We are just a few days away from the London Book Fair 2013, and like last year, there is not a dust cloud, volcano or strike in sight—fingers crossed. The Independent Publishing Magazine will, as always, be there to report and take in all that happens at LBF next week via our main magazine page, Facebook page and Twitter account.
While the trade industry has been grappling with e-books and new models of business—with these pressing themes holding more and more of the centre stage over the past three years at LBF—the UK’s publishing industry tradeshow really does come of age this year when self-publishing itself also occupies that same centre stage. In many ways, self-publishing has always had a place at the fair as long as I’ve been attending it. The difference this year is that LBF organisers have properly recognised the significant role it is now playing within the industry, not just for authors and service providers, but for trade publishing houses as well.
It reminds me of a heated discussion I had some years ago with a director of a large UK independent publishing house at LBF when he made a snippy comment about the ‘growing number of exhibitor booths and sessions on vanity publishing.’ Had I known then what I know now I might have given him a better and longer argument, but my answer all those years ago is still a valid one; there comes a point when you just can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room.
Likewise, every year, despite my forlorn argument that LBF and similar events throughout the major capitals of the world are trade events, it hasn’t stopped a growing number of authors attending publishing tradeshows. But what has changed now is the reason why thousands of authors will walk through the doors of LBF next week. Years ago a publishing tradeshow might offer an unattached author the opportunity to burn the ear of an agent or publisher in the hope of turning attention on the manuscript thrust under their arm. I suspect the majority of authors at LBF next week will be attending because they believe they have something of value to sell, and crucially, now grasp that the role of publishing is becoming more about the delivery of content, and specifically service, than just an annual hooray show where publishers strike business to business contracts and announce their latest series of author coups.
More and more exhibitors attending LBF don’t just see businesses operating within the publishing industry as potential clients and partners, but also those thousands of attending authors flowing through the doors of Earl’s Court Conference Centre. On a vast publishing landscape where the author now has the will and capable means to compete and present a product to wholesalers, retailers and the reading public, the industry’s service providers—whether editor, printer, designer, translator or marketer—are becoming equally savvy and open to dealing directly with publisher or author.
For self-published authors attending LBF, the official website has some detailed information about events at the fair this year. The most significant change this year is the expanded and revamped AuthorLounge. The AuthorLounge will bring together experts (through seminars and a pitch area) from all aspects of the publishing industry from editors, marketers, cover designers and booksellers to share their expertise and insights into the contemporary publishing landscape and, for the first time ever at the L BF, unpublished authors will also be able to meet and network with literary agents. The event is sponsored and supported this year by Amazon Kindle Direct, Kobo and Matador, and will be curated by Authoright, a service provider specialising in editing, marketing and publishing services for authors. What is impressive about the AuthorLounge this year is the combined involvement of providers and publishers from every area of the industry, including Faber, Penguin, Goodreads, Foyles, The Bookseller, ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors), Granta, Pottermore, Troubador, Curtis Brown, as well as a number of self-publishing service providers. This is by no means an in-house self-publishing laugh-in and demonstrates that there are already many healthy business relationships in existence between traditional and self-publishing providers. You can find a full list of events here.
You can find a full list of events for LBF 2013 here, including details of Sunday’s pre-trade event, Digital Minds, which will be discussing the future of publishing content.
If you are attending LBF on Monday, I will be appearing at the AuthorLounge at 5pm for the session, Pathways to Publication. This panel session will launch a new book for writers – Choosing A Self-Publishing Service – which promises to be the first comprehensive guide to contemporary self publishing, drawing on the expertise of its members, advisors and industry Watchdog Service. This is a book I co-wrote with Shelf Help’s Ben Galley and edited by ALLi founder, Orna Ross. It is a must for any author navigating the landscape of self-publishing providers in today’s world. The Pathways to Publication panel will feature, Mick Rooney of The Independent Publishing Magazine, bestselling indie author, Steena Holmes, Ben Galley of Shelf Help, Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, and NYT bestselling author, C.J. Lyons, with Orna Ross chairing the discussion.
I hope to see you all, whatever publication path you intend following. There is something for all authors to learn and experience at LBF 2013.