where the writers are
Observations of a London Book Fair Visit (by a Self published Author)
Gunpowder and Sorcery in 1666. Historical Fiction set during the Great Fire of London.

I went to the London Book Fair a couple of days ago.
I thought I would feed back a bit on it.

So WHY did I go?
I am only a self published Author and in fact I am my own publisher ( http://www.merciabooks.co.ukand http://www.richarddenning.co.uk is the obligatory quick plug). Well firstly I had decided to put my books on the new Title Shelf and wanted to see what else was on it. Secondly they run a few seminars and Thirdly I wanted to talk to two of the distributors.

As I walked round I noticed a lot of empty booths and I later read in the newsletter that many dozens of overseas publishers could not get in (due to Icelandic Ash of course).

So was it worth going?
“Depends” is the answer. Depends on what you go for.

I already knew this in advance so I did not try to, but LBF is NOT the place to go and pitch your manuscript (although there are some opportunities in the Authors Lounge run by Author House to get some opinion on it). Publishers are basically there to sell books already on their lists to distributors and Agents to agree deals with Publishers.

I spoke to two distributors that I had already sent books to under their New Publisher arrangements (aiming to be listed as IN Stock and not just available on POD). There were not as scary and unfriendly as I thought they might be. I was able to get some contact info and useful advice. Bottom line is whatever and however you are published they will decide to Stock your books if YOU can demonstrate demand. Of course it is a bit chicken and egg as many shops will only agree to stock IF distributors carry the books but I think that you have to show a market exists for your book.

I then attended two seminars on e-books:

“The Digital Reading Market in 2010 and afterwards” was an overview and “i-everything: The Publishing World According to Apple” was basically all about the Ipad. I was not surprised to find it very well attended and standing room only. There is an image on my site (sorry poor quality taken on an ancient mobile)
Ipad Seminar image:

Ipad Talk

The take home measure will not surprise anyone here. Ebooks reader and book sales are growing as pretty much an exponential rate. Industry is getting behind the new tech in a large way. As an example we were told that General Motors and three other US mega corporations all recently paid £25,000 per day to run 4 adverts in the Ipad version of the New York TImes.
the prediction is that releases of thousands of apps for Ipad will make it vastly adopted across huge swathes of many industries. The recommendation was that publishers need to start thinking about multimedia content rich means of distribution of their books. IN otherwords its not just enough to to convert your MS to epub and have it on Smashwords. You need to start thinking about Flashmovies and interactive content in your books. This will make it hard for many to compete but open the door to others who maybe are self publishers but who can adapt to the new technology.

I then attended a seminar by Authoright on marketing and publicity. He reinforced what I already knew that we all must be active on Facebook and Twitter, we must write news releases and send them out (especially locally where YOU might be news). Try and do talks at bookshops or events on subjects related to the book but not necessarily about the book. Same principal on forums etc – talk about info folk want to listen. Then of course he went on to advise hiring him ;-) which is no surprise. But what he would do (or other marketing guys would do) or you could do your self I guess is look for a unique story/ aspect/ brand to you as a writter. What is interesting about you and your book. Then they use that. So are you a Polar Explorer writing about your travels etc? Find that ANGLE and exploit it.
He did say that there is no problem being self published IF you have a marketable book and an Angle to exploit.

I had my book on the New Title Shelf. BUT somehow they had lost 1 of the three (Tomorrow’s Guardian). Fortunately I had copies with me. Being on the Shelf means you get a shelf to yourself or maybe shared with others. The books are cover forward. The books are listed on line and in the show catalogue. I popped back a few times and dribs and drabs of folk were browsing. Hopefully over 3 days someone might pick the books up! Value for money? I am not convinced. I will let you know if I get any contact as a result.

Overall I enjoyed the visit. If I was honest it was nice to see the world of publishers and publishing and pretend I was part of it.
Back to the real world tomorrow ;-)

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Thanks for the overview and feedback. I found it quite informative. It would be interesting to figure out how to write an e-novel with all the bells and whistles... I suppose because we don't have to worry about printing costs if it's read online we can have anything and everything in color, as well as mp3 inserts and mini-clips, gifs, and the works... that kind of opens up a whole new dimension in 'writing' that can really push the envelope. Q

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I think that is the ticket. Some of the e-books I have seen lately are more like movies than books. I think it will be an interesting next couple of years.

I guess one would have to have icon to click on for more info, little videos about the characters etc. Will the public want that?? Don't know. Will it be like DVDs with all the features that most us don't bother with. How often do we look at the interviews etc on a DVD? The deleted scenes etc.

I guess you have to look to adapt a bit to all this. But in the end he book must still be good or no one will care about the frills.