I visited the London Book Fair last week on a hot and sunny day that made the overcrowded capital seem almost bearable. The Fair is a vast event where it is easy to lose focus and wander in an aimless daze.
I made my way to the author area on the first floor and was just in time to hear an Amazon KDP presentation from some of KDP’s successful authors. I always find these events a bit depressing as I listen to the stories of those who have made it in the knowledge that I am struggling to find my audience.
The highlight of the day (for me) was the opportunity to pitch ‘The Guest Who Stayed’ to a real literary agent – Hannah Ferguson from Hardman and Swainson. I had diligently researched the agent profiles and author list before going and was quite aware that I didn’t fit comfortably into the age/gender profile. Hannah turned out to be a highly engaging and intelligent young woman who listened earnestly to me for our allocated ten minutes. I offered her a hard copy of the book but understandably she declined explaining that if she accepted a copy from everyone her mobility would be severely restricted. She did however suggest I send her an e’ version which I have done. I now wait with baited breath and fingers crossed.
I lunched uncomfortably at one of those sandwich venues where people are forced to share tables and pretend to interrogate their i’ phones in an attempt to avoid conversation.
I decided to make my way out into the sunshine and perhaps take solace in a solitary glass of wine before catching the train home. But just as I was leaving the author area, I spotted one of the speakers from the earlier KDP presentation standing alone with just the company of a giant sandwich. I recognised him as someone I had spoken to last year at The London Author Fair when he had just self-published his first novel on Amazon. I took the plunge and introduced myself. He was unable to reply for a minute or so as I had caught him at a bad moment as he battled the sandwich. Once able to talk, he was kind enough to say that he remembered me and I was able to quiz him on a number of issues and receive some really useful advice. His name is Keith Houghton (www.keithhoughton.com) and he is the author of crime thrillers including Killing Hope, Crossing Lines and Taking Liberty. Keith’s website contains valuable advice for aspirant authors and I would highly recommend it. I would also recommend his books which feature an American celebrity cop – Gabe Quinn. Whilst the novels are set in the US, I was surprised to find that Keith conducts his research back here in the UK. I thought he’d be out there rubbing shoulders with superstars in LA.
Keith Houghton – author of Gabe Quinn books and others.
Useful tips from Keith:
How good is Bookbub? ‘Bookbub is a great promotion platform but it will cost. However if you use KDP’s countdown deal to create low offer prices, you can still keep your 70% royalty even though the price you set may be below the threshold.’
How can I get reviews on Amazon.com? ‘Why not get UK reviewers to also put their reviews on the US site.’
I thought you had to buy the book from Amazon before placing the review. Apparently I was wrong.’
OK, here goes. What’s your secret for success? ‘Stay in for the long term.’
Keith has been in it for thirty years (you don’t look that old Keith) – and he’s just got a book deal. Congratulations Keith.’
So now, invigorated and knowing I only have another twenty-seven years to go, I’m about to embark on my third novel. Goodbye world.