April 20, 2016 stefivos

10 useful things for those who did not attend the London Book Fair 2016 – part 1

The bag I am using when I go book shopping

When the whole of an amazing industry is coming together under the roof of Olympia London, it can be nothing but a pure inspirational pleasure to be around these exciting and creative people.

If you were not lucky enough to be in London for the Fair to attend the seminars and the talks, here are 10 things you may find useful:


1) Characters and research

These are two words many writers (like to) forget. They think that what they really, really need is a strong story. The truth is that if the characters are bland and the descriptions too vague, a good story will not save the day.

The characters are the very first thing that will keep your readers hooked. They have to be interesting, without necessarily being likable. You need characters that your reader will either love or hate.  If you don’t know what I mean, think of your most and least favourite characters and then wonder “what do I still remember them?”.

Research is what will make your book believable. If you are wrong or inaccurate in your descriptions, your readers will be able to tell and they won’t like it. You will come across as an amateur and they will not forgive you.

Google is your first friend. If you don’t know about something, google it. Even better, talk to people, read books, go places. Remember what Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said: Anybody can write anything so long as it’s believed.


2) The act structure

If you want to finish every chapter with a cliff-hanger, you need to master this craft.

Divide your story into acts and, if possible, do the same with your chapters. Your story should always move forward, but at the same time, your reader should be allowed to breathe between action or intense scenes.

Do not become obsessed with this. If you start writing without thinking about such details, you will soon realise that there is an internal rhythm that dictates you when to write what. If a chapter is not meant to end with a cliff-hanger, don’t force it.


3) Self-publishing

There is a saying in the market: it is difficult to get a publisher, but it is even more difficult to get an agent.

If you believe you have tried it all and it hasn’t worked out, you can try self-publishing. Before you start, read about authors that have succeeded in self-publishing. Joanna Penn is probably the best one to get advice from. If you eventually decide that self-publishing suits your needs, make sure you pay professionals to edit your book and design your cover. Ideally, pay some more for a good publicist.

The biggest truth about self-publishing is that, unless you are a series writer in commercial genres like romance, mystery, crime etc, there is a likelihood you will not manage to make a living out of it.


4) Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a practice that can help raise funds for your book.

There are platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Crowdfunder,  where you can launch your project and ask people to fund it. Make sure you chase it up with your followers on social media. If they believe in you, they will help you reach your goal. If they don’t, find new ones.

There are also platforms, like Unbound and Pentian, that not only help you raise funds, but they also publish your book. If you decide to try self-publishing, definitely check them out first.


5) Social media

Love them or hate them, social media are a great tool for promoting your work. If you feel they haven’t helped you so far, it’s because you’re doing something wrong.

The most common mistake is that authors try to oversell their books. Guess what: nobody cares about your books. The only people that care are the people who like you or find you interesting. Talk about things that you like: books you’ve read, films you watched, places you visited.

Make sure your following is genuine. Followers who just follow you back and at the same time follow tens of thousands are very unlikely to 1) read your posts, 2) buy your books.

BE KIND. To everyone. Unless they’re real jerks, in which case, block them.

You can read part 2 here!

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