Why Indie authors should attend the London Book Fair

6th March, 2024

6 min read

Why Indie authors should attend the London Book Fair

Why Indie authors should attend the London Book Fair

Written by:

Jeremy Thompson

It's that time of year again, with the annual London Book Fair taking place at Olympia. This is a trade show, where the UK and international publishing industry come together to exhibit, sell rights, do deals and network. Large and indie publishers have stands and showcase their lead titles and authors. Agents and rights professionals have tables in the International Rights Centre, where deals are done on international rights for books to be published in other territories. There are also companies exhibiting who provide services to the publishing industry - software, printing, tech solutions – to help the book publishing process be easier or better. Finally, there are seminars and theatres (basically learning zones) where authors and publishers run and attend sessions on all aspects of publishing and writing. And there are authors...

Indie authors at the Book Fair

The Book Fair has in recent years expanded to include areas such as the Author HQ, a hub to educate and inform authors, be they mainstream, new or self-publishers. There is also a full seminar programme about publishing in all its forms. In 2024 these include sessions targeted at authors such as:

  • Preparing for publication
  • Traditional publishers vs alternative publishing options
  • What is full-service self-publishing and why should an author consider it?
  • Great tips for self-publishing success.

Historically, the London Book Fair was not especially indie author-friendly, especially about self-publishing. It sometimes felt a bit like a club where if you did not have an invite or appointment, you were not welcome. But this has changed, reflecting the changing attitude to writers and the indie sector in publishing more generally. Now authors can find plenty to do and see to help them publish successfully IF they do their research first.

We say IF, as it’s a vast space and can take a while to get your bearings and understand how all the different parts of publishing slot together. So use the London Book Fair website to identify those exhibitors you know want to talk to (make appointments up front), and use the ‘what's on’ page to highlight the talks that are relevant to you. Bear in mind that this is primarily a business-to-business event, where publishers are there to talk to their suppliers, partners and other publishers. They are not looking to sign up new authors who walk in. It is also not the forum to try to sell copies of your book. It is, however, a great event at which to increase your knowledge about publishing, book marketing, distribution and sales, and to find partners to help you along your publishing journey. If you go with that mindset, you will have a successful day.

What not to do!

Having attended the event for over 17 years, there are some pointers we recommend you keep in mind that will ensure you have a beneficial event:

  • The ‘big 5’ publishers' stands are not designed for walk-ups. You are unlikely to see someone influential to talk to about your book without an appointment. More so with the rights area - to get to talk to the agents and rights professionals who hang out there, you will also need an appointment (and the right type of entry badge). However, publishing service providers, such as Troubador and the Book Guild, KDP and others are open and welcoming to authors who are looking for advice or guidance.
  • It's not a bookshop – while the exhibition hall is full of beautiful books, these are for display, not sale. It is not the venue for an author signing or book launch.
  • It is not free to attend for most visitors – it can be expensive to get in. If you go, make the most of it by pre-planning what you want to do, the sessions you want to attend and the exhibitors you want to talk to. Use the Book Fair website as your essential planning tool.
  • Take business cards or electronic business cards. Don’t carry around heavy manuscripts or multiple copies of your book – people won’t have time to look at any detail on the day, and often don’t want to leave a copy of a manuscript on the stand (for storage and security reasons). They are more likely to take details and follow up afterwards. If you leave material on a publisher’s stand, and they agree to look at it, ensure it has your name and contact details attached to it.
  • Be professional. It’s a business event, so professionally approach others.

Meet us at the 2024 LBF

At Troubador, we have been exhibiting at the London Book Fair for 17 years, with our stand displaying our latest titles, and fully crewed by our helpful staff who are there to answer any questions about self-publishing. Visit us at Stand 2D62 (near the Tech Theatre) or 1F48 (in the Author HQ). 

Attend our seminar

This year we have been asked to host a prime-time seminar slot in the Author HQ. On Wednesday 13th March, our Business Development Manager, Alex Thompson, will be hosting a 45 minute session called 'What is Full-service Self-publishing and Why Should an Author Consider It?'.

In this session, Alex will discuss the fundamentals of full-service self-publishing. We’ll look at why authors should define their unique measures of success ahead of taking action to work out what route to publication suits them best based on their goals, and then take a look at full-service self-publishing versus individual service providers. Touching on aspects of the complex world of self-publishing, from book and digital book production to effective marketing and, crucially, distribution as we go, authors attending will gain valuable insights that empower them to self-publish with confidence. You’ll come away armed with the knowledge required to choose the right services to help you achieve your goals.

Join us in the Author HQ on the 13th of March at 1 pm.

Good to know before you go

  • Unless you have a gratis ticket or a code to register for free, it is expensive to attend the Fair. Once registered, you will need to print off a visitor badge which is valid for all three days. As it is so expensive to get in, if you go, make the most of it by pre-planning what you want to do. As well as the London Book Fair itself there are writing / publishing conferences happening over the same period, which cost extra to attend, so make sure you understand what ticket you are booking.
  • In 2024, the London Book Fair runs from 12-14th March at Olympia, London (Kensington).
  • Know exactly what you are attending for and what you hope to get out of it.
  • Wear comfortable footwear – you’ll be doing a lot of walking. The cafes in Olympia get busy, often with long queues and not always enough seats. Pace yourself!

Why should authors go to the London Book Fair?

We say, go to the London Book Fair because you want to experience the world of publishing and books. Attend seminars and talks, browse books, covers and trends in publishing by absorbing the books on display. Attend the events at the Author HQ – but do your research. Use the London Book Fair as a chance to chat with exhibitors on their stands and understand if the services they offer will suit you and your project. As a checklist consider the following questions when browsing or chatting with the author service companies who are exhibiting:

  • Do you want in-person support and a more full-service model, or do you want to upload and manage your files with online support?
  • Use your time at the Fair to make sure you understand the differences between, say, KDP and Ingram Spark, POD and full-service publishing or self- and partnership models.
  • What marketing and distribution are on offer?
  • What are the costs? Get comparative quotes.
  • Look at customer testimonials and reviews after the London Book Fair to help you decide what service will work best for you.
  • Look at the quality of the books they have on display.

We hope you found this an interesting overview of all you can achieve if attending The London Book Fair 2024.