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How to Write a Book and Get it Published

Tips from the 2024 London Book Fair



Woman with book on her face

Earlier this month I attended the London Book Fair, a three-day trade event with over 100 seminars on all things writing and publishing, from how to get published, to literary translation, diversity and inclusion, and emerging trends. Famous authors were there to launch their latest books, and many revealed their humble and often trying beginnings.

 

A little background on me: my work has been published in many wine magazines, and I was managing editor of The World of Fine Wine, so am not entirely new to this world. However, writing a book is a bigger and deeper project than researching for an article. Right now I am writing my first wine book, and am also in information gathering mode, to understand the steps of getting it published. This post is as much an attempt to share a selection of my favourite tips from the London Book Fair Seminars, as it is to remember the lessons and try to follow them.

 

Writer’s Block isn’t Real


Panel of writers at London Book Fair

 

It’s all about consistency. Like with any goal we set: losing weight, saving money, learning a language or writing a book –it’s the small daily actions that will get you there, not the occasional big efforts. “Writer’s block isn’t real,” says Kit de Waal, during the LBF seminar titled How I Write.  “We must tackle it by doing something. There’s no excuse. Treat writing like a job that you can’t just skip when you don’t feel like it.”

This was mentioned many times throughout the day at various seminars, the importance to push through the discomfort and just write. Whatever tricks you need to do: set a timer and keep working undisturbed for 15 minutes, block it into your schedule, make it the first thing you, just make it happen.

“Every morning, I wake up and write 4 lines,” says poet Lemn Sissay. The routines we live by will determine what we accomplish. Lemn adds, “how we treat our writing lives is how we treat our lives,”

 

Routes to publishing a book

 


London Book Fair Seminar on Publishing

Traditional publishers pay for the rights to publish your book. Moreover, there is a standard met in producing the book so they can be sure to sell enough copies to make their money back. Writers can’t get to traditional publishers directly, they need a literary agent to approach the publishers and negotiate the best possible deal for the book.

If all this sounds like too many hoops to jump through, and with a smaller cut of the pie, there is the self-publishing route. In this case the writer pays to get the book produced and they keep all the revenue. How does one find a Literary agent? Ask around, research who worked on the books similar to the one you’d like to publish. Otherwise,

the place to find a literary agent is on Writers & Artists Year Book https://www.writersandartists.co.uk

 

 

Building a platform

 

New York publisher Kevin Anderson, who recently set up an office in London spoke at the London Book Fair shared an interesting thought: “don’t ask what your publisher can do for you, ask what you can do for your publisher.” His point was about how competitive the publishing world is, and how they are taking a risk on spending money to bring a book to market. An author that comes with an already established platform is far more likely to sell books.

 

Having a plan on how to sell your book, establishing yourself as an authority on the subject, and being active in promoting the book across different channels will seem far more appealing to a potential publisher than if you haven’t got a clue. Social media is one of the keys to this, and trends like BookTok have emerged as an important community of readers to tap into. Other tips like using Youtube Shorts to talk about your topic or share behind the scenes as an author, creating an email list to keep in touch with your network, and setting a Google alert to send you stories that are linked to the topic you’re writing on so you’re on top of the news are some of the ways to stay relevant and active in your book’s genre.

 


Preparing for publication



London Book Fair Seminar on Promotion

“Write the book that answers someone’s question.” Sound advice from the people who bring the buzz to the book. This seminar led by Midas, Hodder & Stoughton, Storymix, and Kamusha Books reminds us selling books is a business so publication and promotion should be planned hand in hand.

“Think about who your ideal audience is. Who is your perfect reader and where will they find your book,” says Jasmine Richards from Storymix. She also advises on the importance of keeping investing in your local network. “Your local bookshop should know your name, so when your book comes out you will be supported.” There was fascinating discussion on the lifespan of a book, and suggestions to consider what you could include in your book that would make someone see the wonder in it 2, 20, 100 years from now.

 

Intro to Self-Publishing

 

Self-publishing has come a long way since its inception both in its ease and the reputation of this route. Previously considered an option for writers who couldn’t make it with a real publisher, it’s become much more respected, and economically advantageous for certain genres. A seminar led by Kindle Direct Publishing with two best-selling authors on the panel shared the basics of self-publishing along with the pros and cons to keep in mind.

Peter Gibbons spoke about the first stages of his writing where he would record around 10 ideas and explore them to see which would be most likely to sustain a year of writing. “I take kernels of ideas and create a storyboard out of them to see if they have legs to be a book.”

Hannah Lynn, added the tip of using software like Plotter to help with writing structure. “It’s a mix of inspiration and perspiration,” says Lynn. “It’s important for me to get the first draft down as fast as possible. It could be bullet points to know where the book is going, and even dictating it while I go on walks. Then I sit down for the second draft and refine it.”

A critical step once the book is done is to send it on for professional editing. Copy-editors and professional proof-readers will raise the level of the book to something a traditional publisher would produce. There are platforms like Upwork that allow you to hire a freelance editor or designer to work on your book with you.

When the time comes to publish, one option is to go straight to Amazon KDP and upload it to Kindle Create which can be used for e-books and Print on Demand.

From there you’re up and running and the race is on to gather reviews and promote the book in every way possible. One crucial tip I picked up – not at the London Book Fair – but from playing tennis with a recently self-published author, Kathleen Birch. “Make sure you get your own ISBN, not the Amazon one they assign you during publishing.” This will allow you to sell your book through retail shops like Waterstones who otherwise don’t take the ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number).

 

There’s so much more to explore and share on this topic. As I work on my own book, I will regularly add to this series of posts on what the behind the scenes journey is like in writing and publishing a book. If this is helpful, please sign up to my newsletter.

Signing off with perhaps my favourite tip from the London Book Fair: Write the Book you want to read. You need to love it and be proud of it.

 




 



2 Comments


Chelsea Rose
Chelsea Rose
6 days ago

Thanks Victoria for this post. It's provided me with some encouragement and momentum. I am not (yet?!) an author, but the thing that always stops me from beginning to write is all the "how" questions (how do I get published, how do I find an editor etc). Your summary of what you've learned from LBF has certainly helped reduce the volume of those burning questions! I might enquire with LBF to see if they recorded the seminars...In the meantime I've signed up to your newsletter, I look forward to hearing about your own journey to writing your first book. Good luck!

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victoriadaskal
victoriadaskal
4 days ago
Replying to

Thank you so much for you comment Chelsea! I'm glad to hear this post was helpful for you. Definitely agree there are so many questions along the way, but keeping the momentum is crucial. What are you writing about? Good idea to see if LBF recorded the seminars because they really were fascinating. Let me know! and Good Luck! =)

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