London Book Fair 2013: Empowered Authors and Digital Revolution

The Earls Court Exhibition Centre is the home of LBF2013

London. Book. Fair. These three words I’ve been uttering non-stop for the past three weeks. When I arrived at Earls Court on Monday, 15 Apr 2013, I was thrilled with the variety: hundreds of pavilions and stands, thousands of shelves filled with books.
But I wasn’t there to browse them. I’m an indie author, it was my first book fair. I was there to learn and connect.

Most authors gathered at the Author Lounge venue curated by Authoright, where big gurus of the publishing world and the few selected authors who already shot up the charts were giving their tips to the writing folk.

Mark Lefebvre of Kobo Books talked passionately on transmedia and the future of publishing. He also introduced a cool social media add-on to Kobo readers/apps called Reading Life. http://www.kobobooks.com/readinglife

Alongside the seminar-type presentations there were rather excellent small round table workshops on self-publishing, book marketing ,etc. Author events were quite dominated by The ALLI, The Alliance of the Independent Authors, an organisation headed by Orna Ross and aimed to create a nurturing environment of mutual support among indie authors.

Representatives of major indie publishers and digital publishing platforms such as Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords featured their services as well as introduced some of their star authors.

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Patrick Brown showed the author profile capacities on Goodreads, an online community, which unites some 17 million readers and over 60 thousand authors.

I couldn’t help but to feel that none of the gurus are actually certain about what’s happening  with the publishing world. A lot of advice was random rather than strategic, it was based on examples of what previously worked, what stopped working and  what may still work.

This is the reality of the modern day publishing. No one is safe and there are no recipes for success. It’s a Wild Wild West all over again with one nuance: the new world is dominated by the yet-unstoppable Amazon tsunami sweeping away virtually every new book into its ocean of oblivion (Oblivion is on my next blog post, ironically). Why oblivion? Because most books quickly sink to the bottom unable to find their reader. The publishing malady of our time – low discoverability.

Amazon is an author-friendly company, however. What a marvelous party they have thrown for us at The Pembroke pub to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the ALLI.  Amazon controls the lion’s share of the market now and all it needs is to sustain its dominance. It’s hard to progress in the absence of competition. So, it’s not Amazon’s fault that thousands of good literary books are crushed under the heavy bosom of soft-porn ebooks. The latter is what the consumer wants and Amazon would be mad to go against the consumer.

Amazon tries hard with discoverability by allowing its authors to access keywords and categorisation options  to direct their books into the right readership pool. So whose fault that oblivion is? Who should bring books to the readers?

Apparently, authors. Yes, we have to connect to our readers ourselves and not leave this to the Amazon algorithm. Algorithms will change, companies will perish, but the relationships may stay.

LBF was so big, I think I lost half a stone just by trying to locate a nearby loo :p

And that’s the moment when people like the charismatic Joanna Penn step in. Joanna is a successful fiction and non-fiction writer publishing book under the name of J.F. Penn and she is a public speaker as well. Joanna closed the seminar session on the last day at LBF with her Advanced Marketing for Authors. I’ve been reading her blog The Creative Penn for more than two years now and I tell you it’s a must read for any indie writer whether published or not.

Joanna talked on how to make sure your book is visible to the reader, mentioning some savvy marketing tips. Follow her blog, listen to her podcast and watch her v-logs if you would like to know her secrets.

Joanna Penn is smiling and moving swiftly while delivering her passionate speech

 As for me, I’ve met a bunch of great people and I hope this will result in interesting collaborations.  I’ll get back to you, my new friends, this weekend, once I clear my backlog of duties. Next week I’ll continue on the LBF theme and will talk about Read Russia events.

This is my shameless promotion. Or could it be Hercules making friends with the Amazonian queen Hippolyta (and hoping to secure her girdle, ahem, the book recommendation e-mail slot, he he)? The trouble is I’ve always been an honest guy :-)

P.S. I would like to accept some responsibility for connecting to new readers and announce a giveaway.

My book BECOMING AGIE is FREE on Amazon Kindle on the 19th-23rd of April 2013. Grab your copy now, click [[[HERE]]]!

Becoming Agie is basically two love stories featuring a male-to-female transsexual scientist called Agie. The stories are full of love, science, drama, adventure and humor. I hope you’ll like them.

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