London Book Fair – Lessons (Part 2)

In part two, more about my experiences at the London Book Fair. In the brochure of events, there were plenty of seminars/talks that were aimed at authors. It was also quite interesting to drop into the seminars that were aimed at publishers or literary agents to see what they were talking about. Had I been at the London Book Fair in previous years, perhaps I would have noticed a different focus on certain areas of the industry, but in 2013, and with the presence of the Alliance of Independent Authors to beat the drum of indie authors, I was never short of a seminar to attend that was specific to my needs.

London Book Fair

When I signed up for the Fair, I had one specific interest in mind: finding readers. My book is published and out there, but what I wanted to know was how I can increase my discoverability (my new buzzword) so that readers can find me. My first stop was over at Goodreads.

1: Helping Readers Discover Your Books

Patrick Brown, Director of Community, Goodreads

Main Points

  • 39% of books are sold online
  • These are usually through friends/community/recommendations
  • Goodreads have a Featured Author Group
  • Giveaways are great ways of generating interest about your book
  • Amplify reach by using Goodreads Ads
  • Listopia – Add book to relevant lists, which may encourage others to add it to their favourite lists. Caveat: don’t add your own book to a ‘best of’ list. It is presumptuous!
  • A couple of hundred ratings for your book and Goodreads will recommend your book to other readers.


With Amazon coming on board, I’m hoping there will be a stronger link between sales and Goodreads. I have run two giveaways and plenty of people have added the book to their shelves. Few sales have come from the giveaways. Is that due to the lack of ease in buying the book on Goodreads? Possibly. It could be other factors. People add books to their shelves all the time. Eventually, they get around to reading the ones that interest them. There is nothing to say that I won’t generate sales over a matter of months from the success of those giveaways.

author lounge
Courtesy of Publishing Perspectives. I found this online and I had to put it in. Guess whose head that is in the shot? Mine!

2: The Author as Entrepreneur

Polly Courtney, Author, UK

Orna Ross, Author and Director, The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)

Hosted by Authoright CEO, Gareth Howard

Main Points

  • If a trade publisher comes calling because of your success, don’t give ebook rights away. This is likely to be the area that you are making money. Negotiating a deal on print and territories where you are not selling strongly, is the better option.
  • Start promotion three months before you release your book
  • Consider using an independent publisher for print, as they may be in a stronger position to get your book into shops/stores. As an individual, the task is much harder.


The author discussions were very relevant, if perhaps a little light on content. That was probably due to the time constraints on speakers to cram everything into a small time frame. I think a two-hour discussion covering several areas would make for a stronger discussion. It is always interesting to hear what other authors are doing.

Check out this interesting article from Publishing Perspectives, on ‘At LBF, Authors Encouraged to Think Like Entrepreneurs

3: The Campaign Revolution: New Models for Reaching Reader Communities

Dawn Burnett, Marketing Director, Simon & Schuster

Matt Haslum, Consumer Marketing Manager, Faber & Faber

Rebecca Smart, CEO, Osprey Group

Alison Ruane, Associate Publisher, HarperCollins Children’s

Sara-Jade Virtue, Special Sales Manager, Simon & Schuster

Jane Tappuni, Business Development Director, Publishing Technology

Hannah Telfer, Director, Digital Marketing and New Product Development, Random House Group

Up in the Thames room, the publishing assistants gathered in their droves to hear about new ways to reach new readers. Their sharp-dressed parents were elsewhere, probably sipping champagne. No, that’s cheeky of me. More likely, they were wandering around the International Rights Centre on the second floor, wondering where all the authors were.  I may have been the only author at the above event. I wasn’t supposed to be there, which is exactly why I was :-)

Main points:

  • Know your audience
  • Pick platforms that work for your audience
  • Budget realistically
  • Email sign up is critical
  • Listen, respond and be delightful company (yes, that was exactly how they wrote it.)
  • Facebook is great for online communities


I think I knew most of this from my indie author support group and nobody has to tell you to be delightful company. When you are an indie author, you value every sale and being able to connect with readers is so important to us. It was funny to see big publishers putting up such an obvious statement. But maybe not so strange that they did.

The reason they’re having this discussion about how to increase their readership numbers is that for a long time, they’ve been removed from readers. The minute indie authors stepped into the void they created, the publishers started to pay attention.

Each publisher showed a few online examples of how they are increasing readership. One that stuck with me was the example shown for the popular ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ series , by Derek Landy.

A website of this magnitude can only happen with lots of money and marketing people behind it. More interesting though was Derek Landy’s blog ‘Derek Landy’s blog under duress’. He was told to set up a blog by his publishers and connect with his readers. Ironically, the response from readers to him is greater than the response to his publishing house.

What does this say?

  • Publishers are playing catch up and beginning to realise the importance of the reader.
  • Money doesn’t always talk loudest when it comes to readership.
  • Readers want to hear from authors, not big publishing houses.

I don’t want to be overly negative about trade publishing (TP), but TP need to treat the connection with authors as a partnership, rather than a dictatorship. Authors are making in roads with readers. Publishers need to be more open minded.

If you have anything to add or something to say, please leave a comment.

Final word about the Author Lounge: More comfortable seats next time, please. I think my backside is just about recovering!

author lounge