20th April, 2022
3 min read
A review of the 8th Self-Publishing Conference
Saturday April 9th saw the Troubador team prepping for the 8th Self Publishing Conference at College Court Conference Centre in Leicester; with over 120 delegates and a host of important industry speakers attending, this was our first in-person conference since the pandemic stopped play in 2020.
The event started with the Matador team running masterclasses, covering everything from cover finishes and designs, understanding ebooks and audiobooks to text design and creating a marketing toolkit. They were followed by our fabulous keynote speaker, Meryl Halls (Director of the Booksellers Association), who was there to give indie authors an understanding of the independent bookshop sector and help authors build a better relationship with a bookshop. Her top tips when approaching a bookshop were:
- Be professional, indicate that you are commercially-minded and realistic.
- Be happy to collaborate and be creative.
- Understand that bookshops are under pressure to stock everything. If you are local, or the book is set locally, tell them.
- If you have written a book and want a bookshop to stock it, make sure you’ve visited them and support them regularly. Don’t just pop in when you have a book you want them to stock.
- Don’t quote Amazon links to your indie bookseller – they don’t want their customers to go to Amazon!
Following on from the keynote, we had a choice of interesting sessions on avoiding anachronism in historical novels, the importance of editing and how to boost the buzz around your book. The latter was a packed-out session led by Stuart Evers of NetGalley, who urged authors to be able to concisely describe their book and make sure their blurb tells readers exactly why they should buy it.
Following a delicious lunch and time spent digesting the morning’s sessions, the afternoon offered a panel discussion between the UK’s leading writing organisations: The Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, The Society of Authors and The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, which was chaired by Troubador’s MD Jeremy Thompson, and helped delegates understand how to avoid the self-publishing sharks. A lively session whose take-outs can be summarised as:
- Know exactly what you are getting for your money.
- Don’t rush – do your homework first before signing contracts.
- Get sample books before committing to a contract.
- Ask to see a contract before deciding which company to use – and make sure you understand it.
- Ask other clients of that company for their feedback before committing.
Following a welcome coffee break (and some delicious chocolate brownies), we went back to the session rooms to learn about selling books with better metadata, as Clive Herbert (Nielsen Book Data) helped drive home the importance of metadata – which might be considered boring but is vital to enhancing your book sales. Plus, the surprising reminder for many authors that your book metadata needs to be finalised 5 months before publication of your book to maximise your chances of success.
Elsewhere, literary agent Kate Nash gave us an agent’s view of ‘What’s hot and what’s not’ in the publishing world right now: ‘Memorable characters, compelling story and style...’ plus who knew that ‘in good times, darker fiction is popular, but in bad times, then lighter fiction sells better.’
Finally, we heard some inspirational tips from effervescent bestselling crime writer Sophie Hannah, whose upbeat talk on how to be a happy author left everyone buzzing with positivity and self-belief. A signing session with Sophie and some end of day drinks later, and our first live event since 2019 was over.
We’ve had fantastic feedback from delegates, such as: ‘What a full and amazing day I’m having at Troubador’s one day self pub conf. Hugely inspiring, very exciting and so happy because to have been given advice about how to recognise publishing sharks was gold’ ‘Brilliant to meet fellow writers face to face and learn more about this amazing industry’.
We love planning and running events for authors, alongside publishing books, as educating through our events programme to help authors make the publishing choice that’s right for them is part of the company’s mission and values. We hope you can join us in 2023 – and remember, you can sign up to learn more about our events here.