BookAmp No.4

for literary event organisers

New director at Charleston

Congratulation to Susannah Stevenson who is joining Charleston as Artistic Director of the Charleston Festival, Small Wonder Festival and Literary Programmes. Susannah previously worked as Cultural Events Producer for the British Library.

Charleston Festival’s founder and former Artistic Director, Diana Reich, will continue to programme Charleston’s sister festival, Charleston to Charleston, which takes place in South Carolina every November.

First Authors Revealed for the 2020 6th Derby Book Festival

Authors already signed up for 2020 include journalist and broadcaster John Humphrys and crime writer Val McDermid. She will be interviewed and then will sing with the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers (fellow crime writers Stuart Neville, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone and Luca Veste). Also announced ‘The Bard of Barnsley’, Ian Macmillan; biographer Andrew Lownie on The Mountbattens; Lennie Goodings on her career with the iconic Virago Press; naturalist Mark Cocker and former Waterstones Derby bookseller turned author Russ Thomas.

In the past most festivals would announce their line-up all at once but this two-shot announcement is a growing trend - presumably borrowed from music festivals that have been doing it for a while. I am sure tiered ‘early bird’ pricing will also get more popular - another proven sales driver from our music festival friends.

Small Wonder 3

Our focus on small publishers that would bring good vibes to your festival (and sell tickets).

Do Books

They publish short, beautiful looking, inspitational guides to improving your life. It could be keeping bees or making sourdough or it could be about leadership or the importance of good design. Started in 2012 by Miranda West as an offshoot of the Do Lectures that take place in Wales each year. They have over 20 books in print. Many of their authors originally gave talks at the Do Lectures so they are likely to be good communicators and presenters. You can email Miranda:

New Festival Alert No. 1

Aerial Festival

Aerial is a new festival of contemporary music, literature and performance, taking place in the stunning landscape of Ambleside in The Lake District, March 2020. Acts already announced include Katy Tempest, Caught by the River, Richard King and Hayden Thorpe. I would put money on this one growing and growing. It looks like it is being organised by From the Fields, the people behind Blue Dot and Kendal Calling.

New Festival Alert No. 2

Write by the Sea, 14-15 March 2020.

This looks like an amazing small festival set around the village of Tighnabruaich in Argyll, Scotland taking place over a weekend next Spring. I can personally vouch for two of the authors; Daniel Smith (i commissioned a book from him in a previous job) is talking at Ardlamont House, the real life location of a murder mystery that provided inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. Malachy Tallack (i was once on a panel at Cheltenham with him - nice guy!) is talking about his most excellent travel book 60 Degree North. Tickets for the whole weekend cost £70.

A ‘tedious go-round’ parts 1 and 2...

  1. I think he can churn these out in his sleep. A typical piece of pot stirring by Will Self writing in New European, ‘The literary festival circuit has become the tedious go-round of the contemporary author pushing her or his product. How many times I have looked out from the stage at the serried ranks of the British bourgeoisie, their expressions glazed over with the intense - almost avaricious - look of people consuming Kulture, with a capital K. Literary festivals offer municipalities the opportunity to look good for bupkes: All you have to do is put up a marquee and hang some bookish bunting. We writers - it is a truth universally acknowledged - will go anywhere and do anything simply to have an audience; no need to pay us, a few stale bourbon biscuits on a pale blue Tupperware plate is usually sufficient to buy our enthusiastic participation’. My response would be let’s save him from having to stare out at the serried ranks of the British bourgeoise by no linger booking him!

  2. A very different view from Kenan Malik in the Guardian writing about the Dhaka Literary Festival…

    ‘In a still-developing nation, a literary festival may seem like a luxury, a bauble for the literate middle classes. Yet it’s a kind of event more significant to a country such as Bangladesh than it would be to Britain or France.

    The festival is part of the struggle to define the soul of the nation. It is, as one of the festival’s founders and directors Kazi Anis Ahmed puts it, a conscious attempt to sustain the spirit of secularism and pluralism that animated the struggle for independence. “We provide space for local writers to speak freely and to discuss issues they may not be able to elsewhere,” he says’.

    I would add - lit festivals still have a crucial role to play in the UK as we are still struggling to define the soul of our nation.

How much?

In the last newsletter we complained about rising ticket prices - well, what do we know... The Bookseller reported this week that the 300 tickets for the Elton John signing we mentioned - bear in mind it was not an actual talk and no photos were allowed - at Waterstones Picadilly priced £28 sold out in 10 seconds flat.

Career Opportunities

National Association of Writers in Education NAWE is looking for someone to lead the organisation for a period of 6 – 9 months while their current Director is on Maternity Leave. Apply here.

Manchester City of Literature They are loooking for a Community Engagement Manager and a Partnership and Communications Manager. Apply here.

Lichfield Festival Ops Manager Part-time role delivering Staffordshire’s leading multi-arts Festival, which is now entering its 39th year.  The Festival produces two major events each year: a 4-day Literature Festival in March and a 10-day multi-arts Festival in July. Apply here.

Arvon Trustee (North of England/Voluntary) Arvon are looking for two new trustees with close links to the North of England. Details here.

Creative Events Co-ordinator Discover Children's Story Centre Discover Children’s Story Centre, the UK’s first centre dedicated to children aged 0-11 and their families, is seeking a motivated, energetic and responsible individual to be part of its team. Details here.

and finally…

The Sharjah Book Fair has broken the Guiness World Record for the largest simultaneous book signing in one location on Thursday with 1,502 authors signing copies of their own books. An official adjudicator confirmed Sharjah International Book Fair had beaten the previous record set by 1,423 authors in Turkey in 2010.

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