Yesterday I braved the weather and headed to Kensington Olympia for the first day of the London Book Fair 2019. Here’s my brief overview of the day:
As soon as I stepped in through the door I thought wow, this is amazing. All the publishers you can imagine were crammed into this huge venue. It was packed with people but it didn’t feel overwhelming as I’d worried it would. We spent hours walking around and I still feel there were parts we missed completely.
It was great to be there and feel the buzz, to see the meetings going on and imagine the deals being made. It was surreal but also uplifting to see the publishing industry going strong and to be able to feel a small part of it for a few hours was worth the very reasonable ticket price.
There were publishers representing all kinds of books from the big blockbuster genres to the more obscure niche markets and poetry. The translation opportunities were mind-boggling and the area dedicated to children’s books was huge.
I was surprised to find a few publishers willing to take unsolicited submissions and saw the many options open to people who want to self publish and have money to invest in it. Companies who will take on the whole project for you, while others focus on certain areas like editing, book design, printing and distribution.
There was plenty for wannabe authors and self published authors. The dedicated Author HQ area had stands from Alliance of Independent Authors, Society of Authors, KDP, Writing Magazine etc. It was great to say hello to Sacha Black on ALLi’s stall. I’ve followed her blog for several years and have enjoyed seeing her indie author journey.
The talks on the first day were very informative and well attended. I have plenty of notes on making a living from writing and focusing on my author brand to work through. Each day has some great talks lined up and I wish I could have attended them all.
I went with a very supportive friend who on the spur of the moment started handing out my business cards to people! We’d seen others do it, so thought why not.
I would say going to the London Book Fair was an experience more than anything else. I believe there were opportunities to book meetings with agents and perhaps if you’re lucky chat with publishers, but these are all set up in advance and I hadn’t been that organised about my visit. It was fun to immerse myself in the publishing world for the day and although it wasn’t life changing, I would certainly recommend it.
I came home cold, after standing around on the train platform for half an hour due to a delayed train, and tired from all the walking and lugging around my bags, but also energised that I’d done it and filled with renewed hope for my future as an author.
I have a lot to think about in terms of where I go from here. Should I focus all my energy on self publishing or start pitching to publishers and agents again, or continue as originally planned to be a hybrid author.
I want to look into the ALLi and Society of Authors, which I’ve heard of before but after seeing the stalls and listening to the talks, I feel like both organisations could be worth my time and money joining.
Next year I would love to go back to the London Book Fair. I think I will make it my mission to go every year, though I hope some warm spring weather is in attendance too.
Did you go this year, or have you been in the past? Would you consider going to the London Book Fair in the future? Did your visit lead to anything worthwhile you’d like to share?
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of heroically epic fantasy
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