Small Publishers’ Fair and a Message from our Patron: Truth is disseminated through fiction, by Mary Macarthur FWC Chair.

Small Publishers’ Fair and a Message from our Patron: Truth is disseminated through fiction, by Mary Macarthur FWC Chair.

We couldn’t have wished for a better morning. The FWC volunteers were all there, filling the empty Silk Mill with tables and signs. Even competition from the England-Sweden match faded into the future. Balloons were blown, bunting distributed, and an atmosphere of cheerful bustle lay over us all.

I had a lovely welcome speech written and printed in large type, but I need not have bothered. When the time came for the official opening I forgot even to look at it as I stood on the steps with our patron, Chicken House’s founder, Barry Cunningham by my side. In the hall below, stallholders were already engaging visitors; the buzz was energising and hopeful and Barry was obviously enjoying being there. He made a point of looking round the stalls from the start.

I felt a bit too formal in my white top and navy skirt – but Barry’s warm personality and down to earth approach relaxed us all, and when the time came to begin the official opening, and I said I’d use my ‘teacher voice’ to get attention, he watched and listened. Then, when I didn’t get instant silence, he offered to use his ‘teacher voice’, which was surprisingly powerful and loud. That worked very well.

As he spoke, the warmth of his support for local talent and for the amount of effort Frome Writers’ Collective puts into encouraging members was obvious and heartfelt. He believes in what we are doing, and more than that, he believes that in a time of ‘fake news’, society’s truths and personal passions are written by the authors of books; that truth is disseminated through fiction.

Visitors continued to come throughout the afternoon; the stalls were busy and we had 100% uptake for our ‘Interviews with an Agent’.

We gained a number of new members from the many who followed the footprint and balloon trail into the Silk Mill. By the end of the day our volunteers were more than a little exhausted, but happy with the results. New contacts with the publishing industry have been made and the population of Frome has again been reminded of how the FWC channels and supports the abundant creativity of the town.


Frome Small Publishers’ Fair

Frome Small Publishers’ Fair

Frome has a long-standing connection with printers and publishers and a wealth of writers currently live in the area. The 2017 Small Publishers’ Fair will take place on the first Saturday of the Frome Festival.

Exhibitors are offering an exciting range of fiction and non-fiction books for all ages, with stands by book artists, illustrators, local authors, independent publishers and publishing services:

Frome SPF 2017 A4 poster (1)ANN PHILLIPS


As in 2016, the Fair will be held in the attractive setting of the Frome Silk Mill in the centre of town.

Refreshments available at the Silk Mill Cantina and local cafes, pubs and restaurants. There is a car park nearby. July 8th is the first Saturday of Frome Festival, with a range of Open Studios and festival events on offer.

A Turn Up for the Book

A Turn Up for the Book

Funny How Things Turn Out

Jac Forsyth, Alan Somerville and I are all part of the Frome Writers’ Collective as well as being founder members of a writers’ group that meets up on Fridays. In truth, we’re the only members of the Friday group!

One day, in a discussion about publishing, we agreed that neither traditional publishing, nor on-line publishing were completely satisfactory for us, so I turned to one of my old ideas – small-scale publishing of hand-stitched booklets with up to around 50 pages. I showed the rest of the group an example of the hand-stitched books, ‘Pip’s Poems’, which went down well. Alan then gave me his collection of seven short stories ‘Seven Sides of Life’, to publish and a friend gave me a collection of 30 limericks, entitled ‘A Bunch of Daffs’.

We gave various copies away, left some in cafés, and sold a few for the price of a cup of coffee, to cover publishing costs (excluding labour), but after this things went quiet for a bit.

Then, at the Frome Artists’ Café, Ray Campbell said:

‘Why do people buy mass-produced copies of art when they could buy from local artists at a similar price?’

It was a good question and one which I decided that might apply to writing and publishing too. So I set up a small display promoting my hand-stitched publishing service, in the area of Frome Library devoted to writers.  The library staff were helpful, even making an offer to organise a launch event – which I might still take up.

Then two-three months went by and nothing happened.  Each booklet had an e-mail address on the back cover for ordering more copies, but there were no e-mails and whenever I visited the library to check the stock of takeaway flyers there were still plenty there. Inevitably, I turned my attention to the many other projects I have on the go.

But then, out of the blue, Alan asked me to print seven more copies of ‘Seven Sides of Life’. It turned out that there was a ‘reading aloud bibliotherapy group, called ‘Reading Allowed’, which met at Frome Library on Mondays, and this group had liked the sample book so much that each member wanted their own copy. Since then, we have been asked for another six copies and we’re now preparing a booklet of children’s stories by Alan, ‘Topsy Turvey Tales’.


My original idea of hand-stitched booklets arose from the death of my partner Freda in 2006.  Her friend, from her schooldays, has written a published book ‘Funny How Things Turn Out’.


Some ventures are like plants – they grow from seeds, some of which fall on fallow ground; they grow at a natural, variable pace, depending on chance and the weather; force them, and they may grow weak. For me, the experience of producing the books goes to show that you should always pursue ventures. You won’t necessarily get the result you’re aiming for – in fact you probably won’t – but something nice will happen.

Paul Fine