Today I’m delighted to welcome top indie author Anne Allen to the blog to talk about her experience of the London Book Fair, or LBF to those in the know. Over to you, Anne …
“The London Book Fair – the very title brings a frisson of excitement to an author’s heart. This year it was held at Olympia – a massive structure which can be, and was, overwhelming. It was noisy, busy and held miles of books. But not many authors. Until three years ago, authors did not figure largely at LBF – it was all about publishers, agents and negotiating rights and translations. Then things changed with the advent of self-publishing and in 2013 the Author Lounge really took off, holding seminars for would-be authors and writers, panelled by successful mainstream authors and experts in self-publishing. And at LBF in 2014 the Indie author seemed to be king of their own castle. We were privileged to hear from million-selling authors flown in by Amazon to tell us how they did it and there was a real heady, party atmosphere.
I only caught the tale-end of this year’s LBF and by the time I’d reached the Author’s Lounge I was too late for any seminars but the list looked similar to that of 2014. It was crowded with eager listeners but no familiar faces. Amazon was parked by the entrance and provided a chance to talk to writers like Mel Sherratt and Rachel Abbot – both big names in the Indie world. After quick chats with these lovely ladies I headed for a pre-arranged appointment with a software company and left shortly after.
LBF is definitely worth attending at least once, whether you are already a published author or wish to be. But for me this year was special as I joined in the fun of the Indie Author Fringe Festival, run by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)/IndieRecon and hosted by Triskele Books. This was to be found at Foyles, the largest indie bookstore in London.
The fifth floor of Foyles buzzed with the sound of many excited authors waiting for the sessions to begin. There were few empty seats and it was great to see familiar faces of friends from facebook and blogland. The morning and early afternoon talks formed part of the London Book Fair, aimed specifically at indie authors like me. We were privileged to hear from speakers such as CJ Lyons, a US ex- doctor who has penned books selling in their millions, encouraging us to write books people want to buy – she made it sound so easy ☺ She was kind enough later to advise on my book covers, suggesting tweaks to strengthen my brand. Anything to help sell a million or more …
Other speakers included Debbie Young of ALLi, Nicola Young of The Society of Authors, and John Prebble from the Arts Council, all discussing funding for authors. It was fascinating to hear that grants can be available for indie authors and we are also eligible to join the Society of Authors if we’ve sold 500 ebooks or 300 paperbacks. Nicola certainly sparked my interest in joining – did you know the Society receives the royalties from the estate of George Bernard Shaw?
I was particularly interested to see Katie Donelan, the founder of BookBub, and had a quick word with her later about their move into the UK market. In January I had a particularly rewarding promo with BookBub UK and have just booked another.
Porter Anderson, of The Bookseller and Futurebook, was one of my favourites of the day. A brilliant speaker, he’s come out as a champion of indies and focuses on the world of digital publishing. His talk concerned @LibrarySELF-e, a new programme set up by US libraries that allows indie authors to upload their ebooks to all US libraries even if not US based. Brilliant! I’ve uploaded my first three books and it was easy. Statistics show that library borrowers often go on to buy further books from the author so this has to be a win-win for us writers. And did I say it was free?
Other discussions continued after lunch until it was time for The Big Event, where Foyles allowed 50+ indie authors to set up stall on the fifth floor and sell their books direct to the willing public pouring through their doors. It looked wonderful, some authors had beautiful posters and banners and everyone’s books looked equal to, if not better than, those downstairs. I was sad not to have my own piece of the action, not having booked a table in time, but Alison Ripley Cubitt kindly allowed me to display a few bookmarks and flyers on her table. I’ll definitely book for the next one. I don’t know how many books were sold all together, but books and money seemed to be constantly changing hands, except when being offered a nibble and a glass of wine from the café staff.”
Thanks, Anne! I also really enjoyed LBF last year, where Anne and I met in real life after being virtual friends for ages. My favourite photo is this one of Linda Gillard, another great friend and brilliant author, and I am very disappointed I didn’t get to Foyles to meet her in person. Maybe next year?
Anne Allen – www.anneallen.co.uk
Anne Allen lives in Devon but originates from Rugby. Finding early on in life that she loved the sea she spent most of her adult years moving from one coast to another. Her happiest time was spent in Guernsey where she lived for nearly 14 years and her books are all set on that beautiful island. Until recently Anne was a psychotherapist but has now retired to write full time. So far she has published Dangerous Waters, a romantic mystery, Finding Mother, a romantic family drama and Guernsey Retreat, another romantic mystery, forming the Guernsey Novels series. A fourth, The Family Divided, will be published in June 2015.