• Vendela Ahlström

Stockholm Writers Festival 2022



A while ago I announced that I would be volunteering at Stockholm Writers Festival 2022. And I did! And totally forgot to blog about it. I thought I’d write a little bit about what we did and what it was like.


The festival was hosted from 12-14 August at Hotel At Six in central Stockholm. It was a gorgeous venue with amazing food and drinks available during the breaks. The English Bookshop was there to sell the works of the faculty. There was everything from steamy romance, fantasy and sci-fi, historical to self help. The atmosphere was so welcoming and fun that people literally struggled to leave at the end of the days.

Wondering what we were up to? I’ll tell you!


Friday

SWF turned 5 this year, so the first evening was basically a birthday party. The founder, Catherine Petterson, welcomed everyone and there was cake and we sang Happy Birthday (in Swedish).


Saturday

The day started with a panel about “writing what you know”, followed by breakout sessions on amazon, social media and editing where guests had picked one session to attend. After lunch there was another breakout session where guests picked between writing physicality, poetry in prose, and backstory. In the afternoon we also got to attend a masterclass in creativity by Elise Valmorbida as well as a masterclass by Jackie Cangro on pitching, which absolutely phenomenal! At the end of the day we got to hear about Aliette de Bodard’s path to publishing together with her agent John Berlyne which was super interesting.


Sunday

The day began with another panel, this time about “breaking into the publishing industry”, where we got to hear from both agents and editors but also Ricardo Fayet from Reedsy, so there was info both for trad and indie publishing. This was followed by Buttonhole the Expert, an exciting speed-dating activity where people 5-10 people got 20 minutes at tables with experts within their field to ask questions. I did not attend this, since I worked, but it seemed highly appreciated. Lunch was followed by genre bootcamps and then breakout sessions on topics like openings, show don’t tell, and self-publishing. The festival closed with a super entertaining and informative session of Pitchapalooza with The Book Doctors where people got to deliver their 1 min pitch on stage and then receive feedback from The Book Doctors. This was so informative, even for those of us who didn’t participate with our pitches.



During both the Saturday and Sunday the festival hosted agent one-on-ones for those that has purchased such tickets. As a volunteer, I escorted these guests to their meetings. The event was all-together such a great experience. It was well organised and people seemed to have so much fun. I met new friends, who I’ve since caught up with and will swap WIPs with for beta reading. People, both faculty and guests, went up to SUS, a bar on the roof, to continue networking and hanging out even after the festival shut its doors for the night. People were so keen to get to know each other!


I loved that there were authors who were both indie and trad published and that we got to hear from other people in the industry, not just authors. Faculty included people like Kim Golden Malmgren, Cassie Gonzales, Liz Clark Wessel, Jessica Renheim, Lola Akinmade Åkerström and Olivia Dade.


Would I go again? Absolutely! I believe I had just as much fun as everyone else, by volunteering and helping out, as I would’ve had as a guest.

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