London Book Fair Day 3 : The Starguard News

London Book Fair Day 3

by ray burke on 03/19/17

Thurs Mar 16th

Ah, finally, the good news. My bookmarks had arrived. I had to change printers as the first company just used templates which my work wouldn't fit. I do kind of have old software on my laptop which is a bit of a barrier to formatting but I finally found a good company with StressFree Printing. Love the bookmarks, but can improve the back a bit by making fonts bigger. So I was armed with 250 of the blighters and left a few on the train as well. As Dave said, everyone has a card, which can be thrown away, but everyone needs a bookmark. And it's another part of my brand! Speaking of which...

I thought the next talk would have been chock full of ideas:

11:45 - Building Your Author Brand.

Katie Roden, a publishing, marketing and content strategist spoke about different ways to build, increase an author brand. I didn't find it very helpful. It was a hodge podge of intricate and technical details with advice to use media maps to see how people use apps and other platforms. There's Ofcom data to see reader information, which will tell you the obvious that reading on phones is up and on paper down. Next was to live our readers' lives - as if authors are not also readers - and to retain the hardcore readers while capturing curious and casual readers with advice like 'learn to play online games to understand your readers who play such games' (Well no, I don't play games and I'm sure I can connect with a game-players in other ways. Why take away my writing time to play games for an extra reader!) There was advice for female writers to join mum groups (whether they have a kid or not) so they can gain readership from them, even to the point of sharing ovulation and birth dates! It was too contrived for me.

Apparently, an average person can read 250 wpm, so can finish a 100,000 word novel in 5.33 hours! This is so if we have a series of or multiple books, readers would want to binge read such linked books rather than opt for an author with a solitary book! And, obvious, but rarely adhered to in Twitter is the constant selling of books/services. It should be about 80% connecting, 20% selling, and softly at that. Lastly, there was price experimentation. See what works for the product, whether a high price for the quality or a niche product or a lower cost to entice readers and encourage them to spread the word. Overall the branding advice was either too over-thought or too obvious.

As I arrived at the talk a bit late standing outside of Author HQ, I looked for familiar faces and saw Dave working away as usual - the Tweet King!

I took a leaf from his page and also pictured companies I've worked with so I could tweet their praises and get any follows or comments, which I did. So thanks to Nielsen (all books are listed with them, plus I bought my ISBNs from them), Gardners (distributors), and Ingram (Lightning Source printers).

Another Dave tactic was the 'cheeky marketing'. Seeing a briefcase and table full of fake money, I asked the guys there if I could put my book by it and take photos. They told me to fill my boots. So thanks to Britannia International who were promoting their new book on the BCCI scandal.

14:00 - 16:00 - Last Author HQ session of the fair was The Write Stuff, the Dragon's Den-style panel where 6 pre-selected authors would pitch to 3 agents. The winner could then pick which agent they wanted. In a nutshell, the authors had books about Syrian refugees, children escaping WWII Germany, an Indian Jane Austen-type book, a Moldovan 'magic realism' story, a Scottish Highlands Desperate Housewives, and the overall Winner 'Help, My Mother Has Cancer!' a real and humerous account of the other bits you don't hear about cancer sufferers and survivors! Well-deserved win.

After Author HQ, I gave a book mark to an agent before leaving and she was quite taken with it, so perhaps she'll follow up and take a look at the book. Plus on my final way out I gave 2 books away to sci-fi friendly staff at the receptions of Atlantic Books and MacMillan. Hopefully they'll leave reviews or maybe even mention it around the office.

Now criminally, I have not mentioned one person, nor got a pic of her even though we sat through the Write Stuff together, and is a de facto member of the Rat Pack, Finnish author Helena Halme. I met her through David and ALLi last year. Hopefully I can rectify that as she's a great help with info on writer societies, other authors, and networking. And I do plan on joining the Writers' Society and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)

There was a final meet up with Anita Williams and her friend and a Twitter follower Soulla Christodoulou for a group pic.

Then it was my turn to make believe I'm in front of the masses waxing lyrically about my books. One day, folks, one day!

After, the Rat Pack reunited and wound up in the Hand and Flower pub. I'm sure we were sitting by TV psychologist Emma Kenny, but the other guys weren't convinced. And as a companion to my burrito a few nights prior, this time I had a very nice falafal wrap by candle light! Then it was time to say our goodbyes and goodbye to LBF for another year! Thanks for the memories :-)

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