On a night of political disunity and meltdown as Brexit hit the buffers, we were delighted to host the final event of this year’s inaugural BookBlast 10×10 tour at WestBank Art & Music in Thorpe Close, W10, under the Westway.
Kit Caless from INFLUX PRESS led the discussion with Susan from ISTROS BOOKS and Elizabeth from SAQI BOOKS about how #indiepubs play such an important role in the cultural ecosystem; translation, rigid mindsets and choosing to publish books written without market trends in mind; the importance of buying books directly from #indiepubs websites; how best to access buyers at the major bookselling chains deciding on what and how much to purchase (tricky in some instances when there is just one fiction buyer for a whole chain!).
The audience of publishing consultants, book distributors, bloggers, indie film makers, readers and writers raised the issues of how Amazon goes after publisher profit margins with crippling consequences for indies; and the lack of publicity in the Media which is ironic given the growing demand for eclectic, nongeneric, unconventional writing of the kind that is supplied by the smaller publishers who are regularly winning prizes.
Starting out from Gower Street in Bloomsbury WC1E, on 11 September, we have been all around the regions of England hosting a total of 10 weekly talks at Waterstones flagship stores showcasing the rich diversity of 10 small risk-taking indie publishers.
“Greetings! It was GREAT on Tuesday wasn’t it?” – Mark, Events Team, Waterstones Gower Street.
The writers on tour were not only British but also from the Middle East, Europe, China, Africa and the Caribbean. We wanted to bring together readers and writers across England in the spirit of friendship and exchange.
Supporting diversity and inclusion isn’t just a “nice” thing to do: it fosters a sense of social wellbeing and cohesion; has a positive impact on the bottom line in the workplace; and is important given the need to be inclusive as opinions shift to the right.
Enthusiastic readers who attended the talks included young Muslim women in hijabs in Birmingham, Chinese students in Liverpool – one young man came to the talk all the way from Manchester – and, in Leeds, a group of special needs kids delighted to be invited into a bookshop and to be listened to. Many were not only there for entertainment, but wanted to be informed, or to connect with authors writing about their culture today.
A re-occurring theme which emerged from the 10 tour talks was why it is that regional publishers are overlooked by the Londoncentric publishing community thereby missing out on discovering talent and new readers.
“Thanks again for including us on your tour, we had a fantastic evening! It was such an innovative set-up for an event here with the podcasting and all, I thought that you and we managed it all rather well! I look forward to seeing what your next project will be! Thanks again.” – Alex, Events Team, Waterstones Norwich
As well as partnering up with Waterstones for the talks, we wanted to give indie publishers greater Media visibility by way of a National and Regional PR campaign orchestrated by Sue Amaradivakara from the PR Collective.
“It was good to discover indie publishers I did not know about thanks to the bookblast 10×10 tour.” – Catherine Fuller, Projects Manager at the Society of Authors
“It was a great evening, a great project, wonderfully run! Bravo!” Michael Schmidt OBE FRSL, General Editor, PN Review & Editorial and Managing Director, Carcanet Press Limited
The discussion at WestBank Art & Music concluded with Kit, Elizabeth and Susan each flagging up a lead title to look out for in 2019:
INFLUX: Plastic Emotions about the first ever female Sri Lankan architect in the 1940s who had an affair with Le Corbusier.
SAQI: A collection of newly-discovered short stories by Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1988, “Through works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – he has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.”
ISTROS: Under Pressure by a Bosnian war veteran being published in Spring 2019 backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign.
“It is very interesting to hear about distribution and I feel fairly positive about the future of indie publishing . . . aside from what is happening in Parliament at this very moment . . . small publishers do interesting things culturally which is why we do what we do . . . we must not miss out mentioning the joy of publishing new writers and bringing voices to an audience.” – Kit Caless, Influx Press
The 10 tour talks are being podcasted by Ben Fiagbe, BookBlast’s business development & tech director, thereby giving them longevity and making them available for a global audience.
Keep an eye out for the 10×10 Tour podcasts on our SoundCloud channel.
We have loved getting away from the privileged publishing metropolitan ghetto and going on the road . . . so that’s all for now folks . . . see you next year!
We thank our sponsors and partners for their confidence in our work. Our vision here at BookBlast® would not have become reality without the commitment and active contribution from our sponsors and partners. Due to their support we have been able to get The BookBlast® 10×10 tour out on the road, showcasing the best of the best #indiepubs both on the ground and online, reaching all corners of the world.
And finally: Diaspora Calling! The Miles Morland Foundation offers African Writing Scholarships for African writers. For details about how to enter please visit the foundation’s website HERE
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