The London Book Fair 2017, One Year On…

Since I started my blog back in 2013, I have done quite a few Q & A’s,  but I’ve never actually done one to myself. So for this year’s round up of the LBF17 I’ve decided to do just that.

As I write this I can’t believe its been nearly a year since I wrote the last blog post about the book fair in April 2016. This year was another interesting, informative and dynamic three days out, and compared to the last fair and the previous ones I’ve attended over the years, this year was the first time I had company. I felt like Billy but with mates. It was nice to meet up with friends and to make new ones. So here goes…

Earls Court or Olympia?

Both venues are great but for me Earls Court was easier to get too from central London plus inside the venue there were escalators that would take you up to the second floor.
Olympia on the other hand is great for the space it offers but I prefer Earls Court.

What was your highlight of the fair?

Listening to Joanna Penn and Orna Ross talk about How to Reach More Readers and to Sell in Multiple Countries. Grabbing some great tips from literary writer Rosanna Ley and RomCom writer now turned Psy Thriller writer, Cally Taylor (C.L. Taylor) when they gave an interesting talk on Creative Writing. Meeting virtual friends for the first time and catching up with old ones. Collecting bookmarks and postcards of other people’s books that were dotted about the fair and the super creamy soya lattes.

Do you think aspiring authors should attend the fair or do you think its somewhere they should go once their book is done?

This question came to me out of the blue during one of my days at the fair after I had recorded one of the seminars on my dictaphone. I was so impressed with the content from this talk (with Mark Dawson and another with Joanna Penn) that I had a bright idea to share my recording with the writers in my writing group. Out of the six students in my class, two were not keen to ‘jump so far ahead’ as they said they thought it best to finish the book first.

I understand the urge to want to finish the book first, as writing a book is such a huge learning curve, but I also believe that there’s no harm in getting clued up to know what comes next after you have written your book. When I think of the amount of time I have invested in learning about self-publishing, marketing, email list building, author groups such as ALLI and signing up to webnairs etc, I can’t imagine erasing all of that and to instead to just stay focused on writing my book?

I feel by having an early interest has given me the chance to see self-publishing develop into what it is today.  I also feel that I’ve had loads of time to shop around, avoid potential sharks that are just out to get your money, to learn from other people’s mistakes and to make sensible decisions. If writing the book alone was my only priority I think I’d feel a bit lost right now. But I suppose everyone is different and I respect that. However if there are any aspiring authors out there who has the desire to turn their writing into a career, and if you’ve never visited the book fair, please do. You’ll love it!

What was your lowlight?

Having to climb those flaming never-ending stairs to the second floor to Author HQ. My knees are not what they used to be.

Any changes or improvements from last year?

Certainly! In the post I did of my round up for last year, I jokingly mentioned that they could do with more seats in the Author HQ section of the fair. And I was pleased to see that not only where there more seats but compared to last year’s hard-boned-bum-benches that after an hour your back and bum would be throbbing, they provided a huge amount seats for everyone. However, some people still stood at the back but compared to previous years this was certainly an improvement. I rarely stood this year and was very pleased with that. I’m sure my blog post from last year had nothing to do with that change though 🙂


You took a large number of selfie’s this year (with your selfie stick) who would you choose to have a dream selfie with?

The Obamas, Ant and Dec and Idris Elba. But after bumping into RomCom writers Christie Barlow, Helen J Rolfe, Sue Miller and the smiley young man at the back, seeing them was a nice start to my day two at the fair.


What things do you admire about the group of friends you met at the fair this year?

Their energy, confidence, positivity and banter. Ray Burke, author of Starguards created a facebook group so we could all stay in touch around the fair, so he was the sensible and organised one. David P. Perlmutter author of Wrong Place Wrong Time I admired for what he is best known for and that’s his confident (cheeky) marketing skills. I thought he was very confident for where he had placed some of his posters around the fair (err hum). Soulla Christodoulou (seen below) and I were inseparable most times although introduced quite recently by David we got on like a house on fire. I admired her drive and passion for writing and I look forward to her new summer book later this year. Stephen Marriot, author of Candy Floss Guitar I admired him for just being a really nice guy. And lastly Jon Jon gave me a lovely incite into why he loves Tigers and again, I look forward to his book launch in the near future.


What did you learn about yourself by going to the fair?

I learnt that despite the knock backs I’ve had, being on the receiving end of certain naysayers and the length that its taken me to stay focus and to keep going, I’ve learnt that if you really really want something, the only person who will stop you is yourself. I have surrounded myself with good people who have the same or similar goals and who are on a journey not daring to look back. The only thing I want to do is keep going forward until something happens regardless of how long it takes. I used to beat myself up about not having a book out and spend an awful lot of time on social media watching others and dreaming for their success. But I have to remind myself that I am not a full time writer, I am a mum to two little ones and a carer to my son. I have a burning passion to write, so obviously its going to take longer but that does not mean its impossible.

Did you attend all three days of the fair?

I did, but on Thursday because I attend a wonderful writing group and have been since September 2016, I wasn’t prepared to miss it for the world. After my writing group had finished I hopped on the train and spent that last half day at the fair which was just as riveting.

Did you buy anything at the fair?

The only thing I brought was a lovely pack of children’s story books for my kids that I got at a discounted price. So I was very happy and so were the kids.

If possible, what would you change about the fair ?

I would have it running for 5 days instead of 3, but I understand, money and all that etc.

I’d have escalators instead of those flaming stairs and make the food in that second floor restaurant/cafe more value for money. (rip off)

And lastly, what three important things did you take away with you from visiting the fair

Firstly, knowing that if I decide to go down the indie or self-publishing route that there is the opportunity to sell my book to 73 English-speaking countries around the world. (thanks for that Joanna Penn.)

Secondly, realising the importance of getting clued up early about what comes after writing the book while still being a WIP. Just remember some or most of what you learn along the way can in fact save you from going down the wrong route or getting ripped off.

And thirdly, a bottle of wine. What? No one saw me.

Interview by and about Anne John-Ligali

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Anne loves writing, reading fiction and is a Mum of two. Get updates and tweets from Anne on Twitter at @BooksNAuthorsUK and her author Twitter page at @AnneJohnLigali Q & A’s, author profiles, blog series, giveaways, reviews, stories, daily tweets, Facebook updates and book news.

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