Last week saw me visit the London Book Fair 2017, the UK’s largest book fair. Over 25,000 people attend to negotiate rights, deals, have agent sessions, attend insightful seminars and network with author services as well as meet fellow authors.
I spent two days there and frankly, I think they have to be the best two days of my entire writing career to date. I learnt so much, mostly unexpected things. But also things about myself, things about the industry, and things I didn’t even know I didn’t know.
But all that’s led me to one stark conclusion and one that’s resulted in me taking quite surprising action.
But before I tell you my decision, let me tell you about the fair.
THE LONDON BOOK FAIR
I’d been more militant about preparing for the fair than a bra burning protester. I planned everything down to what break I should get my lunch in, to circling locations of the seminars on my maps. I was determined to get as much out of the fair as possible.
I was on my own the first day, several blogging buddies joined on weds.
Being on my own was not cool. There was no part of me that was okay with knowing I HAD to speak to total strangers. My insides rocked themselves rhythmically in dark corners of my mind while my stomach curled into a million knots.
The seminars were good, but I realised they were pitched at beginners. I learnt fast that the benefit of the LBF was not the seminars, but the networking and opportunity to meet others. So I tossed my itinerary in the bin, sucked up my inner introvert and said fuck it. Off I trotted to talking to people… LOTS of people. I’m pretty sure I’ve used my quota of meeting new people for the rest of my life!
I met my absolute idol, Joanna Penn and tried very hard not to fangirl the shit out of her – I failed miserably and if it weren’t for BlondeWriteMore holding me upright, I’d have thrown up in her lap.
There’s too much to break down into one post and I’ll share things over the next few months but here are some quick tips I learnt from the fair:
1. The Two C’s – Book fairs, conferences and any other event with real writing cyborgs in attendance isn’t really about the content, it’s about the connect with other writerly cyborgs. I learnt more talking to other authors than I did from anything else I’ve done… Period.
2. Connection means support. Authors are amazingly generous creatures, and often, asking… just putting it out there that you’d love to connect, or guest post, or pick their brains is actually as satisfying to them, as it is helpful to you.
3. Every author’s journey is different, but the guiding principles are the same.
By that, I mean if you want to sell books, you better make damn sure you have a business mindset, be unscrupulous about priorities/time management, and get a fucking subscriber list! But none of those things are new, I say them all the time. But it was nice to have them reaffirmed at the show.
4. Take business cards. TAKE ALLLLLL THE BUSINESS CARDS you have to any event you go to. I was shocked at how many I used.
5. Planning is everything and nothing. I’d planned every last second, but my plan got torn in two in favour of an ad lib one. But if I hadn’t planned I wouldn’t have been in the right place to bump into people, nor would I have known who they were or what burning questions I wanted to ask. Know who’s going, know what you want to ask, then give them your business card!
6. Smile. Be friendly. Grab yourself by the balls and just say hello, it’s amazing but people don’t actually bite… Okay. I do bite. But only on the weekend.
If you haven’t been to the book fair you should. The two days I spent there have permanently changed my life. I’m still trying to consolidate everything that happened.
Which leads me to my announcement…
There were a lot of conversations at the seminar. I learnt so much from all the amazing authors, and I’ve been given some pretty awesome opportunities to help with my book launch… but those opportunities have pretty finite deadlines. SO…
With a huge amount of reluctance… I am stopping blogging… completely. Well. Until I finish my current manuscripts and send them off to the editor at any rate. I fannyied around attempting to cut down blogging before Christmas with the help of some amazing guest posters (thank you my wonderful blogging buddies), but I need more time. I’ve sacrficied pretty much everything I can without stopping sleep completely, and much as I like to think I am the robotic version of wonder woman, I’m not. Realistically, there’s only one thing left I can give up… The ultimate sacrifice… The blog. The blog has got to go.
I know. Don’t fall over.
Watch me rip my Tarzan t-shirt and roar in my best Schwarznegger voice,”I’ll be back.”
But things are too tight, too close, and frankly, I am desperate to just finish the bastard books. As a result of the networking I’ve got the opportunity to do some pretty spectacular things but now I HAVE to hit my deadlines (cool shit to be revealed when I’m back).
But for now, no more Monday posts. Writespirations will be posted, but I will close the comments – ping backs will work but I won’t be publishing the entries until I hand my manuscript over to the editor. The only other posts you’ll see are pre-scheduled ones for the Bash.
I hope this hiatus won’t be long, hopefully, it might not even last a month… but it could last two. I have to stay strong. I have to have a clear head, and I really need to tick some shit off my triple-figure to do list. Wish me luck, send me coffee or wine, or a shotgun for even considering writing a book in the first place. This isn’t goodbye, so I won’t bullshit you with that. Instead, let me say:
It’s been emotional.
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