London Book Fair 2019

English Pen Literary Cafe

London Book Fair crops up almost a full month earlier for 2019, taking place at Olympia, London, from 12th-14th March.

It’s a vast, sprawling space filled with people who haven’t slept in days and aren’t quite sure where they’re going – a bit like an international airport but with the added requirement of being ready to schmooze at a moment’s notice.

Previously a trade fair for literary agents and publishers, the Fair is increasing skewed towards writers, with The Author Club and Author HQ, a dedicated theatre offering the chance of agent one-to-ones and seminars attracting more than 3,700 authors and aspiring authors across the three days of the Fair. Popular topics include plotting, character, voice and pacing.

Look out for the Writer’s Summit and New Title Showcase too. For a head’s up on what agents are eyeing up this year, read The Bookseller’s insight piece on agent hotlists.

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How to give a book wings

Craftivist Collective_hopeHave you heard about Unbound? They’re a rather ingenious new kind of publisher. They’ve already attracted the literary talents of Salena Godden, and are now jumping up and down in support of craftivism queen Sarah Corbett.

The way it works is: an author pitches an idea for a book, then you, the potential reader, can choose whether or not to make a donation towards the completion and publication of that book.

In return, you receive a beautiful e-book, paperback or hardback copy of the finished book, depending on how much you pledge. You also get access to ‘the author’s shed’, showcasing their progress and offering insights into the process of putting the book together.

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Sarah’s book is How to be a craftivist: the art of gentle protest.

Intrigued? Sarah says, “If we want our world to be more beautiful, kind and fair, then shouldn’t some of our activism be beautiful, kind and fair?”

Sarah’s been running Craftivist Collective since 2009, tackling issues ranging from climate change to the businesses failing to pay employees a living wage.

“My approach to Craftivism is to tackle issues not with anger and shouting, but with gentle protest. Gentleness is not weak, it requires self-control in the face of anger, injustice and sadness. Gentle protest lets us have conversation instead of an argument, debate instead of shouting, and collaboration instead of opposition.”

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Sarah vows that her book will get to the heart of Craftivism – the purpose, process and pitfalls. Areas it will cover include:

1. How to use the process of making to engage thoughtfully in the issues you care about.

2. How to see every detail of your creation as important: from the colour you use to the fonts, the size, the messaging….

3. How Craftivism can engage people on and offline around the world.

4. How Craftivism can create conversations and action.

“Gentleness, conversation and collaboration can make our world a better place, and the road there less angry, aggressive and divisive.”

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Find out more and help Sarah on her way to making her book a reality at unbound.co.uk/books/craftivist.

Find out more about Unbound here.

From writer to publisher and back again

Coffee in the park cr Judy DarleyLast week I quizzed Darren Laws, founder of Caffeine Nights Publishing, about what it takes to set up a successful independent publishing house. This week we discuss how to balance the roles of writer and publisher.  

Identify the various skills required

“The roles needed for writing and publishing are very different, almost polar opposites. Writing is very insular by its nature,” says Darren. “Publishing is all about creating relationships in the real world rather than the virtual world inside the author’s head. Authors give birth to their babies and have to let them go to the publisher to rear and help make successful children and adults.

Darren points out that each independent publishing house requires a different skillset from their publisher, but agrees that “there are specific skills which are required whatever publishing house you worked for. Communication is a great asset. I talk to a wide variety of people in publishing from authors to buyers to journalists and app developers. Likewise, authors also want to communicate, though primarily with readers.”

“The pleasure of reading and supporting a great novel are both primary interests to the author and the publisher,” says Darren. “Our joint goal is to bring the best possible version of a book to market and to work collectively to those ends. Both require discipline, creativity and the ability to work whatever hours are need to get the job done.” Continue reading

How to launch a publishing house

Coffee in the park cr Judy DarleyWhen I met Darren Laws in 2008, he was working in PR but already had high hopes for a literary career. In the first instalment in a two-part series, I pick Darren’s brain about what it takes to get a new, independent publishing house off the ground. 

Value your writing skills

“It was actually my writing skills which enabled me to get into public relations in the first instance,” Darren says. “I am pretty much an autodidact by nature. Never academic but always fascinated by learning about the various industry roles I have worked in over the years. I’m always wondering what I’m going to do when I grow up – I’ll probably never know the answer to that but writing and creativity has been at the core of everything I’ve done. I had long embarked on a writing career when I moved into public relations, so it was natural to continue writing through that period. PR itself offered some great writing challenges which I loved.”

In the early years Darren ran Caffeine Nights in the evenings and at night (hence the company’s name) while spending his days working full time as a public relations manager. “The job was excellent, offering the chance to work on many great and diverse campaigns in the UK and abroad, but the agency like many others really suffered during the last recession following the banking crisis,” he says. “The downturn lead to a dramatic reduction in staff at the agency I worked in and while I escaped the first round of cuts I wasn’t so lucky second time around.” Continue reading