Judging under way – and a bit of history

Judging under way!

Well we have been wowed by your original, daring and diverse submissions for our Bristol Litfest Story Sunday and decidingwhich to feature in the programme is no easy matter. We can promise an evening of high entertainment and we wil inform those chosen by October 6th at latest. This could be Bristol as you have never seen her/him/them before!

Tickets are on sale here.

Putting the Past on a Page

Meanwhile, three of our number are off to Gloucestershire to take part in the first Writers at the Goodshed evening of the season in Tetbury. That’s on Wednesday October 9th at 7 pm. Entry £4.

Ali, Jean and Kerry will be talking about how they approach research and writing. With Ali recently longlisted for the Dorothy Dunett Historical Short Story Prize this is a must for historical fiction fans and aspiring historical authors.

Five ways to support your friendly neighbourhood author

A lot of books are published every year. In fact the UK publishes more books per capita than any other country. So from an author’s point of view, no matter how good your work is, its success will depend entirely on whether it gets noticed.

I’ve been in Writers Unchained for a few years now, and whenever someone’s work finally hits the shelves, we are all delighted to see it, aware of how many years it has taken to achieve. We also know its shiny new cover will be competing with countless others. None of us have money to burn on marketing, so we try to do what publicity we can, often relying on our lovely readers to help spread the word.

So if someone who has written a book you really love, and you want others to find and enjoy it too, here are some ways to support your local authors…

1 Review it

Much as we’d all prefer that Amazon had not cornered the market, the reality is that people buy books there and a certain number of reviews can help boost a title’s ranking.

There’s a jokey adage going around among authors that if you get fifty reviews then Amazon ‘gives you a unicorn’ (ie the algorithm shows it to more potential buyers). I’m not sure how much truth there is in this, but a decent number of reviews is certainly going to improve a book’s performance on the website.

You don’t have to have bought the book from Amazon to review it there, though it will only let you do so if you’ve made other purchases.

If the thought of Amazon brings you out in a rash, it’s also really useful to leave reviews on Goodreads, Google Books, Bookbub, or other bookshop sites like Waterstones and Foyles. Or for a gold star, copy and paste your review to more than one!

2 Recommend it to a friend

Who would enjoy this book? Tell your bookish friends about it. If you use social media, post a picture of it. If you’re in a network such as Mumsnet that has discussion forums about books, mention it. People are more likely to buy a book if they see its cover more than once, so exposure is something that will really help an author.

3 Suggest it to a book club

If, like me, you’re in a book club (or three) then you may get the opportunity to suggest a title. Or perhaps your mum is in a book club and might be thinking about the next read.

Word of mouth is the most powerful form of publicity, so if you think the book raises some interesting topics and would make for a lively discussion, please do mention it.

If you’re a member of one of the many online book clubs (especially on facebook), then there are often ‘recommendations’ threads where you can post pictures of books you like.

4 Request it at the library

With several hundred thousand books published in the UK each year, libraries have a lot of choice. Most libraries give people the chance to request new books – you can often fill in a card at the desk, or request it using the online system. Library sales are of great importance to authors, and even the 8 pence or so that the writer gets from someone borrowing their book all helps.

Photo by Josh Felise on Unsplash

5 Buy it

Sounds simple, but if people don’t buy books there’ll be no publishing industry and we’ll all end up staring at our phones in between clubbing each other to death (can you tell I’ve written a lot of dystopian stuff lately?!)

If you have money, please do consider buying books. If you don’t, you can always tick off number 4, and support your local library into the bargain.

Consider using hive.co.uk which supports independent bookshops and allows you to collect your book from a shop of your choice. If you really must buy from Amazon, authors often have affiliate links from their websites.


The added bonus of championing the books you love is that the industry becomes more reader-directed, more people enjoy what they read, and read more of it, people improve their empathy, and generally lead us away from a future of smartphone addiction and blunt instruments. Result!

Announcing our special guest Lucy English

Lucy English

In an exciting update to our Story Sunday ‘Tales of Our City’ event on  October 20th we’re thrilled to announce that we – and you – will be joined for the evening by Bristol’s favourite writer and spoken word poet Lucy English.

We’re sure that you have either met Lucy or know her work; from her acclaimed novels Selfish People and Our Dancing Days to her recent achievements in poetry, digital writing and film. Lucy recenty organised the brand new Lyra  Poetry Festival in Bristol and you may also know her as a tutor  on the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing.

Lucy will give a short performance as part of the Tales of Our City evening alongside  a selection of other local writers who have submitted for the event.
Speaking of which, to have a chance of joining Lucy on the Southbank stage, you still have penty of time to SEND US YOUR STORIES!

Of course non-writers are also welcome to an evening of diverse and diverting performances from our talented local writing pool,  all in the laid-back atmosphere of Southbank Club in Bedminster.

Tickets £5 in advance from Bristol Ticket Shop, or £6 on the door.