Unveiling the Literary Festival World: The Enigmatic Inner Workings of LitFests in India (Part 2)

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If you have wondered how litfests in India work, we have answered it for you in this blog post.

Welcome back to our literary voyage through the enchanting world of litfests in India—a journey that promises revelations, inspiration, and a dash of intrigue. If you’ve been following along, you know by now that litfests in India are more than just gatherings of the bookishly inclined. They are living, breathing entities, bustling with creativity, narratives, and the ceaseless hum of conversation.

As you sip your literary tea and ponder the mysteries of part one, we invite you to join us on the next leg of this extraordinary expedition. In Part 2: The Enigmatic Inner Workings of Litfests in India, we’re delving deep into the mysterious underbelly of these events. Have you ever wondered how literary festivals actually work? How authors are chosen, panels are assembled, and the magic unfolds?

Get ready to unlock the secrets, for we’ll reveal the fascinating mechanics that power these festivals and make them a storytelling extravaganza. It’s a behind-the-scenes tour that’s bound to captivate your curiosity and deepen your appreciation for the world of literary celebrations.

Read the first part of this series where we discuss the role of litfests in India in an author’s journey.

But remember, this is a three-part odyssey. To fully grasp the essence of litfests in India, from their role in an author’s life to the art of securing an invitation, and now, their inner workings, we encourage you to read all three parts. So, as we embark on this expedition into the heart of litfests in India, brace yourselves, and let’s demystify the magic that brings stories to life!

Literary festivals, often referred to as litfests, are diverse in how they operate and make author selections. While it’s true that some larger festivals may prioritize popular and bestselling authors due to their ability to attract larger audiences and sponsors, it’s not a universal rule.

Litfests in India
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How do litfests in India work?

Organizers and Sponsors

Literary festivals are organized by individuals, institutions, or committees, often in collaboration with sponsors. These festivals require funding to cover expenses such as venue rental, author fees, marketing, and logistics.

They are often brought to life by a variety of key players, including individuals, institutions, or dedicated committees, sometimes in collaboration with sponsors who recognize the cultural and intellectual value of such events.

Litfests in India

The intricate choreography of a literary festival begins with the visionaries who conceive it—those passionate individuals who believe in the power of storytelling and the need to create a space for authors, readers, and literary enthusiasts to converge. These visionaries might be renowned authors, educators, cultural enthusiasts, or even dedicated volunteers who’ve made it their mission to promote the written word.

But turning this vision into a reality is no small feat. Literary festivals, as grand as they are, require substantial funding to ensure they run seamlessly. The expenses incurred are multifaceted and include:

Venue Rental

Securing an appropriate space, often in iconic or culturally significant locations, is a fundamental aspect of a festival’s success. This includes renting auditoriums, theaters, open spaces, and other facilities to accommodate diverse sessions and events.

Author Fees

To entice authors to participate, festivals may offer honorariums or cover travel and accommodation expenses. This is essential to attract a diverse and talented lineup of writers.


Effective marketing is the lifeblood of any successful festival. This includes advertising, social media promotion, creating visually engaging collateral, and building anticipation among potential attendees.

Litfests in India


Ensuring the smooth operation of the festival involves logistics such as stage and sound equipment, event management personnel, bookstalls, and more.


The safety and well-being of attendees and participants are paramount. Security personnel and measures are necessary to maintain order and provide peace of mind.


Behind the scenes, a dedicated team handles administrative tasks, from registration and ticketing to coordination with authors and vendors.

Content Curation

The process of selecting authors and planning sessions is an art in itself. It involves researching and contacting authors, designing diverse and engaging panels, and scheduling events.


Authors, guests, and attendees must be provided with hospitality services, which may include accommodations, transport, and meals.

Sponsors often play a crucial role in making these festivals financially viable. They recognize the cultural and intellectual significance of literary gatherings and offer financial support in exchange for branding and visibility at the festival. Their partnership ensures that these celebrations of literature continue to thrive and that a wide audience can partake in the magic of storytelling.

These elements seamlessly weave together to create an immersive experience for authors and readers alike, all under the banner of a shared love for literature.

Recommended Reads: Litfests: Sponsors and participants should both know there are always strings attached

Author Selection

The process of selecting authors for litfests in India varies. Some festivals have a rigorous application process where authors submit their work and proposals to be considered as speakers or panelists. Others rely on recommendations from literary agents, publishers, and industry professionals.

Themes and Relevance

Many litfests in India have themes or specific topics they want to explore. Authors whose work aligns with these themes are more likely to be considered. For example, a festival on environmental literature might prioritize authors who have written on environmental issues.

Audience Attraction

Festival organizers aim to attract a diverse and engaged audience. Popular and bestselling authors can indeed draw larger crowds, which is appealing to both attendees and sponsors. However, festivals also recognize the importance of featuring emerging and lesser-known authors to maintain diversity and introduce fresh voices to their audiences.

Balancing the Lineup

A well-balanced lineup often includes a mix of renowned authors, emerging talent, local writers, and international voices. This diversity enriches the festival’s offerings and caters to a broader spectrum of literary interests.

Networking and Recommendations

Networking within the literary community and receiving recommendations from industry professionals can increase an author’s chances of being invited. Literary agents, publishers, and fellow authors may recommend you to festival organizers.


Authors who actively promote their work and engage with readers through social media, blogs, and other online platforms can attract the attention of festival organizers.

Litfests in India
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The footfall, or the number of attendees, is a vital aspect of litfests in India. Let’s dive deeper into how this factor plays a significant role, especially in the eyes of sponsors, and why popular authors are often sought after:

Sponsors and the Quest for Footfall

As discussed above, sponsors are a cornerstone of litfests in India. They provide the financial backing that enables these events to flourish. However, sponsors aren’t philanthropic entities; they typically support festivals with specific aims in mind.

One of the primary objectives for sponsors is to gain visibility and recognition among the festival’s audience. They seek to establish a connection with the attendees, raise brand awareness, and often drive sales or engagement for their products or services.

The Footfall Factor

The number of attendees directly affects the success of litfests in India from a sponsor’s perspective. More footfall means greater exposure for sponsors. The larger the audience, the more eyes fall on sponsor branding, advertisements, and product displays. This increased visibility can translate into potential customers, clients, or partners for the sponsor.

The Popularity of Authors

Here’s where the role of popular authors comes into play. Acclaimed and celebrated authors have a significant fan following. Their presence at a literary festival often guarantees a surge in footfall. Readers and enthusiasts flock to these events to see, hear, and meet their favorite writers. This author-star power can dramatically increase the number of attendees, making the festival more appealing to sponsors.

In essence, popular authors act as magnets for footfall. Their mere presence can draw a substantial audience. Sponsors are well aware of this, and they often express a preference for festivals that boast a lineup of renowned and bestselling authors. It’s a win-win scenario; authors get to showcase their work to a larger audience, and sponsors achieve their goal of reaching more potential customers.

Balancing Act

However, the role of popular authors doesn’t overshadow the diversity and richness of litfests in India. These events are also about discovery—introducing readers to new voices, exploring niche genres, and celebrating literature in all its forms. Organizers strive to strike a balance between featuring well-known authors and emerging talent to ensure that festivals remain intellectually and artistically fulfilling.

In the end, it’s the harmonious blend of literature, authors, readers, and sponsors that creates the unique and vibrant atmosphere of a literary festival. While popular authors attract the crowds, the heart of these gatherings remains a celebration of the written word in all its beauty and diversity.

It’s important to note that while some litfests in India may prioritize popular authors, many others are committed to showcasing a wide range of voices. Authors who have a compelling story, a unique perspective, or a well-written book can still secure invitations. Persistence, networking, and a strong online presence can help less popular authors stand out.

Additionally, some smaller, regional, or niche festivals may be more accessible to emerging authors and can be a great way to gain experience and visibility. Authors should consider a mix of large and small festivals to build their festival presence and connect with readers and peers.

Litfests in India
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Are authors charged for an invite to litfests in India?

The practice of charging authors for festival participation is a topic that has sparked discussions and debates in the literary world. Our thoughts on it:

Financial Realities

Literary festivals, like any large-scale event, come with significant costs. These costs can include venue rentals, marketing expenses, logistics, author fees, and more. In some cases, festivals argue that charging authors helps offset these costs and ensure the event’s sustainability.

Inclusivity Concerns

Critics of charging authors argue that it may lead to exclusivity, where only established or financially capable authors can participate. This could potentially stifle the diversity of voices and new talents that literary festivals are known for promoting.

Impact on Emerging Authors

Emerging and debut authors might find it challenging to cover the costs of participation, which could limit their opportunities to gain exposure and connect with their audience. Literary festivals have traditionally been a platform for new voices to be discovered, and financial barriers may impede this.

Sponsorship and Ticket Sales

Some literary festivals are funded primarily through sponsorships and ticket sales. These revenue streams, along with government grants and donations, can be sufficient to cover expenses without charging authors. Festivals that rely more on these sources might be able to offer author participation without fees.

Mixed Models

Many festivals employ a mixed model where some authors are invited without charges, while others participate through application and payment. This model seeks to balance financial sustainability with inclusivity.

Value vs. Cost

Authors must weigh the value they will gain from festival participation against the costs. If the festival provides a platform to reach a target audience, connect with readers, and promote their work effectively, the cost might be justified.


Festival organizers should be transparent about their financial model and the reasons behind charging authors. Authors have a right to know how their fees are being utilized and whether the festival aligns with their goals.

In the end, the practice of charging authors for festival participation is a complex issue with valid arguments on both sides. It is essential for authors to make informed decisions about their involvement in a festival, taking into account their objectives, the festival’s reputation, and the potential benefits. Additionally, literary organizations and festival committees must carefully consider the financial aspects while striving to maintain the inclusive and diverse spirit that makes literary festivals so enriching for readers and authors alike.


As we draw the curtains on our exploration into the inner workings of litfests in India, we hope you’ve uncovered the enigmatic machinery that brings these events to life. It’s a world of logistics and creativity, of careful curation and the celebration of the written word.

In this part, we’ve peeled back the layers to reveal the intricate process of how authors are chosen, panels are assembled, and the magic is orchestrated. Behind every captivating discussion, there’s meticulous planning, and behind every author’s appearance, there’s a story.

But our literary journey is far from over. Stay tuned for the final part in this series, “Part 3: The Quest for Literary Fest Glory,” where we’ll uncover the strategies and secrets behind securing that coveted invitation to a literary festival. If you’ve ever dreamt of being a part of these vibrant celebrations of literature, you won’t want to miss it.

So, for now, let the revelations of Part 2 simmer in your mind like a well-crafted story, and prepare for the grand finale. The adventure continues, and we’ll see you there!

One response to “Unveiling the Literary Festival World: The Enigmatic Inner Workings of LitFests in India (Part 2)”

  1. […] Part 2: The Inner Working, we’ll discuss the workings of a literary festival- what goes behind planning and organising […]

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