After running Redital Book Club for 18 months, I felt it was time to start doing more legwork. I applied for a press pass to attend the London Book Fair and was graciously accepted. As I’m currently unable to run Redital full time, I only managed to attend the event one day, but that one day alone was a fantastic experience.
I’d heard about the London Book Fair before but I still wasn’t exactly sure what the ratio of attendees would be. I had a feeling that the event was more about the publishing industry; with a mix of publishers, agents and writers attending the show. My suspicions were correct.
As I walked onto the Olympia show floor for the first time I was overwhelmed by the number of book publishers. At first I was looking through the eyes of a book lover and letting my intrigue carry me to the different stands. Once I’d gotten over my initial excitement I began approaching representatives at the various stands to enquire about press assets and coverage. This led to some eye-opening discussions about the publishing industry; in which I learned much about the inner-workings. However, the bigger publishers weren’t so inviting to press inquiries; especially from a newly established publication like Redital.
I then discovered that on the second floor there were hundreds more publishers, self-publishers and authors to connect with; many of which I could approach without feeling like I was wasting their time. I was even approached by a few publishers myself to cover some of their works.
It became clear that writers and indie publishers get much value from attending London Book Fair as there are a number of talks from successful authors and publishers. Even beyond the talks and conferences, the networking opportunities are worth attending the show for alone.
This year there was a heavy focus on European works, particularly from Poland. This also opened up much discussion about the complications that arise for the publishing industry because of Brexit. In some ways it can be a good thing, as publishers are now earning more from publishing deals in the US. On the flip side, British and Europe deals are being put on hold due to the change in conditions.
All-in-all, attending London Book Fair was an eye-opening experience and I learned lots about the industry. The London Book Fair is quite frankly, THE show to attend if you have any interest in writing and publishing.
Here are a few personal highlights from the show. Look out for more details over the next week.
Speaking to the director of Wordsworth Editions
As a fan of the Sherlock Holmes works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I own a Wordsworth edition myself; so when I saw the Wordsworth Editions stand I knew I wanted to go have a look. I ended up having a fantastic conversation with the director Derek, who filled me in on the history of Wordsworth Editions and how they’re able to publish quality classics for such a low price. It was interesting to learn more about the public domain as someone with an urge to read lots more classic fiction.
Speaking to the CEO at Russian book publisher LitWorld
As I was writing up some notes I was approached by Yury from Litworld who politely explained his publishing company to me. Litworld is a publishing house in Moscow focusing on the fantasy genre. One of their hottest titles available right now in the UK market is More Than A Game by Andrey Vasilyev. More Than A Game is part of the Fayroll series and is a cyberpunk fantasy story about a society columnist who finds himself enthralled by a virtual fantasy world.
Yury explained that Litworld has quality translators who are able to make their books flow as if they were written natively in English. I will be writing about More Than A Game in the coming weeks, so look out for a full on review.
Learning about the Kindle Direct Publishing Storyteller Competition
I got to sit at a panel delivered by Darren Hardy the UK KDP manager, in which he spoke about the Kindle Storyteller competition. The KDP Storyteller contest will award a lucky self-publisher with £20,000. The competition is running between 20th February and 19th May this year, and readers will play a part in which books get shortlisted.
Amazon’s algorithms will be used to determine the most popular works and from there a team of judges will decide on a final shortlist of books.
In terms of what it takes to be picked up for the competition, you must have your book enrolled in KDP select and you must have your book available in both print and eBook. Each of the judges spoke a little on what they look for when assessing books, so look out for a future post in which I list some of these tips.
Seeing Joanna Penn speak about reaching more readers
This is where I had a slight fanboyish moment. I’ve been following Joanna Penn’s blog over at The Creative Penn since around 2011, so getting to hear her speak in person was a big deal for me. Joanna spoke about turning non-fiction books into workbooks, why writing a novella instead of novels is a good business decision and why translation isn’t always necessary to reach foreign territories.
Joanna Penn is someone who spews useful nuggets of information every time she speaks, so I recommend listening to her weekly podcasts if you don’t already. After watching this panel I also decided to purchase a ticket to her upcoming seminar in May, titled How to Make a Living (and a Life) from Writing.
Also at this panel, Gabriel Mercer spoke about managing mailing lists as an author. I’m no full time author right now, but I still found much of what Gabriel said useful because of the fact that Redital has a mailing list. He spoke about using segmentation within your email lists to tailor your content to each reader on a more personal level.
Look out for more coverage from The London Book Fair in the coming weeks, and be sure to check their website for updates on future events.