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events and marketing agency

Winner of #BookMachineWorks competition

Last week, amidst the buzz of face-to-face connections at The London Book Fair, a bunch of publishing people were snapping away on their phones, trying to win the #BookMachineWorks competition.

The winning photographer wins a free 12 Month BookMachine Promoted Membership, worth £90. They will also be sent a bottle of bubbly.

This year’s judge was Toby Hopkins, Business Development Manager at Getty Images. “Many great entries catching the bustle, the great creative work and the enthusiastic people at the Fair”.

First place – Victoria Brown

Second place – Holly Miller

A budding author’s experience of The London Book Fair

It’s London Book Fair! A daunting prospect for rookies starting out… Bookollective co-founder Esther Harris remembers Day 1 of her first Fair as a new writer.

7:00 a.m.: Carefully lay out my LBF wardrobe: distressed jeans, heels and blazer. I’m-too-cool to-pitch-however-if-you-happen-to-be-the-editor-of my-dreams-vibe? Check. Hot stationery? Check. Copy of MS (just in case)? Check.

8:00 a.m.: Board the shuttle bus at West Ken with lots of bearded men and women in thin knit cardigans. No pushing in the queue and lots of smiles and air kissing. People in publishing very nice.

9:00 a.m.: Olympia at last. It’s HUGE. Panic. Get coffee and a cinnamon roll to calm nerves. Copy other people by standing and adopting a just-having-a-mid-book-deal-sugar-hit look.

9:30 a.m.: Feet killing me already. Flats next year.

10:00 a.m.: Pass Author HQ set up for new writers. Lots of similarly wide-eyed people pumped for a seminar on ‘Using disruption to increase discoverability’. Not exactly sure what it all meant but the speakers were very passionate and I got to doodle in my flash new notebook. All good.

11:00 a.m.: The ground floor of the main hall is where publishing goes Hollywood. It is where all the BIG houses have their stands. Larger than most London flats, raised several feet off the ground and lit up like a TV studio, they are Something Else. Lots of meetings. Lots of Mariella Frostrup types flicking through lists and talk in hushed, literary tones. I feel weak with longing.

12 noon: Go for lunch. Spend £15 on a halloumi salad and bottle of water.

2:00 p.m.: Finally screw up the courage to approach the Bonnier Zaffre desk. “Do you have an agent or is your manuscript unsolicited?” a kind receptionist asks. I whisper that it’s the latter and am steered to the submission details on their website.

2:30 p.m.: Get an Indian Head Massage from a guy giving them out in the main hall. He’s a graphic novelist. He has an agent. He said he felt tension in my neck.

3:00 p.m.: Finally… my raison d’être. An actual meeting with a nice editor I’ve been emailing. She gently explains they won’t be moving forward with my story. Crying inside but offer to do lattes my treat again next year. Tweet the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote about how he had 122 rejections before he sold a story and never give up.

4:00 p.m.: Life dreams in tatters. Weep in toilets. Momentarily give up.

6:00 p.m.: Get tipsy on warm white wine at a bloggers after-party. End up barefoot and disillusioned with publishing. Someone invites me to join a cult. Snap back: “We ARE in a cult…” Then have a light bulb moment. New story! Renewed faith in writing. Going back tomorrow. Next challenge – the Agents’ Floor #loveLBF

Esther Harris is co-founder of Bookollective. www.bookollective.com @bookollective @writer29

events and marketing agency

The London Book Fair Competition #BookMachineWorks

This competition is for you. We want you to capture your best moments from this year’s London Book Fair and share your photos using the hashtag #BookMachineWorks

On Friday we will pick the best picture – the winning photographer wins a free 12 Month BookMachine Promoted Membership, worth £90. They will also be sent a bottle of bubbly. How does that sound?

What to do?

  • Take a picture (or pictures) that you think encapsulates LBF 2017
  • Upload it to social media (Twitter, Facebook or Instagram) using #BookMachineWorks
  • Find out on Friday if you are the winner
  • If you win, sit back, relax & enjoy a bottle of bubbly with your new BookMachine Membership!


The small print

On Wednesday we are launching BookMachine Works in the tech zone at the fair. We want everyone to know about it. We want everyone talking about it. By sharing your photos using #BookMachineWorks you are helping our campaign, so thank you! (if you haven’t registered for the launch yet, click here to do so)

Get involved with BookMachine at The London Book Fair

BookMachine are huge Book Fair fans. Not only does the annual event allow us to meet our readers, members and clients in one place, but we also enjoy organising an event in the tech zone each year.

This year is no different.

And this year we will also be launching something new.

So if you want to connect with more publishing people than you have done before, read on.

Monday 13th March – morning

Keep a careful eye on your inbox, ready to enter this year’s Book Fair competition. The winner will receive an annual promoted BookMachine Membership (worth £90) and a bottle of bubbly.

Wednesday 15th March – 4.00pm

First up we have the BookMachine talk. This year, it’s about events. “Hurrah for Publishing events! An essential guide to event success” – having organized, hosted and marketed over 100 events over the past 6 years, we have a few tips to share. At the end of the talk we will be spilling the beans about the launch, and full details about what that might mean for you.

Register for this and get a link for half-priced entry to the whole London Book Fair exhibition, saving you £20.

Wednesday 15th March – 4.30pm

Once the news is out and the suspense is over, it’s time to celebrate. We will have drinks vouchers for the first 50 folks to find Katie Dodson (BookMachine’s favourite intern) at the BookMachine pop-up banner in the Tech bar. Over 200 people have registered for this part, so expect to meet an interesting cross-section of the industry – you’ll find designers, editors, publishers, marketeers, sales professionals. There are also book lovers and writers. And not to forget, a few app developers, games designers and publishing students.

Register for this and get a link for half-priced entry to the whole London Book Fair exhibition, saving you £20.

BookMachine Members, remember you can get a free exhibition pass. Email us for your special link.

We hope you are as excited about all of this as we are. In the meantime, prepare to potentially meet some royalty, and read these 10 tips for avoiding a riot on your stand…


skills for publishing

#LBF16: Britain’s Got Publishing Talent

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License, on The London Book Fair 2016.

Spring is in the air and what better place to be than London, especially when you have a huge book fair on your doorstep. Celebrating its 45 year anniversary, The London Book Fair remains one of the primary global marketplaces for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels.  This multi-media approach is something reflected not only by the fair but also across the whole industry.

We saw the majority of the UK publishing arena move away from the long-standing electronic versus print debate some time ago, but this still gives rise to the new age question of how to best maximise the value attached to all forms of content. At LBF the Tech Zone and cross-media areas will certainly be sections which are bound to generate a great deal of interest. And these are obviously ones in which we will be spending a good amount of time in, amongst others, and engaging with a range of people regarding potential licensing opportunities.

Taking a glance across the entire seminar programme, it’s a positive sign to see lots of events covering licensing, rights and translations.  Education and knowledge remain key components in maximising revenues across these areas and I hope these sessions will be of great value for publishers to help them further increase their licensing bottom lines. It’s also good to see authors at the heart of the fair with the Author HQ demonstrating LBF’s role in acknowledging the changes being seen throughout the industry and the increased prominence attached to author related activity.

Looking briefly at the UK publishing landscape, after a few challenging years we are in the midst of a period of relative stability. With increased stability comes renewed optimism, and with renewed optimism comes innovation and even growth within key areas. 2016 has already generated a wealth of business opportunities and events such as LBF mean we can engage face-to-face with the key players in a variety of areas to further maximise any available opportunities.

The UK remains at the heart of publishing world. As such it will be good to see the spotlight shining brightly on a wealth of exceptional smaller presses as well are the largest publishers, all of which continue to nurture some exceptional titles and work hard to champion the best of British talent.

Giving it away: the magic of content marketing

Evie Prysor-Jones is Content Lead at Optimus Education. She’s a big fan of data driven digital marketing and alliteration. On Tuesday Evie will be speaking at the London Book Fair (5.30pm, Children’s Hub) about how to engage hard to reach audiences with content marketing. Here are some of her insights and tips ahead of the event.

Do you remember your first teacher?

Perhaps you remember them as Miss Honey, all smiles and supportive. Or, perhaps you still quake with fear as you recall your school’s very own Miss Trunchball. In reality, they were probably very similar to how you are now but with more grey hairs, larger bags around the eyes and spend much less time reading interesting blogs.

Lack of funding and support mean that, for some members of staff, using a computer requires elbowing colleagues out the way to get to the shared one in the corner of the staffroom and bringing a crank to get it vibrating away as it brings up the oldest version of Internet Explorer still allowed.

For us working in the education publishing world, this is our market.

Yes, there are many very well-equipped schools and some very digitally savvy staff, but you can be sure that staff apparatus and updating software will not be the top of the spend list.

Give ’em stuff for free!

My genius, yet by no means original, idea is that to start a conversation with schools we need to give them stuff for free and, because we’re publishers, by ‘stuff’ I mean content.

In the publishing industry, giving words away for free is a scary business. There are plenty of arguments against it:

  • It devalues the content.
  • It will be copied.
  • People will take it, read it and never come back!

All of these are true to some extent, but there are also plenty of counter arguments:

  • The rewards for your business will regain any value conceived to be lost.
  • Of course it could be copied, we copy each other all the time. That’s why you need to be the first out there with the story, write it in the most engaging way and market it better than anyone else can.
  • Yes, about 80% of people who take it and read it will never come back. But what about the 20% who do? You’ve got yourself engaged customers willing to be loyal in that 20%. They are worth more to your business than come-and-go-ers.

What are we talking about when we talk about free content?

I don’t count blogs as free content. Yes, blogs are content and they’re free, but they always are and that’s the point of them. At the top of your sales funnel you’ve got your traffic drivers (social media, email campaigns), so blogs sit on the second step of your funnel – awareness. Your customers have discovered you, through Twitter perhaps, now they want to increase their awareness of your company by reading a bit more about what you think and where you stand on issues important to them. I.e. your blog.

Free content sits happily on the next step – increased awareness/approaching consideration. (I admit by steps need catchier names). This is content that plays to one of the three human weaknesses: money, fame and access. In this case, access. People will go to extraordinary lengths to get to the next level, whether it’s attending the glitzy Hollywood party normally behind closed doors, skipping to the front of the check in queue or being able to experience something before everyone else. In our case it’s as simple as letting them have access to content that they would normally have to pay for.

Don’t overstretch yourself

What’s brilliant about this content is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Usually, the content can just be stuff you already have that you can reformat in a new, shiny way. HubSpot are great for this. At Optimus Education, we’ve followed the same principle with content from our Knowledge Centre. If we have several articles or resources on a particular topic that will fit together well, these can be recycled into a PDF ‘toolkit’ which we can then use as content marketing. For example, our Prevent toolkit.

Checklist for using free content to reach your audience

While we’ve been discussing all this, our teachers are still waiting for their browser to load. So how will free content engage this audience if it’s digital? Make it easy.

  • Ask the audience: The idea for your content needs to come from them. No one wants to struggle through the quagmire of having a product, even a free product, which no one wants to read.
  • SEO: no, it’s not sexy, but it is vital. Teachers are short of time and need instant results. Once they’re on the Internet then your page needs to be the first page they find. Spend half a day sorting out your keywords (long tail and short) and Adwords.
  • Create a landing page: don’t make them search your site for what they want. For each campaign you need a new page.
  • Marketing plan: Use your personas. Teachers are not all the same (duh!) so think about who is the content is for (you should already know this from the first point). What channels do they use? Are they using the staffroom wind-up computer, the one in their office or do they use their smartphone?
  • Google Analytics: Yes, it’s the worst user experience in the world and you can feel like you’re drowning in numbers, but get it set up, all your goals in a row and track the hell out of your campaign. The numbers will tell you where to make changes and when.
  • Optimise your landing page copy: When people land on your page they should only need three seconds to work out what you do, what you’re offering them and what they need to do to get it. Test everything.
  • User journey: We know our teachers, so we know how many touchpoints we need to have with them before passing them to our sales team. When your customer has downloaded your content that should be the beginning of your activity, not the end. Will you email them? Give them something else? Map it out.
  • Review and reuse: Exploit your content as much as possible. If it’s an ebook, could you create a new blog about it? Could you take samples out as teasers? Are there images to use on Instagram? Is there a checklist or resource to be made from it? There shouldn’t be a shelf-life on a piece of content and a little refresh can take much less time than writing something new.

Transferring this to the book world

I grant you this is more difficult when the issue of copyright is entered into the mix. We own the copyright of all the content we have so splitting it up and chopping it up as we wish is no problem. However, in the age of digital innovation there are so many new reading models and platforms that the humble book does not always have to stay as it was. I think Inkle is a great example of exciting and new content mediums. Now is an exciting time to be creative and test new ideas, so just because an audience is hard to reach, it doesn’t mean they’re worth giving up on.


Who needs broadcasters? On digital content, YouTube and discoverability

TaDaKidsWith the advent of YouTube, media companies now have a unique opportunity to bypass broadcast and connect directly with consumers. Christopher Skala, Co-Founder & CEO, TaDaKids Ltd, who have recently launched the first portfolio of 16 YouTube Pre-school Channels, will be speaking at The London Book Fair on what this kind of production, brand and IP model looks like. Here are some of his insights ahead of the talk.

We can’t keep going on the way we have in kids TV. In fact, why kids TV? Why make content for broadcast anymore?

It’s just too painful, difficult and unrewarding. The power structure inherent in commissioning and licensing content creates a fundamentally skewed and unpleasant playing field for content creators and producers. The emotional rewards are risible; and the financial rewards even more so.

It’s time for a fundamental change.

Here’s something to chew over

The shortest time it ever took me to source, develop, finance and produce a TV show was three and-a-half years. That was MIKE THE KNIGHT. One show. Three-and-a-half years. That’s the quickest, and a little unheard-of (unless you work in Canada or France, which both have protectionist, subsidised markets).

In five months, from September 2015 to January 2016, my creative partners and I conceived, developed, produced and delivered for YouTube eight brand new shows. Eight shows. Five months. Over 14 hours of content. All at less than the cost of one 11-minute episode of MIKE THE KNIGHT.

That makes me very excited and feeling good about creating engaging kids content, the first time I’ve felt that way in over ten years. We’ll be creating six more shows before the end of July; and a further nine before the end of next January.

25 shows. One year and four months.

Where’s the catch?

There has to be one, right? Yes, there is a catch. But before I get to what it is, let me also add in the further experiential joy of creating content without any input from broadcasters, distributors, and toy companies (I decline to be drawn into characterising said input. You may infer what you will). The only people I’m answerable to is the audience.

So, the ‘catch’. The catch is… ‘discoverability’. With over 400 hours of content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, the landscape is getting pretty darned crowded. The platform is also exhibiting strong signs of Network Advantage (to them that have, comes more…).

How does new, innovative and original content cut through?

I don’t know, is the honest answer. At TaDaKids, we’re trying everything short of paying for AdWords, which in itself would render our business model null-and-void. Growth-hacking seems to be the groovy marketing term of the moment (we’re trying that). Off YouTube distribution (we’re trying that). Celebrity performers (we’re trying that). YouTube audience optimisation Best Practices (we’re trying that). And a whole lot more.

It’s too early to tell whether we will be successful. I hope we will be, because what we’re betting on is a generalised and easily applicable model of new content funding which is important for everyone in this business, not just us. If it works for us, it can work for you, too. Imagine that.

Christopher was formerly Head of TV Sales & Strategy for three years at Guinness World Records. Before that, he was SVP, Progamming at HiT Entertainment; and before that, at Tiger Aspect. Before that, doesn’t really matter much anymore.


literary agent

On being a literary agent at book fairs: Ella Kahn interview

Ella Kahn is co-founder and literary agent at Diamond Kahn & Woods, where she represents a wide range of children’s and YA fiction, and adult fiction and non-fiction. She was a winner of the inaugural The London Book Fair Trailblazers Award 2016, and on The Bookseller’s Rising Stars list in 2013. Here Norah Myers interviews her.

1) Which titles do you hope to sell this year at LBF?

I have a couple of very exciting debut novels on submission at the moment. One is a middle grade fantasy adventure with incredible voice and atmosphere; the other is a sci fi space opera with an epic plot and a gutsy heroine. We’ll also be focusing on selling the international rights for the titles we’ve recently placed in the UK, in conjunction with our foreign rights agents at ILA. On the adult side I have Becoming by Laura Jane Williams, a ‘survive and thrive’ heartbreak memoir publishing with Hodder & Stoughton in June; and City of Good Death and its sequel City of Buried Ghosts by Chris Lloyd are fantastic police procedural novels set in Catalonia, Spain published digitally by Canelo. On the children’s side, I have new projects from David Owen and Vanessa Curtis, both of whom were Carnegie-longlisted for their previous books Panther and The Earth is Singing. The Fallen Children by David Owen (Atom, Spring 2017) is a dark and provocative contemporary YA/crossover novel inspired by John Wyndham’s classic The Midwich Cuckoos; and The One Who Knows My Name by Vanessa Curtis (Usborne, Spring 2017) is a historical YA which explores the secretive and disturbing legacy of the Nazi’s Lebensborn programme.

2) What is the best approach to take when selling at a book fair?

It depends on the project. Sometimes I’ll have sent a book out on submission before the fair so when I meet editors I already have an idea of who’s keen on the book and I’m updating everyone on the progress so far. Sometimes I’ll pitch a new project at the fair so I can whip up enthusiasm before I send the manuscript out afterwards. And we’ll be telling international editors about the buzz for projects already sold in the UK – publicity, awards, exciting events planned and so on. We have a rights guide with information about all the titles we’re pitching to show to editors, which we find really useful for giving them a flavour of the book.

3) What advice would you give agents on preparing for a fair?

Start preparing well in advance – we had the majority of our meetings scheduled by the end of February – and be targeted about who you want to meet. It’s a pretty obvious thing to say, but focus on the people you think are most likely to be interested in the projects you’ve got to pitch at that time; even with the fullest possible schedule of over 50 meetings in three days, it’s not possible to meet every editor in town! The same goes for putting together the rights guide – we always end up making last minute tweaks as sometimes you can’t be sure until a week before the fair whether a project will be ready to pitch, but the further in advance you can start compiling and editing, the less stressful the week before the fair will be – and your sub-rights agents will appreciate it too!

4) What are the most effective ways to get a submission in front of an agent?

Simple: read the submission guidelines on their website and follow their instructions. We read all our submissions if they fit our guidelines, and a little bit of research about our taste goes a long way. It can also be worth attending literary festivals and author conferences where agents offer one-to-one pitch feedback sessions – I’m doing an event like this at The London Book Fair called ‘The Write Stuff’ as part of their Author HQ programme. Writing groups such as the London Writers Café also offer opportunities to meet agents and get their feedback on your work.

5) What are you currently looking for as an agent?

I’m particularly keen to build the adult fiction side of my list at the moment. I’d really love to find some wonderful historical fiction, as this is a genre I read a lot in – I adore authors like Tracy Chevalier, Anna Hope and Jessie Burton. Some more science/speculative fiction would be fantastic too, something pacey and fun with a clever and ambitious premise. I’m also starting to develop my non-fiction list with wonderful memoir authors Laura Jane Williams and Meg Fee, and I’ll never be able to resist really great YA and children’s fiction if it’s high-concept, plot driven, and has exceptional voice.



The London Book Fair in pictures: LBF 2006

Where were you ten years ago when literary greats flooded to The London Book Fair for what may have been the most star-studded edition of the show? Ahead of London International Book Fair, Toby Hopkins went into the Getty Images archives to remember a vintage year…

Margaret Atwood demonstrated “the Long Pen”. A stalwart of book-signing tours, she wanted to bring relief to footsore authors.   The Long Pen would allow authors to sign books from anywhere in the world, with the pen moving as if by magic, commanded by a hand from afar.   But it was an idea ahead of its time: while the London signing went off successfully, in New York books were left unsigned.


At the other end of the literary spectrum from Margaret Atwood (ie autobiography as opposed to fiction) Pete Burns had no need of any pens to promote Freak Unique.


Even publishers did not prove immune to the wave of Hoffing that was sweeping the televisual world.

Uri Geller did not want to add book-bending to his list of accomplishments, but he did want to help anyone who may be interested in taking up dowsing.


George Galloway brought some passion to promotion of his biography of Castro.


More passion was on offer in a new edition of the Kama Sutra.


And Stephen Fry looked rather overwhelmed by it all.

5 tips for getting the most out of The London Book Fair

London Book Fair is the place for publishing people to be this April. If you are attending the fair, it is best to be prepared for your trip in order to make the most of your time at this huge, busy and buzzing event.

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My London Book Fair Week #lbf14 [DIARY]

LBF 2014
Photo © BookMachine



The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014 shortlist was announced in style at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Kensington Gardens. The party was buzzing with creative and passionate women including Kate Mosse, Mary Beard, Helen Fraser and Sarah Walters. It was a beautiful event to celebrate excellent writing from the following female novelists:

  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • Burial Rights – Hannah Kent
  • The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri
  • A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – Eimear McBride
  • The Undertaking – Audrey Magee
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

The winner will be announced on 4 June 2014.



The first day of the fair saw a giant choccywoccydoodah cake, the SYP seminars How to get into publishing & How to get ahead in publishing and the announcement of another shortlist.

I announced the Kim Scott Walwyn shortlist at the beginning of our second seminar. This is an award that celebrates exceptional female publishers:

  • Melissa Cox – Children’s New Titles Buyer at Waterstones
  • Lindsey Dalladay – Community Manager at Penguin Random House
  • Sarah Hesketh – Freelance Project Manager at The Poetry Translation Centre
  • Hellie Ogden – Literary Agent at Janklow & Nesbit
  • Anne Perry- Editor at Hodder & Stoughton

The winner will be announced on 13 May 2014.



The place to be was BookMachine pre-drinks at the fair and then the rockin Kobo party at Underbelly in Hoxton Square.



A few of us from the SYP went along to The Bookseller drinks — I had a Q&A in Tuesday’s LBF Daily and wanted to celebrate my newfound fame.



After a fabulous week, I was well and truly ready for bed! Instead I went out in Soho with a friend I met interning a couple of years ago. #TGIF

A week at The London Book Fair [REPORT]

Tom Chalmers

Tom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License.

If I’m honest the London Book Fair almost broke me (in a good way). 60 meetings in three days whilst battling the potentially deadly man-flu virus has left me a shadow of my former self but pull myself together I will. In fact have to in order to close a number of the deals as a result of these meetings.

A typical day at the Fair would see me arriving around 8.30, grabbing a coffee, popping a couple of paracetamol then quickly reading the latest fair news before dashing off for a mountain of meetings that had been lined up beforehand. If there was time to grab a sandwich at some point during the day then that would be a bonus, with copious amounts of coffee offering a helping hand along the way.

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