Portsmouth: A City of Stories for Publishers, Writers and Readers

Portsmouth Book Bash 2018 at Hunter Gatherer

Publishing, writing and reading in Portsmouth have been boosted this year with a new funding award for storytelling at Central Library, the inclusion of a new literacy focus at Victorious Festival, and the launch of the city’s first network for publishers. The Bookollective team, who led #LiteracyLive at Victorious and deliver the Portsmouth Book Bash, report.

In June 2018, Portsmouth saw the arrival of the first publishing specific networking event in Portsmouth. Co-organised by locally-based publisher and writer Abbie Headon and book PR and design agency Bookollective, the Portsmouth Book Bash was held at the Hunter Gatherer speciality coffee shop. The evening offered the Pompey book crowd the chance to come together and swap war stories about life in publishing, start new collaborations and cross-fertilise ideas.

The event reflected an exciting time in all things books and Portsmouth. Back in March, Central Library announced £140,000 of Arts Council funding to help boost storytelling and writing in the city over the next 2 years, with a new Writers’ Room facility which celebrates and promotes local writers, old and new.

This year’s Victorious Festival showcased books for the first time, with its first literary tent #literacylive featuring author readings and giveaways.

Victorious Festival on Twitter celebrating 2018’s launch of #literacylive

Esther Harris of Bookollective ran #literacylive at Victorious Festival, and said, ‘It’s a really exciting time to be bringing something new and bookish to Portsmouth. Regional is no longer a dirty word in publishing, which has traditionally been London-centric. In fact, it’s the very opposite. Following the Northern Fiction Alliance‘s recent open letter to publishing imploring they take a wider view of the UK, it feels like the industry is finally ‘on the move’. Orion Books are on tour in schools and communities across the UK right now, HuffPostLive is hosting from Birmingham next month and looking to specifically find new bloggers and northern stories and there is Weidenfeld & Nicolson’s ‘Hometown Tales’ series which has found, published and mentored new voices from around the country. It’s such a positive step and we’re very happy to be a small part of it.’

Abbie Headon also launched her new book at the first Portsmouth Book Bash, THE POWER OF YES, published by Ilex. She said, ‘It was a really fun evening. More and more people in the creative industries are working freelance now, so you’re either on your own or working from home a lot. It can be isolating. So, to get together with like-minded people and talk shop in a friendly, informal atmosphere really helps. And it’s really important the industry realises that you don’t have to live in London to work in publishing.

‘We will hold another Portsmouth Book Bash in the Autumn. Watch this space!’

If you’d like to register for the next Portsmouth Book Bash or for more information contact abbie@abbieheadon.com or esther@bookollective.com. Follow Abbie and the Bookollective on Twitter, and you can also follow the Bookollective on Facebook and Instagram.

This post was originally posted on the Bookollective blog.