Saturday, 24 June 2017

The University of Cusop Dingle Talks About Self-Publishing

Self-published authors were invited to bring along their books to show. I have self-published several Young Adult Fantasies online, on a site called Smashwords, so there aren't any physical copies. I did think of taking my laptop along to show, but decided against it in the end. I haven't used it yet outside the house, and I'd rather practice getting onto a wifi system quietly first, rather than in front of a crowd of people! (I'm sure it's very easy - it's just that I haven't done it yet).
The first part of the evening was King Richard holding court, and talking about writing pamphlets exposing political corruption and the evils of the Welsh Tourist Board. Here's a sample from the flyer he passed round:

"Brexiting BREXIT the King of Hay knew that only in his 400 pamphlets could the truth be told, and that the University of Cusop Dingle, headed by an Oxford Don, could show how a 'Renaissance of the Book and Reformation of the Tourist Industry' was possible with a 1000 book-towns worldwide.
"Hay and Hay Festival clearly showed that the pseudo-democracy of enormous wealth, and the debasement of information for commercial self-interest, was the beginning of a fascist state and totally unsuitable for the 21st century where Global Warming made continents more important than countries."

Among the pamphlets he intends to write is "12 CORRUPT MAYORS OF HAY", starting in the 1960s with a Mr Like, and Dorothy Birch (who I think must have been the mother of Nigel Birch, long time Hay councillor who died fairly recently). Also proposed are: HOW A COMMUNITY ECONOMY CAN CREATE A MILLION JOBS, MUSIC IS THE GREATEST INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE, and SQUEAL, which will be about local corruption.

He finishes, in the flyer, by saying: "For a semi-senile 78 year old, writing pamphlets is the perfect occupation... he can change his mind, repeat himself, adapt to new information, and perhaps above all offer his opponents limitless space to refute his arguments...!"

Richard's sister was also there, in the 1812 Bar of the Swan (didn't it used to be called the Cygnet Bar?), and she is putting on art exhibitions in London, including one of art by Sidney Nolan.

And then it was time for the self-published authors to talk about their work. Chris the Bookbinder was there, with a paperback copy of The Green Book of Olwen Ellis (he used to read out passages from the book at open mic nights at Kilvert's, and later, the Globe - I don't know if he still does that). He also edits the occasional poetry magazine Quirk, copies of which are available from his shop.
Another chap (his name escapes me, I'm afraid) is a teacher in Hereford, but lives in Hay. He has written a utopian SF novel called Sweden, which begins in the distinctly dystopian period of Thatcher's Britain. He said that he'd seen the sort of books his teenage daughter was reading - things like The Hunger Games and other dystopias, and felt that there should be more fiction depicting a hopeful view of the future that we can aim towards. He went into it aware that a utopia for one person might be a dystopia for another, and that fictional utopias are often quite narrow views of possible futures, but hopes he has got round that in his version.
There was some discussion about the difficulties of promoting self-published work, and finding outlets which will sell self-published books, and how promoting self-publishing would fit with the second hand book economy of Hay, which was interesting, but it was difficult to come to any conclusions.

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