I’m just back from the London Book Fair. It was my first one, and it was a very worthwhile experience.
First off, for those who don’t know what LBF is all about, it’s very much a professional meeting – not a fan con. Virtually the entire lower floor (2 huge halls) were dedicated either to academic and technical publishing or to publishing houses from different countries. The upper floors were for fiction (including a huge children’s section), innovations, present and future, and seminars. The seminars were for booksellers and for authors and were primarily focussed on either marketing or the direction of the industry.
As an author, I spent most of my time in those relevant seminars. There were several very good ones by self-published authors, including Kindle Direct Publishing authors Mel Sharratt (melsherratt.co.uk), Stephanie Hudson (afterlifesaga.co.uk), Keith Houghton (keithhoughton.com), Mark Dawson (markjdawson.com), and Rachel Abbott (www.rachel-abbott.com). There were also inspiring talks and presentations by Karen Healey Wallace (karenhealeywallace.com, self-published author of Perfect Capital – short listed for book design of the year) and CJ Daugherty (www.cjdaugherty.com). Many of the discussions here involved how to get noticed in a crowded market and how to use social media to your best advantage.
From the other side of the page, there were informative discussions from agents Lizzy Kremer (David Higham agency) and Juliet Mushens (The Agency Group – short listed for literary agent of the year), and Rebecca Swift (The Literary Consultancy) on the roles of agents, being realistic about your book, and how literary consulting agencies can help you learn the strengths and weaknesses of your book.
I also learned of two new-ish financial models for self-publishing, including the 50/50 model, where the publisher works with the author in a partnership to make the best book possible (as opposed to vanity presses, where the author pays a flat fee and gets very little personal attention), and the pay-what-you-feel model being introduced by OpenBooks.com. In fairness, the latter model is an option on other e-book sites such as SmashWords, but OpenBooks is looking to have a go at this model exclusively, banking on viral distribution models and fair pay to entice readers and authors.
All-in-all, LBF 2015 was very enjoyable and informative and, if you’re an author, I highly recommend attending on if you have the chance. While I’ve only touched the surface here, in future posts I’ll try and go in to more depth on some of the interesting ideas discussed.