Some of the most useful advice, ideas and general background skeet on existing festivals that we've received has come direct from authors.
Last week we had the chance to pick the brains of an author (who is hoping to have a free slot in his diary to attend the first Manx Litfest) and one of the most interesting - and potentially challenging - points he raised related to the supply of books for signing at events by writers.
Whichever bookstore is involved in supplying the books for a particular event (and ensuring an even spread among the bookstores is going to be a challenge all in itself) has to take a bit a shot in the dark when predicting how many books to order. The issue for smaller bookshops (or any bookshop, for that matter) is that they don't want to a) be left with stock after the event that they may not be able to shift or b) have to pay for shipping unsold stock back to UK, the cost of which will likely put a major hole in any profit they may have made on the night. This is something we need to discuss with bookstores in the coming weeks and months.
The isssue of paying authors to attend also came up - but that is something we're keen to do anyway, as we've mentioned before.
There were some additions to our 'list of things that could potentially piss off an author'. They tend to be fairly obvious points - such as running out of books to sign/sell - and generally revolve around making sure they are looked after reasonably well. Why is this so important? Pretty obvious - apart from the fact that we're nice people and we want to show authors a good time anyway, the bottom line is that we're looking to build a strong reputation on the litfest calendar. If we treat authors poorly, word will undoubtedly get around. It's that simple.
Geography was another issue ro raise its head - as in the locations to be used, and the benefits/drawbacks of having events spread around, or most of them taking place within a central hub. This is a crucial factor and one that we're giving much thought to at the moment. Some difficult decisions like ahead, that's for sure.
There was one final point made - authors like to socialise, and there is usually a central bar/pub where they hang out with each other and mingle/drink with fans. I think it's best if I offer to research this element myself.