Category: Self-publishing

London Writers’ Cafe Self-Publishing Event

London Writers' Cafe

London Writers’ Cafe is one of the biggest writing groups in London (their MeetUp group has over 3000 members!). Writers at all stages go along to their regular, friendly meetings to get feedback and learn from fellow authors. Next Monday (27th April) I_AM Self-Publishing will be sponsoring a very special event called: Ask the Panel: Are You Ready to Self-Publish. The event will cover absolutely everything you need to do in preparation for self-publishing to make sure you get self-publishing right. Panelists will share tips on what writers need to know, followed by an hour-long Q&A session during which you can get specific advice on your own project. I_AM Self-Publishing’s director, Ali Dewji, will be on the panel in great company:

  • Ali Dewji helps authors see the market from a commercial perspective. Now at I_AM Self-Publishing, previously at EMAP – one of the world’s leading magazine publishers – he brings a breadth of experience working with big brands to individual authors. Follow @iamselfpub
  • Caroline Goldsmith as half of Red Button, Caroline is making great books and helping indie authors fulfill their publishing ambitions.
  • Chris McCrudden, Midas PR, will be in to offer advice on pitching for reviews, getting coverage and interest from media and tips on promoting yourself and your work.
  • Justine Solomons, the genius mind behind one of the city’s biggest publishing and author networks #bytethebook. What Justine doesn’t know about successful indie publishing could fit on a postage stamp. Follow @Bytethebook
  • Andrew Lowe is a writer, editor and journalist. He’s written for The Guardian and Sunday Times, and contributed to numerous books and magazines on film, music, TV, sex, videogames, and the treatment and prevention of sports injuries. He divides his time between various rooms of his home in London. The Ghost is his first (self-published) novel, but it won’t be his last. Follow @andylowe99.

London Writers’ Cafe Event details:

Date: 27th April 7pm

Tickets: available here

Location: Shooting Star pub, 125 Middlesex Street, London, E1 7JF

Nearest station: Liverpool Street


Fifty Shades of Grey

 Fifty Shades of Grey is a publishing success story like no other. Author E. L. James has come a long way from writing fan-fiction on specialist sites – she has hit the mass-market, big time, and even created a new genre: “mummy porn”. She has now sold more than 100m copies worldwide. This “overnight success” did not happen by chance. She very carefully grew her author platform long before she wrote her first novel, and mastered word-of-mouth marketing. So let’s have a look at exactly how she did it:

  1. Like all good authors, she started as a passionate reader. She LOVED the Twilight series “I just sat on my sofa and I read them and read them and read them and read them. I love them, and then I sat down and wrote a novel,” she explained to ABC News. It seems she was particularly keen to recreate the sexual tension between the main characters, teenager Bella, and her vampire boyfriend, Edward.
  2. She started small. She explored short-form fiction, writing stories that featured the Twilight lovebirds. This allowed her to develop her craft before tackling a full-length novel.
  3. She wrote whenever and wherever she could. As a busy working mum, she did most of her writing on her Blackberry during her daily commute.
  4. She actively encouraged feedback and took it all on board. A wonderful part of the fanfiction world is that authors usually only post a short section of text and then ask for feedback or input (e.g. on what should happen next) from the community (who are only too happy to oblige, being big fans themselves). The authors can then use this feedback to constantly improve their writing. Also, the fan community readers feel very involved in the writing process and want to see it through. They make an emotional investment in the work. It seems the feedback was that the sexy stuff worked best, so she moved into the erotica genre. Then, when her readers started to complain about the limitations of setting her stories in the Twilight world, she looked at how the stories could be adapted to a modern-day, real-world setting. She always listened and gave the readers what they wanted.
  5. She had her own website and started building her author platform very early. As her work became more erotic, she took it down from the fanfiction sites (where it had amassed over 35,000 views), and moved it on to her own site, taking her loyal following with her. This obviously gave her the creative freedom to write and publish whatever she wanted, but it also diverted a solid flow of traffic from the fan sites to her own. She grew her audience and engaged with her readership of thousands, whetting their appetite by giving them small sections of her writing for free, and leaving them wanting more. This created a lot of pre-release hype around her first full-length novel.
  6. She knew which format her readers wanted – eBooks – so she made sure her work was available digitally. This is because readers feel less self-conscious reading romance and erotica titles in public on eReaders. Surprisingly, she had interest from Hollywood film-makers before she had interest from Random House. She was open to the idea of seeing her story in a different media to build her brand.
  7. She used word-of-mouth to grow demand for her books. Word-of-mouth has always been the most powerful and cost-effective marketing tool in the book industry. She created the kind of content girlfriends wanted to talk about, giggle over and share. Then it wasn’t just the girlfriends; it was the women’s talk show and radio hosts, and then mainstream media. Not to mention social media! Fifty Shades of Grey currently has over a million ratings and 68,000 reviews on Goodreads, and thousands of reader reviews on Amazon – this is content people like commenting on. To get the buzz started in the first place, she utilised the book blogging community and her fans.
  8. She capitalised on her readership by quickly producing follow-up books. Having created a hungry audience, she knew her sequel books would be well-received.

Lots to learn from her phenomenal success with bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, but if you take away just one thing from this blog post: building your author platform is the key to successful self-publishing.


Get a BESPOKE self-publishing PLAN from our co-founder, Ali

"Ali understood the requirements instantly and often knew my vision for the book better than I did myself." 
~ Stephen Saad, non-fiction author


London Book Fair self-publishing consultations

London Book Fair used to be a trade-only event, but as the industry has become more author-centric, it has developed lots of interesting seminars, talks, and panel discussions just for authors. This year, London Book Fair runs from 14-16th April at Olympia London (Hammersmith), and is a great place for authors to learn from and network with industry experts and best-selling, self-published authors alike. A full list of everything that is going on at London Book Fair’s Author HQ can be found here. Join in the fun, get clued up on the latest industry news and trends, and while you are at it, come down and see us for a completely free 1-on-1 self-publishing consultation.

You will need to send in a synopsis/blurb along with a short paragraph about yourself and why you wrote your manuscript in advance. We will use this information to provide you with tailored:

  • Feedback on your blurb and title
  • Commercial cover ideas
  • Pricing suggestions for your genre
  • Distribution advice
  • Format and printing options
  • Analysis on your USP and potential hooks/angles for publicity
  • Effective marketing actions

We look forward to meeting you…