Friday, 15 April 2016

The London Book Fair... And An Exciting Announcement

Fiona and Heidi go mad at #LBF16
When my very good writing mate and fellow Harlequin author Fiona Harper suggested heading to the London Book Fair I have to admit I was unsure... Wasn't this an event strictly for publishers and agents? Apparently not, as I discovered when Fi and I crashed the event this Tuesday.

Have to admit, if I had done this as an unpublished author I would have been totally intimidated, in fact even as a multi-published author I was a bit intimidated (oh, okay, a lot intimidated). Based in Kensington Olympia's imposing Victorian halls, the event is HUGE, with stands representing pretty much every publisher you've ever heard of vying for space on the ground floor and mezzanine level. After a shot of much needed coffee, Fiona and I headed for Author HQ (Fiona having downloaded the app and knowing how to use it!). This is a fairly new addition to the fair but is the perfect base for authors attending the event., providing career-orientated seminars in a cordoned off area tucked away behind the Children's Publishers section.

We nabbed a ringside seat for the first talk of the day... An Introduction to Publishing with agent Piers Blofeld of Shiel Land Associates and Macmillan Adult Books publisher Jeremy Trevathan... Which turned out to be illuminating. I have an agent and a publisher and even I was astonished at how little I knew not just about the relationship between the two, but also how massive this industry actually is... I particularly liked Piers advice to authors thinking of sidelining their agent to go straight to the source! 'Don't get a dog and bark yourself'.

Dinosaurs anyone??
The next seminar was equally riveting but for different reasons: The Independent Authors Journey featured a panel of three top indie authors – Mark Dawson, Mel Sherratt and Keith Houghton – who each gave us an insight into how they became successful indie-published authors after a disappointing response from the traditional publishing industry to their work... I've always shied away from the prospect of indie publishing on the grounds that I know nothing about marketing or PR and have no real interest in it. How wrong was I, these three made the whole indie publishing route seem both accessible and exciting. The top benefits, apart from getting a larger share of the profits obviously, included the control they have over their own careers and the interaction they get with readers. I love interaction with readers so this totally intrigued me. I also liked Dawson's assertion that the writing still comes first but he finds the business side a good counterpoint to the writing... And a lot of what they do, traditionally published authors are also required to do in terms of social media, etc. I wish I'd had a chance to pop over to the Independent Authors Stand afterwards. While I'm still happy where I am, it's nice to know that the other options out there aren't as scary as you thought and I was hugely impressed with these three whose drive and ambition and talent was massively inspiring.

Jennifer, Tory and the
Super Fab Marian Keyes
Fiona and I were also impressed with the seminar given by Jennifer Krebs, marketing campaign manager for our own publisher Harlequin, and Tory Lyne Pirkis of Midas PR, about successful PR and marketing strategies... Again this was ostensibly for authors thinking of going it alone, but it had a lot of good advice for traditional and hybrid authors. Who knew that Nora Roberts had spent ten percent of her advance money on marketing her books to complement her publisher's input in the early stages of her career, for example... Made me realize I've been pretty naive about the business side of my own career... And there was a lovely intro from the fabulous Marian Keyes – the Author of the Day – who we'd listened to earlier chatting about her career, make-up obsessions, Mammy Keyes's storytelling abilities and a lot more besides...

My favorite quote of the day definitely came from Keyes: "Be honest, be authentic, work hard." A brilliant writer and a pretty sensational woman too IMHO!

Now for my exciting announcement....  Drum roll, pur-lease!

During the lunch break I met three wonderful women – Christina Bunce, Susannah Marriott and Helen Shipman – who are the founders and directors of The Professional Writing Academy – an innovative online platform dedicated to delivering top-notch creative writing courses, and who have even developed their own bespoke online classroom specifically for writers. After a fabulous meeting, I'm super excited to announce that I'm going to be working with them to develop an online course entitled An Introduction to Writing Hot Romance this Autumn... Hopefully with a view to doing longer more in-depth courses in the future... After nearly ten years as a published romance author, with 24 books under my belt, several major award nominations and a USA Today Bestseller tag, I feel I've got the expertise to give new writers the tools they need to help and support them on this fabulous journey...  And joining forces with experts in the field of teaching online creative writing courses will make it an amazing experience for all concerned (me included!).. So watch this space if you're an aspiring romance writer ... More details to come.

Marian Keyes: Author of the Day.. Any Day Frankly
Bringing wit, wisdom and wonderful nails to #LBF16!

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