London Book Fair 2013 - The Year Of The Author by Stephanie Zia

When you enter any trade fair you're handed all sorts of leaflets, cards and magazines. The London Book Fair has a daily news sheet The Bookseller Daily. On the first day, this was the front page headline:

Self-Publishing, Agency Under Debate

"The future of self-publishing, the new agency model and the Penguin Random House merger will be the hottest talking points at the London Book Fair, industry figures predict. Self-published authors will have a greater voice at LBF than ever before, with agents and authors coming together for the LitFactor Pitch curated by AuthorRight, while the Alliance of Independent Authors celebrates its first birthday at the fair. Agent Luigi Bonomi said: "I think we're really moving into a very different world. To date it has been a reticence, a diffidence towards publishers by self-published authors, and vice versa, and maybe this year the Cold War between these two communities will be broken by the two sides meeting face to face, and realising they both have separate strengths and weaknesses."....


The first time I went, 2 years ago, it felt like gatecrashing. Like most authors I like being an outsider so that was OK. I'd started publishing other writers and live a fifteen minute walk away so there was no way I wasn't going to go. With over 250 seminars and events to choose from, there was no time to sit around feeling like a cow in a slaughterhouse, there was far too much to see and to learn.

Last year a few writer friends turned up & I got a small sense of the party vibe, bumping into people, texting, meeting up etc.
The Alliance's new book - on Amazon or free to members.
Authors Electric are in there.  
This year it was party central for authors, thanks in no small part to The Alliance Of Independent Authors who had arranged all sorts of sessions and seminars, a book launch party (with an open bar, courtesy of Amazon), plus a 2 hour slot in the Author Lounge for members to promote their own books. There was also the opportunity to be one of the Kobo featured authors. I didn't make the grade for that but I did get a slot in Authoright's LitFactor Pitch. My speed date was a lovely, enthusiastic agent - blogged about here. I'm in that all fingers & toes crossed situation now where it is best to let pessimism rule.

For the last 2 years the Author Lounge was a sad little booth at the Fair, run by "self-publishing services". It felt symbolic of the whole attitude of the Fair, and publishing generally, to authors and made me sad and angry. Now managed by Authoright, The Author's Lounge has been transformed, totally transformed. It was one of the real buzz points of the Fair, attracting, apparently, more than just the LitFactor literary agents down from their segregated International Rights floor on high to see what was going on.

Here are a few photos:

Only at the LBF can you be sitting having a coffee
when a Will Self book signing springs up right next to you.
English Penn Literary Cafe, highly recommended. 

A seminar on the state of publishing in Brazil. I love Brazil, one of my next novels is set there, and I wanted to find out how books fitted in to their economic boom. Turns out there's a long way to go before ebooks will be part of life there. I do quite fancy the Sao Paolo Book Fair though.. 2015.. hmm...

I learnt so much at SALT Publishing's seminar on Social Networking on a Budget it'll have to be a separate blog post.

When all of this got too much...

We retreated to this...

Troubadour Coffee House Secret Garden
So much more inviting than this don't you think?
The invitation only Ivy Club at the LBF International Rights Centre


Dennis Hamley said…
I used to go to the LBF quite regularly, to meet my agent and one of my American publishers. (Gosh, doesn't that sound good?) But then these contacts dried up. Agent said the LBF had become useless to her, US publisher said that it wasn't worth the air fare any more. I wandered round the publishers' stalls saying hello to people I knew and then got the train home. A harmless, vaguely pleasant but ultimately frustrating way to spend a day. But this all sounds SO much better now. I shall have to think carefully about it for next year. It looks as if it might really be worth my while at last.
Dennis Hamley said…
Me again. Just looked at Literary Platform. I see Steve Rickard is a member. Ransom sound a good outfit. They're redoing some of the Evans books, including one of mine, which disappeared when E went belly-up and I have another with Steve now. Lit Platform looks very interesting.
Stephanie said…
Hope to see you there next year Dennis. Maybe we should have an AE get together?
Great to meet you at LBF, Stephanie. I was struck by the difference between 2013 and the last time I went, in 2011. Even if authors aren't being welcomed in the more traditional parts of the Fair, we're certainly regarded as valid clients and service users in the digital zone. Onwards and upwards!
Chris Longmuir said…
Really informative post, although London is a bit too far away to consider attending. I've made a note to myself to look into The Alliance of Independent Authors. I'm already a member of the Society of authors and the Crime Writing Association (CWA), but I think this Alliance might be worth joining as an independent author.
Stephanie said…
Really lovely to meet you Roz. The energy the Alliance put into the Fair for its members and for authors in general was hugely impressive. It's a non-profit organisation & I'd highly recommend it.
Susan Price said…
Stephanie, I think a gathering of Authors Electric at next year's London Book Fair is a must! We should look into it and organise it.
And Chris - for those of us too far away, there is BigBlueButton, Skype and other suitably Electrical ways for us Authors to drop in!
Dennis Hamley said…
AE at LBF sounds brilliant.
I hated it when I went about ten years ago - felt really bullied, and then got stranded at Swindon station on the way home at midnight when my train was late for the connection.

But very interesting to hear that authors are being taken a bit more seriously now... and I like the look of that Secret Garden cafe!
julia jones said…
Thanks for such an encouraging report Stephanie. Might well go next year if they've really changed that dreary Authors Lounge. And of course if there's an AE get together it'll be a must
Stephanie said…
Susan, that would be great. I hope you will be tempted, Julia. Katherine, the Troubadour Cafe is the perfect antidote to exhibition centre malaise.. though LBF won't be at Earls Court next year, they're turning it into flats, so it won't be a nearby option any more.
steve said…
this sounds like a great !!!
With Bookworm as our Book Fair vendor, I know the selection of books will be high quality in every regard. In fact, I feel confident enough in this to allow our middle school students to count any book purchased at our Book Fairs as part of their summer reading requirement

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