I headed to London Book Fair again this year, but this time with more understanding of what the event was about and what I could hope to achieve from it. Earl’s Court was full of the usual hustle and stress as the industry’s players filled four days with meetings, promotions, book launches and signings, panel talks and networking. At least this time I came prepared with comfortable shoes and lots of water.
First I spent some time walking through the stands and chatting to publishers, mainstream and small press alike, introducing myself and finding out a little bit about who did what within the business and what their big releases for the year were. I didn’t find many opportunities to talk fantasy unfortunately as this is not a genre event, but some of the small press publishers in particular were receptive to the idea of a genre writer and reviewer and I came away with some titles I would otherwise probably have never come across. Reviews on those will be coming soon.
I attended a panel on ‘turning social media into sales’, which I then discovered was the title of a book published by the panel’s main speaker Guy Clapperton. The talk wasn’t quite what I had expected – more geared towards how businesses can make social media work for them, rather than focusing on writers using social media – but I did come away with a few pieces of good advice:
Don’t overkill on self-promotion.
Be conversational, engaging and helpful.
Use hashtags to your advantage but do not hijack inappropriate ones to push your wares.
Start small with social media but make time for it.
Remember social media is there to support the business, not the other way around.
Social media was the hot topic of the fair as far as I could tell. More coming up in blog two.