Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A little advice on ordering books, the need for writers to socialise and top tips on how not to get right up authors' noses

Some of the most useful advice, ideas and general background skeet on existing festivals that we've received has come direct from authors.

Last week we had the chance to pick the brains of an author (who is hoping to have a free slot in his diary to attend the first Manx Litfest) and one of the most interesting - and potentially challenging - points he raised related to the supply of books for signing at events by writers.

Whichever bookstore is involved in supplying the books for a particular event (and ensuring an even spread among the bookstores is going to be a challenge all in itself) has to take a bit a shot in the dark when predicting how many books to order. The issue for smaller bookshops (or any bookshop, for that matter) is that they don't want to a) be left with stock after the event that they may not be able to shift or b) have to pay for shipping unsold stock back to UK, the cost of which will likely put a major hole in any profit they may have made on the night. This is something we need to discuss with bookstores in the coming weeks and months. 

The isssue of paying authors to attend also came up - but that is something we're keen to do anyway, as we've mentioned before.

There were some additions to our 'list of things that could potentially piss off an author'. They tend to be fairly obvious points - such as running out of books to sign/sell - and generally revolve around making sure they are looked after reasonably well. Why is this so important? Pretty obvious - apart from the fact that we're nice people and we want to show authors a good time anyway, the bottom line is that we're looking to build a strong reputation on the litfest calendar. If we treat authors poorly, word will undoubtedly get around. It's that simple.

Geography was another issue ro raise its head - as in the locations to be used, and the benefits/drawbacks of having events spread around, or most of them taking place within a central hub. This is a crucial factor and one that we're giving much thought to at the moment. Some difficult decisions like ahead, that's for sure.

There was one final point made - authors like to socialise, and there is usually a central bar/pub where they hang out with each other and mingle/drink with fans. I think it's best if I offer to research this element myself.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Counting down...

By early next week, we should have announced the dates for the first Manx Litfest in 2012. It's been a slow, drawn-out process making the decision. There have been so many factors to consider, some of which we'd anticipated, others that arose during the much banging-of-heads-on-desk that was done.

There were the various existing Isle of Man events to consider (ie avoid), the already-chock-full calendar of literary festivals around the British Isles to take into account, other major international festivals taking place further afield, school holidays... the list was long.

You'll hear about the dates in the media, read about it here, and see it on Facebook and Twitter (assuming you follow us. If you don't, then head over to those links and get on with it. We'll wait. Right, can we continue?)

We're pretty happy with the dates. Yes, that's tempting fate. But right now, fate wouldn't dare stick her nose in. It's been that kind of process, she's likely to get her nose broken. The weekend in question is, as far as we can tell, free of any kind of reasonably sized event in the Island. And while it will clash with a few festivals around the British Isles, that was always going to happen, and the time we've picked is one of the quietest on the festival circuit. So hopefully we're on to a winner.

Now we've fixed on the date, we can start approaching authors to gauge a) their availability and b) their interest. As and when we have names to announce, you can be sure we'll be doing so, complete with a little jig.

Much of the organising so far for Manx Litfest has been behind-the-scenes kind of stuff, laying the groundwork. But we can feel the pace starting to pick up, and that will certainly happen once the dates are announced and everyone has a goal to work towards.

Okay, I've said enough for now. Tune in tomorrow, when we'll be back with a few words about some of the pitfalls we're expecting to encounter...