On Saturday 7 May I attended the 4th Self-Publishing Conference, organised by Matador.
As a Leicester City supporter I was feeling particularly proud of my home city, so it was nice to see people converging on Leicester from all parts of the world – even from Spain!
The keynote speech was by Caroline Sanderson, Associate Editor of The Bookseller. She talked about what self-published authors can do to maximise their chances of getting noticed and promoted. There was a strong emphasis on the importance of good cover design, and she highlighted various examples, talking about what made them stand out.
I attended a workshop by Louise Jordan of the Writers’ Advice Centre. She talked about structuring a children’s book. I dived into the exercises, despite not having a children’s book on the go, thinking, ‘I’ll just have to make something up.’ It then occurred to me that that’s exactly what writer’s do! Her advice was so useful that you might be seeing my book on a shelf near you soon! (Well, that last bit might be a slight exaggeration.)
Next, I listened to Rachel Gregory from Troubador and Barbara Scott from Surrey Libraries talking about how to maximise your ebook’s potential. Most people know that you can borrow ebooks from libraries, but they don’t take ebooks directly from authors. Barbara was a great advocate for libraries. It might be free for people to borrow books, but the libraries have to buy the ebooks in order to stock them, so it’s still worth getting your book into libraries if you can! It was heartening to hear that library loans of self-published material are growing.
Professor Alison Baverstock from Kingston University gave an excellent plenary session about her research into self-publishing. I felt like jumping up and shouting, ‘Yay!’ (I didn’t. I just went up to her afterwards to say it in slightly more articulate words.) When I was planning the marketing for Help For Writers I noticed that there’s a lot research into readers – demographics, habits, what they like – but precious little about writers. Alison’s work helps to fill that gap. I can also confirm one of her findings from a personal perspective – editors enjoy working with self-publishing authors!
Mike Bodnar, author of humorous travel book Against The Current, talked to us about self-promotion for self-publishers. He gave us loads of useful information with a few jokes thrown in. I covered several pages with notes – thanks Mike!
Cressida Downing of The Book Analyst probably thinks I’m stalking her, because this is the second time I’ve been to one of her workshops in a short space of time. She’d asked people to submit synopses in advance, and she read out excerpts and gave some insightful criticism of each one. Don’t get your synopsis confused with your blurb – it’s perfectly OK to give away spoilers in the synopsis; in fact the whole point of a synopsis is to tell the reader what happens in your book!
After the conference came the drinks reception, where we mingled and talked.
One of the authors I spoke to was Julian Jackson, who has written his own account of the day. Apart from Mike Bodnar’s talk, he attended different sessions from me, so it’s well worth a read if you want to find out what was going on elsewhere!
Thanks to Matador for putting on an informative and well-organised day.