The London Book Fair: An Author’s Perspective by Chele Cooke

chelecooke Two weeks ago Olympia opened its doors to the London Book Fair. A trade fair at heart, the London Book Fair (or LBF,) is a hub of British publishing in the second week of April and is where you’ll find some of the biggest deals in the UK publishing industry.
As an author (or aspiring author,) most of the fair is cut off from you. Whilst you can wander and browse all the different publishers and companies with a stake in the publishing industry, you will find little information or help from these busy professionals.

There are tales of authors wanting to speak to agents and publishers, hounding them through the book fair. Well, I can tell you now, that is pointless and won’t get you anything except, perhaps, a restraining order if you are particularly persistent.

What will get you somewhere, on the other hand, is the Author HQ, the hub of most author directed information at LBF. Sponsored by Amazon KDP and Midas PR, Author HQ is designed to give authors a rounded look at the publishing industry and information on how to move forwards.

Information on this stage is split between traditional publishing and self-publishing, with talks from everyone from self-publishing platforms such as KDP and Kobo Writing Life to traditionally based agents and publishers. Also available is information on elements of the publishing process such as cover design, editing, marketing, rights management, and contracts.

For a first time author, a few days listening to the talks at Author HQ can be invaluable. Not only can it help you decide which route will be best suited to you and give you your first steps down that path, but will also let you meet some like-minded authors who, as time goes on, may turn out to be your best contacts. CA - LBF 15 - photo by ActuaLittle
At less than £50 for a three day ticket, London Book Fair is well worth the money as a new author, or even an experienced author looking to try their hand at something new.

However, I’ve been going to LBF for three years now and I am beginning to find a large amount of repetition from year to year. Marketing advice is basic and, as it is sponsored by a PR firm, relies heavily on advice to hire a marketing company to help you get into traditionally based media such as radio stations and newspapers. In previous years at Earl’s Court, authors had the option to go to more advanced seminars run by independent authors such as Joanna Penn (of ‘The Creative Penn’ website) who would give in depth and actionable advice on furthering your marketing plans, etc. These seem to have not moved over to the new location, limiting the workable advice for more seasoned authors.

Perhaps these sorts of seminars will be put in place again once LBF has become more accustomed to their new location, but for this year, I actually found that my trip to LBF was highlighted by the discussions I had with other authors, sharing knowledge and stories.

I would suggest that authors looking to venture into the publishing arena, whether for the first time, or as they move from one publishing route to another, visit LBF and their Author HQ, if for no other reason than to get a feel for the industry they are about to step into. LBF is a great place to meet other authors. Whether they are in a similar position or perhaps a little further along in their career, authors at LBF are a friendly and helpful bunch of people. CA - LBF Logo
Whether it’s your first time going to the London Book Fair, or your fifth, make sure you’re making those connections. Those authors could be the ones who help you discover your path just as easily as a trade book fair.


Chele Cooke has self-published two books in the sci-fi series, Out of Orbit, and the first book of a vampire serial, Teeth. She was recently included in The Bookseller magazine’s independent ‘One’s to Watch’ article. You can read more about Chele in our writer profile article here. CPP - CC - Dead and Buryd CPP - CC - Fight or Flight CPP - CC - Teeth


More articles from the London Book Fair 2015:

A Coffee with… KARRIE FRANSMAN! At the London Book Fair 2015

A Panel and Chat with Comic Publisher TPub’s Neil Gibson

Why the Graphic Novel? Panel coverage from The London Book Fair 2015