So. My second day of the London Book Fair, 2013.

While yesterday was mostly taken up by seminars in the upper rooms, today was spent very much in the second hall, listening in on various presentations and debates to do with digital media. A whole lot of talk about social networking and marketing, marketing, MARKETING.


Circa 10.20: Arrive at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre. Get badge scanned. Go into hall and hyperventilate.  That’s still a whole lot of people.

10.40: Catch the tail end of The Marketing Toolkit: How Translators can Make their Work Matter, 10.00 – 11.00 – speakers Ira Silverberg, Esther Allen, Max Porter and Chad Post.

I don’t know a great deal about translation, being a pathetic speak one-langue-only-person while kidding myself that I can sort of get by in reading French (something I need to rectify immediately) so it was fascinating to hear the importance of good translators being discussed, as well as the fact that they were often overlooked and were out of the limelight, although sometimes by design. There was talk about the importance of translating short stories and submitting them to the right places.

One lady asking a question, who was centered in Norwich, talked about the difficulty in getting to know about good translations and opportunities when you’re not in London. Still, the panelists believe that England is going through something of a Golden Age when it comes to translation. Ira Silverberg talked about a charming anecdote about ten years ago where a thing she was part of had organized six translators to present Don Quixote in six different languages; they thought no one would turn up and then they were having to turn people away!

They also emphasized the importance of translators getting to know the likes and preferences of their publishers when they were far away from geographically, in order to connect with them.

11.00 – Catch sight of Young Digital Planet doing a presentation on their software, showing a text book diagram of an eye ball and how to use the tech.

11.00 – 11.20 – Accelerate you eBook business with your own branded eBook store – speakers John Costa, Kaushik Sampath.

Much talk about the market shifting towards eBooks and all the devices they can be read on. How to start your own store? Where to start? What does it take to get there? Who should you go to? Social networking is a must, as is making your data accessible and digital in various forms, identify customer interests and re-target.

11.00 – 11.45: Move to Book Marketing, speaker Gareth Howard, assisted by Hayley Radford, working for Authoright.

Much talk about publishing teams, and how authors can be disconnecting from the process – not a good thing. He mentioned an anecdote about an author with Random House who had a five book deal, was on her third book and still hadn’t met the in house publishing team! He suggested you should spend as much time thinking about marketing as on finding a literary agent.

The company they worked for, a marketing company, will focus on marketing books, calling up newspapers to which books have been sent every day for two week,s asking if the book has been read yet, etc. Marketing must not be passive; you must also think about the themes in your books and who it’s going to sell to, and start planning your marketing months in advance. Like, six months.

Generally a lot of emphasis on selling yourself, making yourself marketable, using social media, understanding the market and knowing that publication is, first and foremost, a business.

Also, they focused a lot on the importance of covers, how eye catching they need to be now that they’re so often delegated to one tiny corner of a screen on websites.

They referenced Thatcher dying last week, and for that time anything that wasn’t Thatcher suffered. See? Theme.

And they had a rather charming story about a young American author who was rejected by numerous publishing houses because she was onyl fifteen; what, the houses saud, did she possibly have to say? Their company ensured, through their marketing campaign, that she ended up with 250,000 followers on Twitter, finished writing two other books, got an agent and was generally an enormous success.

It warms my heart and makes me sick at my own slothfulness. Gotta back into a prolific state.

11.45 – 12.20: After searching for a place to eat my lunch with looking weird, I go outside and get some fresh air while eating my sandwiches, though I have to put my coat on since it is windy.

(Also went to have a peek at the holographic sex display again. Turns out the stall is for Karma Xcite, publisher of rather racy books.)

12.20 – 12.30: Desperately try to find the Children’s Innovation Theatre.

12.30: Find the Children’s Innovation Theatre, and stand on the edge of a large crowd to watch:

Blogging: The New Community, speakers Tania Vian Smith, Ceri Maxwell and Maura Brickell.

This was generally discussing the rise of importance attached to blogging, and how two blogs – Once Upon a Bookcase and Dark Readers – that started off reviewing YA books became real authorities and group ventures when it came to reviewing books. Very informative, although I couldn’t hear a lot of it very well, unfortunately, thanks to the noise around us.

Among the things discussed was how they got into blogging, their love for books, the attention they pay to covers and the importance of Young Adult and New Adult as genres.

12.45: Left in order to catch the talk below; on way to the Author Lounge, caught sight of a German trailer for Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina. It was the scales on the arm that gave her away. It looked quite good, although the characters din’t look at all as I had imagined them.

13.00 – 13.45: Opportunities for Authors in a Fragmented Self Publishing Industry, speaker Jeremy Thompson. Managing Director of Troubador Publishing.

Managed to get here in time to sit down on floor. Or on my heels, if you want to get technical.

Discussion of the many opportunities that self publishing offers. More urging to research the market, keep an eye on readership, early decisions are important, get product into form that readers want to read.

He talked about printing in bulk, recommending print on demand and eBooks. Again, importance placed on covers; we were advised to get hold of something who actually knows what they’re doing when it comes to covers. Also, pay attention to typography.

He also advised to plan marketing early, six months in advance! Be realistic about expectations, above all else.

13.45 – 15.00: Talk to various members of Authoright and Kobo, picking leaflets and cards and such.

Wander about and watch part of a presentation – Selling eBooks Direct to Customers: Tools for Publishers, speaker Cliff Guren – from half behind a pillar. Focuses on selling eBooks direct to consumers, emphasizing Discoverability, Experimentation and Flexability, Communities and Readers, Direct selling and Margins, Cluster CEO, Uniformity.

Apparently, according to calculations, there will be 350 million tablet by 2015! And 80% of time on tablets and such is spent on Apps – so make the most of those Apps!

Meander about the booths that are promoting companies from other countries – Estonia, Norway, China, many more. Sit and rest my weary legs.

Walk around the Turkey Market Focus Pavilion – Turkey is the up and coming publishing promotion this year, next year it will be Korea – and spotted the set up for Poetic Aspect of the Turkish Language, with head phones for translation.

14.40: Arrive at the end of Nick Spalding in Conversation with Hayley Radford. I nip in and grab an actual – if rather hard – seat, just in time for:

15.00 – 15.45: Key Skills for Success as a Hybrid Author, speaker Mark Lefebvre.

Very informative. It appears you can have it both ways – Lefebvre spoke briefly about Kobo, the publishing platform he works for and its benefits, before speaking at length about the different ways he’s been published – short stories in magazines, self published short story collection, marketing campaigns he ran for anthologies he was involved in – including a great one about a Halloween promotion and espresso book machines! – and another concernign self promotion, about how he visited a small horror con near Niagra Falls and ran a competition for the chance to be killed off in the book he was writing!

He also talked about several clients and successful authors, and how they’d been knowledgeable enough to watch the market and use pricing, or even offering free content, in order to pick up sales and get the market they were aiming for into reading their books, while plugging Kobo a tad more and not stating enough how physical and digital literature could work together in order to pick up readership. He also stressed the importance of keeping digital rights, so that even if the book went out of print you could still self publish digitally, as certain popular authors did.

Once again marketing was extremely important, but all this emphasis was encouraging – we need to reach for our dreams, while still keeping achievable goals in mind. Also, you must know what target audience you are writing for, like Stephen King with his wife Tabitha, and then write for them, aiming for what they want.

He inspires me enough that, after the talk, I screw my courage to the sticking place and go up to tell him how much I enjoyed his talk and how inspiring and helpful it was. He’s an extremely nice and enthusiastic guy – asked me what I liked writing, and when I admitted that I needed to get focused on my plots and give my muse a kick up the arse, suggested that could be the title of my first work.

15.50: Decide that, as am hot, tired, sticky and shoulders are killing me from bags slung over them, I should call it a day and get home while the underground is still not quite so chocka-block.

Tomorrow: I will actually have to (gulp) talk to people – the last day of the fair is generally quieter with fewer deals going on, so the people at the booths have more time to chat – and try to get a few more contacts and names.


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