So I’m back from the fair – and didn’t we have some fun. Last week, I wrote a post about how the previous two London Book Fairs I’d attended weren’t geared towards authors, more of a trade fair for professionals. Also, how this year I was taking part in two panel discussions with author Tim Cooke and signing copies of SOMEWHERE TO HIDE on Amazon KDP stand. But it turned out to be so much more than that.
For the first time since I’ve been there, London Book Fair 2013 welcomed authors and writers. It very much seemed like a buzz was being created down at the back of Earls Court 2. The Author Lounge, curated by Authoright, along with the surrounding stands, was suddenly the place to be. For three days, it was packed solid for talk after talk – so much so that people were complaining about getting past outside as the aisles were continually blocked (yes, on day two there were ‘bouncers.’)
I met Joanna Penn and recorded my first ever podcast. If you do look at it below, you’ll find me in excitable mood, with eyes that move around as if I’m drunk. What you can’t see is that behind Joanna filming me, everyone is staring at me and distracting me as they walk past – people upstairs too. Joanna gave me confidence to chat because I knew her so I gabbled. (And when I say ‘this is ridiculous’ it was to myself because I realised I was babbling!) I had great fun and it was good to be able to mention other people who have helped me along the way – Talli Roland, Mark Edwards and Louise Voss and Rachel Abbott.
I met so many people, readers and writers and twitter friends, editors who stopped by to chat to me on the Amazon KDP stand, publishers who wanted to chat to me; authors with their own tales to tell, readers with general questions of ‘how did I do it.’ People who I vaguely knew at the beginning of the day but really knew well by the end were even buying me tea and coffee as I was so busy – you know who you were, thank you!
I can’t tell you how many times I had to whisper under my breath ‘face the fear, face the fear’ as I spoke on the panels, was interviewed live on BBC Radio 4 and also followed by a German television film crew throughout Monday! It was great fun and, despite my feet giving up at the end of the first day, I loved every minute of it.
More importantly for me, was the realisation that times are indeed changing. I’ve struggled with validation for years. Some people must think that my work wasn’t good enough to get a traditional deal – you only need to check out my one star reviews to see that not everyone likes my writing style. Some people must think that I just gave up trying and decided to go the ‘easy way.’ But they would be so wrong. For me, self-publishing was an option to get my work out there after twelve years of rejections and now I’m hoping to build on the back of it. I make no secret that I would like a traditional book deal but at the moment, I’m not sure what that will look like or indeed how it will pan out. Suddenly my options have broadened.
But one thing that London Book Fair 2013 did was make me realise how far I had come. Everyone who has followed my story over the past eighteen months knows how much Amazon KDP has changed my life. I often call TAUNTING THE DEAD my door opener as not only did it hit the bestseller lists quite quickly, and become a top 10 bestseller in the UK for 2012, it created so many opportunities. For me, self-publishing was the best thing I did and I’m really looking forward to where my author journey continues to take me. Every time I get an email from a happy reader, it makes me grin. And that perhaps is the biggest validation for me ever.