This week was London Book Fair and one of the most important events in the publishing and writing world.
The first time I went was last year in 2015 where I had all the ambition of wanting to become an author but just not knowing where to start.
I had previously attended a one day workshop with Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn (my online mentor and role model) and she mentioned that this was a must attend event so I decided to go along.
My first experience of it was all rather overwhelming and a case of me not really knowing what I was looking for or what I was meant to be doing. But I still plodded along and picked up loads of leaflets on various things including self publishing and generally just being excited to be surrounded by so many books and people who are super passionate about books. The energy was great.
Fast forward one year and I now run this blog, have co-authored the FinTech Book which was traditionally published and I’m now working as a full-time creative entrepreneur. More specifically I am now forging a new career path as an author entrepreneur.
My passion has always been reading and writing and I have always wanted to write books. With self-publishing now growing year on year where authors are making 6 and 8 figure incomes, these are certainly exciting times to be an author and I am super excited to be a part of it even though I am on step one of this journey and have a lot more to learn. But the learning is a part of the process and I do enjoy the learning.
The London Book Fair is a 3 day event and your ticket gives you access to all 3 days and all events.
I only went for one day this year as I specifically wanted to attend the seminars being run by Author HQ, the independent publishing part of the book fair. This was a conference area specifically for authors and Amazon, Kobo and The Alliance of Independent Authors were hanging out there with some super successful self published authors like Mel Sherrat and Rachel Abbot.
Joanna Penn and Mark Dawson also gave inspiring talks and I came away with lots of inspiration and clarity as to how I want my author journey to look like.
Joanna Penn talked about how the ‘author journey is a marathon and not a sprint’ which is quite re-assuring when you are a new author and feel overwhelmed that you need to do everything now.
The Author HQ hub was focused on independent publishing and the talks and presentation centered on this topic. Some key take aways from today included the following points which I hope you will also find useful:
As an author you need to determine what success looks like to you.
Do you want a traditional book deal? Or do you want the freedom to write and market your book with total control? Do you want to make a living from your writing or just want to publish one book to check it of the bucket list item?
- My definition of success as at April 2016 is to be a full-time independent author making a 8 figure + income from books and courses and professional speaking. I want 80% of my income to come from the sale of books (as this is scalable) and I want the freedom to be as creative as I want with full control of the process. This includes freedom and choice with whom I work with and how I spend my time. What your success looks like will determine what strategy or approach you should be taking with your journey.
- For example Joanna Penn values her independence and likes to travel. By being an indie author she has full freedom to spend her time as she wishes and she often combines her research and travel time in the process of researching her next book. So ask yourself, how do you want to spend your time as this is largely how you will spend your life.
First Thing First!
I asked Mark Dawson what advice would he give to a newbie author still writing their first book (aka ME!) but feels overwhelmed with all the other things we ‘should ‘ be doing such as running a YouTube channel, podcasting, tweeting, facebooking (or whatever the term is) as well as finding the time to write a really good book? His simple and straight forward advice? ‘Write that book first!’.
Sometimes it just takes someone to point out the obvious.
I have therefore taken a decision to get back to fully focusing on completing the first draft of my book (currently at 30k words) and writing 2-3 blog posts per week….and thats it (with only 30 mins a day maximum on twitter for research purposes).
Can you believe I was actually thinking of starting a podcast because I thought it’s what everyone in self-publishing seems to be doing right now. It can be so easy to get carried away by the next shiny new thing when really all they are are distractions from the main thing you should be doing which is writing. After all how can you expect to make a living from your writing …..if you are not writing?
The Importance Of Marketing…at the right time
Start marketing AFTER you have a book ready to be launched to market. However, in the interim, there is no harm in running a blog whilst writing to start building an author platform (note to self, make sure the blog does not get in the way of writing).
If you do feel like you want to be on social media then pick just one platform and pick one you actually like.
I am on twitter and post occasionally and like to share useful articles I have found. It took me a while to get used to but I now find it quite easy to use and navigate. I never really got onto the Facebook wagon and thus do not use it. I have no plans to use FB right now. I will take a decision later to determine if I want to use it.
Who is your Audience?
Know who your audience is. Who are you writing for? How do they want to be contacted or communicated? Via FB or twitter or perhaps through an email?
Start Building Your Email List Now!
And that brings me to the ever important Email List. Practically every indie author spoke about the importance of having your own email list. You can do this by setting up a simple free blog and sign up to MailChimp or Aweber. I use Mailchimp but have not got around to set up the sign-up page. Note to self, sort out Mailchimp sign up form asap.
The buzzword this year seemed to be ‘discoverability’. In this ever noisy place of the internet where everyone is busy self promoting themselves, what are you doing to ensure your book or your work is discovered? You can use social media as well as attending events like the London Book Fair to bring exposure to you and your work.
- Marketing is important when selling your book and the most effective marketing is your book cover. A great book cover catches the person’s eye. A great book cover will make the person turn to the back of the book to read the blurb. A great back blurb will make the person look inside the book…which will make the person buy your book. The person now becomes your reader.
- Be creative in your marketing. What overall topics / themes are explored in your book? One of the panel speakers, Will Green, wrote a fiction book with a character who suffers from mental illnesses. He therefore contacted mental health charities and was able to target people who may be interested in his book. This lead to PR opportunities and more people talking about his book! Find audiences who will find your topic / book interesting.
A New Business Model
Self-publishing is a business model. It is a great opportunity for authors if you approach the process in a professional manner. This includes professional editing and cover design at a minimum.
Build Your Author Brand
These are examples of savvy authors who are making multiple 6 and 8 figure incomes from their writing. In fact Rachel Abbot has sold over 2 million books!
This really is an exciting time to be an author who is self publishing and I am super excited at the new opportunities ahead.