Reflections on the London Author Fair – part 3

In this third part of my write-up on events at the London Author Fair in February 2014 I review what I heard from other authors. You can read part 1?(the business) and part 2?(the agents) of my write up earlier on the blog.

Seminar ? Making Your Mark & Marketing Your Book

Chair: Hayley Radford (Authoright), Speakers: Adele Parks (experienced author), Matt Cain (new author), Julia Coblentz (Nook) While many authors dream of a traditional publishing contract in hope that a big company will be able to exploit marketing opportunities and know how to reach readers, what I heard in this seminar confirmed my suspicion that actually the authors still do all the hard work. Julia Coblenz stated that authors should think about their brand before self-publishing to think about positioning and audience. Self-publishing authors should find it easier to be closer to their audience and have stronger communications with them. Adele Parks is very active on Twitter & as 70% of her sales are e-book, her publisher believes her online presence supports this. She keeps her Twitter feed to book conversations though, it’s a professional, public persona unless it’s a cause where she believes her involvement can make a difference. Matt Cain is also a journalist so he knows press releases have to include a newsworthy story. These news stories could be spun out of the themes or sub-plots of a novel. Authors should look to find the angle but Adele Parks advised not to be ruthless about what you use. She didn’t find a link between news stories and book sales and exposed things in the past which she wouldn’t now do.

Workshop – Author Exchange: Polly Courtney and Ben Galley

Both Polly Courtney and Ben Galley feel that tours/ speaking events are great for making connections and forming relationships with readers. Both make plans to send advance review copies out several months in advance of their book launch. They recommend spreading marketing activity & content. Ben Galley uses badges as physical advertising which can work, as well as flyers, although it’s best to have a relationship with the person you leave them with so they can put them in the hands of the right people. To increase her visibility in the literary fiction genre, Polly Courtney emphasises her themes and talks about these, not just the book itself. She wants to publish material that will change people’s minds about issues and get exposure for her ideas not just sell books, so also writes articles & commentary on similar themes. Hearing from and the opportunity to chat with other authors was what I found most useful about the day. I met in person several people I know online through the Alliance of Independent Authors as well as making some new contacts. I was able to ask specific questions to representatives from Kobo and CreateSpace which might otherwise have taken time to resolve via emails to customer services. Not much discussed in the seminars or workshops came as news to me or convinced me that I need to buy in additional services beyond those I already use, but then I keep myself well informed and am happy to do things for myself. Others sitting near me certainly seemed to learn more. As I said in part 1 of this post, the pace of change in the industry is notable and some panel members did sound out of touch. As authors we can’t afford that luxury.
Katharine D’Souza