In my last post, I introduced you to my Writers’ Arc tool. Today, I’ll hone in on one of the 8 categories: Marketing and Networking. In particular, I’ll talk about the benefits of attending the London Book Fair, which is coming up in April.
Why do it?
I’m a big believer in writers incorporating networking and marketing into their weekly writing routine. Assuming, of course, you want to sell or share your writing with the wider world.
Those of you who’ve written at least one piece of work honed it, got feedback, honed it some more, and believe it is as good as can be, then, it’s time to start networking and marketing.
Now, I don’t want you to stop writing and just spend your time networking and marketing. No, from this point on, as you work on your next idea, earmark an equal amount of time for networking with industry folk and marketing your completed piece of work. And by the way, that doesn’t mean sending it out to 6 agents, and after you get rejected, giving it up as a dead dog.
I’m talking about the continuous creative process of trying everything under the sun to get your work into the hands of someone who will love it. Yes, you will give up hope, and yes you will be convinced your new piece of work is far superior. But I do not want you to give up until you have sent it to at least 100 people and tried 5 or 6 different strategies for networking and marketing!!
(By the way, marketing is a big part of what I coach my clients with. Get in touch if you want to find out more).
Networking at the London Book Fair
One delightful way to bring more networking and marketing into your life is to attend the London Book Fair. This year it’s happening 18-20 April at Olympia in West Kensington.
I have attended several times and managed to do lots of both casual and focused networking at the London Book Fair.
What I got out of the London Book Fair
- Found a publisher for my children’s picture book ‘Hopscotch and the Christmas Tree’.
- Had a 1:1 meeting with an agent to talk over my ideas and my writing career.
- Attended loads of fascinating talks and seminars on all aspects of the industry and came away informed and inspired.
- Spoke to multiple publishers, got their contact details and was able to send them my work.
- Met countless other writers and felt part of a wonderful community of creatives.
- Met up with writer friends for moral support.
- A year after my picture book was published, the Irish broadcaster RTE Junior commissioned me to adapt it into an animated Christmas Special.
- This went on to be broadcast in multiple countries around the world. It was on Amazon Prime in the UK and was released in cinemas across France, viewed by over 100,000 people. It was also nominated for Best Film and Best Animation at the Irish Animation Awards.
In short, if you are writing or have written a book, and you live within reach of London, my advice is to go, go, GO! What have you got to lose? At the very least, you’ll come away motivated and inspired.
What sort of ticket should you buy?
I have always bought just a regular Visitor’s Ticket, which currently costs £63.60 for the full 3 days. As part of this you can attend Author HQ and the Writer’s Block, where there are lots of talks and seminars as well as social networking drinks. In addition, you can buy a 1:1 slot with an agent (beware, these sell out fast) and you can sign up in advance to pitch on stage and receive feedback from a panel of industry guests.
You also have access to the directory of attendees, via the website, and can reach out to them in advance, if you want to try and set up a meeting. This is what I did when I got my picture book publisher.
If you are really serious about your career, and want to build up your knowledge foundation, you could also attend the Writers’ Summit Conference, which costs £199 for 1 day. I have never attended this, so I cannot comment on the content.
Quick disclaimer: I did not attend the LBF last year, as I had Covid at the time, so I don’t know if anything has changed since I was last there. But in previous years I always got a lot out of the event with just a regular ‘Visitor’s Ticket’.
How to make the most of it
Firstly, the website is a bit of a maze. So if you find something useful, bookmark it for later. I’ve wasted a lot of time in past years trying to find the same things over and over again.
Secondly, if you really want to make the most of it, set aside plenty of time to explore the website and plan your visit.
Sections of the website that I find useful
- The Seminar Programme, under the tab ‘What’s On’. Decide what you want to attend. Keep checking back as I believe it continues to be updated as the Fair gets closer.
- Authors at the LBF, under the tab ‘Visit’. Also, explore Writer’s Block and Author HQ.
- If you want to pitch or have a 1:1 agent meeting, keep checking the website to see if and when this is announced. Book your place immediately, as they sell out fast.
- To find a list of publishers and agents attending, go to the ‘Exhibitor Directory’ tab. Use the filters on the left-hand side to refine your search. You used to be able to request meetings directly via the website. I don’t know if this is still the case – you might have to buy a ticket first. If you want to do this, I’d recommend sending out your messages at least 4 weeks in advance, as publishers get very booked up. (Note, many people won’t respond to you, especially the big publishing houses, so don’t be demoralised, it’s just the way it goes.)
If you have a book to ‘sell’
- Firstly, consider the LBF as an opportunity to make friends and build relationships, above anything else.
- If you’re keen to set up meetings with publishers and agents, draft a really succinct message (just a couple of sentences) and hone it, hone it, hone it. Get feedback if you can.
- Work on a short pitch about you, the writer, so that you can bring it up conversationally. Keep it short and chatty, practise it, and get feedback if you can.
- Work on a short pitch of your book, so that you can talk about it informally if the occasion arises. However, don’t go around shoving it down people’s throats! I’d only recommend pitching to someone if they seem genuinely interested in finding out more about what you’re writing.
- Write up a 1-2 page synopsis, including a 1 sentence log line. These documents are very hard to write, so do the work, really hone this and be sure to get some feedback. Take a few with you, but also, be ready to email them if requested. Also, take a few copies of the first 3 chapters, if you have them in a polished state.
- Think about what questions you might want to ask, either to someone on stage, or as they come off stage.
- Get some business cards printed
- If you’re interested in self-publishing, there’s loads of info about it at the Fair.
At the event
Talk to other writers as you’re queuing up for the different talks. It’s such a friendly place. However, it’s also, large, noisy, and intense. So find quiet corners to go and recharge yourself every now and then.
Food and drink are very expensive, so you might want to take a sandwich and a bottle of water, and just treat yourself to hot drinks and the occasional brownie at the Fair.
If you’re likely to find it overwhelming, arrange to meet a friend or two for moral support.
Finally, have fun and enjoy yourself. Don’t expect too much, but do give yourself a big gold star just for attending and doing your weekly networking practice – at the London Book Fair.
Would you like an in-person Meetup there with me and others in my community?
I’m considering organising a Meetup there for writers in my community, subscribers to my blog and newsletter as well as members of my monthly London Writers’ Meetup group. Drop me a line if this would be of interest.
I will continue to talk about the London Book Fair at my monthly Writers’ Meetups, so feel free to pop along if you have any specific questions about it.
By the way, if you have a writing-related question, get in touch as I might be able to offer a useful suggestion in a future post.
Just a reminder – I offer 1:1 coaching
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. Whatever it is, I get writers writing (and selling).
I’ll give you rock solid accountability (through calls and text messages), and structure to your goals with targets and deadlines. But we’ll also work on all those tricky emotions that writers tend to struggle with. I can be a sounding board for ideas too.
You’ll come away from calls feeling excited to have a writing routine, enjoying the process, and empowered to try out lots of new marketing ideas. But it’s always tailored to your unique situation.
Interested? Take a look at my one-to-one coaching packages. Or book a short free call with me to ask any questions.
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