British author Maria Constantine describes how the development of her writing career was shaped by repeated visits to the London Book Fair over a four year period, culminating in self-publishing her debut novel.
Looking back over the four years I’ve been attending the London Book Fairs, I am encouraged by the exciting changes I have witnessed within the industry.
When I first attended in 2011 I knew very little about publishing, but at the end of the 2013 London Book Fair, I decided to digitally publish my debut novel rather than contact the literary agent who had given me her card to submit my manuscript.
The bottom line was that I wanted to maintain creative control over my book. The manuscript had been professionally edited and proofread more times than I can recall, so I wasn’t against making changes. I had changed the title, deleted a chapter and scenes in the editing process, but there was certain content I was not prepared to change. The only way I could secure this content was to indie publish.
Entering mainstream commercial women’s fiction with a different voice and not conforming to the trend in trade publishing within this genre was more important than acquiring a traditional publishing deal.
I had gained enough knowledge over the years to take the leap. I had a folder of notes and contact details from the countless seminars I had attended. ALLi’s Choosing A Self-Publishing Service 2013 served as a useful guide, highlighting options and providing practical advice. I bought my own ISBN numbers, entered into a contract with Authoright for cover design, author website, marketing, and employed the services of Firsty Group to convert the file into eBook formats.
The True Meaning of Self-Publishing
Over the years I have heard the term self-publishing used a lot, but in my experience it can be misleading: I did not publish on my own as implied by the term self-publishing. Indie publishing is a more accurate representation as it takes into account strategic partnerships formed to achieve the end product. I was guided by professionals in their area of expertise and followed blogs like Joanna Penn’s to help steer me in the direction I had chosen.
When I was uploading my Mobi file onto the KDP site I came across the DRM question and fondly recall contacting ALLi for advice. The indie community has a spirit of we-are-all-in-it together and I value the on-line writing community I am part of where we share experiences.
At the 2014 London Book Fair I wore my ALLi badge with the confidence gained through indie publishing.
I believe there is no single route to publishing a book, and the world of indie publishing and traditionally publishing is not as polarised as it was when I first visited the London Book Fair in 2011. Following the Introduction to Rights workshop I attended this year, I do think it is important for writers to recognise the array of rights they are holding in their creative content and not sign away rights without serious consideration.
The decision may be different for each book, and each year I have witnessed more opportunities opening up to authors. During the coffee break at the Introduction to Rights workshop I had an interesting conversation with the Senior Manager of digital content at Amazon China where we talked about translation rights. I realised at the end of my first day that there were rights in my book that I had never considered.
Four Years On
The author who left the 2014 London Book Fair is different in terms of aspiration and focus to the one who first came in 2011.
Not only am I more aware of the complex issue of rights, I have also shifted my focus from literary agents and trade publishers to writing more books and my readers. I no longer think of meeting the ‘taste’ of literary agents and editors, but finding my niche audience and serving my readers.
I’d love to hear comments from other writers. Have you indie published? Are you excited about the opportunities opening up to indie authors?
To make it easier to share this thought-provoking post with other authors, here's our suggested tweet:
“How #LondonBookFair changed my #selfpublishing journey by @constantinmari via @IndieAuthorALLi: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/publishing-how-attending-a-book-fair-changed-my-publishing-journey”