Key takeaways from 2 talks at the London Book Fair 2023 – Writing & Resilience and Spotlight on Children’s: How to Get Noticed in a Crowded Market
As I said in my last article, I had the pleasure of attending the London Book Fair this year. I sat in on some great panel discussions on all aspects of writing, so I can’t resist sharing some more top tips.
I hope writers of all disciplines will get something useful out of this.
Writing & Resilience: Navigating the Confidence and Mindset Challenges of Being a Writer
Doing the writing
- Develop a writing routine, and revisit the story as regularly as possible. Otherwise, it can be stop-start, stop-start. And when you stop, it can feel depressing to reread your work when you go back to it after a break.
- Think about discipline, rather than motivation. What’s worked for you in the past? Do the same again.
- Lots of people are waiting for a full day or weekend to write. But you can write in 15 minutes per day.
- Build resilience all through your career. Plan for things to go wrong, so that you can handle them when they arise.
- Make peace with rejection. It happens at every stage of the process, even getting notes from your editor, once you’re published, is a sort of rejection.
- Lean into what you have achieved. Look for evidence of your success. Look for the counter-argument. Use that to power through the negative self-talk.
- When getting notes, remember it’s always a discussion. Figure out how to interpret the notes. There’s some truth behind them, even if they’re not always spot on.
- When marketing yourself, try to make it feel authentic. How are readers going to find your book if you’re not sharing it? Connect with your readers, have a conversation, they find that special. Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.
- Talk about what you love, including the books you love – it will draw people to you. Balance your content. Mix up talking about your book with talking about other topics. Think about how you can help others.
Final words of wisdom
- Be tunnel vision about your own journey. You can’t control anyone else. Remind yourself why you’re doing it.
- Own your stories. Think about what sort of writer you want to be and what you want to put out there. Think about your responsibility as a writer.
Panelists included: Katie Khan, Penguin; Kelly Weekes, Mindset Coach; Luan Goldie, Harper Collin
Quotes from Children’s Spotlight: How to Get Noticed in a Crowded Market
Think about your hook and your niche
- Make sure your book has a hook. Are you doing anything different? Are you maintaining your hook?
- Find your niche within the genre.
- Carla, a commissioning editor at Bloomsbury, looks for books with intentionality. She wants the author to have a very clear idea.
- When pitching, be as specific and targeted as possible.
- Revise your pitch according to whether you’re pitching to kids or their parents/teachers/librarians.
- Figure out who your book is for and zone in on that. It’s not for everyone! You could even focus on one person you have in mind. What kind of reader needs this book?
If your novel is being published
- Tell your publicist as much as you can. What was your inspiration? What do you want readers to take away from your book?
- Be willing to do school events. That’s where your readers are! (Make sure you ask for a fee!)
- Say yes to everything (within reason!) If you’re not good at something (eg videos for Tik Tok), don’t agree to it!
Promoting your book
- Think about your community. They’re waiting for you to find them.
- On social media – share why you wanted to write this book. What is your hook?
- Develop relationships with bloggers.
- Use your promo copies wisely – get them to specific gatekeepers who will like your book. Write a letter to go with it, about your intentions. Preserve a couple of copies for online giveaways.
- Do real-world networking, as well as social networking. Introduce yourself at your local bookshop and try to build a relationship. Reach out to local schools – people value local authors. Engage with teachers and librarians.
- Go to conferences and conventions. Go to Book Festivals. Before you are published, see other authors at these events. Hear what the audience is asking. Think about how you might do an event.
Do’s and Don’t’s of covering letters
- Know which agent at the agency that you’re writing to – be specific.
- Look at the books they represent; use agents’ websites for info.
- Keep an eye on the books you enjoy and read the acknowledgments;
- Be yourself, be personal.
Panelists included: Eve Wersocki Morris, Simon & Schuster; Elle McNicoll, author; Carla Hutchinson, Bloomsbury; Joel Rochester, Fictional Fates
I hope you’ve found this sum-up of top tips helpful. I really recommend going to the London Book Fair next year, if you’re working on a book. It’s a great place to build on your knowledge of the industry and also network. I’ve been about 4 times now, and always come away feeling inspired and motivated – and I even got a book deal!
Do get in touch with writing-related questions, as I might be able to offer a useful suggestion in a future post.
Don’t forget I offer 1:1 coaching and can help with many of the things discussed here, and more.
My focus is helping ambitious writers who are struggling to sit down and write (or sit down and sell their writing) – maybe because of self-doubt, or a block – or simply good old-fashioned procrastination. Or maybe you’re great at writing on commission, but you never get around to writing your own original ideas.
You’ll come away from my coaching feeling excited to have a goal and a writing routine, enjoying the process, and empowered to try out lots of new marketing ideas.
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