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A Grand Day Out at the London Book Fair 2016

2014 was the last time I visited the fair, and it was also the last time it was held at its original home, Earls Court. Fast forward two years and I gazed in awe at the new venue, Olympia’s Grand Hall. Being at this year’s fair was a reminder of how important it is for me to attend as an aspiring author. So much had changed in the two years I was absent and I’m sure many would agree that publishing since the digital revolution now moves at a lightning speed.

So in short, if you’ve been to one London book fair, you’ve been to one London book fair, and I’m so looking forward to what 2017 may bring.

As soon as I arrived I grabbed myself a map and opened it in search for Author HQ, which in my opinion is like the book fair’s version of OZ. For every aspiring author or even the fairly new self-published author, all carpeted pathways among the throng of stalls lead to here. It’s where all writers want to be, it’s where the magic really happens, for me anyway, as it serves as a hub for some of the most amazing talent and key people from the publishing industry in the world.

I knew that going to the fair I’d meet heaps of like-minded people, however I was not expecting to bump into one lovely chap who happened to be one of my Twitter friends whom I’d never met in person, bestselling author of the My Way series of non-fiction books, David P Perlmutter @davepperlmutter who kindly gave up his seat for me as I tried to find somewhere to put my feet up while I enjoyed my steamy cup of latte.

After realizing it was David he handed me a bookmark – and there it was, a thumbnail of the very same novel I have on my Kindle; Wrong Place Wrong Time. This made us laugh and we celebrated this unexpected meet up with a very happy selfie moment.

We continued our conversation and I took the opportunity to ask him about his journey as a successful self-published author, followed by tons more questions on what inspired his books.

That morning I felt I had gotten the best of both worlds; the seminars from Author HQ and David’s impromptu mini masterclass on marketing tips and tricks. Sweet.

Over the next two days I saw a number of authors including Marian Keyes who popped into Author HQ for a five minute chat before shooting off to what I assumed to be another talk elsewhere. Although short, the few minutes Marian spent with us were well-spent. And she seriously, and I mean seriously put emphasis on the importance of being genuine while embarking on this road to being an author or ‘People will see right through you,’ she says in a smooth Irish tone. I couldn’t help but notice a faraway look in her eyes and the significance in her tone as she gave this piece of advice to a room full of budding writers.

Other authors I saw on the day included Julian Fellows, Creator of Downton Abbey and author of his new 11 part series Belgravia. There was also Authorprenuer and NY Times bestseller Joanna Penn, who’s passion for indie authors, books and business was one of my many highlights. I have been following Joanna’s YouTube videos for as long as I can remember and I can’t tell you enough how much her drive has helped me, even on those down days where I feel I just can’t pick up my pen to write.

Mel Sherratt, author of the Estate Series aka Marcie Steele who writes heart-warming romances under the latter gave us a run down on how she became one of the UK’s much loved crime authors. Darren Hardy, UK Manager for Amazon KDP hosted a couple of talks and after I managed to catch up with him at the Amazon KDP stand that was conveniently located opposite Author HQ.  After pinning him down I had a one-to-one about selling on this giant platform and what to expect as a new author.

Kobo Writing Life UK Manager, Diego Marano chaired the seminar that asked the question if Self-publishing is Getting Onto the Next Level? I would certainly say so as self-publishing seemed to be the core topic in this part of the fair.

Director and founder of Bookouture, Oliver Rhodes was invited to talk also and spoke highly of Bookouture’s progress and the success of some break out authors since its launch back in 2012. Coming from a traditionally publishing background Oliver has managed to find a business model that works and appeals to many by keeping close to some traditionally published practices in terms of the quality of output and part self-published by working closely with Kobo Writing Life. Best selling psychological thriller author, Kathryn Croft, also made an appearance during this talk, sharing her views on the publishing landscape, what she did before turning to writing and her love for writing novels in her chosen genre. Submitting your work to Bookouture is something you can do without an agent.

After a spot of late lunch and a fly-by visit-peek-through-the-windows of the temporary and very posh Ivy restaurant on the first floor, I retreated back to AHQ to catch more seminars. I flipped through my program to see a few more back-to-back talks on topics I knew I couldn’t miss. I dared not nip to the loo in case I’d lose my seat. And anyone who is familiar with this part of the fair, even at Earls Court knows that seats are like gold dust. There just never seem to be enough seats to cater for the squeeze of authors that show up. I can only hope the organisers are more generous next time around. (more seats please LBF!)

My final seminar of the day on the Wednesday afternoon was entitled Sell More Books, in More Formats in More Territories. This talk was presented by Joanna Penn, Literary Agent Toby Mundy, Mark Dawson and the Director of The Alliance of Independent Authors, Orna Ross.

Joanna Penn kicked off the talk and said when most authors publish an ebook it’s in English therefore they would sell it to the UK and the US market. However as Indie authors, and what some are still yet to discover is that you have the freedom to sell in 160 countries in around the world. And to reach these countries you must be publishing on different platforms such as Kobo, ibooks, Draft to Digital that will then take you onto publishing on more other types of media such as ebooks, print on demand through companies like CreateSpace, Ingram Spark and ACX for audio books. (Phew! Thank goodness for me dictaphone.) OK that’s me done, and if you’d like to find out more from Joanna, the lady with all the answers, you can find her on her blog at thecreativepenn.com

To sum up the London Book Fair it offered me a concise and clear view regarding independent publishing and the number of choices that are out there, not just at here at home, but internationally and how to prepare for all of that.

I had a blast this year and can’t even begin to imagine where publishing will be ten years from now.

Having missed two years of being at this amazing fair I feel like I’ve caught up, well, for now I suppose. There’s only three hundred and wotsit days left before the London Book Fair #17 strolls back into town, and I’ll be there by the grace of God, raring to do this, all over again.

Happy Publishing!

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