Last week was London Book Fair, the biggest publishing event in the UK. Publishers, retailers, printers, techies, and of course authors, all get together for a few days to share knowledge, broker deals and release new developments. We have filtered through hours worth of seminars and meetings to give you the most important stories below:
1, Amazon Releases Thinnest Lightest Kindle
Not only is this super-sleek Kindle Oasis the easiest to carry around, you only need to charge it every few months. For those of us who feel we’ve had a victory if our iPhone lasts the day, this is a real selling point. It has been ergonomically designed to be the most comfortable Kindle to hold for hours at a time. It is also the most expensive Kindle ever at £269, and although it’s currently available for pre-order, it won’t be released until 27th April, when the reviews from techies and readers will come flying in. Watch this space. However, unfortunately, Amazon is still yet to develop a Kindle that can handle embedded video, which is a shame when other platforms have been doing this for years.
2, More Books Published Than Ever; Marketing & PR More Important Than Ever
The UK now publishes more than 200,000 a year, a total exceeded by only China (who publish more than 400,000 titles a year) and the US (300,000 titles a year). This is amazing if you consider the relative size of the UK. With all these books coming to market, the competition is getting tough. Michael Bhaskar, Publishing Director of Canelo, comments: ‘It’s hardly a secret that books don’t sell themselves, but when the competition is this extreme that is underlined. What other industry faces so many comparable product launches in any given year?’ What this means, of course, is that marketing is even more important than ever before. As the market gets more crowded, authors need to do everything they can to get their book noticed. This was backed up by the Successful PR & Marketing seminar at London Book Fair’s Author HQ, where this advice was given: ‘Spend 10% of your advance on marketing and PR, aside from what publishers are spending.’ Even traditionally-published authors are having to invest in marketing and PR; the days when authors could just write are well and truly over. Find out more about our marketing services here.
3, Self-Published Bestsellers Say Perseverance is the Key to Success
Top Kindle bestsellers Rachel Abbot, Keith Houghton and L.J. Ross came together for an event at the LBF Author HQ to inspire authors. When asked what one piece of advice they wished they had been given before they started out, they all said the same thing: ‘Don’t give up.’ Rachel Abbot said, ‘Perseverance is key,’ – you will have knock-backs along the way but if you keep working hard and pushing forward, you will succeed. She also confessed to having low days when she doubted whether anyone would enjoy her books or whether she would get bad reviews. All authors have these ups and downs but the main thing is to just keep going. Keith Loughton added: ‘Try it, and if it doesn’t work, change it‘ – keep trying until you find what works for you.
4, Women 18-34 are the Biggest Book Buyers
Although this group is not the largest, they buy more books than any others do. Industry experts are calling this ‘The Harry Potter effect’ – the group that are the biggest buyers are the girls who would have been aged between 6 and 15 when the first book of the series was published. This same group are also instrumental in the growth of the YA genre from around 2011 and have made series such as The Hunger Games and Divergent very popular. Top industry analysts, Nielsen say, ‘This generation of women has become an important one for the book industry, seemingly making or breaking genres with their patronage.‘ Authors should think very carefully about how to market to this very influential group.
5, Amazon Devalues Reading
Mark Cocker CEO of SmashWords, has seen the self-publishing landscape change dramatically since he started eight years ago. He is very concerned by Amazon’s dominance and their intention of undermining the value of reading. ‘Amazon is training readers to expect to read books for free,’ he explains, referencing their Kindle Unlimited programme, in which authors must give Amazon exclusivity (in exchange for a few promotional perks) and then their eBooks are free for Amazon’s Prime customers to borrow. Authors do get paid for these ‘borrows’ but they are never sure how much they will get as Amazon changes the goalposts month by month. He warned caution and advised authors to make sure they really knew what they were getting into when it comes to exclusivity deals. If you are considering going exclusively with any retailer, make sure you read the small print and make sure you can get out in a few months if you are not happy with it.
6, Music Celebs Self-Publish for Creative Freedom
Fed up of ‘360-deals’ whereby record companies are entitled to any earnings from absolutely anything you do, whether they put anything into that or not, hip-hop artist Akala and other artists like him are embracing the creative freedom of self-publishing. They love being able to create something the way they want to, with the collaborators they want to and then be able to sell that product directly to their fans without anyone else taking a cut. This is a very new experience for them. Not only that but self-publishing offers an opportunity for a more flexible and diverse publishing scene. ‘Trade publishing underestimates young people from a range of backgrounds,’ Akala commented, citing his work with schools and youth projects. Now indies can fill that space. When asked what advice he would give those considering self-publishing, he said, ‘Outsource the things that you’re not good at to other people.’ He backed this up with an embarrassing anecdote about the perils of not getting your work proofread properly – be warned!
7, Children’s Book Market Booms
According to industry analysts, Nielsen, the UK children’s book market is up 7% in the first quarter (compared to 2015), and kids’ books are on track to have a very good year. The overall size of the children’s book market has swollen from 15% of the total consumer market in 2001 to 24% in 2015, and it looks set to get even bigger this year. This is great news if you are a children’s author. The YA market is down slightly on last year, but is diversifying, with debuts of unknown authors getting more of a look-in, thanks to prizes, so make sure you know which prizes you are eligible for and don’t miss the deadline.
So, now you have the hottest industry news, you can use it to get your books and eBooks in the best position possible. If you were at the London Book Fair, let us know what you thought of it in the comments box below.