Isle of Wight Literary Festival 2012 Overview

The inaugural Isle of Wight Festival of 2012 took place this weekend. I now have to include the year because I’m sure that it will establish itself as an annual bash. I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions that I went to and, from speaking to other festival goers, it seems to have gone off rather well.

It was centred around the lovely stately home of Northwood House, overlooking views of the Solent, and even the weather behaved itself. Every session, or turn, that I witnessed was very well attended, with most being sell-outs. There were some incredibly interesting speakers, full of anecdote, experience, and wisdom. But the real success of the festival was the intangible buzz around the place, as if the crowds were pinching themselves that these people had actually come to see them.

There were obviously some drawbacks that will, hopefully, be learnt from for next year. The sound was an issue in most of the rooms, at times speakers were even having to compete with each other from separate rooms due to the poor layout. But some smarter scheduling and a PA and microphone should solve most of these for next year.

We cringed when the Chair of a panel debate session opened up questions from the floor only to say, “yes, you Sir with the green jumper,” and watched as the woman with the green jumper ruffled her feathers. Or the photographer that drowned out the first session, of the whole festival with Celia Imrie, by clicking and clicking and clicking over everything she said. Princess Diana was not even used to such levels of paparazzi, I’m sure, and the complaint during the Q&A at the end was equally as earth swallowing.

All the speakers were interesting but, as is the nature of these festivals, the corporate funds will increase next year and we should expect some larger names to whet one’s appetite.

So, let me provide my opinions of the speakers in general, even though some will deserve their own dedicated post later this week. On the whole I was extremely disappointed, yet maybe not surprised, to hear from best-selling, established authors who were almost oblivious to the changing industry. I realise now that these writers have made a very successful career for themselves from – writing – they don’t care, and never have done, about distribution and formats and royalties and sales etc.

Publishers and Agents seemed to talk about strange worlds that didn’t really stack up with the hard facts of the industry anymore. They claimed in one session that a couple of years ago they were really scared of eBooks, but it’s ok now. I can tell you that their eyes were telling a very different story. I’ll write a post about self-published vs. traditional later in the week and go into it more then.

There was one self-published author who stood out like a lighthouse from the rocky, traditional industry. Spreading their light of success across the stormy, turbulence below. But this was the exception.

Literary festivals are for readers and writers combined. The Isle of Wight Literary Festival had more readers than writers and this influenced the sessions, the demographic was heavily swayed in the retired contingent of society and this also moulded most Q&A’s, but I thoroughly enjoyed simply listening to people that are doing what I want to do. It has provided me with encouragement, inspiration, enthusiasm, and knowledge to get on and succeed myself and, who knows, maybe next year I’ll be given a free pass.

One response to “Isle of Wight Literary Festival 2012 Overview

  1. Not surprised to read that there were so many retired people in attendance, I suspect that they are the ones with the time and the interest to go along. I rather think that attending Literary festivals is something that many more people, of all ages, would enjoy but we don’t often spend time thinking about such things when we have young families. Or maybe it’s the way these festivals are advertised?
    Also not surprised with your comments about the traditional publishing industry versus e-books/self publishing. New technology is often considered a threat until the numbers of users increase and a head of steam builds up.
    My local librarian told me this week that they anticipate charging for loans of e-books, in a similar way that they currently make a small charge for conventional book loans. This may help allay fears of you writers regarding loss of income from libraries whilst promoting reading on all types of platform. Who knows?

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