talk with me one-on-one at my stall and ask questions. 

You’ll also have full access to the stalls of almost 40 indie authors, who have published works in a whole host of genres. A free program of readings, workshops, and even a dance performance will also be on offer at the event. There’ll be something for everyone so be sure to book your ticket! If you’d like to reserve a signed copy of any of my Bow Street Society books, please comment on this feature or drop me an email at Dawn, me, and all the other indie authors hope to see you at the UK Indie Lit Fest 2018!



    Rose English

    7.8.2018 at 3:42 PM

    What a wonderful article thank you for sharing. I am also an Indie Author and feel very proud to have been part of the UK Indie Lit Fest from the beginning. Dawn is a phenomenal lady thinking up this whole event, it is a great deal of hard work. It is a fab way to meet other writers and find new fans for your writing at the same time.

    What I love most about it is that Book Lovers and Readers can come meet us for FREE. I have shied away from taking part in other Indie Lit Fests because they charge readers a lot of money to visit and for me that is a no no. If I go to an event I need my money to buy the books not to get in and see someone I might not even know.

    A brilliant article T.G. Campbell and I look forward to meeting you at this years event Rose English ~~~<<@

    • T.G. Campbell

      7.9.2018 at 2:15 AM

      Thank you, Rose! It was an honour to interview Daen. I’m really looking forward to meeting you all at the festival. I’m also really grateful to have been given the chance to take part.

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