Last weekend the IF Maitland Indie Festival launched in Maitland NSW. The inaugural writers' festival is a celebration of independent writing, founded by Festival Director, Graham Davidson.
When I was offered the opportunity to work on their social media and promotions, I jumped at the opportunity. I recently began my postgraduate studies in Creative Industries (Marketing) and had been planning on attending the festival anyway to learn more about independent publishing, a publishing pathway I'd been considering pursuing for a few years. As I also wanted to develop my marketing profile, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to use my build my skillset in a field of interest, drawing on the knowledge I'd already acquired from my undergrad and volunteer experience at Yak Media and The Monthly OPUS, in addition to the skills I am learning through my masters. I am so grateful to Graham and the team for welcoming me on board and making the journey and experience not only worth my time but a fun and enjoyable experience.
While covering social media on the ground at the festive, I attended several events, one of which was'Self-Publishing Made Easy' by IngramSpark's Debbie Lee. I learnt a lot of tips about self-publishing, including but not limited to: rough budget estimates, how to price your book to different markets, to purchase your own ISBNs so that publishing rights remain with you (the author/publisher), how IngramSpark payments work, to acquire an eProof prior to publication, as well as some general tips and marketing hints. It was an incredible panel that reassured me that I knew what I was doing and that the research I had done thus far had been on point.
I also attended 'The Success of Romance Indie Publishing' panel featuring Michelle Douglas, Jodi (J.L.) Perry, and Cathryn Hein. As a reader and writer recently involved in the romance indie publishing scene, I found that I could relate and understand to some of the points these women made about the industry that I hadn't realised until the panel. Aside from the fandom-like nature of some readers (which I had witnessed firsthand at ARR19), I received insight into the value of networking and key design elements (eg. readability, editing, cover design, etc). I hadn't thought to use tropes in the blurb of my narratives or to use software such as Draft2Digital to assist in the publication production process. They also discussed the large scale of the industry, including the global competition, and local festivals and conventions focusing on romance novels.
I left the festival feeling inspired to create again, inspired to work towards my goal of publishing independently and sharing my stories with the world. Among other events, the insights I gained from IF was invaluable in relation to gathering data to put towards a certain project I am working on developing this year. While I won't mention too much about that right now, let's just stay tuned, because this writer has rediscovered her desire for storytelling.