Q&A with Selina Brown

21st June 2023
5 min read
3rd July 2023

Selina Brown, CEO and founder of the Black British Book Festival, talks about the creation of the festival and her own journey as a writer.

Selina Brown
  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to creating the Black British Book Festival? What areas did you work in before?

    My journey to creating the Black British Book Festival began with my own experience as a self-published author. I had some success with my first two books, but being a Black woman brought its own challenges and barriers. However, I soon realised that I wasn't alone in facing these struggles as many other Black authors were encountering similar issues. In response to these challenges, I founded the festival in 2021. My main goal was to provide visibility, support, and celebration for Black British writers.

    Before starting the festival, I worked in events and Marketing. I've always been a writer, having self-published two books called Before Breath and Nena: The Green Juice.

  2. You are also an author and self-published successfully before finding an agent. What advice would you give to authors considering the self-publishing route? 

    For authors considering the self-publishing route, I would advise conducting thorough research and planning strategically. It's crucial to understand the publishing landscape, marketing strategies, and distribution channels available to self-published authors. Building a strong online presence and engaging with your target audience is key. Additionally, investing in professional editing, cover design, and formatting can greatly enhance the quality of your book. Don't hesitate to seek feedback from a critique group or hire professional editors to ensure your work is polished.
  3. Can you talk us through your own writing process? When you get the beginning of an idea, how do you develop it?

    When I have the beginning of an idea for my writing, I allow it to develop and evolve over time. I start by brainstorming and jotting down any thoughts or fragments of the story that come to mind. From there, I create an outline or a basic structure to guide the progression of the story. As I write, I let the characters and plot evolve naturally, often discovering new ideas and directions along the way. Approaching writing from a place of peace and joy is important in my process, as it allows room for creativity and exploration.

  4. When creating a festival, where do you start? 

    When it comes to creating a festival, the first step is to determine its purpose and vision. In my case, I wanted to champion Black British writers and break down barriers in the publishing industry. Once the purpose is clear, I reach out to potential speakers, sponsors, and partners who align with the festival's goals. Securing venues and setting a date are also crucial early steps. Creating a diverse and engaging program that appeals to different audiences and offers unique experiences is essential. Effective marketing and promotion through various channels are vital to attracting attendees.
  5. What have been the challenges of creating a festival from scratch?

    Creating a festival from scratch presents its own set of challenges. One of the main hurdles is securing funding and sponsorships to cover the event's costs. Additionally, there is a significant amount of logistical work involved in finding suitable venues, coordinating with speakers and participants, and managing the overall operations of the festival. It can be a demanding and time-consuming process, requiring effective communication, organisation, and problem-solving skills. Ensuring the festival's sustainability and growth over time, while adapting to changing circumstances and audience needs, is another challenge.
  6. What are your hopes for the future of the festival?

    My hopes for the future of the festival are to continue expanding its reach and impact. I aspire to make it the biggest event the festival has ever seen, with increased visibility for Black authors and greater representation within the publishing industry. I want to create an inclusive and diverse landscape where Black British authors thrive and their books fly off the shelves. Ultimately, my vision is to bring about an ecosystem of Black publishing that is completely inclusive, diverse, and representative of the entire UK, from the boardrooms to the bookshelves. I hope that in a few years, a young person in a school will find a library with a diverse bookshelf that authentically speaks to everyone.
  7. Can we see any new stories coming from you soon?

    Yes, there are new stories coming from me soon. I am currently working on new projects, exploring different themes and genres in my writing. I am excited to soon be to sharing these new books with the whole world!

Selina Brown is an Author, Marketing Consultant and Event Producer. Raised by her British Mother and Jamaican Granny, Selina was an avid reader from a young age. At 16 she became the Youth MP for Nottingham, her love for words gained her two Degrees and a Masters at 21 years old. After living and working in New York, Jamaica, Kenya and Gambia Selina founded Little Miss Creative, an award-winning Female Development Agency that empowers girls in schools across the UK. During the pandemic she wrote the picture book series Nena that became popular in 2020. The same year Selina launched the intentionally renowned Black British Book Festival, which aims to celebrate new and emerging Black British authors across all genres of literature.

Follow the Black British Book Festival on Instagram and Twitter.

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