The London Book Fair

My visit to this year’s London Book Fair was very different to the one I had several years ago – because on this occasion I was actually allowed in!

London Book Fair Seminars

My first visit to the London Book Fair was at a time where the event didn’t cater for the wanna-be-published author.

“Are you a published author?” The security man asked when I came hurtling towards the turnstiles at full-throttle.

“No.” But I’m dressed to impress, I thought, a wide smile plastered on my face.

“Do you own a bookshop?” Do I look like I own a bloody bookshop?

“Erm no.”

“Do you work for a publishing house?”

“No,” I said, scanning the perimeter for a hidden underground entrance.

“We have a How to Get Published Masterclass on tomorrow, you can come to that,” he informed me.

“O-kay, thank you, ” I mumbled sulkily and hobbled away – in my non-practical heels.

It wasn’t fair. I wanted to see all the new shiny books and mingle with publishers and big-league authors, and conveniently discard my manuscript on tables and desks where it would be picked up by a top publisher and…

But it was not to be.

How times have changed…

I rose early this morning. I had the submission pack of my latest manuscript stuffed in my bag along with a list of the writers seminars I wanted to attend (having researched them thoroughly the night before).

However, I couldn’t quite muster the excitement I had last year when I spluttered through my first encounter with George R.R Martin or quaffed champagne with the Digital Publishing pack.

I’ve been sending out manuscript after manuscript and receiving rejection after rejection, and to make matters worse, the first seminar I planned to attend included a literary agent who rejected my work two days early. I almost wanted to hide my name badge in case she had made a mental note of it.

As I dragged by heels through the doors of Earls Court, unhindered, I was no longer enthralled by the shiny new books, free mags, pens, sweets, and the glossy book stands. I no longer possessed the urge to lob my manuscript in amongst the fray and hope for the best.

In my mind, I had placed myself on the literary agents blacklist and the thought of encountering one, made me squirm in my ballet pumps.

I needed inspiration and I found it, not from the first seminar, which gave a brief insight into the publishing industry, but from the one after: an interview with two self-published Kindle authors, Tim Ellis and Mel Sherratt.

I could identify with the struggles of Mel Sherratt, a former Housing Officer who worked for a local authority. She finally got a book deal after a 14-year toil. She uploaded her book to Kindle and promoted it via Facebook. In a nutshell she was saying: if you have a good story and a standout book cover, you can become a published author.

I felt a sense of relief. I know I can write; published authors, publishers and literary agents, tell me I can write.

I no longer have to wait on them to make things happen – I can do it for myself.