Salisbury Writers’ Festival

By PD Martin

I’m up for Wildcard Tuesday, and I wanted to talk about the wonderful weekend I just had in South Australia for the Salisbury Writers’ Festival. I think all readers and writers can agree that writers’ festivals are fantastic.

For readers they offer an insight into the writing life and their favourite authors (and characters), and for authors they’re an opportunity to meet fellow authors, meet readers, and generally get out of the cocoon that often surrounds the writing process.

Salisbury Writers’ Festival was no exception!

It’s a smaller festival, one that’s run by a local council about twenty kilometres outside of Adelaide city centre, with many of the attendees being aspiring writers. Whether it’s despite its size or because of its size the event is run incredibly well and I had a ball.

I was lucky enough to be involved in four events over a three-day period. First off, was my keynote address on Friday night. My topic was “The Brave New World for Readers and Authors”. One guess what that focused on! It’s interesting, because here in Australia market penetration of e-readers is very poor. Stats are hard to come by, but when I asked members of the 170-strong attendees if they owned a dedicated e-reader, only about eight hands went up. Like I said, e-readers still aren’t big here, and so part of my address was really about the basics – what an e-reader is, what brands are available in Australia and some of the features. I think they’re like many new technologies, in that people are hesitant to jump on board, especially with something that’s new, something that they don’t see or hear much about. And that’s the case with e-readers here in Australia.

In terms of the author side of things, I talked about the self-publishing revolution that’s been happening in the industry and mentioned some of the bigger success stories, such as JA Konrath and Amanda Hocking. During my research I found a quote from JA Konrath that I absolutely LOVED. He was quoted in a USA Today article as saying: “Traditional publishers are just serving drinks on the Titanic.” Man, I love that quote! So much so, that I wanted to share it here in case you haven’t heard it before.

Then, on Saturday I was on two panels, one titled Pathways to Success, which had four of us sharing our experiences of getting published. Dan McGuiness, who writes graphic novels aimed at 8-12 yro boys, had a very interesting success story. Basically, he went to a pub one night that was an ‘arty’ pub with readings and the like, and showed a woman his drawings. She asked if he could write a book in that style, and he said “sure”. That woman was an editor at Scholastic and she signed him up for his Pilot and Huxley series. Not many authors find success walking into a pub and it definitely makes for one hell of a good story!

I also stood in for a sick panellist for “Pathways to the Future”, and as you’d expect the discussion centred around ebooks, social networking, blogging, etc. It was a lively discussion with one blogger/author, one publisher, a digital publishing expert and little old me.

Although there were other very interesting events on for the rest of the day, the conversation we’d started at the panel was so interesting we continued it over coffee. That’s one of the things I love about writers’ festivals – meeting other writers and people in the publishing industry and just hanging out.

My weekend dance card finished with a master class that I ran from 9.30-3pm on Sunday. My aim when I run any sort of class is to give attendees information about the writing craft that I feel would have helped me get published sooner, if only I’d discovered these pearls of wisdom a couple of years earlier. I think everyone enjoyed the class.

There’s also something kind of nice about staying in a hotel, especially if you don’t tend to travel much for work. So at night I was able to kick back, read a bit on my Kindle and watch a bit of TV. Nice.

So, what’s your favourite readers’ or writers’ festival and why? 

By the way, I’m also travelling this week, so might have difficulty responding to comments. In fact, I don’t know when/how I’m going to write and get my post up on Thursday! Stay tuned…

6 thoughts on “Salisbury Writers’ Festival

  1. Sarah W

    One of my favorite readers' festivals — though is technically isn't — is the American Library Association convention. We fanmob the writers, there, and the panels and talks are always well attended and wildly applauded. And dear heaven, the swag . . . Good times! (the Public Library Association conferences and the state library association conventions are terrific too, but ALA is the Big One)

    Bouchercon is another — my first one, last year, would have been a blast even if I hadn't met Zoe! The panels are amazing. I'm planning on going this year, possibly with my SIL.

  2. Kathleen George

    Perhaps little known but wonderful is Words and Music in New Orleans, hosted by the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society. I had a great time there in the past and am going again this year. B'con in Cleveland promises to be great, too. So glad you had a wonderful time, P.D. Martin. Exotic, too!

  3. David Corbett

    I've become a fan of NoirCon in Philadeplhia, and intend to get there this year. And I als love Left Coast crime for being big enough to be interesting, small enough you actually get to connect with the people you want to. (I'll be toastmaster next year in Colorado Springs — if only I knew what that entailed …)

    Have great fun at the Salisbury fete, Phillipa!

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I find it maddening that the first time I'm actually in Australia you leave for the West Coast!

    It's interesting, the RWAustralia conference I was speaking at on the EAST Coast seemed much more hip about e readers and e publishing, but that's actually quite typical of romance writers and readers; they break ground first.

  5. PD Martin

    Very delayed response! Hi all. Yes, the one and only time I went to Bouchercon I LOVED it. Wish it was just a few hours' flight away for me, too.

    I've heard great things about Left Coast Crime but haven't been…yet.

    The American Library Association convention and the Words and Music in New Orleans both sound great, too. If only I lived in the US!

    Yes, Alex, I still can't believe we missed each other. One of these days…

    And that's interesting about the RWA and e-readers. I guess it's not that surprising given romance and mysteries are probably the most popular ebooks.


  6. Rachel Walsh

    Arrggh! I've been to the Salisbury Writers Festival every year for the past four and *this* was the one I couldn't make! Sigh. Glad you enjoyed being part of the festival; it really does punch above its weight, doesn't it? I'm definitely going next year! 🙂

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