ALLi Director Orna Ross talks to Managing Editor Howard Lovy on how indie authors can get the most from a visit to The London Book Fair.
Indie authors already know they are a growing presence and power in the publishing ecosystem, but unfortunately not all book fairs got the memo. Shunted aside or ignored at some book fairs, indie authors might wonder what’s in it for them.
Then, there’s The London Book Fair.
“London is the exception,” says Orna Ross, director of the Alliance of Independent Authors. “It’s respectful and it understands the self-publishing revolution better than any of the others.”
In fact, it was at The London Book Fair back in 2012 when Ross first launched ALLi, which has since grown exponentially to provide tools and resources for self-published authors around the world.
And, of course, ALLi’s presence continues at LBF2018, April 10-12 at Olympia. ALLi and its partners will be there in full force (at Stand IE40), with discussions, Q&As, book launches, how-tos, and other special events. (see full list of events on the invitation attached and below).
If you’re an indie author and you are going to be at the fair be sure to drop by the stand and say hello. If not, don’t worry. We’ll be bringing everything we’ve learned and all the fun of the fair online at our Self-Publishing Advice Conference on Saturday 14th April. 24 sessions over 24 hours will make sure you don’t miss a thing.
What Happens At A Live Book Fair
So, while indie authors are definitely not going to feel like the unloved stepchild of the publishing world, it is important for self-publishers to understand what they will and will not achieve at LBF. Watch out for promises made by services that charge authors a fee to display their book and “sell” rights, dangling before them visions of Hollywood producers, agents, and big print publishers crawling all over each other to grab your book.
“What actually happens is the book sits on a shelf in an area where nobody goes, or nobody who has any power, or any buying potential,” Ross says.
How Rights Are Sold at Book Fairs
How rights are actually sold at a book fair is in the Rights Centers, where agents and other rights buyers and sellers pay for space to conduct one after the other, half-hour appointments to pitch and purchase.
“We have had indie authors who have taken a table in the Rights Center and been successful,” Ross says. “That’s a different thing to the author who just turns up with a book and wanders the aisles looking for action. Those authors know how book fairs work, have made their appointments in advance, may even already have the deal.
“In order to sell rights in the first place, you have to already have been selling extremely well in your home language. No international publisher is interested in a book that isn’t successful in English. And even that is not enough. You have to do your homework. Make sure you’re pitching to the right publisher.”
Ross says that, as an average (“though successes in publishing often don’t work on averages”), you have to have sold at least 50,000 books to get a rights-buyer’s interest. And it must be a buyer with experience in your genre.
3 Good Reasons to Attend The London Book Fair
All this takes a great deal of homework and expertise. Advanced-level self-publishers can do it, but most cannot. So, then, why should an indie author attend at all? Ross has three good reasons.
1. Networking and Education
“You will meet lots and lots of other authors,” Ross says. “There’s the big Author HQ, which hosts a series of seminars, including many with ALLi advisors and members offering advice. Call by the ALLi stand at 1E40 and book a one-to-one consultation with an Advisor. And don’t forget the annual ALLi party.”
2. See The Publishing Industry in Action
“The first people are struck by is the size of it,” Ross says. “It’s so huge and you see the relationship of fiction to nonfiction, you see the relationship of the large presses to the small, you see the whole book trade in macrocosm, and that’s a really good wake-up call as to where you and your books fit in.”
Indie authors have to be the creative directors of their businesses as well as their books.
“They need to think about where they sit in the whole big picture. I think the London Book Fair is a really good way to do that because the entire publishing industry is under one roof.”
And that brings us to the last reason:
3. Meet your possible partners
Self-publishing is a kind of misnomer, since authors totally depend on expert creative services to put out a professional-quality book. At book fairs, authors can meet service professionals such as editors, designers, and others who can actually help put their book together. Lots of ALLi Partner Members will be there, too, including Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books and Ingram Spark, distributors like PublishDrive and newcomers to the block(chain), Publica.
The most-important thing to remember, though, is to have a plan.
“Know why you’re going,” Ross says. “Don’t just turn up.”
Tuesday 10th to Thursday 12th April
ALLi STAND 1E40
One-to-one Consultations with Self-Publishing Experts (call by to book a slot)
Tuesday 10th April 2.30-3.30pm
The Olympia Room
Blockchain For Books Insights Seminar PLUS launch of ALLi White Paper about authors and the blockchain
Wednesday 11th April 4.45- 5.30pm
Ingram Spark Seminar
The Agony and Ecstasy of Self-Publishing
Wed 11th April 5.30pm
ALLi STAND 1E40
Book Giveaway, Advice & Signing:
A Guide for Creativepreneurs by Orna Ross
Thursday 12th April 11.45am – 12.30pm
The Alliance of Independent Authors Seminar
Get A Self-Publishing 3.0 Mindset
Thursday 12th April 2.45-3.30pm
ALLi STAND 1E40
Triple Book Launch, plus practical publishing Q&A
Publishing Today with Dan Holloway, Jane Davis & Rohan Quine
Thursday 12th April 4-7pm
Hand & Flower Function Room, 1 Hammersmith Rd, London W14 8XJ
Drinks Party Thurs 12th April (4 – 7pm) Kindly Sponsored by Amazon KDP
#Selfpub authors - are you going to #LBF18? @Orna Ross explains what indies should expect from the @LondonBookFair and offers advice on how to make the most of it. Click To Tweet
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From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive