Fitzroy Writers Festival Recap

Last Saturday, a few us GSP members rose early to prepare for the first ever Fitzroy Writers Festival. Our sales manager Sally packed up our tent, GSP banner and boxes of our books from the University of Melbourne. She headed over to the Fitzroy Town Hall Ballroom at 10 am, ready to start the festivities. Afterwards, our own Tasabbur Haidar wrote about her experience at the festival.

A collage of photos from the festival: the festival's banner, Bookseller's marketplace, and our Pitch Tent.

Built in the 1870s during Australia’s gold rush period, Fitzroy Town Hall Ballroom was a beautiful space. The hall fit the purpose seamlessly, hosting emerging publishers, small presses and booksellers for the inaugural writers festival. The classic Victorian room was an excellent arena for talking about writing, reading, and exploring Fitzroy’s literary history.

“The Fitzroy Writers Festival was filled with inspiring conversations and fun events celebrating the written word.”

– Tasabbur Haidar, GSP web editor

Adjacent to the ballroom sits Fitzroy Library, where many of the festival’s writers workshops, panel discussions and Q&A sessions occured. Events included chats with authors Emma Russack, Carly Findlay, Maxine Beneba Clarke and a special discussion with Behrouz Boochani, who spoke with visitors via Skype in the reading room. These chats occurred throughout the festival, with many visitors ducking out of the marketplace to participate in the discussions.

Our Marketplace Stall

GSP’s stall was lucky enough to be placed at the front of the festival’s bookseller’s marketplace. Visitors of the festival could see our team selling our books and hearing pitches from emerging writers. Our lead copyeditor Coral used her creative eye to make our display as tempting as our titles. She also crafted short summaries of our books so visitors could better understand the books GSP is producing. It was an amazing feeling to show off all the hard work we put in.

The GSP display of books for sale.
GSP strutting our stuff. Photo by Tasabbur Haidar.

As the inaugural Fitzroy Writers Festival, GSP thoroughly enjoyed connecting with Yarra Libraries, as well as the other publishers, presses and booksellers from around Melbourne. The GSP was part of a plethora of emerging presses and publishers at the festival, including Ford Street Publishing, Niche Press, The Little Bookroom, Wild Dingo Press, Melbourne Young Writers Studio and Brow Books.

We appreciated talking to visitors about what GSP does, who we are and how we developed as a small teaching press. It was fascinating to see our visitors’ reactions when they learned that the press is run primarily by students.

Pitch our Tent

The GSP team selling our books.

GSP was the only press at the festival to include a pitch tent. Emerging and potential writers could pitch their story ideas, find out more about our press, and gain some feedback on ideas and stories put forward to us.

We had around 20 writers come forward to talk about their books, memoirs and blog ideas. It was interesting hearing so many pitches for biographies and memoirs, from people eagerly sharing their personal stories with us. Where perhaps a book was not genre appropriate, our submissions team referred some people to our Millennials Blog where their idea may find a better fit.

“We received several exciting pitches from writers who were eager to get their stories heard. We are looking forward to discovering more emerging writers through events like this!”

– Coral Huckstep, GSP Lead Copyeditor

Grattan Street Press would like to thank all the brave emerging and potential writers for coming forward to our tent to pitch your story ideas. We know what a daunting process that can be! We met with some truly promising storytellers and are looking forward to contacting you about your work.

It was a privilege to be part of the first Fitzroy Writers Festival. The Grattan Street Press is a small teaching press staffed by students. We are always excited to put our name out there in the Melbourne publishing scene, meet with authors and writers, and connect with readers in any way that we can.

The GSP's stall at Fitzroy Writers Festival Bookseller's Marketplace packed full of people.
Fitzroy Writers Festival in Full Swing. Photo by Tas.

Written by Tasabbur Haidar

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