Take 1 To Be Or Not To Be (in attendance at book fairs)
You may have noticed all the hubbub of the London Book Fair recently, which ran from 10-12 April. This is one of the world's most prestigious book fairs held annually, at which time and place announcements are made and deals done often around major-name publishers and authors. Because of this attention to the big names, there is mixed opinion about how relevant and useful such fairs are to us mere mortals on the lower rungs or those of us working in the background; or even to authors themselves, traditional and indie published.
Before following the proceedings via Twitter, I found myself asking the same questions. Is the Fair of use to me as a future indie author, or to my business as service provider to authors and publishers? Would it be worth the train ticket one day, or is this an event for the big guns only?
I admit to being dubious to begin with but that soon changed and here's why. Aside from knowing what our allies (or enemies, depending how you see it) are up to, there were plenty of interesting discussions around publishing in general that were useful to everyone in the industry. Such as, the new and expanding markets in territories you may not have thought of selling to before, or the rise in audiobooks and audio streaming as a potential income source.
We would also do well to remember that traditional and indie publishing are not that far removed from one another, not when it comes to current and future trends - these are relevant to all of us. So it's no surprise then that there was an awful lot of discussion coming out of the Fair that was actually relevant to everyone, including authors; and the very visible presence of the Alliance of Independent Authors is testament to this. It's always really satisfying to see indie and traditional existing side by side - as indeed they should: they are merely different models of the same business.
So in response to the comments on Twitter suggesting that authors attending book fairs was about as relevant as animals attending meat markets, I can only imagine this was meant for those authors who are simply happy for someone else to pull the career strings...
Take 2 Indies United
My handpicked news story from the indie book business sphere this month is the new alliance currently taking root amongst independent booksellers in the UK. Instigated by the (surely now famous) Simon Key of London's Big Green Bookshop, the key theme behind the Independent Bookshop Alliance is evidently: stronger together.
Cheesed off with exclusive book editions being reserved for the big bookchains only (such as Waterstones and its 250-plus stores), Simon suggested that an alliance of bookstores all requesting the same titles may make it easier for publishers to approach them with exclusives and special editions. To date, more than 100 indie booksellers have expressed interest in the alliance, and according to Simon he has received a positive response from publishers eager to find common grounds for mutual support.
There are, as always, doubters and concerns from some quarters, but here's hoping Simon and his Alliance are able to smooth out any cracks and make a real difference to the indie bookselling industry!
Take 3 Nervous Handovers & Miniature Trees
This month I have given something away and taken possession of something, both of which have filled me with trepidation. After five arduous drafts, I have ignored all sound advice and passed my first novel WIP over to a very close friend for 'first-impressions' feedback. This will be the first book in a three-part series, and as I begin to outline Book 2, I can already get a feel for where I've gone wrong with some 'big-picture' elements of Book 1, which makes waiting for feedback all the more unsettling.
And, as you can see, I have taken possession - or more specifically, been gifted - a beautiful bonsai tree for the (marginally less miniature) office in my new home. I love this idea of bringing the outdoors in (particularly as I am 'in' so much of the time), but suffice to say my track record with plants is... ropey. Here's hoping I can keep it alive.
Take 4 Catch of the Month
My Catch of the Month on the blog/podcast circuit for April has to be the Alliance of Independent Authors' Self Publishing Advice Conference. Staged over 24 hours, the conference ran over the weekend of 14th-15th April to coincide with the London Book Fair, and was jam-packed with podcasts and panel discussions for indie authors. I think I watched/listened to just about all of them, bar one or two.
Here are some of the highlights of what's on book-wise throughout the month of May. If you can't make it to an event, always worthwhile checking out Twitter for kindly souls who are more than happy to live-tweet some of the goings on.