In And Around London Book Fair: Authors, IndieReCon And ALLi’s Third Anniversary

At London Book Fair 2015. Image: Porter Anderson
At London Book Fair 2015. Image: Porter Anderson

And Spectacular Weather

 As if heeding a request from London Book Fair (LBF) director Jacks Thomas, the sun flooded Olympia London with bright springtime light all week. We weary stand-and-stairs brats now head back to planes, trains, and waiting families.

Smaller by design — Olympia is a markedly more compressed space than Earls Court  — the transfer went remarkably well. I logged a top number of 13,670 steps in one day at Olympia, compared to the 36,000-step day I once had at Earls Court.

Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London on Friday (17th April). Image: Porter Anderson
Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London on Friday (17th April). Image: Porter Anderson

And the move itself is an accomplishment by Reed Exhibitions, not to be overlooked. Consider the intricacy of bringing together thousands of exhibits along with nonstop informational, promotional, and contextual programming, plus multiple settings for business transactions and meetings as well as a vast showplace for products and services. In effect, a small city that used to stand in one location this year stood in another, fully functioning. Not easy.

 While many of us accustomed to the previous location’s layout were busy adjusting to the new groundplan (and I, for one, could sometimes be seen confidently striding off in the wrong direction), the industry in LBF’s Brigadoon-like annual appearance from the mists looked smart and compact under the massive barreled glass ceilings overhead.

The Old World filigree of metal struts and supports does nothing good for your wi-fi reception, of course, but natural light is a nearly-even trade: We didn’t feel cooped up as trees blossomed and parks filled with lunchtime sun-seekers all around the city.

Image: Porter Anderson
Image: Porter Anderson

The Pursuit of Blue Sky

“Blue sky” thinking and analysis is a fond framework in certain business-model thinking, of course.

And once the industry’s authors turn the corner and understand that writing is a business, albeit it a creative one, then we’re better able to assess the tone, the bearing, the key dynamics evident in this sector, just as we assess such factors in the content-acquisition or distribution side of the industry.

Isabel Losada
Isabel Losada

The writer Isabel Losada — I’m glad I was able to meet her Friday at the IndieReCon event — produced a series of insightful and articulate posts for The Bookseller’s blog section.

Her final installment, An author at LBF: A fair trade, closed her series this way:

These are fantastically exciting and challenging times to be in publishing. If you take a few steps backwards or if we could have seen the whole London Book Fair from above this week, don’t you think we would have wanted to cheer? It’s a privilege to be part of this amazing industry, even a tiny part of it. Sometimes, I think we’re all f****d but this week I think we’re all bloody marvelous.

She’s not alone in either thought. And all that cheering does writers the most good when it’s channeled into sensible, professional effort.

#LBF15 to #IndieReCon

As the author corps moved from Olympia to Foyles in Charing Cross for the live-and-streamed events called IndieReCon, the enthusiasm ramped up. This extensive and challenging program — two days online and one in the live setting — was organized and produced by the Alliance of Independent Authors(ALLi) which Orna Ross founded three years ago at London Book Fair.

During the hours I was at the multifaceted event on the flagship store’s sixth floor on Friday (17th April), the messaging heard most frequently was about the cooperative generosity of independent authors, a trend proudly in evidence in things as simple as everyone diving in to share furniture-moving duties when it was time to sell books at day’s end. More importantly, the sharing of tips ‘n’ tricks, the passing along of knowledge via the vines and tendrils of various social media, has become a hallmark of this subset of our writers’ community.

I’m not entirely sure that we can say, as someone did, that traditionally published authors are more jealous of each other’s success than self-published authors. I’ve heard lots of envious, off-the-record chafing at colleagues’ success among the self-published, and I’ve seen what looked like authentic mutual support among the “tradpubs.”

But such is the tone, even today, among some in the independent sector. A need for group-wide self-congratulation on avoiding a supposed “negative” bearing in the traditional industry is usually in loud evidence.

In many cases, what’s thought to be “negative” in the industry is actually business. And from the viewpoint of untrained authors entering by self-publishing pathways, this can be misinterpreted as “negative,” when it’s really the mandates of profit and expediency in corporate settings. I’m looking forward to a time when so many in self-publishing no longer feel the need to chastise the industry for being “negative” and can approach with the professionalism they owe themselves. ALLi is helping us get there.

Read More

There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son

Writing on the Ether: In And Around London Book Fair: Authors, IndieReCon And ALLi’s Third Anniversary

Originally published by Thought Catalog at



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