Molly Flatt, Comment Editor, The Bookseller and FutureBook organiser. Co-founders of MyVLF, Kelly Clayton, Gwyn GB and Deborah Carr.

Just seven months after launch, Jersey based virtual literary festival, MyVLF.com has won the UK publishing industry’s most prestigious award for a digital start-up. Entrants came from across the globe for The Bookseller’s FutureBook BookTech Awards, with six finalists battling it out in a pitch-off in London.

MyVLF, designed and developed in Jersey, is a free online book festival site which links readers and authors. Totally unique and the first global literary festival venue, it has already held two events with a host of best-selling writers, from across the world, interviewed in the online theatre and talking to readers live, following their talks, in the chat room.

MyVLF was founded by ‘The Blonde Plotters’, three Jersey writers, Gwyn GB, Deborah Carr and Kelly Clayton. Gwyn commented: ‘We were overwhelmed at winning the FutureBook Start-up of the Year award, for the business most likely to have an impact on the publishing industry in the future. The judges liked our ambition and audience fit, and we had some very promising talks with publishers immediately afterwards, who are keen to get involved in our events, take a stand in the virtual exhibition hall, or rent the venue for their own branded festivals.’

Already big name authors such as Peter James, Cecelia Ahern, Barbara Erskine, Mark Billingham, Liz Earle, Rachel Abbott and Dorothy Koomson, have taken part in the festivals.

MyVLF.com looks like a real venue with a theatre, café and even an exhibition hall where readers can view author and publisher stands. It uses a combination of a virtual environment with a 2-D website, harnessing bespoke coding in an easy-to-use interface.

‘We aren’t resting on our laurels,’ said co-founder, Deborah Carr, ‘We’ve already programmed in a schedule of genre specific talks for 2020, starting with a romance festival in February. Our Book Blogger Awards were a big success at the festival in November and so we are going to repeat those, and we’ve lots more plans to ensure we are offering variety and exactly what our reader and author members want.’

MyVLF has not only won the UK publishing industry start-up award, but were shortlisted for the US equivalent, the Digital Book World awards, losing out to Amazon; and won two Jersey Tech Awards, Best Digital start-up and Best Creative Project of the Year.

Co-founder Kelly Clayton added: ‘It is hard to appreciate that we only launched in April, but are already showing that we are achieving our aim.  Our analytics show an even spread of age-groups which proves its universal appeal and that it’s easy to use. It has the added advantage of being good for the environment, because it doesn’t require anyone to travel, you can simply stay at home and attend in your pyjamas.

The FutureBook award seeks to find the most exciting new businesses or in-house initiatives that have the potential to make a unique impact on the book publishing industry in the years ahead.

The award is open to start-ups at seed funding stage (pre-series round investment) and which have been running for no more than two years.