On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a self-publishing summit at Kings College London run by New Generation Publishing.
It was a very informative day. There were 3 Q&A / talks with panels of industry professionals and self-published authors. I’m still processing much of the information but I wanted to share an overview of the day and what I feel I’ve gained from it.
The day didn’t start well. It was pouring with rain, and during a dash across Waterloo Bridge I got soaked twice by vindictive bus drivers. It took until lunchtime for my trousers to dry! My map got so wet I couldn’t read it, but thankfully Kings College was easy enough to find, and everything improved from there.
As I mentioned there were three scheduled talks with Q&A’s. The first talk focused on the two guest authors experiences and advice for new authors. The second was about marketing and how to sell your work. The third discussed the future of self-publishing.
I found the talk about marketing the most interesting and helpful to my current situation.
Some nuggets of advice from the talks
Look at marketing as fun and be creative.
Think local news – Create an angle for you / your book. Local interest for radio and newspaper could lead to bigger opportunities.
Say yes to any publicity.
Contact book shops – prove to them they can sell it, who will buy it, what you are doing to market it. Remember they like to buy in advance of publication.
Publicity timelines – Differ for bookshops, radio and magazines.
Think about your ideal reader – where do they shop and how can you find them.
Cover Design – think audience, create a buying impulse.
Elevator pitch – Think how you can grab someone’s attention and make them want to buy your book. Be able to talk about your book and sell it!
ISBN’s – Buy your block of 10, rather than 1 at a time. You can’t sell in a book shop with the Amazon ISBN’s and they won’t accept the createspace paperback.
The best part of the day for me was the pitch sessions with individual members of the panel.
I spoke to an agent, Kate Nash, who unfortunately doesn’t represent fantasy but provided a lot of interesting information in her talk and great advice to the other authors in the group. I asked whether she would be more likely to consider a self-published author if they had gained a following on social media. She said any decisions would be based on the book submitted.
I spoke to Ben Galley, a fantasy author and self-publishing consultant. He is about to publish his 11th book, so it was great to get my book in front of him for some advice. I asked him what I could do to get more readers to find and purchase my book.
Buy your own domain name to look more professional.
Don’t lower the price.
Use a professional typesetter to make the interior of the book really stand out. This can help the search inside feature really sell your book to the browsing reader – make the experience a pleasure.
Consider a UK company for the UK printing of paperbacks. It will be cheaper and better quality than Createspace.
Join genre forums and facebook groups and get involved.
Have a newsletter.
I also spoke with the two self-published novelists, Roz Morris and Toni Jenkins, who were both lovely ladies and happy to discuss their experiences within the industry. Among other things we talked through ideas on how to get more readers, reducing my social media output to really focus on those that count, and a website called MEETUP where I could advertise to start my own local writing group.
I spoke with David Walshaw the publishing exec of New Generation Publishing. He was happy to talk me though the options of self-publishing with his company, but there was no hard sell or pressure in any way. It’s great to know there are other options and that I don’t have to do everything myself. I still need to research whether I can afford this for my next book though.
Downside to the day
For me the coffee breaks, and in particular lunch break were painfully awkward as I wasn’t comfortable mixing and chatting in large groups.
Things I wish I’d done differently
I didn’t hand out my card to anyone or swap contact details with other authors as I had hoped to have done.
I didn’t mingle enough / at all!
I didn’t have a proper pitch prepared for the pitching sessions
Value for money
At £59.99 I thought it was great value for a day of immersing myself in the world of self-publishing. The food could have been a bit more varied, but it was fresh and tasty. And there was a constant supply of drinks, although it did arrive a little later and after the soaking I received from the bus, I needed that hot drink!
It was a very worthwhile experience. I gained some knowledge and had my book looked at by others with more knowledge of the industry. It was generally felt that I’d done a good job for a first timer! So I came away proud of my achievement and buzzing with ideas for what to do next.
If you get the chance to go to a summit in the future, I recommend you try it out for yourself.