I went along to Winchester Writers’ Festival last week – not to attend the talks, but to share a sales table with fellow writers Jude Hayland, Sue Russell and Elspeth Tavaci.  Although we all write quite different sorts of material, we got on like a house on fire.

Jude hails (originally) from Pinner, Middlesex, but has lived in Winchester for over twenty years – as well as having the bonus of a house in north west Crete. Her writing career has embraced commercial short fiction – published both in the UK and abroad – and two novels, the latest of which, ‘Counting the Ways’, I’m reading at the moment. Jude’s publisher, Troubador, was showcasing its growing list of Matador titles on a stand nearby – a chance for author and publisher to get together for a natter!

Sue’s specialism is scripts for assemblies and class plays – for teachers at both primary and secondary level – “a lively and entertaining way to deliver the school curriculum”.

Elspeth lived in Turkey for many years before returning to the UK where she writes for children, producing some delightful picture books with some superb illustrators such as Nick Tankard – often with a Turkish theme – and has her own publishing house, Purple Pomegranate. Her range of pocket-sized picture books are popular at craft fairs as well as in bookshops. They were certainly attracting a lot of attention at Winchester!

IngramSpark’s Nick Singh had the stand next to ours. I must admit, I hadn’t thought about the real people behind IngramSpark, so it was interesting to talk to Nick and to learn more about this portal to print-on-demand and distribution services for independent publishers and writers.

If you publish independently, you know how swiftly the scenoznore is changing, with Createspace no longer offering self-publishing services, and with Kindle Direct Publishing looking like an alternative – although it’s early days. In many ways, there’s no better time to be publishing independently, but there’s still lots to learn, with plenty of professional advice out there – if you know where to look.  That’s why I value advice forums like the Alliance of Independent Authors‘ member forum on Facebook, where experiences – good and bad – are so generously shared.

I certainly learnt a lot, and met some interesting writers and publishers – which is what’s so great about all these festivals that celebrate writing, and Winchester was no exception!