Volume 2014, Issue 9

 

The London Author Fair is here.

We can’t quite contain our excitement. The first ever London Author Fair is here, with industry experts, bestselling authors and literary agents descending from around the globe to deliver a jam-packed program of seminars and workshops. There will be opportunities to pitch ideas and network throughout the day—and Blurb will be right there in the thick of it.

Blurb’s CEO Eileen Gittins will be speaking alongside Authoright CEO Gareth Howard in the opening seminar: Author Entrepreneur: Why Your Book is your Startup, chaired by journalist Peter Anderson. The seminar will explore why all authors—self-published, hybrid, and traditional—are now required to work on their books like a business. Gittins and Howard will discuss some of the key skills needed to master this.

In addition, Blurb’s Author Café will be located in the main hub of the fair—the Gallery on the Ground Floor—where fair attendees can find free coffee, a casual place to meet other authors, and an environment custom-built for networking with experts and relaxing with books.

This groundbreaking event is the brainchild of Authoright’s Gareth Howard and Hayley Radford. We asked Hayley a few questions about LAF’s conception and organization, features, and future:

 

 

How did the LAF come to be? What was the impetus for creating it?

Hayley Radford - Authoright

At Authoright, we've felt for a long time that authors needed a home, an event or a festival in which they were all treated as equals. Too many events continue to separate traditionally published writers and self-published authors. They also often fail to really give authors a proper grounding in the business side of books; what it really means write, publish, and promote your work in this dynamic digital age. The reality, of course, is that the publishing landscape is shifting for every author, regardless of how they've published their books. Across the board, authors should be better represented, better informed, and better supported by an industry that thrives because of their unique talent. We want to celebrate authors and enable them to make the right choices at a time when the author is now a kind of consumer / architect / entrepreneur hybrid, looking to cherry pick from the best publishing options available to them today, and indeed, tomorrow.

London Author Fair - Writers Unite

How long ago did you have the idea and how long did it take you to put together such an amazing lineup for the event?

Authoright is still a relatively small company, but the great thing about that is that we are pretty nimble and fast moving; if we have an idea first thing in the morning, we've usually put it into effect by the end of the working day! We started talking to our friends and contacts in the industry last summer and began the search for a venue shortly afterwards. So we really began working in earnest on the branding, the website build, the specification, and the programming at the beginning of November 2013. Our wonderful founding partners, Blurb included, came on board at this point. We've really enjoyed bouncing ideas around with Team Blurb, who think as big and bold as we do! The support we've had from publishing platforms, authors, literary agents, and experts in the book trade has been fantastic. In an ideal, world you'd always have more time to work on an event of this scale, but actually there's also a lot to be said for just having to knuckle down and work hard until you deliver. So the intensive work has been done in around three months. Everyone at Authoright looks like they haven't slept in weeks. Which they haven't.


There's a lot of interesting content scheduled for one day, between all of the seminars and workshops. If you were an aspirating writer who knew nothing about self-publishing, what events would you recommend most?

“Across the board authors should be better represented, better informed and better supported by an industry that thrives because of their unique talent.”

The great thing about the LAF is that all of the seminars will be filmed and made available online, so authors won't miss out on anything on the day. Pace yourself, grab a coffee at the Blurb Author Café, and take a good look at the schedule, which will be up on the entrance hall wall. My top pick is Blurb's CEO Eileen Gittins and our CEO Gareth Howard's seminar. They will be discussing the Author as Entrepreneur; that will be an incredible, and hopefully lively, discussion that will demonstrate to our audience exactly why an author should treat their book as if it's a start up business. Editing is critical, so I'd definitely recommend attending one of the workshops on how to perfect your manuscript. The panel on Discoverability with Goodreads will be invaluable, helping authors to understand their potency online and how best to make connections directly with their readers. And everyone should follow the London Author Fair on Twitter at @LonAuthorFair. The brilliant publishing journalist Porter Anderson will be our social media maven on the day, highlighting the most interesting talking points from all of the panels.


How do you envision the LAF growing and expanding in the future?

The London Author Fair is just the first event in what will develop to be our International Author Fairs series. We have a second event in New York in September, the details of which we'll be announcing soon, with further events in Europe, the US, and Canada in the pipeline for 2015. We just want to be able to reach more and more authors, celebrating new routes to publication, connecting authors with the help they need to get there books out there, and also to connect them with readers.


What are you most looking forward to on the day and why?

“My top pick is Blurb's CEO Eileen Gittins and our CEO Gareth Howard's seminar.”

I'm honestly looking forward to hearing immediate feedback from our authors. It's so important that we're constantly listening to their needs so that we can better cater to them. Publishing is changing so rapidly and individual writers are at the heart of that change. We need to be completely if sync with them, if not one or two steps ahead, so that we can program effectively and ensure we delivering the advice, support, and inspiration they need to keep writing and publish successfully. It's going to be so rewarding seeing people at the event, interacting with one another, sharing expertise, listening to the seminars, getting involved with the workshops. And, of course, having a celebratory drink together at the end of the event. And afterwards, I'm really looking forward to seeing those authors who attend, finally get their books published. Writers Unite!

 

London Author Fair - Tickets Available