Top Tips from the London Book Fair [Part 1]

Key takeaways from 3 talks at the London Book Fair 2023 – Making your WIP Stand Out, Keeping up with Social Media, and The Indie Author Income Survey

I recently had the pleasure of attending the London Book Fair, soaking up the wonderful writerly atmosphere, meeting up with some lovely writers, and listening to some great panel discussions on all aspects of writing. It was very informative so I’m going to share some of the top tips that I absorbed because I think you’ll find them helpful too. These will be split over a couple of blog posts. 

I hope writers of all disciplines will get something useful out of this.

London Book Fair, 2023

Making your WIP Stand Out

First Drafts

  • Don’t get too tied up with trying to make it perfect. First learn how to write a whole book, and then figure out how to make it good. 
  • Bad news – you’re going to have to write it more than once. Probably 8-12 times! Don’t try to compress the writing and editing process to save time. It doesn’t work like that. Your first draft is exciting, exploratory and private.
  • First drafts are a mess. Don’t share anything (with publishers or agents) until the 3rd or 4th draft. But it’s fine to share early drafts with trusted critique partners and feedback groups, if you have them.
  • After your first draft, get some distance from it, but only a couple of weeks. Any more than this and it will be hard to return to it. Then, change the font for your read-through and print it out on paper.

Feedback & Editing

  • When it comes to editing, do some clear figuring out. Don’t just dive in.
  • If you’re struggling to get to the end of your 1st draft, share it with trusted critique partners and ask them to tell you all the good bits. This little boost might just spur you on to get to the end.
  • When seeking feedback, find readers who are sympathetic to your work. But you don’t just look for people to tell you it’s great.
  • Be careful of yourself as a writer. Get feedback in a controlled environment. The wrong feedback can make you feel excruciatingly bad. Be generous. Give and take.

Pitching and loglines

  • Show that you understand the key story of your book in 26 words. If you can do this, you’re in a very good place to share it. 
  • If you’re really bad at pitching, take courses, practise, get better. Don’t talk about the plot. Talk about the story and how your character changes.

Final Words of Wisdom

  • People often ask, how can I be original? Don’t try to be original, just try to be the most concentrated version of you! When you speak, what’s different from other people? What are you noticing in the world that other people aren’t?

Panelists included: Anna Davis, Curtis Brown, Alexia Casala, Bath Spa University and Sarah May, Faber Academy 

Keeping up with Social Media

Which Platform?

  • You don’t need to be on every single platform. Pick one. TikTok is a 24-hour-a-day job. You need daily content. It’s big mistake to start something that you can’t follow through with, as your profile will then become dormant. Start by listening, monitoring and following certain hashtags. If you’re not comfortable making videos of yourself, don’t do this, as it won’t work well.
  • Instagram is also a time-consuming platform to use. Twitter is an easier place to get started. 
  • Educate yourself on your chosen platform. Go to talks and take courses. 

When & How to Start

  • Just be you. Don’t try to follow trends. Readers want to know you. Be open and honest. talk about the inspiration for your writing. Share what you read. Be kind.
  • Social media is your shop window. 
  • You want to be on social media as early as possible in the writing process. People want to see the journey you go on. They’ll be interested in the struggles you’ve faced along the way.  
  • If people are commenting on your posts, you need to engage with them and reply. 

Good manners

  • When you approach bloggers to read your book, be polite, and respectful, even if they say they don’t have time your book. 
  • If someone reviews something negatively, just accept it, don’t be angry as it will reflect badly on you. 
  • Be community-driven, rather than salesy. Have a conversation. Sign up for newsletters and see what’s current in trends. How are things being marketed? This changes over time. 

How to build a following

  • If you’re a lesser-known or unknown author, try to get the book blogging community behind you. 
  • Connect with content creators before asking them to read your work. Find out what they like. Don’t just send out blanket emails that are untargeted. 
  • Peer-to-peer author endorsement is really important. 
  • People want to follow a story, that’s what entices them to social media. So share your personal story. 
  • Develop a strategy. Think about the content you want to create. Think in terms of – educate, inspire or engage – to help you develop your posts. 
  • Look ahead at hashtags across the year, and plan your posts ahead. 

Panelists included: Jules Swain; Emma Petfield, Harper Collins; Ashley Baugh, Midas.

The Indie Author Income Survey


In the world of traditional publishing, it has recently been reported that authors are earning less, year on year. 

The Alliance of Independent Authors conducted a survey of indie authors’ incomes in 2022/2023, to find out if this was true for indie authors too. And it turns out it’s far from true. In the past 12 months, indie authors have had an income increase of 53% on the previous year. 

The survey respondents included only writers who were spending at least 50% of their time on writing and publishing.

Breakdown of earnings

  • The median annual income of indie authors was $12,749
  • 43% of authors were earning over $20,000 per year
  • 28% of authors were earning over $50,000
  • The highest earners were generally those who have written and published the most. 
  • 75% of book sales are from series of books
  • These figures were gross, and didn’t include any money the authors spent on getting their books published, cost of an editor, if they hired one, and marketing costs. 
  • If you’re prepared to be entrepreneurial, you’ll do a lot better. It’s a business, not a game. One strategy is to give away a free e-book to attract people to your mailing list. 

Panelists included: Orna Ross, indie author, and Dan Ross, Draft to Digital

I hope you’ve found this sum-up of quotes helpful. I really recommend going to the London Book Fair next year, if you’re working on a book. It’s a really great place to build on your knowledge of the industry and also network. 

Drop me a line with your questions and comments. 


Don’t forget I offer 1:1 coaching and can help with many of the things discussed here.

For example, if you’re struggling to start or finish a novel (or screenplay, or play), I can help with accountability. We’ll come up with a plan together, and I’ll give you structure, deadlines and support to help you develop a writing habit and get you writing regularly (and having fun with it). 

If you’re putting off doing any marketing or networking, I’ll help you figure out a marketing plan, then hold your feet to the fire (in the nicest possible way!) Together, I’ll make sure you stick to the plan week after week.

And if you’re battling self-doubt or imposter syndrome around your writing, we’ll work on some strategies to help you manage all those tricky emotions. 

To find out more, check out my website. Or you can book a call and ask me anything.

Stay tuned

In my next article, I’ll be covering more talks from the London Book Fair, around ‘Writing & Resilience’ as well as “How to Get Noticed as a Children’s Author’. 

Finally, don’t forget to join my brand new Facebook group share your goals and get some weekly accountability. I can’t wait to ‘meet’ you there. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *