Firstly, I went along as a volunteer and I highly recommend doing this if you want to save the entry fee because it’s lots of fun, you meet lots of people and you feel like you’re a real part of the Festival. I was a host and had 8 writers assigned to me (I was like their PA for a day). Just contact them via the website.
Anyhow, this was my first visit and the general impression was that the visitors loved it, thought there was a good breadth of topics and some great authors there. I was surprised at the number of children and YA authors in attendance; Morris Gleiztman, Andy Griffiths, Isobelle Carmody, Shamini Flint and Sarah Brennan to name a few.
From the standpoint of a writer though, there was very little there in terms of learning your craft. The only session catering for us writers was the pitch session (45 mins for 6 pre-determined people to do a 5 min pitch) but this was interesting as ever with publishers from Harper Collins and Harlequin Teen.
I have to say the most exciting day for me was the Sunday as it was Children’s Day. To see a whole marquee full of 5 to 14 year olds, all there to listen to authors, buy their books and get them autographed, was very exciting. We should thank these authors for attending because they are creating so much interest in reading books and that will certainly benefit those of us wishing to publish in this market – and their own sales of course!
All in all, a great venue, some brilliant authors to talk to and listen to but more geared to readers than writers.