This March, I went to the London Book Fair to immerse myself in the world of publishing, hang out at the Author Hub and casually chat about my books thinking someone would say “I love that! Here’s a book deal!” Being the organisational freak that I am, I went through the list of exhibitors beforehand and noted down literacy agents that dealt with contemporary literary fiction, along with their stand location. I printed off cover letters, biog, synopsis, first chapters just in case an agent was interested. I planned to work through my list over three days, attend any talks to do with self publishing and collar a representative from Kindle Direct Publishing to kindly inform me how the hell I was supposed to upload my Ebook.
Day 1: Found a map. All the literary agents stand numbers I had were not on it. Asking a ‘Can I Help?’ person, I was informed that they were all on the upper floor and by appointment only and applications for such were now closed. They were unsure how far in advance I should have done this and the website gave no indication. Hmm. Suddenly my bag full of agent packs seemed very heavy. Listened to the talk entitled “Working with and finding an agent.” Concluded that going with my original plan was absolutely the worst thing to have done. Agents like personal touches, and their opinion is TOTALLY subjective. Rejections merely mean that one particular person isn’t able to be passionate about your book. Claribel Ortega spoke about her experience as an indie published author and how she got an agent. She made me feel more motivated to have faith in myself and my writing and that I wasn’t actually a complete fraud. I tweeted her and thanked her, grateful to finally have something worth saying on Twitter. KDP Ebook publishing was fully explained with the comforting fact that they do not take any money except from your royalties. Felt a little better about handing my book over to them, but wondered how much it was worth it.
Day 2: Had questions to ask Neilsen – the keeper of my ISBNs. Their website confused me and their Title Editor programme was a mystery to me. Some lovely person managed to answer my questions in a record 10 minute time in between appointments and lunch. She promised to email me some information and assured me that the website was in the process of an update which is why it was a little confusing. I felt less stupid than before, but have yet to receive any email. Listened to more self publishing talks and discovered that to make money you have to cut your writing time in half, become an expert in online marketing and that I should perhaps become a member of ALLi (the Alliance of Independent Authors). Realised that the two books I’ve published are mere projects and that really my next book should be the one to pitch either to an agent or to the world via Amazon. Hmm again. Wandered around, with my list of printers and companies of interest to me, aware that the majority of stands were for publishers and big business, not a teeny tiny author of two self published, niche books. I returned to the comfort of the Author Hub and had an expensive drink at Harry’s Bar, wishing it was a Bellini.
Day 3: Wanted to ask KDP about doing print versions of my Ebook. They weren’t the same as Create Space and didn’t give you a sample of the print book before selling it. That’s a no then. I now had all the information I could glean. Headed off to find Prestat Chocolate Shop. Bought three boxes for my mum for Mother’s Day. On the journey home, contemplated the fact that the large display of the yellow brick road at the Book Fair was a true metaphor for my journey as an author. You find yourself in a strange land, wander its path hoping to find a wizard that will answer all your questions and help you find your way. I thought that wizard would be an agent. I found out that it could also be the internet. But, like Dorothy, I realised the answer was there all along. With three clicks of my ruby slippers, I had to find the power within myself. The Emerald City of the London Book Fair was a distant dream. I had to get home and work out a plan. And write another novel.