Alas, alack! The London Book Fair has ended, and now I have to wait another year for my fix of insights, ideas, and inspiration. I've had a brilliant idea: why don't they do a flipped version of the LBF, and have it running all year round except for a three day holiday? Just a thought.
Anyway, here are some suggestions I picked up over the last few days and, especially, yesterday.
Lists, writing and marketing
Mark Dawson reiterated the need for a mailing list, and the folly of making a book available for free without having a second book that people can consider while your book is fresh in their minds. Sound advice, which I keep almost forgetting. It must be the pace of living or something, but I do find that if I don't act on a thought straight away, I end up not doing so at all. The only thing that seems to work against that tendency is to send myself a reminder email. My point being that if a reader wants to buy a second book from you, it's a good idea for you to have written and published it!
What Mark says makes sense: you want a reader to get to the end of their first experience of your writing and say "More! I must have more!" And the sense of disappointment when there is no more would be almost tangible. And such a lost opportunity for both parties.
Something Mark said was interesting. He writes in the morning and does marketing and PR in the afternoon. Apparently one person's response to this was "Oh, so you're not a full time writer then."
For me, being a writer means being a writer even if you're not writing as such. I love writing just for its own sake, but when all is said and done one wants other people to enjoy it too. Marketing is an integral part of the process. That is even the case if you're published by a traditional publisher. Personally, I don't want to travel that road again, but you know, never say "never". If I do, one of the contract clauses I will insist on is the opportunity to play a full part in the book's marketing.
Your author brand
This was the one that got away. I arrived ten minutes early, found a seat, and had my pen and notebook at the ready. (Re pen and notebook, I'm an analogue kind of guy at events. Who wants to faff around with laptops, tablets and connectivity while you're trying to listen to useful information? But, in my defence, I use a Moleskin notebook that links with Evernote. You take a photo of your notes, using the Evernote app, and then they become searchable. But I digress.)
The talk was given by Katie Roden, who started off by asking how many people in the audience had not yet published a book. Answer: nearly everyone as far as I could tell.
But then I had a one-off chance to briefly meet up with a friend with whom I'd helped to set up a writers' group. I arrived back at the seminar for the last ten minutes, in which Katie spoke about the importance of data, and suggested using sites like Nielsens. I raced -- well, crawled on all fours, lugging two bags of stuff -- down to the Nielsen stand and picked up a very interesting report about the relationship between metadata and sales.
So, I was very disappointed to miss most of Katie's talk, as it was obviously jam-packed with stuff. Also, because she had a really friendly presentational manner. But at least I missed it for a good reason, ie talking about the progress of the aforementioned writers' group, and next steps for both of us. My field is education, and Liz (the friend) is trying to get me to put together a book of my other writings. So is my wife. I suppose I ought to do something about it.
Generosity of spirit
Were I to be asked to sum up the LBF in one word, it would be 'generosity' I think. I noticed how Mark Dawson and Keith Houghton, another indie author, were around for hours chatting to people, no doubt offering advice and suggestions.
I first came across Keith at last year's LBF, when he was on a panel. I sent him an email afterwards, and to my surprise and delight he actually responded (I've met some pretty sniffy authors before now!), and offered really useful advice over a few emails.
This time, he very kindly gave me a copy of his book Killing Hope, and signed it. It's a great book, which I reviewed last year. I'm currently reading his latest thriller, Before You Leap (Amazon affiliate link). I had to stop reading it because I wasn't getting any work done, but I think I'll take it up again and give up sleep instead (it's a page turner)!
The LBF ended really nicely for me because, at the risk of sounding like some kind of bibliophilic groupie, I spotted Mark Dawson heading off, and introduced myself to him. I'm on his mailing list, and I liked the John Milton novella I read (1000 Yards -- another Amazon affiliate link), so why not? He came across as a really nice bloke, as we Brits would say.
So that was LBF17, and I'm looking forward to getting back to writing.
Once I've recovered.